Exercise Balls – Benefits and Workouts

Most of us know about exercise balls, they are the big colorful balls we usually see at the gym. You can also have an exercise ball for your workouts at home. For those who are new, they are balls made up of soft elastic filled up with air. You can get them in different sizes. Some people know them by different names such as birth ball (they help in pregnancy), balance ball, medicine balls, Swiss balls, physio ball, therapy ball, stability ball or yoga ball etc. The list of names alone suggest of the kind of uses of this simple exercise equipment.exercise_ball

Benefits of exercise balls

Perhaps the biggest benefit of using them is that our body adapts and adjusts to the movement and instability of the ball as opposed to doing exercise on a stable hard surface. This engages a lot more muscles and gives you a better workout. Moreover it also provides you cushion for some of your workouts.  You can improve your body stability as well as body posture with these balls. A simple isolated exercise can be turned into a whole body workout as you use a lot of smaller muscles to be stable.

  1. Improve core stability – You can improve the core stability of your body with them with exercises which includes abdominal and back muscles. When you have strong core muscles, you can be more effective in your daily activities like bending, lifting, throwing, running etc.
  2. Improve the health of back and spine – As you workout and stretch on the ball, you get a relief from your back and spine problems. This is also the reason why you see them at physiotherapy centers. They are used in a lot of therapies.
  3. Posture Improvement – Strengthening, stretching and exercise of your back and abdominal muscle also mean that you improve your postures. Good postures will keep natural curves of your body and prevent a lot of health problems.
  4. Correction of muscle imbalance – When you just concentrate on one part of a muscle group and ignore the other it causes a muscle imbalance.  Stability exercises on a ball can help you in correcting that muscle imbalance.  For eg – Most people will concentrate on arm and chest exercises more than back and hips which causes an imbalanced growth of muscles.

Sizes

These exercise balls are available in different sizes, you can choose your size according to the exercises, your comfort level and space.  Most common sizes are 45cm, 55cm, 65cm, 75cm and 85cm in diameter.

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Workouts and exercises

There are a lot of different workouts and exercises which can be done on a ball. These can range from stretching to weight training. Now what kind of exercise you choose depends on the kind of fitness goals you have. Here are some of the good exercises which can be followed.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/core-strength/SM00046

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/10-fun-moves-to-reshape-your-body-with-exercise-ball-workout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9kd6G2rLlM

Use in pregnancy

Exercise balls are also effective in pregnancy when you need gentle non impact but effective workouts. They are also used to induce labor and sometimes they are used as chair in pregnancy.  They are also known as birth balls because of this.

Ball chairs

Another popular use of these balls is as a ergonomic chair. You can use them as desk chairs or even chairs in your office. There are mixed opinions on this as there have been studies which don’t really find any benefits with ball chairs.

So if you are looking for cheap and versatile equipment at home which can be used by everyone for different uses then this could easily be the one.  Most of the workouts can be done without any additional equipment.

Best Compact Elliptical Trainer Review

An elliptical trainer can be a really good machine if you want to do some cardio and this is especially true for people who cannot do high impact exercises like running or jogging. Some of the benefits of elliptical trainers are given in my older post.

But what if you want some of the benefits of an elliptical trainer without all the size and bulk? Usually gym and exercise equipment are bulky and they need a lot of space if you want them at home. For such situations you can have compact elliptical trainers.

Compact elliptical trainers are light and compact so you can use them at home or office. They are neat little machines which can give you a work out. You get the same smooth elliptical motion with resistance. One of the very popular machines is Stamina in-motion compact elliptical trainer by Stamina.

Stamina 55-1610 InMotion  E1000 Elliptical Trainer

in motion trainer

Here are some of the features of  this machine which is an excellent trainer if you are looking for space saving machine. It is a very simple machine which is designed in a way that it does nt take up much space and give you all the benefits of a non impact exercise.

  1. It is a compact and light weight trainer which can be used easily in your home or even your office.
  2. This comes with an electronic monitor for a record of time and calories burned.
  3. Its non slip pedals ensure a safe workout.

You can use the foot pedals in reverse motion as well and the intensity levels of your exercise can also be changed.

If you do not have the space for a full sized elliptical trainer or if you want a non impact exercise machine which is easy on your pocket, this is a good option.

Proform 6.0 ze Elliptical Trainer Review

When you are thinking of getting an elliptical trainer, there are a lot of choices you can have. You have products available in almost every price range available in the market. One of the most common names for exercise equipment is Pro-Form.  Pro-Form has usually been associated with treadmills but they also make many other fitness equipment.

6.0 ze elliptical

Proform 6.0 ze elliptical exercise machine review

This one is a good machine is you are looking for something compact, quiet and easy.  The quality of this elliptical trainer is a lot better than what you will find in some of the more expensive models. You know this when you are installing it as it feels good and solid in hands.  A lot of trainers have no more than thin metal, heaviness and quality is very important if you are looking for stability, safety and durability.

The trainer is easy to assemble, and it gives you a very nice smooth movement with a natural stride where you feel comfortable in your exercise. A lot of elliptical have jerky movements or too long strides.

With this price range you just cannot go wrong with Proform 6.0 ze elliptical, it is a compact unit so it can fit well in your home.

AC adapter

Some users have problems with not getting the ac power adapter along with the machine but it does well with batteries.  You can also buy the adapter separately, that is an extra cost but totally worth it as it saves the cost as well as the effort in changing the batteries You can get the adapter here.  The adapter fits in to a number of different models and the XL edition gives you a long cord length of over 12 feet so you don t have to worry about the plugs.

Features

Here are some of the features of this machine

  • Oversized slip resistant pedals
  • EKG grip pulse
  • Resistance 0-10%
  • Built In workouts – 12
  • Weight capacity – 250 pounds
  • LCD Display

In all it is a good machine for home use especially if you don’t want to spend on the high end machines which are much more expensive

Best Tips For Walking To Lose Weight

Walking is always a good and a basic form of exercise which can be done by anyone. As compared to other fitness activities like running or jogging, walking is a very low impact exercise so it is always good for people who have problems with joints or back. Walking can also help you in weight loss. Although you cannot be dependent on walking alone for your weight loss, it certainly helps and has a lot of health benefits.walking

Here are some best tips for walking to lose weight

  1. Many of us want to know how many miles to walk or how much to walk before you start to lose weight.  There is no exact answer to this as I have said in my earlier posts as well that there are a lot of factors involved in this because fitness level of one person cannot match the levels of others. Results are bound to be different. Generally, you need to walk for at least 45 mins , 4 times a week to see the effects.As in any other exercise, when you take up regular walking, your body will be conditioned to this new effort. With time you will find it easier and easier and you will have to take it to another level to push your out of your comfort zone which is very important.
  2. Walking can become monotonous and boring especially if you are walking around the same place every day. To make it interesting you can choose a different route every couple of days but make sure it is safe for walking, your safety should always be first. If you have a habit of putting on your music along with your walk, ensure that there is no traffic around you. I have seen a lot of accidents because of this very reason.
  3. Try and take quicker steps instead of longer strides. This will help in quicker movements and higher pulse rate. Pace always helps in walking. Now you know the secrets of a shapely butt.
  4. When you are walking in a park, you can easily add some free hand exercises to your walking session. Squats, pushups, lunges can be performed anywhere without any equipment. These simple exercises will help in adding strength and flexibility to your body.
  5. Keep yourself hydrated. Water is always good for your body and muscles so having adequate water and fluids is essential here.

Other than these, try to walk whenever you can, that could be in your office, home, shopping etc. It can be a fun and easy way to lose weight.

Is Fasting For Weight Loss Effective

Fasting has been associated with weight loss since a long time now.  Many people who like to lose weight just choose fasting as an easy way. It has its different types. Some of them are more popular than others. You must have heard about intermittent fasting, alternate day caloric restriction, alternate day fasting, water fasting, juice fasting or even 5:2 diets. It is all related to restricting yourself on eating in different combinations.

Now the big question is do you need fasting for weight loss and is it effective and healthy?

Many people will have different opinions and perspectives on this topic and some of them may be outfight contradictory to each other but the truth is our body becomes what we put into it. No one can deny this and I am a firm believer in it.

Our goal should always be directed towards fitness and weight loss can be a big part of it. Many people need to lose a lot of weight to get in shape and be healthy. Restricting yourself from eating altogether can make you feel like you are losing weight in the short term but our body needs a constant supply of nutrients to function properly.

Body weight in itself is a wrong measure of health. It can comprise of bone mass, lean muscle as well as fat.  All these form the body structure and there are other factors like the health, height, genetics and lifestyle of a person which are also important here.

So you just cannot generalize a particular diet for everyone. One person may benefit from restricting carbs altogether where as someone who is a diabetic cannot afford to cut them off completely.  You diet should be very much according to your health and fitness levels.diet

Pros

Fasting to some extent is good for body and has some advantages as it is good to be on a controlled diet. It also helps in detoxification.  But going for a weight loss based on it is a bit extreme measure in my opinion.

Cons

Fasting is not for everyone. It has its disadvantages as well.  It can make you physically and mentally stressed out. Lack of proper diet and nutrition can have a direct effect on our stress levels and mood. And you may also be losing weight by losing your muscle tissues which is a bad way of losing it. Many times it happens that when you resume your diet after a fast, you gain even more weight as you feel hungry and eat more. This is due to slower hormonal growth and metabolism.

There is always a danger involved with fasting and restrictive diets and that is about health problem caused by it. You can experience fatigue, dizziness, headache, dehydration, anemia, constipation or weakness.

If you want to lose weight, the best way is to be on a strict but healthy diet. Avoid excess sugars, salts and processed foods, avoid aerated drinks and keep a check on the kind of food you are taking. Combine it with the right exercises and you will see results for sure. This way you will be more energetic, healthy, positive and the biggest benefit is that you will not have to worry about regaining the weight again. When you develop your muscles, they help you in reducing the fat. I will be writing some more posts along this topic. Till then, be healthy and fit.

How To Lose 10 Pounds – Fast And Healthy Way

A lot of us have this goal of loosing fat quickly or something more exact like losing 10 pounds fast. Now there is no magic pill which can make this happen and if you do find one, run away from it because it won’t really be healthy. Weight loss never happens over night but you can still lose weight fast in a reasonable amount of time.

Our bodies are amazingly adaptive to whatever you put them to. We are always changing – for better or worse. Now you have to consciously decide whether you want to change for the better and do something about it or it will change for worse. The choice is yours, there are no two ways about it. Now that does nt mean that you will have to do some difficult or tough changes to yourself. It can happen with small and easy steps but you have to do something. How can you expect a change if you stick to the same old eating habits and the same old routines?lose weight

The only healthy and fast way to do it is to make some changes in your diet and lifestyle. The best way to lose weight is getting into a combination of diet and exercise.  You don’t need some fancy diets, I have seen fashion in diets come and go but the fundamentals remain the same and they are simple. I will outline some of the basic things you can do to lose weight fast.

  1. Stay away from empty calories – Excess sugar, processed foods, sodas, aerated drinks, white bread, pastries, alcohol are some examples which have none or negligible nutritional value but they are high on calories. Avoid them altogether if you can. Switching to healthier meals will help you do that, get healthier substitutes in your meals. Something like a diet soda is also bad for your health so don’t make an excuse for having a diet soda again. Have water instead.Taking care of this alone can help you change your diet habits for the better, not only will you be able to put a check on your weight but you will feel more energetic and healthy inside. This also helps you in things like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases etc. So stick to healthy
  2. Make a meal plan for the day – You will be surprised at what all you are eating and drinking through the day. Take a note of everything you have so that you can make a change in your diet. Instead of having 3 heavy meals in a day, go for 5 smaller portions. The idea is to have your body a regular supply of just digested calories. You won’t get fake hunger signals as these meals will make you full inside. Try and maintain a schedule of your meals so that you form a habit out of it. You will find a considerable decrease in emotional eating, cravings and hunger.
  3. Drink a lot of water – Water keeps you hydrated and fresh. It detoxifies your body and also helps you in weight loss. Excess salt can cause temporary water retention which also means a temporary weight gain. But then excess salt is as bad as excess sugars.  Processed foods, restaurant meals, preserved foods have high salt levels, you can go natural and green by opting for fresh food.
  4. Get some exercise – Even if you have never done anything related to exercise, start something. It could be as simple as going for an active daily walk. If you can go for treadmills, trainers or exercise bikes its better. The benefits of regular exercises are so many that I cannot stress it enough.You want to know the best way to lose weight – do a combination of cardios and strength training. You will tone up and strengthen your body. You may not notice a change overnight but there is something which changes in your everyday. You body adapts to this exertion, it gets stronger in the process. You lose weight.

Now follow everything what I have mentioned here, there is no logical reason as to why you cannot lose weight fast. These are some simple things, most of us know but you have to follow them to get results. Many people would like to know the time frame of losing weight. You have to understand that one size does nt fits all. Everyone is different, our conditioning, lifestyles and fitness levels are different. Some people may feel a change in a week, 2 weeks, month or even six months. I have seen incredible results for people who take action and stick to it.

Action is the key here. Remember that your body is ever changing, it never stays still inside – for better or worse. Its for you to make it a better change. Either you change it or it will change you – its your choice!!

Best Treadmill Workouts To Lose Weight Fast and Effectively

Many people have their own opinions when it comes to treadmills and weight loss. It can be a very good way of losing weight and it can also be one of the worst. Confused, right! Let me explain it a bit.

Every one of us is a different being when it comes to fitness levels, some people can easily walk for miles while others are left gasping for breath in a short distance so one fixed set of rules just cannot be applied to everyone as it won’t be effective.

I think the first rule of treadmill workouts is to do it in the right way. I don’t know how many gym trainers do not even pay attention to this but I find most of the people having a wrong posture or techniques which makes all the difference. For eg – Many people would just hold the sidebars or hand rails during their treadmill exercises and lean over in front. This is a wrong posture and will do more bad than good. What you are doing is training your body to walk in a bad posture. This will affect you in a wrong way if done over a reasonable period of time. Exercise techniques and movements are extremely important and the same rule applies here.

However, I will assume that you have average fitness levels and know about the right techniques as well. So what should be the best treadmill workouts which can help you in losing weight fast?

The answer is to do some intense interval training.

workout intensity

As a beginner you keep yourself in an easy zone (no inclines – low speeds) for jogging and running.  You don’t expect to step into high intensity cardio right away. This also gives your body to open up and adapt to the exercises routine. Once you get comfortable with this you start to increase your intensity (more incline and speed). The trick is to combine high and low intensity workouts in the same session, these intervals can be of 30 sec. You can push yourself into a really high intensity zone and then get to more comfortable levels before repeating it again. Comfortable levels would mean a state of rest to your body. You also call this HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). A 20 – 30 minute workout should be good enough for such training.

Also, when you are doing your treadmill workouts, never just start running right away. You warm up, stretch and then cool down after your sessions. This should be a very important part of every workout session.

Do this 3 or 4 times a week and you are good to go. You will start to feel the difference. But remember the other important part of weight loss which is not to be ignored and that is diet.

Sole F63 Treadmill Review

Sole is a very well known brand in fitness equipment industry especially the treadmills. Some of the models like F80 are very popular because of the quality and value for money they offer. Here is the latest one, the F63

sole f63 treadmill

Feature
Range
Motor power
3.0 CHP
Speed
0-12 mph
Incline
0-15%
Programs

LCD Display

Heart Rate Monitor

Pulse Grip

Weight Limit
325 pounds
Warranty
frame and motor - lifetime
electronics - 5 yrs
labor - 2 yrs

See the best price annd ratings of this treadmill

As evident by the figures, Sole F63 is a very capable and competent machine it its category. This makes it a really good choice for home use.

It’s a space saver design so if you are bothered by lack of space, this machine can fold up neatly when not in use. Controls are pretty smooth and conveniently located. A solid frame also ensures good stability and strength which adds to safety. 2 ply belts and bigger roller means more durability and smooth motion for you.

Over all good medium priced equipment especially if you are a moderate user, if you are a heavy user you can go premium machines. Although at this price, you can have some serious choices at your end, this is a good buy.

Exercise Bike vs Elliptical vs Treadmill – The Better Workout

Elliptical trainers, treadmills and exercise bikes are some of the most common fitness equipment used for cardiovascular exercises. They help you burn calories and improve your stamina or aerobic capacity as well. Now each of these has some advantages and disadvantages which are given below.

 

treadmill vs elliptical

 

 

 

 

Treadmills

Pros –

  1. More flexible and versatile workouts
  2. Resembles natural body movement of walking, running or jogging.
  3. Higher intensity workouts which means that you burn more calories
  4. Walking and running actually helps to make your bones and muscles stronger
  5. One of the oldest, common and most effective fitness equipment you can find

 

Cons –

  1. One of the biggest problems with these machines is that they are a bit tough when it comes to your joints and bones because of the impact of running.
  2. You have to be in the right posture and use the proper technique for maximum benefit. Most people do not know how to use the handle bars or maintain a good stance while working out.
  3. Running does not come easy and comfortable to most people as they find it hard which makes these machines uncomfortable for a lot of people

 

Elliptical Trainers

I posted some of the benefits of elliptical machines in an earlier post but here is the summary again.

Pros –

  1. They provide you with non impact workouts as your feet never leave the pedals.
  2. You also get full body workouts because of the added upper body movements with handlebars
  3. You can adjust the intensity of your workouts by features like reverse stride
  4. Workouts on elliptical trainers are not as hard as treadmill
Cons –

  1. Treadmills are much more flexible when it comes to the intensity of workouts, you can adjust the speed and incline of a treadmill.
  2. Running gives you a more weight bearing capability when it comes to your bones and joints. Elliptical workouts are easy on bones and joints which does nt give you these benefits.

Exercise bikes

Now this is one of the oldest forms of fitness equipment you will find. Everyone knows about exercise bikes. Some people just love cycling. Exercise bikes are available in two main forms – recumbent and upright ones.  Bikes are a good option for beginners who are starting up with their exercises. Generally, they provide a less intense workout as compared to other two machines but then you can have a longer session.

Some studies have shown that elliptical trainers and treadmills provide a greater muscle activity as compared to walking or stationary bikes.

Now your choice of fitness equipment is also dependent on your fitness goals as well as your fitness levels. If you need a low impact exercise machine like in the case of arthritis or pregnancy then an elliptical trainer is a very good choice. If you are comfortable with walking, jogging or running, you can opt in for a treadmill. A treadmill can be far more comfortable on your knees and joints when you compare it to running on a pavement or a hard surface. Most of them have shock absorbing capabilities which help in a better workout.

There are many good models which are made for home use and you can get some really efficient machines for your home. I will post buying guides and reviews for some of them here so that you can choose amongst the best ones.

Calories burnt on these workouts –

Every person is different and have different levels of fitness. Some people may find treadmill more comfortable as compared to elliptical machines and the opposite may also be true. Studies have shown that the amount of calories burned on both machines is almost the same with only a marginal difference.  A full body workout on a n elliptical trainer can help you a bit more with your calorie burnout.

One of the most important things which most of the people underestimate is a good warm up before getting in to your exercise session. Some stretching and warm up conditions your body for exercise.

Proper technique of exercise is as important as choosing the right machine so that you can get some good results from your efforts. Add in a combination of a healthy diet and you can reach your fitness goals in no time at all.

Elliptical Machine Benefits – Should You Use One

Most of us know about elliptical trainers or cross trainers. As compared to treadmills, they are relatively new but they are increasingly getting popular because of their effectiveness and benefits. You will find them in most of the gyms and health clubs.

Even when you are looking for a machine for home use, elliptical trainers are always a good choice when you compare them to a treadmill or stair climber. These machines do not need extensive servicing and are easy to maintain. Modern trainers are getting smaller as well as more affordable which make them a very good choice for home users. Choosing a good trainer is a whole new topic in itself so I will keep it for a future post but now let us discuss the elliptical machine benefits and how it can help you reaching your exercise goals.elliptical trainer

Some of the benefits can be

    1. Increase in stamina – If you are already into some form of exercise or you are thinking of getting into fitness and exercise routine, then you must know about the aerobic or cardio workouts. Aerobic capacity or stamina is a very important part of fitness. If you have a high stamina then you will be able to do your exercises or any other physical activities without getting out of breath or breathlessness. A regular cardio workout on an elliptical trainer will increase your aerobic capacity and burn calories as well which will make you more active and energetic.

      It also helps in weight loss, if you want to lose weight, you can combine such cardio workouts with a proper healthy diet and you will feel the difference. Weight loss is all about consistent efforts in the right direction.

    2. A non – impact workout – Some people cannot go through a full motion of their joints, sometimes they are not allowed to do anything which causes impact to the joints. In such cases, these machines are a very good choice as they provide a low impact exercise. Your feet never lift up from the pedals and you have more of a gliding motion making it ideal for such non impact workouts. You can get this for elderly people, or someone who is recovering from knee injury/surgery. When you compare it to jogging or running, exercise on a trainer is much more easy.

      If you have a problem like degenerative knee problem, you may experience a pain, in such a case, it is always better to consult a doctor. Such low impact exercises are also good in pregnancy, this keeps you physically active but then you must consult your doctor first.

    3. A full body workout – Although these machines are excellent for lower body workouts and these are also the problem areas for most people, you can use these machines for a full body exercise. You can work on your legs, arms, back, shoulders and chest at the same time. In about 20-30 minutes, you can get a full body workout. Movable handles enable you to work out your upper body. This helps you in burning more calories and toning up your whole body.

      There was this study about the benefits of elliptical trainer workouts by Clinical Biomechanics which concluded that these machines activate the muscles in a much better way when you compare it to other exercises like walking. You can also target different muscle groups with this by altering hand placements, intensity and strides

 

In all, this can be a very good choice for your exercises and fitness goals.