Diet and Exercise help contribute to both body health and mental health. Obviously both contribute to weight loss and changing your body image, but a lot of people neglect the psychological functions they perform. For example, exercise can make you feel more accomplished, or it can simply distract you from overthinking. Often psychiatrists recommend exercise to those who are feeling depressed. Being on a diet can also help you in all sorts of ways. As well as making your body healthier it makes you feel as if you are much healthier. This gives you an added confidence and helps you succeed.
Stretching is a great way to both increase your flexibility and relax your muscles. The exercises can be done daily (or at least three times per week) and only after your muscles are warm, such as after a workout or a hot shower.
Do not bounce when you stretch. Instead, hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds to the point of mild discomfort or where you “feel” the stretch. The muscles should be stretched so that the pull is felt in the center of the muscle, not at the joints. Take it slow, relaxing and exhaling as you go into a stretch, then breathing normally.
While weight training can help you lose weight and tone your muscles, if you want to get rid of your stubborn belly fat, also known as visceral fat or abdominal fat, aerobic exercise may be more beneficial. Belly fat, or increased fat deposits around your midsection and internal organs, has been long known to cause an increased risk of developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Also known as intra-abdominal fat, it is typically found around your midsection. The fat is sandwiched in between your organs including your liver, stomach and intestines. It differs from fat found elsewhere on your body and under your skin, known as subcutaneous fat, and fat within your muscles, or intramuscular fat.
It is important to know what constitutes aerobic exercise versus resistance training. Any activity that elevates your heart rate and requires an increased work effort from the lungs and heart to pump oxygen throughout your body is known as aerobic exercise. Skipping, jogging, cycling, running, swimming and rowing are all types of aerobic exercise that, when performed, lead to an increased demand for oxygen.
On the other hand, resistance training is any type of activity that requires you to use your muscles against another force or weight in order to make your muscles larger and stronger. Push-ups, chin-ups, weight training and using elastic or hydraulic devices to move or hold your position are all forms of resistance training.
Not much research exists regarding the difference between weight training and aerobic exercise, but Duke University scientists decided to take the plunge and research the comparisons and changes of visceral fat. The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, took 198 adults between 18 and 70 years of age who were diagnosed as overweight and lived a sedentary lifestyle, and divided them into three groups.
One group performed weight exercises, specifically three sets of eight to 12 repetitions per set, three times per week over the course of eight months. A second group ran 12 miles per week to obtain an 80 percent maximum heart rate and a third group combined the two previous forms of exercise. All groups were monitored closely to ensure that each participant was actively taking part in the study.
At the end of the study, researchers found that those who were in the aerobic exercise group lost fat around the liver and high amounts of visceral and abdominal fat. They also noticed better insulin resistance and reduced liver enzymes and other triglyceride levels. These factors, if not controlled, can lead to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
On the other hand, those who lifted weights three times per week lost a lower amount of fat, but did not improve anywhere else in terms of their overall health condition. There was no change regarding the participants’ visceral fat or liver enzymes levels, or any increase or decrease in insulin resistance. The group who combined the two forms of exercise reported comparable results as the aerobic group.
Researchers also noted that participating in some form of aerobic training such as jogging burned, on average, 67 percent more calories when compared to calories burned through weight lifting and resistance training.
While resistance training is more beneficial if you are trying to increase your muscle mass, improve your strength and sculpt your core, aerobic exercise is significantly better to engage in if you want to lose fat, particularly belly fat. While there is no way to tell scientifically and accurately just how much visceral fat you have around your midsection, a good indication of the amount is gauged by the presence of a “beer belly.”
Typically, men seem to have more of this type of fat than women do, although many women often suffer from it as well. Researchers also noted that individuals of white descent have more visceral fat than those of African American descent. Older people are also more likely to internalize and reuse the amount of visceral fat on their bodies, whereas visceral fat on young adults is more noticeable because it seems to be right under their skin.
Turn Exercise into a Mental Vacation
Many people begin exercising to improve their physical health. They soon discover that exercise also enhances emotional well-being by increasing feelings of self-confidence and reducing feelings of stress. Why is physical activity such an effective stress-reduction technique? Exercise probably works in several ways. Some exercise effects are physical, such as improvements in brain chemistry, increased muscular relaxation and lowered levels of stress hormones.
Exercise may also reduce stress by giving us a break from the steady mind chatter that causes so much of our stress. Our inner voices are accustomed to delivering commentary and chattering away every moment of the day. These voices are especially fond of drifting into the future, worrying about what is around the corner, or wandering into the past, rehashing problems and mistakes. While some of this mind chatter has important messages for us, much of it is counterproductive and interferes with our concentration and performance. Combining physical activity with a present-moment focus can give us a mental vacation from stress-provoking thoughts.
A type of mental focus commonly practiced during meditation can also be cultivated during physical activity. Mindful awareness, or mindfulness, refers to the practice of being totally aware and in the present moment. Mindfulness means being aware of sensory information (sights, sounds, smells, etc.) that tells you what is going on around you, while also being aware of your thoughts and emotions. When you are mindful, you are aware as an observer of your thoughts and experiences.
Why not give it a try right now? Mindful awareness can be practiced almost anywhere, any time. It begins with an observation of your breathing, which serves to anchor your awareness in the present moment. Become aware of sights, sounds and whatever is going on around you. If (or shall we say when) your mind wanders, simply observe your thoughts with detachment, as though you (the real you inside) is separate from your chattering mind. Try to maintain a nonjudgmental attitude as you observe your thoughts, then gently bring your attention back to the present moment and back to your breathing. Try to maintain this mindful awareness for a few minutes.
Mindfulness meditation involves extending these few minutes into longer periods of time. People who practice mindfulness meditation find that it refreshes them and helps them see their lives more clearly.
Many Westerners have difficulty practicing meditation for more than five or 10 minutes because they find it difficult to sit still. We are happier finding stress relief through exercise. Perhaps this is because, while our daily lives tend to be mentally and emotionally demanding, they require fairly low levels of physical energy expenditure. Exercise provides a break from the sedentary routine as it calls on other parts of our brains and selves to get involved. (Or maybe we favor exercise over meditation because we are accustomed to a fast-pace lifestyle, and like to accomplish two things at once.)
Recreational athletes commonly discover that a present-moment awareness enhances their enjoyment of exercise and improves their performance. This mindful focus during physical activity also changes the mental channel from mind chatter to a more outward-directed awareness.
Athletes train their minds as rigorously as they train their bodies, knowing that distracting thoughts can decrease strength, endurance, power and skill. They talk about playing in the zone, a place where performance feels effortless, and they become one with their activity. Such transcendence is also experienced by recreational exercisers who become adept at directing their focus to the present moment and quieting the mind chatter that can dominate their lives. Mindfulness can be an important first step to achieving this transcendent state.
It can be hard to know exactly what to eat and when. Without proper management and organisation, trying to diet can get really frustrating. If you are really struggling to keep to or even organise your diet, then perhaps consider looking for help online. For instance, joining a group such as Weight Watchers.
There are a tonne of goals and a tonne of exercises you can perform to achieve them. For example, someone’s goal may be to build muscle mass, one way of doing this is by performing dead-lifts. However, they are many other ways out there. Consult our site here for all the best exercise tips for specific areas of the body.
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