Choosing a Martial Art

March 8, 2013 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

English: A match between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu b...

A match between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelts Gabriel Vella and Romulo Barral at the 2009 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never could get into gym life. I knew weightlifting and aerobic training improved my strength and stamina, but I never found either particularly motivating — a death sentence for any exercise regime. Don’t get me wrong: weight training and aerobic gym classes are excellent exercise; they just didn’t work for me personally.

My training motivation comes less from seeing improvements in my health and more from learning a new skill. So martial arts were a much better choice for me. I found I enjoyed the traditional structure and ritual of the karate dojo, and the belt system provided a built-in goal setting system. Besides, after a few months training I got to play with tonfa, Bo sticks and other weaponry, which impressed the hell out of my inner child.

Like other exercise programs, martial arts aren’t one-size-fits-all. Fortunately, dojos and donjons are easy to find across the country, whether you live in Los Angeles, California, or are staying in one of the Dover, Delaware hotels. Below are some of the more commonly taught martial arts, each with its own benefits and philosophy.

Aikido

Aikido forgoes attack, focusing solely on defense. The art relies on transforming your attacker’s motion and movements into controlling counter-techniques. Attacks are taught only as a means to practice defense.

Jiu-Jitsu

Another Japanese art, Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling art focusing on throws, holds and ground fighting. A subset of Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very popular, and teaches tactics where a smaller person can defeat a larger, stronger individual by taking the fight to the ground, using choke holds and joint locks to control the opponent.

Judo

Judo evolved from Jiu-Jitsu. Also a grappling art, judo has become a popular Olympic sport, and emphasizes immobilizing and subduing an opponent without causing significant damage.

Taekwondo

A Korean art, taekwondo emphasizes the use of kicks, capitalizing on the greater reach and strength legs have over arms. Sparring and competition are important aspects of the art, with safety gear worn for protection.

Karate

While most people think of karate as Japanese, the art developed in the islands of Okinawa. Practice includes set forms (kata), prearranged drills and sparring. Karate dojos may include instruction in traditional Okinawa weapons such as the sai and tonfa.

Kung Fu

Kung fu, more correctly known as wushu, describes a wide range of fighting styles from China. Popularized in the west by Bruce Lee, kung fu schools vary widely in their philosophy, training focus and forms. Some styles mimic graceful animal behavior, some on external strength, and other on cultivating internal “qi,” or inner energy. If you’re a fan of weapons training, kung fu offers a broad range of weapons, from long swords to three-sectioned staffs.

Muay Tai

Muay Tai is a Thai art known for vicious elbow and knee strikes from close quarters and clinches. Full-contact Muay Tai is a powerful fighting style with connections to Chinese and India martial arts. The art places great emphasis on conditioning and strength.

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed martial arts (MMA) are full contact schools, which borrow striking and grappling techniques from many different schools.  Some purists deny MMA qualifies as a martial art, but the fighting style is often brutally effective.

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The Best Ways to Prep for a Strengthening Program

March 7, 2013 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Gym Free-weights Area Category:Gyms_and_Health...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve heard that it’s wise to get a physical before starting any kind of new workout regimen. That’s true, but do you know why? In addition to checking to see if you’re fit enough for a particular program, you can also uncover some hidden health issues. I recently got back into Mixed Martial Arts, and my physical revealed a problem that was easy to fix.

My iron levels were shockingly low. That was hurting my endurance, seriously increasing fatigue and caused issues with building muscle. Of course, upping iron levels is relatively easy with a change in diet and supplements. However, skipping that physical would have caused a lot of frustration and plateaus that were completely unnecessary.

Tackle Your Diet First

Depending on your goals, you’re going to have to change your diet. If you solely want to build bulk, there’s a good chance you’ll need to increase your protein and the number of meals you eat per day. It might sound like eating more protein is easy, but that’s not necessarily true. A rough estimate of how many grams of protein you need is three-quarters of your body weight (or between half and three-quarters for women).

A man who weighs 180 pounds needs about 135 grams of protein a day when on a bodybuilding regimen. Similarly, a 180 pound woman would need at least 90 grams. That’s a lot of protein, and eating it all in meats isn’t necessarily healthy. Always work with a nutritionist if you’re a newbie to eating for bulk. This can drastically reduce risks and help you quickly get on track.

Less is More

If you think you’ll get bigger the more time you’re in the gym, think again. I know exactly how you feel. You might think the whole “working out too much” thing is only an issue for seriously athletes. However, when it comes to building bulk, the majority of your success happens outside the gym when your muscles are repairing.

The Colorado Experiment is proof that you don’t need to work out a lot to gain muscle. While this experiment dealt with a former bodybuilder who was, for lack of a better phrase, a genetic freak, the facts are still there. He only lifted for 30 minutes per day a few days a week and packed on 60 pounds of muscle in one month. If you don’t allow your muscles to repair, they won’t get any bigger.

Diversify Yourself

Your body gets used to routines, so don’t stick with a lifting program for more than three months. You might feel like avoiding cardio all together, but that’s not always smart. At the very least, opt for a 10-minute warm-up before lifting. Diversify these warm-ups with running, walking at an incline, stairs or the elliptical.

Most importantly, make sure you enjoy what you’re doing. If you dread going to the gym, you’re likely going to fail. Whether you’re a Harrisburg wrongful death attorney or a florist, you still have other things going on in your life. A strengthening regimen should fit into your life, not overpower it.

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How Depression Affects The Heart

March 5, 2013 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

Moment of silence

Depression hits us all from time to time and it can have a serious impact on our eating habits, our social life, and overall general well-being. Recent research has shown that depression can have negative effects on the biological functioning of your heart. Depression often roots from one’s inability to healthily manage unfortunate circumstances in their life. This inevitable overload is unmanaged stress which can lead high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, arterial damage, and even a weakened immune system. This in turn puts those who suffer from depression at a greater risk of having a heart attack.

 

The lack of exercise that depression tends to cause is ultimately the most harmful effect it has on the heart. An imbalance of serotonin levels in your brain brought on by a mentally (or emotionally) stressful event has been found to decrease your appetite and energy levels. In a lot of cases this leads to a serious decline in exercise. When we are depressed, some form of exercise can actually counteract the imbalance of serotonin by releasing chemicals known as endorphins which can actually counteract depression. Ultimately, serotonin imbalance has been found to make us depressed but it does not make us tired or lazy. It just makes us more susceptible to inactivity if we were not regularly active before thus proving that our mental health and the way we deal with depression is what affects our heart.

 

Depression is a lot like a drug in that it can infect us by intensifying pain, make us want to socially isolate ourselves, and worsen fatigue. Practicing healthy habits, not taking medications, is the best way to counteract depression and improve the health of your heart at the same time. Find an active hobby that allows you to relieve stress and gets your blood flowing. Don’t be around people who make you feel miserable but make it a point to be with those that make you happy. Depression is a bridge by which our mental stress can harm our heart. Make yourself happy and your heart will follow suit.

 

About the Author:

Sam Foster is a health writer with a passion for running, swimming, and cycling. When he’s not gearing up for his next Iron Man or triathlon he writes for St. Luke’s Hospital, one of the nation’s top hospitals in heart care.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.