Strength Training Improves Heart Health

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb and Harvard Health….please share your comments below…..

healthyheartStrength training has been linked to several factors that improve heart health, including weight loss, less belly fat, and a lower risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, biking, and swimming, is good for the heart. Strength training, also known as weight training or resistance training, also has cardiovascular benefits, reports the June 2015 Harvard Heart Letter.

“Strength training maintains and may even increase muscle mass, which people tend to lose as they age,” says Dr. Rania Mekary, a visiting assistant professor of surgery at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and assistant professor at MCPHS University. Increased muscle mass has a trickle-down effect that benefits blood vessels and the heart.

Boosting muscle mass speeds up metabolism, which helps people burn more calories, even at rest. A faster metabolism also helps prevent weight gain, which puts extra strain on the heart. Strength training seems to be especially important for keeping off belly fat. This so-called visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs, is particularly dangerous.

Mekary and colleagues at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that healthy men who did weight training for 20 minutes a day had less of an age-related increase in abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic exercise.

Strength training can help control blood sugar levels by drawing glucose from the bloodstream to power muscles. High blood sugar, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, is also a leading risk factor for heart disease. Building more muscle mass also makes the body more sensitive to the effects of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.

Read the full-length article: “Add strength training to your fitness plan”

Also in the June 2015 Harvard Heart Letter:

* Get cracking: why you should eat more nuts

* Get a leg up on varicose veins

* Bypass plus angioplasty: the best of both worlds?

The Harvard Heart Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

Core Strength — On The Ball

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By Elisabeth Crawford

womanstrengthworkoutCore strength is vital to everything we do, from sitting at the computer to carrying a load of heavy groceries, from playing competitive sports to playing with our kids. It helps improve our posture, protects the spine from injury, and gives us a strong center from which to move.

Our core muscles are the numerous stabilizing muscles that connect the bones of the ribcage, spine, and pelvis: primarily the abdominal and back muscles, and to some degree the iliopsoas and gluteals. These muscle groups work in opposing pairs. For example, the abdominals flex the spine, while the back muscles perform extension. Similarly, the various muscles of the iliopsoas and gluteal groups work in opposition to control the movement of the pelvis, which consequently affects the curvature of the spine.

While methods such as Pilates can be an excellent way of strengthening the core, exercising on an unstable surface has proven yet even more effective. The stability ball is arguably the most versatile of props, with exercises performed in multiple positions and working every part of the body. Its benefit lies in the fact that our core muscles are crucial to maintaining balance—and even more significantly, that these muscles will automatically be called into play anytime we are balancing on the ball.

This phenomenon is accomplished through what is often dubbed the “sixth sense.” Better known as the kinesthetic sense, or proprioception—our perception of the body’s position and movement—this sensory system is directly involved in our reflexes and muscle memory. Sensory organs of the visual and vestibular (inner ear) systems, as well as pressure and joint receptors throughout the entire body, provide information to the cerebellum (hind brain). The brain then instantly processes this information and sends a message to the muscles to respond—a sort of reflex response.

For example, merely sitting on the ball forces the core muscles to remain in a constant state of contraction—a state of equilibrium but also of constant flux.

For example, merely sitting on the ball forces the core muscles to remain in a constant state of contraction—a state of equilibrium but also of constant flux. As we are balancing, our weight is continuously shifting. When there is a slight imbalance in our body, such as leaning to one side, the body will attempt to correct the imbalance by making subtle adjustments in the opposite direction. The weaker muscles are thereby strengthened, and our posture will gradually improve. An ideal state of balance is achieved when the body has found perfect alignment.

Clearly, the goal is to avoid falling off the ball; therefore, through frequent practice, our body instinctively learns which muscles to activate. By stabilizing ourselves on an unstable surface, new neural pathways are formed and engrained into our muscle memory so deeply that the core muscles respond involuntarily to any shift in balance.

It is precisely because these reflex responses bypass the conscious brain that I believe the stability ball transcends many other methods of training. Whereas a technique like Pilates demands deep awareness and concentration in order to activate the proper core muscles, the primary focus on the ball is simply to perform the movement without falling off. It is unnecessary to visualize the specific muscles we intend to use, since the feedback is immediate and automatic: if we fail to work the right muscles, we will lose our balance. Bringing a sense of mindfulness to our workouts can certainly enhance the benefits; nevertheless, the advantage, ultimately, is that stability ball training requires relatively little mental effort, increasing our core strength quickly and effectively—and perhaps providing a bit of fun along the way as well.

— Elisabeth Crawford is a former contemporary dancer and Pilates instructor. Her book Balance on the Ball: Exercises Inspired by the Teachings of Joseph Pilates (Equilibrio, 2000) was the very first book to combine stability ball training with the principles of the Pilates method. She is also the author of the award-winning cookbook Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey through Northeastern Italy (Equilibrio, 2009). For more information, please visit

Three Best Strength Workout Routines For Women

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By Rod Devreese

womanstrengthworkoutWomen, especially on their late teens all the way to middle age have this one common frustration – to look as fabulous and fit as their favorite star. Lo and behold not all women are built the same. Due to factors universal to all of us – time, money, discipline, etc. not all women can have those to-die-for washboard abs or that firm behind that everyone is talking about.

Let’s face it; you can’t achieve that sexy physique with minimal effort but expecting maximum results. Advertisements on TV promise everything under the sun but mostly they’re all just a bunch of bull. Here are three surefire workout routines for women to pump up those problem areas specifically the arms, abs and lower extremities. Note that this will always be more effective if done with proper diet.

The Arms

Most women are afraid of lifting weights just because it might make their arms larger. Wrong. By forcing your body to burn calories more than they usually do, it essentially carves away the fat to reveal more lean muscle. Goodbye flabby arms!

Body weight training can be most beneficial for a newbie. By doing pull-ups and push-ups, you essentially gain the strength to lift your own weight. This prepares you for the big boys and all that iron. One can easily do this at home without need for any other equipment. As you progress and with proper supervision you can start on with free weights, gradually going heavier.

Push-ups with mountain climbers will give you a good cardio workout while firming essentially your arms, legs, chest and abs. You can do this by getting on the push-up position but with your arms straight and on the balls of your feet. Lift your right knee to your right arm. Hold for thirty seconds with your back straight. Do this with the other arm and leg. Then slowly bend your arms to ninety degrees and back up to the original position. Do this in eight to twelve repetitions.

The Abs

exerciseballWhole body exercises can make great abs like the push-ups I mentioned earlier. But to concentrate specifically on the abdominal muscles, crunches are the way to go. Add some resistance by doing this on an exercise ball. It supports the back and firms your butt. Sit on the exercise ball and slowly roll your back with your arms crossed. Lift your shoulders and tighten that abs. Release and get back to the original position.

The Lower extremities

The hips butt and legs are the most problematic areas in women. Plie squats with shoulder raises can be most effective. Do this by standing with your feet wide apart about shoulder length. Then slowly bend your knees up to ninety degrees while tucking your stomach in. Then raise your arms (preferably done with dumbbells) up to your head and slowly lower them. Do this for about five seconds in eight to twelve reps.

Train hard

The myth that men and women have to train based on their gender is wrong in so many ways. That notion that we are all created equal proves true at this point. Look at all the athletes out there. Strength training and high intensity interval routines challenge the body to adapt to the ever-changing movements. These workout routines are great for your heart and force your body to burn all that fat FAST!

– Rod Devreese is a health and fitness enthusiast as well as an author for His research and writing focus mainly on workout routines for women and workout plans.

Oh, You Gotta To Have Friends

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By Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH

saladheartsmallA close friend or relative has just had a heart attack or a cardio vascular incident. You try to be helpful. You want them to start making changes so they live a longer and healthier life. Do you tell them?

• You shouldn’t eat that; it causes heart disease.

• You should have more willpower and resist eating unhealthy foods.

• If you don’t change your lifestyle, you’ll die.

• You have to give up your favorite foods and eat only vegetables and beans.

What they hear is that you are trying to parent them. They feel failure and guilt. They become resistant and even defiant. However, your concern can have the opposite effect on them to actually inspire and encourage them. What if you said:

• Eating more healthfully will give you more energy and vitality to support better heart health.

• Healthy eating is a pleasurable and exciting way to experience life.

• You are your own best doctor. You’re the one in charge of making heart-healthy eating decisions for yourself.

• Physical activity raises your heart rate and exercises your heart muscles making you strong and resistant to cardio incidents. You’ll feel great when you exercise.

• You deserve a vibrant, heart-healthy life and you have all the power you need to reverse this condition.

• You don’t have to be perfect to be heart-healthy, just conscientious.

• Let me help you find the information you need to begin your new life.

Using the second approach you offer your loved one a partnership in healing that will help them become more heart aware and to make choices that will support and nurture their health. We all respond more favorably to a helping hand offered with a generous spirit. Be the friend you would want to have in your corner if you were the one on the other side of the fence. Two heart-healthy minds are always better than one.

Kac Young , a former television director and producer, has earned a Ph.D. in Natural Health and is a Doctor of both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Naturopathy. She is the author 10 books. Heart Easy is a system of nutritionally sound, delicious meals that promote heart health, long life and taste great. Traditional recipes are turned into heart healthy meals that anyone can make. The health results are outstanding.

More On Heart Health In February

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heartshinyFrom Your Health Journal…..”A great article once again from the Huffington Post by Tom W. Watson entitled How to Love Your Heart this February. Love the Huff Post, and always try to promote their health articles. As many of you know, February is Heart Health Month. Please take the time to read Mr. Watson’s ‘heart’ warming story about his ‘heart’ health, as well as losing two friends recently from heart attacks. Heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States. Many individuals suffer from many chronic health issues due to obesity such as heart disease. We need to help people understand the importance of losing weight, and staying healthy. Fighting obesity is a natural good ‘first’ step in the fight against heart disease. Please visit the Huff Post web site (link provided below) to read this amazing article.”

From the article…..

And so it’s February — the month where so much focus is placed on our love interests. A concept I’m certainly not against, since I proposed to my wife at this time of year several years ago now. But this year, I’d like to issue a challenge to seriously consider other matters of the heart during this month. In particular, I’d like you to consider your heart’s health. Typically, in early January, most North Americans proclaim their well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, but within a few short weeks the resolution war is lost, and we renege on the resolutions we made.

In their January edition, Time magazine listed the 10 resolutions that are most commonly made and broken annually. Of the top 10, health issues such as losing weight and getting fit, quitting smoking, eating healthier, and drinking less all ranked highly. In essence, four of the top 10 resolutions made annually by North Americans directly or indirectly has something to do with heart health.

This year, more than any other, heart health is on my mind. In the past 10 days, two men I’ve known for years have passed away from heart attacks — one being my brother-in-law, the other a good friend and mentor. Their loss is truly unfortunate and deeply profound to their family and friends.

Unfortunately for many of us, more often than not we understand that we should be doing something to curb our waistlines and improve our heart health, but we aren’t motivated enough to actually sustain our efforts. Maybe it’s because deep down, we are in denial — we believe we won’t be the next one to suffer the same fate my brother-in-law and my good friend just suffered.

Several years ago, I was in the same boat. I was several pounds overweight — I knew it, and in many ways I wanted to make changes in my life. I wanted to lose weight and gain a more youthful approach to life. But I had fallen into a lifestyle of indulgence: too much good food, too much wine, not enough exercise, and too many insincere reasons why I couldn’t make the changes. It all hampered my resolution efforts. Only when I suffered a small stroke did I realize, “It could be you next, Tom. You were lucky. You’d better get after your waistline issue if you want to live healthier, happier, and longer!”

To read the full article…..Click here