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5 Exercise Tips for Optimum Wellness

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Updated September 13, 2013

Tip #1: Weight Train

If there is a such thing as a panacea, weight training is it. Weight training increases bone density, builds and tones muscle, burns fat and calories, improves posture, boosts self-esteem, releases anti-aging hormones, and prevents injuries.

If you're a newbie, the easiest way to create a realistic program is to join a gym. The trainers there can guide you on how to use weights safely and effectively, and can help you customize a program that you can continue on your own. For people who like more structure and motivation, most fitness clubs also have group classes that use weights.

Tip #2: Try Rebounding or Skipping

Skipping or using a mini-trampoline or rebounder stimulates the lymphatic system, which consists of millions of tiny channels that parallel our network of blood vessels. The lymph channels transport fats and other substances around the body and helps with the elimination of waste products from cells. Unlike blood, which has the heart as a pump, the lymphatic system doesn't have a pump. It relies on exercise and deep breathing to keep it moving.

The problem is that many people spend most of their time sitting down. To make matters worse, stress causes shallow breathing, which can further reduce lymph flow. The end result is sluggish lymph flow, leading to frequent colds and flu, tiredness, and increased risk of chronic disease.

Skipping is the easiest way to target lymph flow (although any exercise will help). It's inexpensive and can be done at home or at the gym. The mini-trampoline, or rebounder, is another option. Five minutes every morning and night is sufficient for most people.

Tip #3: Balance Your Workout With Calming Exercise

Ancient practices such as tai chi, qi gong, and yoga improve flexibility and balance. They use breath, mind, and body to restore energy, reduce stress, and calm an agitated mind. These practices have become sufficiently mainstream that classes can be found in many neighborhoods.

Tip #4: Target Your Core

Your body's "core" - the area around your trunk and pelvis, including your abs and your low back - is where your center of gravity is located. Targeting these muscles not only gives you toned abs, but they support your low back. Over time, a weak core can make you susceptible to poor posture, low back pain, and injury.

Traditional abs exercises, like sit-ups and crunches, focus on the rectus abdominis, but it's important to work all the core muscles because one weak area can cause poor posture and make you susceptible to injury. The best core exercises involve moving your limbs while stabilizing your abs. My favorite tool for working the core muscles is the exercise, or stability, ball. It's effective because you have to balance on the inflated ball while exercising (it looks like a big beach ball), which engages your core. There are many exercise videos available using the balance ball. The one I use is Gunnar Peterson's Core Secrets.

Tip #5: Use Bands and Balls

Resistance bands and exercise, or balance, balls are two effective exercise tools:

Exercise ball - Performing exercises on an exercise ball enhances flexibility, balance, and co-ordination, and strengthens and tones muscles. Doing exercises on a wobbly ball builds a lean and strong core, which is the key to better posture.

Resistance bands - Resistance bands are another efficient way of exercising. You get more out of the return part of each movement compared to using free weights or machines.

Note: If you haven't exercised for a while or have a medical condition, get your doctor's okay to start.

Go to the Wellness Makeover.

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