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Sculptures of ancient Greek artists show us clearly that impressive physiques were achievable, without exercise gurus, weight loss programs and sophisticated training devises, more than two thousand years ago. Therefore, the word "classical" means, in this approach: based on solid science and good sense, on historical observation and the experiences of many nations. "Classical" also means: challenging the excessive commercialism of today's fitness and diet industry; challenging the confusing and often contradictory flood of information inspired not by competent research but by race for profits.
Every fitness guru comes up with some "miraculous” system or equipment that eventually contributes to general confusion. In response, we try to restore rational, balanced and honest perspective of physical activity and dieting.
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body,
it is the basis of dynamic an creative intellectual activity. Intelligence and skill
can only function at the peak of their capacity, when the body is strong.
Hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies.
John F. Kennedy
A regular exercise program (30 minutes of physical activity at least 3 times a week) can reduce your risk of dying in the next eight years by 40%, improve brain function, cut your risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 60%, and reverse the symptoms of depression. This is a powerful medicine, given that 80% of the U.S.A. population over 65 suffers from at least one chronic condition, and 50% have two or more, according to a report from the National Institute on Aging and the Census Bureau.
What is about physical activity that makes it so important? As scientists learn more about how the aging process works, they are finding that exercise - both aerobic and strength training - has a tremendous impact on every cell in the body, reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow, and even reversing the natural declines in oxygen efficiency and muscle mass that come with aging.
Majority of aggressively advertised exercise and weight loss gadgets
can be adequately replaced by real life objects or real life activities.
Common Nutrition Myths
1. Eating before bedtime is fattening. It’s not the hour of day that is a problem. It’s the excess calories. People burn calories even when they’re sleeping, but staying up late, mindlessly munching, will add pounds.
2. Fresh fruits and veggies are healthier than frozen or canned. Frozen and canned produce is harvested at peak ripeness and may even be of higher quality than fresh. Frozen and canned versions are also often cheaper and won’t spoil quickly. But read the labels to make sure there is no too much added salt or sugar.
3. Nuts are bad for you. Wrong. Eating nuts is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. They’re very low in carbohydrates, so they won’t cause fluctuations in blood sugar. And they’re high in heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
4. Eating sugar causes diabetes. Sugar is not the cause of diabetes. Diabetes is caused by excess body fat, which can interfere with the body’s ability to process carbohydrates or sugar from food.
5. Americans need to eat more protein. In fact, Americans consume about twice the protein they need. People need 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, which means most women need about 60 grams of protein per day and most men need about 80. It doesn’t come just from meat and dairy. All the food groups except fruit and fats include protein.
6. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid fish. Actually, omega-3 helps with brain development. Avoid fish that tends to be high in mercury, like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.
Source of information: American Dietetic Association; Duke Diet & Fitness Center
EXERCISE FOR OVERWEIGHT AND OBESE PERSONS
Although not all overweight people are obese, from a physiological point of view no distinction should be made between the two groups. The biological mechanism of losing weight is the same for all of us.
There is abundant evidence to suggest that exercise, without diet and lifestyle modification, is an ineffective way to lose substantial amounts of weight. When caloric restriction is moderate, adding aerobic or strength training may considerably enhance weight loss. However, with severe calorie restriction, exercise does not appear to increase the rate of weight loss.
You must be aware that your resting metabolism rate (RMR) represents the largest portion of the total daily energy expenditure (typically 60-75 percent). A stringent diet dramatically decreases your energy use around the clock and an hour or even two of exercising will not make much difference. On the other hand, when you restrict your food intake moderately your resting metabolic rate will drop only slightly. At the same time, exercise will tend to increase your RMR above levels before you started dieting. You will lose weight, even when you sleep.
Resting metabolic rate is directly related to the amount of fat-free mass (represented mainly by muscle mass) a person has. Thus, a drop in fat-free mass (FFM) will usually result in a drop in RMR. Once again, a stringent diet will reduce your FFM. You will eat little and you will lose little.
When your weight loss diet is moderate, exercise will not only prevent loss of your fat-free mass but even increase it. For that purpose, strength training - also known as weight training or resistance training - works best. On the other hand, any other exercise is good enough, if you like it. The following are several guidelines for overweight and obese people, who want to exercise:
1. Do not look for some special program. Any new physical activity is exercise. For example, if you haven’t walked much before, start walking. Obese persons should take several shorter walks a day rather than a longer one, to prevent too much stress on their joints.
2. Strength training can be done in many different ways. If you don’t like lifting weights, use rubber bands or tubes. You can also do squats, push-ups or isometric exercise (straining you muscle and holding for several seconds). Warning: avoid isometric exercise, if you have high blood pressure. Obese people should start strength exercise in a sitting position. Perform different movements with your arms holding light weights or stretching rubber bands. Take care to move you shoulders to the front, back, up and down. Train your thigh muscles by flexing and extending legs at the knee. Train your abdominals and hip flexors by pushing you knees towards your chest.
3. Engage the overload principle. When a certain level of effort seems too easy, increase it. Walk a little faster in the same time. Use heavier weights or stronger bands. Do squats or push-ups slower, thus putting more beneficial stress on your muscle. We strongly encourage obese persons to stick with strength training. It’s easier for them than aerobic exercise and better stimulates initial weight loss. Of course, some forms of cardiovascular exercise should always be present. You could use combinations like this: strength training plus walking, strength training plus gardening, strength training plus an increased amount of household chores, strength training plus swimming. If obese persons used to swim, they should renew this activity, because they are much lighter and thus more mobile in the water.
4. Never forget stretching. Even if you are very heavy and can hardly reach below your knees, you should stretch, particularly after a strength training session. Many people consider stretching to be a boring addition to their routines, while it should be the best part. Stretch to relax. Add a form of meditation to your stretching to acquire not only physical but also mental relaxation.
Fitness is more important than weight loss!
If you're overweight, you're automatically at risk for heart disease, right? Well, not exactly. While being heavy is generally considered a prime risk factor for cardiovascular problems, recent research ( supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) suggests that a woman's fitness level might be more important than her weight.
As noted in The Journal of the American Medical Association, an analysis of data from the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study reveals that a lack of physical fitness is a greater predictor of adverse cardiac events than excess body weight. The women in the study already had risk factors for heart disease, but so do 80 percent of women over 50, says lead investigator Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
As usual, it looks like exercise is essential to your health - no matter what size you are.
TEN MOST COMMON WEIGHT-LOSS MISCONCEPTIONS
1. I need to go on a diet.
The whole concept of a diet sets us up to think we will be on a diet then off a diet. Instead, think of your weight-loss plan as a lifestyle commitment to healthy eating and exercise, for the rest of your life.
2. I'll get back on track next Monday.
There's no day like today. If you slip, just pick up where you left off. Persistence works wonders.
3. All my problems will be solved when I lose weight.
Dropping pounds may leave you feeling healthier and happier - but it won't make you more lovable or turn you into a runway model. Be clear about why you want to lose weight and set realistic goals.
4. I shouldn't wear a bathing suit until I've lost all the weight.
Lots of people of all different sizes enjoy sexy clothes. When you love yourself, you start enjoying life. Break big goals into smaller ones, and reward yourself along the way. Rather than saying: I need to lose 25 pounds, say: I'll buy a new swimsuit, one size smaller.
5. The less I eat, the faster I'll lose weight.
Wrong. The less we eat, the slower our metabolism gets, and the slower we lose the weight. Deprivation also makes us unhappy and actually causes us to overeat and overindulge. A slow and steady approach is your best bet for building a healthy relationship with food and reaching your long-term goals.
6. In order to lose weight, I have to give up the foods I love.
Treating yourself to your favorite foods - of course in moderation - is not only allowed but even recommended by rational weight loss programs.
7. In order to lose weight, I must exercise.
Exercise is very good for everybody and it will greatly enhance your weight loss efforts, but you can still lose weight without exercising.
8. Once I've gained weight having a baby, I'll never lose it.
Weight loss is achievable for anyone. After giving birth, your metabolism may be sluggish, but you can quickly speed it up and lose weight just by eating the right proportions of foods at right times during the day.
9. Fat free foods help me lose weight and keep it off.
Fat free foods are unfortunately not calorie free foods. It's calories not just fat that really cause you to gain weight. Once again, you can control your calorie intake without counting or depriving yourself of the foods you love.
10. There is no point in even trying to lose weight, because as soon as I do, I put it right back on.
That usually happens, when you lose weight by starvation. You slow down your metabolism to such a degree that even a moderate increase in eating thwarts your efforts. Rational dieting is the best way to long term weight loss.
Do not believe that factors such as will-power or self-control are absolutely necessary to exercise and lose weight.
First of all, your must use your imagination.
Healthy lifestyle requires sufficient amount of healthy sleep. Unfortunately, at least 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. If you are one of them visit: NSF. The National Sleep Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders.
United States Department of HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES will provide you with competent information concerning healthy diet, exercise and fitness, drugs and dietary supplements, smoking and drinking, and many other aspects of your lifestyle or well-being.
With nearly 65,000 members, THE AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being.
AMERICA WALKS is a national coalition of local advocacy groups dedicated to promoting walkable communities. Their members are autonomous grassroots organizations from across the country, each working to improve conditions for walking in their area.
AMERICA ON THE MOVE is a national initiative dedicated to helping individuals and communities across our nation make positive changes to improve health and quality of life.
COUNTING EXERCISE CALORIES
Studies show exercise can promote weight loss no matter how much you weigh. A brisk half-hour walk a day is enough to get the benefits. Combined with a healthy diet, it also helps stave off obesity. How many calories does your exercise burn?
Sitting burns 80 calories per hour; Weight lifting (non-vigorous) burns 230 calories per hour; Volleyball (recreational) burns 240 calories per hour; Golf (played without cart) burns 250 calories per hour; Lawn mowing burns 325 calories per hour; Walking (at 4 mph) burns 325 calories per hour; Dancing (night club) burns 395 calories per hour; Hiking burns 430 calories per hour; Pilates burns 440 calories per hour; Aerobics (high impact) burns 505 calories per hour; Racquetball (recreational) burns 505 calories per hour; Tennis (singles) burns 510 calories per hour; In-line skating burns 505 calories per hour; Skiing (cross country) burns 575 calories per hour; Hockey (ice or field) burns 575 calories per hour; Martial arts (Taekwondo or intensive karate) burns 720 calories per hour; Bicycling (at 15 mph) burns 720 calories per hour; Running in place burns 650 calories per hour; Running (a ten-minute-per-mile pace) burns 720 calories per hour; Jumping rope burns 730 calories per hour; Swimming burns 750 calories per hour.
You will probably notice that these numbers vary widely, from source to source, depending on methodology applied or intensity predicted, so use them to get a general idea rather than to precisely calculate your calorie expenditure. The three most miscalculated exercises are: running, swimming and weight lifting. Because running so easily causes perspiration and hyperventilation (breathing faster than is necessary at a given pace), its intensity - in terms of calorie burning - is often overstated. You feel quickly tired, while running, because the same group of large leg muscles cries for more and more oxygen, mobilizing your whole system. Swimming, on the other hand, engages almost all muscles of your body, not just one group. The hyperventilation effect occurs to a much lesser degree and you do not feel perspiration, when your body is wrapped up in water. We strongly believe that swimming is one of the best ways to expend calories for the following reasons: 1) You use your muscles not only to move forward but also to stay on the surface; 2) Any time you slow down, your muscles work harder to keep you afloat; 3) Water more readily absorbs your body heat than air, which means losing a lot of additional calories by just being immersed.
As far as weight lifting is concerned, you should remember this: although a strength training session does not consume a lot of calories by itself, it considerably increases your metabolic rate (much more and for much longer than any other exercise) for many hours to follow; you rest and you continue burning fat as if you were doing chores or walking.
To achieve a good fitness level and successfully lose weight you do not need to engage in the most calorie-burning exercise activities. My advice: chose several exercise routines and do them in a constantly changing pattern. Nothing thwarts fitness and weight loss efforts more than the boredom of a repetitive exercise. For example: I go for martial arts, weight training and walking. When I feel fed up with taekwondo, I take more walks; when walks start to bore me, I get in a nice weight lifting session. Remember: there is no one way to physical well-being and no one way to effective weight control. There are many.
CALCULATING YOUR CALORIE REQUIREMENTS
First of all you should get an idea of, what your resting metabolic rate is. The human body at rest burns between 0.8 and 1.6 calorie per minute. It places the resting energy requirement of most people somewhere between 1150 and 2300 calories per day. A lean small woman would use at rest about 1200 calories, while a big, overweight man would use more than 2000 calories.
When you know your resting energy expenditure, you can much easier calculate how many more calories you need to fuel your everyday activities, including exercise.
You can use this popular and relatively reliable formula, based on your body weight: multiply your weight in pounds by 10, if your physical activities are light, by 15 if your activities are moderate and by 20, if your are a very active person. The result will be an approximate daily amount of calories required by your body.
You can finer tune this calculation by taking into consideration your age. Subtract from the result of the above multiplication 100 calories for age 35 - 44; 200 calories for age 45 - 54; 300 calories for age 55 -64; 400 calories for age 65 and above.
For example: if you are a 46 year old person, weighing 160 pounds and moderately active the calculation of your daily calorie consumption will be: 160 x 15 - 200 = 2200.
Be aware that men require a little more energy, even if they weigh the same as women, because they naturally have more muscle and muscles consume more energy than any other human tissue. This distinction diminishes with aging, when men lose more and more of their lean body mass.
EXERCISE AT ANY AGE
Women who begin exercising may live longer lives , even if they don't get started until after age 65. A 12.5-year study of more than 7,500 women age 65 and older revealed that women who increased their fitness activity levels during the course of the study had a 48 percent lower risk of death from any cause than those who did not exercise. Modest increases in fitness and weight loss activities, such as dancing, swimming, walking and gardening, resulted in a 36 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 51 percent lower risk of cancer.|
According to lead research Dr. Edward W. Gregg of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, modest increases in physical activity, including exercise, could have wide-ranging benefits from improved risk factors and reduced disability.
Dr. Gregg suggests these findings could translate into substantial reductions in mortality and that more should be done to encourage older women to participate in low- and moderate-intensity exercise. They don't even need to lose weight or improve their fitness level a lot. All they need to do is exercise a little.
Although the above study concentrated on older women, this does not mean that it should be disregarded by older men. Male seniors, interested in losing weight and improving their overall fitness levels, will also benefit a lot from exercise, no matter at what age they start practicing it.
Studies of people over the age of 60 revealed that strength training three times per week helped increase the amount of time the study participants were able to spend walking on a treadmill. Both high-intensity and low-intensity strength-training programs did the trick.
FITNESS TIPS FOR SEDENTARY FOLKS
The National Institutes of Health offer these guidelines for beginning exercisers
Start Very Light
Do not to begin with a structured exercise program. Increase your standing physical activities and special chores such as room painting, pushing a wheelchair, yard work, ironing, or cooking.
Bump It Up
Once you're comfortable moving your body, start with some slow walking, do some garage work, carpentry, housecleaning, child care, golf, sailing, or recreational table tennis.
Bump It Up Some More
Get into moderate fitness activity such as brisk walking, weeding and hoeing your garden, carrying a load, cycling, skiing, tennis or dancing.
Eventually, move into speed-walking or walking with small weights uphill. Participate in sports such as basketball, soccer, flexibility exercises, strength or resistance training, and aerobic conditioning.
Observe your calorie intake, servings of fruits and vegetables, and exercise sessions. Set fitness goals for yourself that are specific, attainable, and forgiving.
Pats On the Back
Administer rewards to yourself for meeting your fitness goals. Treat yourself to a movie, buy a CD, take an afternoon off from work, or give yourself an hour of quiet time away from family.
WHAT TRADITION MEANS FOR A CONTEMPORARY EXERCISER?
Over the centuries, goals of physical exercise have not changed. Ancient Greeks exercised to make their bodies strong, healthy and fit and we do the same. Ancient soldiers trained to be successful in the battle and so do American Marines.
In our highly technological times people tend to think that good exercise should be complicated, supported by sophisticated methods and fancy equipment. This is not true, because scientific and technical development has nothing to do with human physiology. Our bodies today are not any different from the bodies of ancient Greeks or Romans. The exercises they practiced thousands years ago are perfectly valid today. To prove our point, we placed a picture the 2,500 years old statue of an Athenian disc thrower on this page. Obviously, the Greek sculptor's model did not use exercise machines or steroids to shape his impressive body.
You can learn a lot from the tradition of exercise and sports. Among other things, it teaches you that simple fitness routines are as effective as those performed in modern gyms. It inspires you, because you cannot say: people in older times didn't exercise, so why should I? It gives you objective knowledge, because successful exercise methods of the past are not exaggerated by commercial hype.
THE FIRST MODERN OLYMPIC GAMES
By the effort of one man, Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), ancient tradition entered the twentieth century. The Olympic Games in Athens, in 1896, proved that physical exercise and sports were not some marginal or incidental activities of the human race. They may have been neglected or underestimated over the centuries but every epoch and every generation had their dedicated advocates of bodily fitness and athletic performance. The message sent by the first modern Olympiad was clear and simple: since the dawning of civilization to this day the goals of physical exercise and sports competition have been the same. We train our bodies to be healthy, strong and disciplined, and we compete to compare our achievements.
Coubertin first proposed the modern Olympic Games in 1892. Two years later, at an international athletic congress in Paris, the delegates voted unanimously to hold a revived Olympic competition in Athens, in 1896. Pierre de Coubertin was the first president (1896–1925) of the International Olympic Committee.
Less than 300 athletes from 13 countries competed in Athens, in 1896, but the Games, held under the royal patronage of the King of Greece, were a huge success. Over 60,000 people attended the opening ceremony in the grand marble stadium restored specifically for the occasion. Several gold medal winners became international celebrities.
The program included twelve track and field events, eight gymnastic events, five target shooting events and also fencing, swimming and weight lifting. Many competitions that took place in Athens are not a part of the Olympic program any longer. Among them were: rope climbing, one hand weight lifting, swimming for sailors, army gun shooting and foil fencing for professionals.
Americans dominated the track and field events. James Connolly was the first athlete to win a medal in the Athens Olympiad. He won the triple jump. T. Burke triumphed in the 100 metre and 400 metre races. E. Clark was the best in the high jump and long jump. R. Garret won the shot put and the discus throw. American athletes also prevailed in the pole vault (W. Hoyt) and in the 110-metre hurdles race (T. Curtis). Most of the American athletes, competing in the Athens Olympics represented the Boston Athletic Association and Princeton University.
The most inspirational athlete of the first modern Olympic Games was a modest, 21 year old Greek shepherd, Spiridon Loues (also spelled Louis), who won the marathon. He prepared for the race by fasting and praying. What is interesting, Spiridon's participation in the 1896 Olympics marathon was the only occasion in his life that he competed in sport. Nevertheless, he became the hero of all Greece and an eternal memory in Greek and international sport history.
Think about refectory!
For centuries, refectory used to be a dining hall in a college, religious house or some other institution. It was the only place where meals were served to a given group, usually three times a day, at the same hours. Refectories fed millions of good citizens, including students, clergymen, soldiers, teachers, scholars, statesmen. Few of them suffered real hunger, few were underfed, and even fewer got a chance to become overweight people. Refectory style of nourishing had obvious advantages and here are some: 1) there was no grazing all day long; 2) there were no snacks between meals; 3) people were not preoccupied with weight loss, weight control and diets; 4) eating was perceived as a life-sustaining activity and not as an essential part of life.
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