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News four a news article discusses current or recent news of either general interest or of a specific topic in London UK

The Importance of Physical Fitness

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In its most general meaning, physical fitness is a general state of good physical health. Obtaining and maintaining physical fitness is a result of physical activity, proper diet and nutrition and of course proper rest for physical recovery. In its simplest terms, physical fitness is to the human body what fine-tuning is to an engine. It enables people to perform up to their potential. Regardless of age, fitness can be described as a condition that helps individuals look, feel and do their best. Thus, physical fitness trainers, describe it as the ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with left over energy to enjoy leisure-time activities and meet emergency demands. Specifically true for senior citizens, physical fitness is the ability to endure, bear up, withstand stress and carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue.

In order for one to be considered physically fit, the heart, lungs, and muscles have to perform at a certain level for the individual to continue feeling capable of performing an activity. At the same time, since what humans do with their bodies directly affects the state of mind, fitness influences to some degree qualities such as mental alertness and emotional expression.

Physical fitness is often divided into the following categories in order for people to be able examine its components or parts. Particularly, physical fitness is judged by:

1. Cardiovascular endurance: This is the ability of the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes over sustained periods of time.

2. Muscular strength & endurance: Strength deals with the ability of the muscle to exert force for a brief time period, while endurance is the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue to apply force against an inert object.

3. Flexibility: This denotes the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion.

4. Body composition: Considered as one of the components of fitness, composition refers to the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue, and organs) and fat mass. Actually, the optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness. Performing the right set of exercises can help people get rid off body fat and increase or maintain muscle mass.

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by Jonathon Hardcastle

What the Spartans Knew About Health and Physical Fitness

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We live in a day and age when it seems like everyone is trying to get lean and fit, and the Spartans had a great grasp of proper health, but they did it in a different way. They had to, because they had to constantly be battle ready, but what’s interesting is all of the wisdom that they can share with us.

If you take any farm animal for instance, they tend to live out their lives to their fullest longevity, and are happy along the way. Why is this? well, because they only eat, drink, and get the exercise that they were meant to.

Ignorance is bliss, and yet Spartan health in those days certainly was not ignorant, because they knew the power of keeping it simple. So here’s what you can learn from them by keeping it just that – simple.

1. Understand that there are a lot of gadgets that promise total fitness, but that you can go around your house, lift heavy objects, do free-weight squats, push ups, and pull ups and other simple exercises, and still get the same results.

2. We were born knowing what we should be eating, we just break the rules. Fruits, vegetables, fish and meat are all you need to be healthy and happy. Most people make the mistake of just trying to eat right. It doesn’t work that way. You must have some activity, whether its power walking, hiking or biking.

3. Focus on combining these two. I know everyone says this and I know that it sounds so simple, but true physical fitness is just this simple. If you put in the time to build yourself a basic routine – you can do it, but you need to educate yourself a bit on what’s going to work for you.

For instance, my diet is simple. At lunch I mainly just eat a bowl of fruit, which fills me up and gives me a ton of energy. I always have a large salad every day which also is filling and tastes way better than pizza, but I still eat those things too, because I’m not afraid of them.

Extreme behavior is what crushes peoples dreams of fitness. Again, don’t modify and try out different plans, just pick one that is real, down to earth and stick with it.

Ancient cultures and tribes spent their lives studying physical fitness and endurance, because they ere passionate about it, more than we are today. As a result, they developed incredible looking bodies. You think those muscular statues of the ancient Greeks are exaggerated? think again.

Today’s society is distracting. Just as we get started with something that might work for us, we hear about something else that sounds great and chance course before we see any results.

Set up a simple routine and stick with it. Remember, 19 days of doing something can make it a habit. You can get to the point where you do this stuff on auto-pilot, without it seeming like a burden. Make training like the Spartans for health a good habit.

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by John Sibbs

Chinese Black Fungus For Health, Fitness, Diets, Slimming and Nutrition

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Can fish and meat textures and tastes be found in a vegetable? Chinese Black Fungus is renowned for these qualities, its vital nutrients and its valuable contributions, as a dietary supplement, to overall fitness and health. Usually obtained in dried packaged form, it requires washing before use.

As a Health Supplement

Enriching blood and preventing iron deficiency anemia, Western medical science has found Black Fungus very effective in blood viscosity modulation as it inhibits platelet aggregation thus lowering blood-viscosity levels. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) its applications include anaemia, uterine bleeding, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. It also figures significantly in cancer prevention and relief.

A very common and inexpensive ingredient in Chinese cuisine, it also has been recognised within TCM as a medicinal food for thousands of years. Black Fungus, rich in nutrients such as iron, protein, fat, vitamins and polysaccharides, also contains vital trace elements like potassium, selenium and manganese essential to the body’s long-term health.

Black Fungus’ bittersweet taste is not particularly strong, its texture is decidedly meat-like however. Its’ presence in dishes serves rather to enhance the flavours of the main ingredients.

As a Diet Aid

Black Fungus is a potent ally in the fight against obesity. Whilst very low-calorie, its meat-like texture (and taste) when boiled make it particularly appetite satisfying. It is frequently added to other dishes to ‘enrich’ them, to bulk these up for dieting/ slimming purposes as well as for its valuable nutritional contents.

Definitely not ‘fast-food’ it needs extensive soaking and cleaning before use. Available from most Chinese supermarkets, Black Fungus is sometimes stocked by inner-city branches of Tesco.

‘Fat Busters’ to Enjoy Alongside It

Keen dieters can wash down their Black Fungus with other proven Chinese slimming, weight-loss and nutrition aids like Green Tea (Lu Cha) and Bojenmi Tea.

Green tea stimulates the heart, aids digestion and provides a general ‘wake up’ call. Encouraging fat metabolization and popular for dieting and slimming, general bodily detoxification is also encouraged by Green Tea drinking.

Anaemia sufferers (and women during their menstrual period) should avoid Green Tea as it inhibits iron-assimilation somewhat. These should switch to Bojenmi Tea (see below) and/ or consume Black Fungus to remedy iron deficiencies.

Bojenmi Cha, also known as “good health, nice appearance flesh-reducing tea” also encourages slimming and weight loss. A blend of 12 medicinal herbs based upon an ancient Ming Dynasty remedy, this pleasant tasting tea aids digestion, lowers cholesterol levels and has a mild laxative effect.

Overall

Both teas help flush out fatty deposits from internal systems. Inexpensive Green Tea’s fat removal effect’s are such that Chinese restaurants use left-overs to clean grease from tables at closing time.

Black Fungus, Green Tea and Bojenmi Tea all have internal cleansing, detoxifying and longevity-inducing effects encouraging their inclusion in anti-aging and health and fitness dietary regimes. All three can be found in most Chinese Supermarkets

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by Peter Allsop

5 Components of Physical Fitness

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The 5 components of physical fitness are often used in our school systems, health clubs and fitness centers to gauge how good a shape we are truly in. The 5 components that make up total fitness are:

  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Body Composition
  • Total fitness can be defined by how well the body performs in each one of the components of physical fitness as a whole. It is not enough to be able to bench press your body weight. You also need to determine how well you can handle running a mile etc.

    A closer look at the individual components:

    Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart and lungs to work together to provide the needed oxygen and fuel to the body during sustained workloads. Examples would be jogging, cycling and swimming. The Cooper Run is used most often to test cardiovascular endurance.

    Muscular strength is the amount of force a muscle can produce. Examples would be the bench press, leg press or bicep curl. The push up test is most often used to test muscular strength.

    Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscles to perform continuous without fatiguing. Examples would be cycling, step machines and elliptical machines. The sit up test is most often used to test muscular endurance.

    Flexibility is the ability of each joint to move through the available range of motion for a specific joint. Examples would be stretching individual muscles or the ability to perform certain functional movements such as the lunge. The sit and reach test is most often used to test flexibility.

    Body composition is the amount of fat mass compared to lean muscle mass, bone and organs. This can be measured using underwater weighing, Skinfold readings, and bioelectrical impedance. Underwater weighing is considered the “gold standard” for body fat measurement, however because of the size and expense of the equipment needed very few places are set up to do this kind of measurement.

    Why the need for physical fitness testing?

    As stated earlier the 5 components of physical fitness represent how fit and healthy the body is as a whole. When you have the battery of tests performed you will receive information on the specific areas you made need to work in. A very specific goal oriented fitness program can be developed from the test battery.

    If body composition is of (higher fat compared to muscle mass) there are many health related diseases and illnesses you have a higher chance of contracting. It is important to combine healthy eating habits with your exercise program.

    If you scored low on the cardiovascular test you would have a higher chance of being at risk for heart related illnesses and would not do well with activities that require longer times to complete. You would participate in things such as long bike rides, swimming and jogging for extended periods of time to correct this component.

    The next three tests can have results that are isolated to specific joints and muscles of the body or affect the body as a whole.

    If you score low on the flexibility tests, you have a greater chance of decreased performance in daily living activities/sports and a higher risk of injury. You may also experience low back pain. It would be important to included flexibility training into your workout everyday.

    If you scored low on the muscular endurance test you fatigue early into the exercise or activities of daily living. Many exercises that require high reps and low weight would be implemented into your training program.

    If you scored low on the muscle strength test you do not have enough strength to perform well in sports, resistance training and activities of daily living. Your fitness program would have a progressive strength training component added that would allow you to become stronger with little chance of injury over time.

    Fitness testing has its limitations – while it gives you a good idea of where your body is, it does not paint the entire picture. As stated earlier some of the above tests are only testing specific body parts. Other important factors such as balance and agility are not tested. It also requires the ability to perform the tests. It would be dangerous for someone who is in poor condition and does not exercise to participate in fitness testing.

    Before deciding to undergo fitness testing, make sure you know why they are being done and determine that it is safe for you to participate.

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    by Karen L Skidmore

    Understanding the Definition of Health Related Fitness

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    Being a Health and Fitness Professional, it is my job to understand terms and definitions which are commonplace to this industry, as well to keep abreast of evolving trends. Through my experience, I have found that a number of terms deserve a little more clarification than that which they are granted.

    Aside from clarifying the definition of Health Related Fitness, this article intends to shed some light on a few of the associated terms, and to show their respective distinctions.

    Is it simply all in a name?

    The fitness world seems to use the concept Health Related Fitness like a generic fitness principle – interchangeable with others like “Physical Fitness”, “Health and Fitness” or simply “Fitness.”

    While all of these terms can be included under the broad term Health and Physical Fitness, they individually refer to different aspects – both generic and specific. Unfortunately, references to these and other fitness-related terms are often vague, while consistency in their intended use is meager at best; there is a kind of “generally accepted” use for them, but individuals often rely on own interpretation, and this can lead to confusion.

    With that said, does Health Related Fitness simply infer fitness by means of good health? Not quite. That is why we need to understand a little more behind these words before digesting the definition.

    How did the term Health Related Physical Fitness come about?

    That is a good question. One could probably ask what is this concept all about – can we not simply use the terms “Fitness” or “Physical Fitness” instead?” Why Health “Related”?

    The main reason stems from the fact that most health and fitness terms are used inconsistently and often refer to different concepts or notions. Subsequent to the 1996 report from the US Surgeon General (Physical Activity and Health; a report of the Surgeon General), there was a move to try and address the alarming rise in obesity levels among the general American public. Studies and initiatives required standardization among clinicians, health practitioners and fitness trainers to grapple with the task at hand. Enter “Health Related Physical Fitness”, a working term to address the general state of health among the public.

    The definition of Health Related Fitness

    According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the main authority in this field, ineffective definitions with unclear and subjective wordings, as well as definitions containing terms which themselves require defining, have contributed to confusing the term “Physical Fitness.”

    There exists no reliable guide for Health and Fitness Professionals to measure “Physical Fitness”, because the term has been so loosely and inconsistently defined. It is therefore that one should consider the concept of Health Related Fitness. The definition therefore centers on the 5 Components of Physical Fitness which relate to “good health.” These Components are:

    • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
    • Body Composition
    • Flexibility
    • Muscular Strength
    • Muscular Endurance

    On the other hand, Skill Related Fitness Components are:

    • Balance
    • Reaction Time
    • Coordination
    • Agility
    • Speed
    • Power

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of Physical Fitness emphasizes the difference between Health Related Physical Fitness and Athletic Ability Physical Fitness. Its point-of-departure is the “health” of the US nation, which is often referred to as the “public health perspective.” In that respect, the 5 Health Related Fitness Components are more important than those related to Athletic Ability (or Skill Related Components).

    Although the concept of Health Related Fitness has an integral association with “good health”, the 5 Components are addressed individually by health professionals to allow for their measurement.

    Now that we have a deeper understanding of the term, what purpose does it serve?

    Continuing from where the definition left off, the objective of measuring the 5 Components is to advise clients about their own particular Health Related Fitness, and to use data obtained from the tests to design appropriate exercise programs which can then be evaluated.

    The 5 Components contribute evenly to make up a holistic Health Related Fitness, which is of direct interest to the health of the ordinary citizen, in that the concept is normative. In other words, it is a standard which allows for consistent application.

    It is therefore important for those working in the health and fitness industry not to mistake “overall physical fitness” with “Health Related Physical fitness.”

    To conclude, let us consider this distinction between Physical Fitness and Health Related Fitness

    One needs to bear in mind that regular physical exercise can improve overall Physical Fitness, as well as Health Related Fitness. However, overall fitness is a generic term and is up to subjective interpretation, while Health Related Fitness can be assessed.

    The distinction therefore, between these two terms, exists in that Health Related Physical Fitness can be measured according to a set of established comparative norms.

    This is where the “rubber hits the road.” The guidelines set out by the ACSM enable health professionals to work with clients to assess and measure their response to exercise and prescribe appropriate exercise programs. A client’s progress can then be monitored and adjusted where necessary in order to obtain the desired fitness goals.

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    by Cleto Tirabassi

    What Has Changed in Health & Fitness Over the Last 30 Years?

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    There have been many changes in fitness over the past 30 years. It’s human nature to reminisce about times past. That’s great but lets not forget that things change as well. This is certainly true in the area of health and fitness. “If you do what you have always done, you will get the results you have always gotten” is true, but what if the situation changes? Then what used to work is no longer a viable and effect way to get the results that we want. In this article I will outline seven items that have changed over the past 30 or so years that affect the way we view health, fitness, exercise and what is considered “best”. Let’s look at some of these changes in Fitness.

    1. Activity level

    This change in fitness is pretty obvious. We just don’t move around as much as we used to 30 years ago.

    Currently, the average sedentary person living in an urban setting takes 900-3000 steps a day. Uh… that’s a puny number! In the journal of sports medicine existing literature was pulled together to set a general guideline of what a good number of steps per day would be

    The author Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke translated different physical activity into steps-per-day equivalents. A rate of fewer than 5,000 is classified as sedentary, 5,000 to 7,499 is low active, 7,500 to 9,999 is somewhat active 10,000 or more is active and 12,500 or more is very active. So what does 900 make us? Close to dead! But its not hard to imagine. Get up from, take elevator to car park, drive car, take elevator to office, sit down, order fast food, reverse the process to go home and go back to bed. Just to note, 1km is about 1300 steps.

    Its gotten to the point where we have to purposely inconvenience ourselves to get our activity level up. Here are some suggestions (that actually show us how pathetic our average activity levels have become).

    Park at the far end of the car park and walk to your building Instead of dropping the kids off in front of the school, park a couple of streets before it and walk them the rest of the way… 10,000 is actually considered a LOW estimate for children.

    Go round the shopping centre or supermarket in a random. With today’s super malls, this is a big thing!

    Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator (well if you work on the 50th floor, maybe climb halfway to start)

    Give the dog an extra 5 minutes on his walk (we need it even more than him)

    Stop emailing colleagues in the same office, instead go over and talk to them (shockingly effective considering how much email we send each day!… great for team building as well)

    Go for a walk during your lunch break, walk to get your lunch or to find somewhere to eat your lunch

    Get up and do something, run up and down the stairs for example during TV ads (no excuses here!)

    Walk to the corner shop instead of driving or popping in on your way home

    Walk to friends houses instead of driving

    Take public transport and walk from the train station

    Dr. David Bassett studied an Amish community to see what things were like in the past. These guys have no cars, no electricity and do hard manual labor to put food on the table. Its like time travel to the past. They eat 3 large meals a day with lots of meat, vegetables and natural starches like potatoes.

    The 98 Amish adults Bassett surveyed wore pedometers for a week. The men averaged 18,000 steps a day. The women took an average of 14,000 steps.

    The men spent about 10 hours a week doing heavy work like plowing, shoeing horses, tossing hay bales, and digging. The women spent about 3.5 hours a week at heavy chores. Men spent 55 hours a week in moderate activity; women reported 45 hours a week of moderate chores like gardening and doing laundry. Wow that’s a lot of manual labor. Get a pedometer (its only like 20 bucks) and see how you fare.

    2. Fat Percentages and Obesity

    Activity level leads us right on to this point about obesity. The scary obesity rate is one of the most obvious changes in fitness.

    The obesity rate among the participants in the study of the Amish population was 4 percent, as determined by body mass index, or BMI. The current obesity rate among the urban populations is 30% or more. OK the obesity percentages are a scary thing because obesity is already in the “VERY high risk of a lot of bad ways to die” category. There is still the overweight category (obviously fat but not hitting the medically obese range) to consider. These people are at a high risk already!

    The total percentages of overweight + obese are really wild… hitting close to 70% in some cities. Compare this to the average in the 1980s. 10-15% obesity in most cities. It rose to the mid 20% in 1995 and its now at an all time high.

    3. Diet

    OK linked to point no.2 is of course diet. This is another obvious change in fitness. Its very simple actually. We now eat more refined foods (white bread, sugar, rice, flour, noodles). In the body these give pretty much the same response – FAT storage. The only time we should eat these items is immediately after hard training. As we can tell from point no.1, not much of any training is going on. But lots of eating is!

    We also eat less fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We eat more snacks like chips and cookies (which are also refined despite what advertisers claim).

    These changes in fitness are made more troubling because even natural foods today are not as good for us as they used to be. Current farming methods make vitamin and mineral content in fruits and vegetables drop about 10-40% depending on the mineral. Corn fed meats don’t give us as good an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio as we used to get from grass fed and free range animals. (that means not so many healthy fatty acids for us)

    And of course, we are also simply consuming more calories. The Amish people in the study in point no.1 ate about 3600 calories/day for men and 2100 calories/day for women. Many sedentary people consume this much and more! How? Well a fully “featured” gourmet coffee from coffee bean or Starbucks can add up to 500 calories in an instant of caffeine folly.

    That’s 2 hours of walking for an average sized lady.

    Just remember, calorie quality counts as well. 2000 calories of vegetables, meat and healthy fats is infinitely better than 2000 calories from french fries. Its close to impossible to get fat on the first, and nearly impossible not to get fat with the second.

    I like this car analogy. If you had a 2million dollar dream car, would you put low grade or high grade petrol into it? High grade of course! Then why do some people put low grade filth into their bodies which are so much more important than the car we drive?

    4. Games children play

    The average child who grows up in an urban environment is a motor-skill weakling. As a hobby, I coach youth basketball. In our talent scouting, I have kids do a very simple drill of dribbling in and out and around cones. There are so many kids who can’t do it and some who I think might fall down if asked to RUN around the cones without the ball! This is in contrast to the past where kids ran around, chased each other, played physical games and sports of all kinds, where the playground was the center of fun for young kids. This lack of activity not only causes a change in fitness for the child in his/her youth, but has a profound long term effect as well.

    Of course this change in fitness is a result of a combination of possible factors.

    Parents who only consider academic success to be worth striving for, who only give a child recognition and praise when they do well in academic subjects.

    An education system who also values book knowledge above other things and takes away physical education classes to put more academic lessons in.

    Poorly taught PE lessons that don’t help a child develop motor skills in the key early years Busy double-income families where fathers are not free to play with their children (or don’t care enough to… money isn’t everything dads)

    The maddening computer game addiction situation where virtual life is more important than real life. I believe this is the reason for all the empty basketball courts in my neighbourhood. It used to be that teams lined up to play there. Now only people my age (late 20s to 30s) play. No young kids are there any more.

    But actually, so what? The issue is that if kids stink at sport and physical activity, the well known psychological factor of “competence” comes is. Simply put, in general, we do what we are good at. If our next generation is poor at sport and physical activity, they are even less likely to do any of it! Which combined with items 1 to 3, make for a deadly health crisis for many countries. Obesity costs the UK 7.4 billion in national health care per year! If we don’t help our kids, that’s only going to grow to be a bigger and bigger burden for everybody.

    5. Social Support

    This is a more subtle change in fitness. People are communal animals. We stick with things because there is a supportive community behind us. Even drug and alcoholism rehab centers recognise this. We all need social support. But social links are getting weaker. And no, Friendster and MySpace links don’t make up for it.

    In a more connected but less close world (I know so many people who are only comfortable behind a computer screen and not in front of a real person) there is less social support than in the past (extended families, communal living, strong friendships within a neighbourhood etc) and its hard to stick with something which requires dedication and sacrifice like an exercise program. I’m not a sociologist but I do believe there is a reason that exercise classes do better in terms of membership than individualized training. Most of them certainly are not as effective as great individual coaching. But the social factor does come in when sustaining a lifestyle change is involved.

    6. Free Time

    This subtle change in fitness is pretty clear. We just have less time that we “own”. Bosses, social, family and other commitments make free time a very precious commodity and it adds difficulty to the fact that time is our only non renewable resource. When we choose to exercise or spend time cooking to keep a healthy lifestyle, we are competing with movies, games, TV and other things for free time. We know that exercise is good for us, but it not only has to be good for us, it has to be BETTER in our minds than the latest episode of desperate housewives, or the latest computer game. That’s the issue. We need to prioritize long term health over temporary fun.

    7. Training methods

    OK here is where we are doing well. 30 years ago the aerobics craze took the western world by storm. Its not a very good training method both in terms of results, and in terms of results per unit of time. Add that to the fact that we have such minimal time to train, we can’t afford to train in a sub-optimal way. We know a lot more now. Fortunately for us, there are good methods that smart coaches use to improve training efficiency and get RESULTS even with less training time. Some of these include smartly designed resistance training programs, interval training and good assessment techniques to determine individual needs. If you have a coach like that in your corner, you can turn back the clock and avoid becoming one of the ever growing statistic of people who’s health is headed in the wrong direction. Stay fit and strong and good luck!

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    by Jon Wong

    The Fitness Boom

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    While the worlds of sports and fitness are intertwined, it was not until the 1970s that popular culture was ready to accept fitness as eagerly as it had accepted sports. Fitness had not yet taken on its importance for improving health, and popular opinion likened fitness to work and manual labor. In the 1940s and 1950s, few participated in fitness willingly. Among those who did were Jack LaLanne, Victor Tanny, Joseph Gold, Joseph Weider, and Les and Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton. These fitness pioneers, among others, drew people to the beach in Santa Monica, California-the original Muscle Beach. Visitors came to watch their feats of strength and acrobatic displays. More and more viewers became participants, and these people, originally on the fringe, became a part of the cultural mainstream. Jack LaLanne, Vic Tanny, and Joe Gold all started gym chains with bodybuilding as their main focus. Due toPage 602 the influence of Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton, women were introduced to the muscularity and strength that came with bodybuilding. No longer reserved for just for “strongmen,” bodybuilding brought about a change in the mindsets of all those who visited Muscle Beach.

    From the seeds planted at the Santa Monica came Venice Beach, the home to bodybuilding legends Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and many, many more. Venice Beach in the 1970s brought with it a fitness explosion across the globe. Not only did bodybuilding become mainstream, but the popular opinion of fitness changed dramatically. Americans in the 1970s would do anything to improve their health and fitness.

    Sports and athletics grew in the 1970s as well. Women became increasingly more interest in participating in sports; however, very little funding was available for the development of woman’s athletics. A landmark law was passed in 1972. Part of a series of educational amendments, “Title IX,” legislated gender equity in athletics. Not only were women becoming more active and more physically fit, a law now existed that called for equal funding and equal opportunity for female athletes. On 21 September 1973, female tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the first-ever winner-take-all “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match. The hoopla surrounding this event-and its outcome-provided even more incentive for women to become involved with sports and fitness. By 1977, a record 87.5 million U.S. adults over the age of eighteen claimed to be involved in some sort of athletic activity.

    The fitness industry continued its growth into the 1980s. Gym owners tailored their facilities to attract customers and new gyms opened around the United States and around the world. A healthy lifestyle was becoming a part of popular culture. No longer was it unfashionable to be athletic, strong, or healthy. With the development of new technology, health and fitness were able to make their way into homes. Fitness tapes became available in the early 1980s and continue to encourage those to whom a gym or health facility may not be accessible. Innovators such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons were able to bring their exercise programs to a new population. Joe Weider became a significant force in bringing health, fitness, and bodybuilding as close as the mailbox through his magazines and pamphlets. Because of fitness pioneers such as Weider, Gold, Fonda, and Simmons, fitness continues to play a significant role in modern society. The importance of being in good health and physically fit has made and continues to have an impact.

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    by Kris Lee

    Fitness And Nutrition For Health

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    In the age which we live there is an unprecedented focus on getting and staying healthy. As more and more research points to the effect of fitness and nutrition on our overall health, the findings become more difficult to ignore. There is no doubt that the food that we eat and the physical activity that we perform significantly impact our weight and our body’s overall health and longevity.

    When you look at fitness and nutrition and the consequences of ignoring their importance, it is not difficult to see how large a role they play in our health. First and foremost, it is important to understand how powerfully diet can affect us. Natural, whole foods – such as fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins – give our bodies the vitamins that it needs to function effectively. We have energy when we eat right. And when we have energy we burn fat. Eating properly allows us to maintain a healthy weight and keep undue stress off of our hearts; it also allows us to keep our blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the healthy range. Most importantly, good nutrition keeps our bodies stocked with antioxidants that fight off a range of illnesses including cancer.

    But nutrition does go it alone; fitness and nutrition go hand in hand for achieving good health. When we keep our bodies active through a consistent exercise program, we are adding to our body’s ability to metabolize food and keep weight down. Further, good fitness means strong and limber muscles and a strong cardiovascular system. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and reduces stress levels.

    Learning how to pair fitness and nutrition for optimum health means a commitment to a particular lifestyle. It is essential that you revamp your diet to eliminate fatty, high-sodium, and processed food and replace it with fresh, natural – and even organic – choices. But remember, fitness and nutrition work best as a team. Implement a consistent regime of physical activity into your daily schedule including cardiovascular work, stretching, weight training, and even yoga or Pilates.

    When you truly understand the importance of fitness and nutrition in your life, you will understand how crucial these lifestyle changes are in order to live a long and healthy life.

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    by Michelle Bery

    Marketing to Senior Citizens – Health and Fitness, the Growing Trend Amongst Seniors

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    Today seniors can’t afford not to get moving! With all the hype around nutrition and exercise the aging population is well aware of the benefit of an active lifestyle.

    Most seniors of the 55 plus group are keen to reap the rewards of healthy aging through a variety of activities. They are not newcomers to the gym so to speak. Most have kept active with some form of physical activity throughout their lives, whether it is hardcore workouts in the gym or a congenial round of golf on a summer’s afternoon. Women of this age group have also managed years of multi-tasking, most having juggled full time careers, while raising families and still found time to fit in some form of exercise. These women became well acquainted with aerobics, step classes, strength training and power walking. Also, stress relievers such as yoga and pilates were embraced to combat tension and fatigue. In many cases these activities were their salvation of an overly busy lifestyle.

    It is only natural then, that these baby boomers are looking to continue their active lifestyle into retirement. Quite possibly, with the time constraints lifted at this stage in life, it leaves them to focus more sharply on their health and wellness.

    A huge opportunity exists for gyms and programming facilities to cater to this senior market. The number of seniors is set to skyrocket in the next five to ten years and if gym operators are to jump ahead of this curve, they should set their marketing sights on appealing to and attracting this demographic.

    How to go about this? What are seniors looking for when it comes to staying fit? Firstly it is important to see a visual image that they can relate to. Marketing success is all about seeing yourself in the picture, being that person who is strong, fit and beaming with energy. If a beautiful twenty something image is smiling back, then age becomes a handicap in the mind of the senior, derailing their good intentions, making them feel like they can’t compete. The perfect image that will empower the market they are trying to impress is an attractive fit senior pursuing the exercise of his or her choice. An ad such as this will pop with the 55 plus market, creating a role model with whom they can immediately identify and connect. Seniors like everyone else need to be able to put themselves into that ad campaign and honestly believe that it could be them looking out. This puts the wheels in motion for a positive mindset and a “can-do” attitude.

    Seniors are only as old as they feel. Once again we come back to the mind-set, which is a very powerful tool. Boomers today are constantly fighting the aging stereotype that has depicted seniors in the past. Seniors in their sixties often look, act and feel ten to fifteen years younger than their actual age. Advertising should play up to this pretense which promotes this healthy reversal known as “turning back the clock”.

    Another means of promoting fitness is to educate the senior who wants to get moving and who wants information as to how this will benefit them and enhance their life. They need to know the positives, what they can expect, and can look forward to as a result of embarking on the fitness journey that the marketer proposes. The campaign needs to encompass every aspect of their life, proving that properly presented, seniors will understand that an opportunity to change is being offered which will impact and alter their lifestyle. It’s within their reach, all that remains to be done, is to get out there, set realistic goals with realistic time frames and make it happen.

    This brings us to another point. Marketers should focus on the enhancement of senior life overall, as a result of engaging in exercise and activities, rather than the promise that, if you join up you will achieve this enviable body or snag that hot date. The quality of life and the heightened enjoyment of everyday activities which seniors can have as a result of exercise need to be highlighted.

    Marketing programs should also contain testimonials and feedback from actual seniors delighted with their progress and accomplishments, similar to that of “before and after stories of weight loss”. Seniors want to hear how it has enhanced and changed other people, who are just like themselves. They want to hear the successes, for example, how exercise lowered blood pressure, how strength training enabled other seniors to do more, how medication was reduced, how endurance was stretched. It all gives the feeling that anything is possible, if they can do it, then I can as well. It sends a message and an incentive to become a joiner.

    Seniors often prefer to sample a program on a trial basis to see if it’s going to be the right fit for them. Offering special programs geared to this group is smart when limiting them to one or two classes. Fitness activities can be offered at many different types of senior living facilities. Places such as retirement communities and nursing homes already recognize the need and benefits of fitness and nutritional programs. Approaching these senior residences is an effective strategy of marketing to large groups of seniors. There are also many senior assisted living residences that do not have organized fitness classes or programs in place yet, but they will soon. Visit these places and offer a free class or program, if these programs are successful you will know that this appeals to seniors and if the need is strong enough to continue. This will help to target the senior market, zeroing in on what works and what doesn’t.

    Marketers of fitness need to alter their sales approach to seniors. This age group is not impulsive and will appreciate a thorough, softer sell approach. Seniors need and want information and prefer patience. This in turn builds trust, instilling confidence in the senior contemplating buying a membership. It basically reaffirms that they are doing the right thing in taking this first step to join.

    Seniors as consumers hold certain expectations that need to be met for fulfillment. As part of the packaging of the programming, seniors also need and crave socialization and to be part of the group. They need leadership, to have an instructor to safely guide them through the program, with an eye to protecting them from injury and awareness of ailments like arthritis and osteoporosis in the participants. They look for convenience, with minimal stairs and easy entry, or even better brought to their home. Lastly they want value and attention, to feel like they are progressing and that their state of well being is something that is noted.

    As with any market, the sales approach needs to be geared to their age defined needs and preferences. In the year 2010 and in the coming years the greying of the boomers market will keep growing by leaps and bounds. There will be an even greater emphasis on slowing the effects of aging and possibly the reversal through movement and exercise. This, the marketers realize is what it’s all about at any age. Seniors, like everyone else, want to maintain a high quality of life and that definitely includes exercise to make it happen.

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    by Lawrence Comiskey

    Health and Fitness Gift Baskets Perfect For That Active Retiree

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    Is someone in your office workplace or someone that is close to you set to retire in the near future and you are looking for ideas on what to get him or her? Try a health and fitness themed gift basket. There are hundreds of different variations of baskets that can be made depending on the budget, gender of the person, general likes and dislikes, and where a person lives. Part of the gifts can be serious and the rest can be gag gifts. Here we will try and supply some different ideas for both men and woman that can neatly fit into a gift basket.

    Gift Basket Themes

    1. Golf Lovers Basket

    It may be a bit cliché but a large majority of retired men intend to play a lot of golf and a golf driving range gift certificate or golf course membership would fit perfectly in a gift basket. It can be a center piece of a golf themed gift basket which could include golf gloves, tees, balls, shoes, and any other golf related item you can think of. For a gag you can get the DVD Dwarf on Golf or all used products in the basket before giving the real basket.

    2. Exercise or Fitness Theme

    Many people say they want to exercise more but the eight do not have the time or they don’t want to spend the money. If you think your retiree would be interested in a gym member ship you can center a gift basket on a gym gift card and take those excuses away. You can include weight lifting gloves, exercise clothes, protein and nutritional bars, vitamins, head bands, and other like gym going products. Again, for a laugh you can personalize a T-shirt, towel, a big supply of sports cream for all the aches and pains, make a funny exercise tutorial or whatever else you can think of that would be funny.

    If a gym membership is not ideal but you think the person would want to exercise you can still do a gift basket but gear it more towards exercises that can be done at home. Include some exercise videos (P90X or Turbo Jam for example), exercise bands, weighted aerobics gloves, yoga mat, exercise cloths, different fitness drinks and foods, small weights, roller blades, running shoes, and so on. The combination or themes are truly endless. Again, for fun you can include a funny videos, exercise for the “never even though of beginning” manual, a funny list of do’s and don’ts, and a funny list of motivational quotes.

    3. Day Spa Theme

    For the person that needs to relax and be taken cared of send them to a spa for a day so they can get that much needed massage, acupuncture treatment, and aroma therapy. The basket can include some soft nature music, candles, lotions and oils, massaging tools, foot soaker, facial creams, and anything else that will go along with the theme. The mockery that can be created with this can get crude in a hurry, but having funny labels on the lotions, creative titles of manuals, hair waxing products, toe jam cures, and so on. Like I said this one could get funny so have fun with it.

    4. Sports and Recreational Themes

    A lot of people are fanatical about a specific sport, so you can do a football themed gift basket including tickets to a game, or for a tennis player buy a racket. Where I live people are nuts for the Ohio State Buckeyes so buying a golf bag with Brutus the Buckeye on the side, or football jersey with his or her name on the back would go a long way. To get a laugh buy something that is totally irrelevant to the sport like ping pong ball for a golfer or soccer ball for a basketball fan. A big gag is making a basket of a rival sports teams products, but keep it inexpensive because most of it will never see the light of day.

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    by Keith Morales

    However you like your happy ending massage, hands only, a nice slow blowjob, or a double real pleasure our massage agency has you covered for all services.