Month: May 2017

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Stomach Protrusions With Sit-Ups

Seeing a lump or protrusion in your belly while doing situps can be alarming, especially if there are more than one. The most likely cause of the protrusion, or protrusions, is a hernia — a weakness in the wall of the abdominal tissue. In some cases, it is not a cause for concern, but you should consult your physician for a diagnosis. If it’s severe, you may require surgery to repair the abdominal wall.
A hernia can occur anywhere in the body but happens most often in the abdominal area, particularly the inguinal, or pelvic, region. The hernia is the result of an organ or intestine poking through the peritoneum — the lining of the abdominal cavity. Hernias are classified by where they appear in the abdomen, and it’s possible to have more than one. A hiatal hernia will appear in the upper part of the stomach, and an inguinal hernia appears in the groin area. An umbilical hernia appears around the area of the belly button. Umbilical hernias are more commonly seen in infants, and result when the muscle around the umbilicus doesn’t completely close.
Many times, hernias have no symptoms, and you may not notice it until you put exceptional pressure on the abdomen, such as when you perform a situp or bend over at the waist. Some hernias can cause discomfort, and the discomfort can get worse when you put pressure on the belly. If the discomfort increases, or you start to feel pain, the tissue, organ or intestine that is causing the protrusion may be caught in the hole in the peritoneum. If this is the case, seek immediate medical attention.
Any activity that puts pressure on the abdominal area can lead to a hernia, especially if you have had surgery in the area or an injury. Situps may be the cause, if you are doing a lot of them, or they may just be making the hernia worse or more noticeable. Other common causes of hernias are obesity or sudden weight gain, chronic coughing, lifting heavy weights, pregnancy, chronic constipation and any other activity that causes you to constantly strain the abdominal muscles. Poor nutrition, cystic fibrosis, smoking and overexertion can also lead to a hernia.
Consult a doctor for treatment. Your doctor may decide to simply monitor the hernia if it is small and not causing you any discomfort. If there is a risk of further damage, or the hernia is causing you discomfort, you may need to have surgery. In some cases, a less-invasive surgery known as laparoscopic surgery, which uses a camera and smaller incisions, may be performed. According to PubMed Health, most surgeries are done using cloth patches to plug the hole. If the hernia is painful, turns red or purple, or you have nausea and vomiting along with the pain, seek immediate medical attention. Another reason to seek immediate medical attention is if you cannot manually push the hernia back into your abdominal cavity with gentle pressure, even if there is no pain.


How to Lose 20 Pounds in One Month

Weight loss becomes an urgent goal with a big vacation or wedding looming just a month away. You’d feel better and fit into that special outfit if you could lose 20 pounds and are willing to do the work to get to that weight. Unless you’re extremely overweight and on a medically prescribed plan, however, this rate of weight loss is nearly impossible to achieve in just 30 days. However, a month does give you time to lose some weight and to jump start healthy habits to continue to slim down after your goal date.
Weight loss occurs when you create a deficit in calories between what you eat and what you burn. To lose 20 pounds in 30 days, you’d need to lose about 5 pounds per week. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so to lose at this rate you need to use diet and exercise to create a deficit equal to 17,500 calories per week — or 2,500 calories per day. This is more calories than many people regularly need daily to fuel basic functions and activity, so such a deficit is nearly impossible to create. Even if you burn enough calories daily to create this deficit, you’d likely have to survive on a near-starvation diet plan, which stalls your metabolism, causes you to lose valuable muscle and puts you at risk of nutrition deficiencies. Also, once you return to eating as you were before your weight-loss effort, you’ll gain the weight back quickly. A quality weight-loss plan guides you in losing weight gradually with sustainable strategies so you can keep the weight off for life. Losing weight at a rate faster than 3 pounds per week for more than a few weeks also puts you at risk of developing gallstones. Morbidly obese people put on medical very-low-calorie diet programs can lose weight at a rate of 3 to 5 pounds per week for up to 12 weeks, but these plans are supervised by a doctor and consist of specially designed, nutritionally balanced meal replacements.
A healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. When you first start a diet plan and make drastic changes in the way you eat and move, you may lose more weight initially in the form of water. This rapid weight loss should level off after a couple of weeks, however. A deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day is reasonable and doable for most people. This will help you lose between 4 and 8 pounds safely in one month. Expect it to take at least 2 1/2 months to lose your goal of 20 pounds. Determine first how many calories you burn per day using an online calculator, then consume 500 to 1,000 fewer calories daily. If that puts you below the minimum recommended 1,200 calories for a woman, or 1,800 calories for a man, plan to add more exercise and to potentially settle for a slower rate of loss than 1 to 2 pounds per week. You want to take in this minimum number of calories to help ensure balanced nutrition and to ward off potential binge eating that results from the feelings of deprivation.
Since you want to see the fastest results possible in 30 days, limit foods high in sugar, refined grains and saturated fats. These foods tend to be high in calories and low in nutrition. This means packaged foods, such as snack crackers, cereal bars and soda; fast food; and products made with white flour, like bread, are off limits. Replace these foods with high-quality lean proteins, including chicken breast and lean steak, whole grains and ample amounts of watery, fibrous fruits and vegetables. Limit the dressings, sauces and butter you use to flavor these foods, too — the calories can add up. Use citrus juice, vinegar, fresh herbs, spices and sparse amounts of olive oil to add zest. Sample meals include two scrambled eggs at breakfast with sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers; old-fashioned oatmeal with raspberries and skim milk; a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato; grilled flank steak with brown rice and a green salad; or broiled tilapia with steamed asparagus and quinoa. Quality snacks that support your quest to lose 20 pounds include fresh fruit, a scant handful of nuts, low-fat cheese and low-fat yogurt.
Increasing your physical activity levels will help you lose weight more quickly and keep it off in the long run. If you don’t already exercise, use the month to work toward at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activities, such as brisk walking or water aerobics. If you already work out, build up to a minimum of 250 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise by adding 10 to 20 percent more time per week. The American College of Sports Medicine says 250 minutes or more per week leads to significant weight loss. Kick up the intensity of a couple workouts per week to include high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating all-out bouts of work with more moderate ones — such as sprinting and walking. This approach has been shown to help you burn fat more effectively than always working at a steady pace, reported a paper published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity. Use the month to also add in a sustainable weight-training program that you can continue after the 30 days. Just two total-body sessions per week help you develop muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat and boosts your metabolism. It also gives your physique a shapely and tight look. Aim for at least one exercise that hits every major muscle group — including the chest, arms, back, abs, hips, legs and shoulders — with a minimum of one set of eight to 12 repetitions. For more guidance on creating a resistance training program, talk to a fitness professional.


Is Creatine Good for Athletes?

Creatine is a naturally occuring chemical within your body that is responsible for making the energy necessary for your muscles to work. Foods such as meat and fish contain creatine; it is also available as a supplement. Creatine is widely used by athletes in many sports because of the belief it will increase their muscle mass and help their performance. According to Mayo Clinic, the consensus of evidence suggests that creatine does aid in developing muscle mass and strength. However, the results from research have been mixed as to creatine’s effectiveness at boosting athletic performance. It is important to consult with your health care provider before taking any type of supplements.
Creatine is available in liquid or granular form from many manufacturers. It can also be administered intravenously; however, injections should be given under strict medical supervision. Carbohydrate solutions increase the uptake of creatine in your muscles so they should be included with each dose. Many creatine drinks contain carbohydrates, and the granular form can be mixed with fruit juice. Creatine causes your muscles to retain water so it is important to stay properly hydrated while taking creatine.
Creatine is administered in two phases: a loading phase and a maintenance phase. According to Mayo Clinic, if your goal is to increase your strength and athletic performance, you should take 20 grams of creatine daily during the loading phase. The loading phase should be four to seven days. After the loading phase, you should consume two to 5 grams of creatine daily for maintenance. Consult with your health care provider regarding how much creatine is appropriate for you, based on your individual needs.
Creatine is not recommended for individuals under the age of 18. However, according to research conducted at Cornell Medical College in New York, creatine use exists at all grade levels, starting in middle school. It is widely used by athletes in sports such as wrestling, football, hockey, and lacrosse. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) banned high schools and colleges from distributing creatine to athletes in 2000.
Several factors influence the effectiveness of creatine. Creatine is more effective for younger people than it is for people over 60. It is also more effective for improving your performance if you engage in high intensity, short-duration exercise, such as running sprints. Creatine is not effective in enhancing your performance during aerobic exercise.
Supplements are not regulated by the food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consequently, there are no guarantees as to the authenticity of retail creatine supplements. Your health care provider may be able to recommend a reputable manufacturer of creatine supplements. Possible side effects of taking creatine supplements are nausea, cramping and diarrhea.


What Do Pro Athletes Eat?

Professional athletes know that a healthy diet is an important part of performing at an elite level. Diets high in protein allow for muscle recovery after a workout, while carbohydrates provide fuel for the muscles. Fat intake is typically kept at a moderate level and junk food is avoided. For pro athletes, staying hydrated is important to avoid the muscle cramps and fatigue that come with dehydration.
Registered dietitian Tavis Piattoly notes that professional basketball players need to maintain a well-balanced diet to compete at the highest level. Eating every three hours is a vital part of maintaining energy, helping the body recover and maximizing performance. Professional basketball players should consume healthy carbohydrates throughout the day to maintain energy levels. High-quality lean protein enables the body to recover and repair damaged muscle tissue. Because fat takes longer to convert to energy, consumption should be kept at a moderate level.
Top-ranked professional golfer Tiger Woods prefers to stick to a diet rich in lean meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables. Examples of typical meals for the elite golfer include an egg-white omelet with vegetables for breakfast and grilled chicken or fish with salad or vegetables for lunch and dinner. Though Woods adheres to a diet rich in proteins, he notes that every athlete needs some form of carbohydrates to fuel extended bouts of high-level performance. Woods prefers consuming sports drinks during competitions, rather than loading up on carbohydrate-rich meals.
Former NFL nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs, Mitzi Dulan, told U.S. News & World Report, as published on the Huffington Post, that there can be a lot of variance among eating habits between different professional football players. However, she noted that it is important for players to eat carbohydrates with each meal, ideally from healthy sources such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. High-quality protein sources such as chicken, lean beef, fish or beans are also important for reducing muscle soreness. Dulan recommends full strength sports drinks for a boost of energy at the beginning of workouts. She also recommends that players take a few dietary supplements, including fish oil, a multivitamin/multimineral, protein powder and creatine.
An article on the CrossFit Games website interviewed three cross fit games athletes: Annie Thorisdottir, Mikko Salo and Chris Spealler. Thorisdottir noted that she drinks a lot of protein shakes and eats a lot of protein bars before competing. She also stated that she ate chicken between events. On competition days, Salo ate eggs, fruit and coffee for breakfast and later chicken, eggs, beans and energy bars. Spealler said that after competitions he would eat chicken with sweet potatoes or something similar and that he drank “a ton” of water.


Define Strength, Power & Muscular Endurance

Strength, power and muscular endurance are fitness components with many things in common. They require the application of muscular force to overcome resistance while in motion; they involve muscular contraction of a specific muscle or muscle group; and they are measurable components of fitness. Training programs can improve these fitness components.
Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert force to overcome the most resistance in one effort. Strength can be measured based on the amount of weight lifted. Upper-body and lower-body strength are measured separately. Strength tests include the bench press for upper body, the squat for lower body and the deadlift for lower back and leg assessments. Relative strength is based on a ratio of weight lifted to body weight. For example, if two people lifted the same weight, the person who weighs less has greater relative strength.
Power is defined as the amount of work performed per unit of time. Power is an element of skill-related fitness that is needed to excel in athletic performance. Increased strength does not always translate into increased power. For example, a strong upper body lifts a high amount of weight. However a strong upper body does not always have the ability to throw a shot put very far if enough speed cannot be generated.
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert force to overcome a resistance many times. Often the resistance is the body itself. The measurement of muscular endurance is based on the number of repetitions performed. Muscular endurance is specific to the assessment. The ability to perform upper-body exercises many times is separate from the ability to perform lower-body or abdominal exercises many times. Muscular endurance tests include push-ups, pull-ups and dips for the upper body, and sit-ups for the abdominals. Lower-body endurance can be assessed with squats.
Training is specific to fitness or skill goals. Strength training is based on progressive resistance exercises. Workouts consist of higher weights and lower repetitions. You should perform three to four exercises for each muscle group with three to four sets of six to eight repetitions each. Longer rest periods between sets allow for increased strength for the next set. Endurance training is based on progressive repetition exercises. Workouts consist of lower weights and higher repetitions. Perform three to four exercises for each muscle group with three to four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions each. Shorter rest periods between sets increase fatigue levels for the next set. This type of training will further improve endurance levels. Power training is similar to strength training. In addition, explosive movements geared to specific skill development should be added to training programs.
Consult a personal trainer to get help assessing your strength, power and muscular endurance. A trainer can also help you set reasonable goals and provide you with a training plan for reaching them. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program. Your doctor or other medical provider can assess your general health and tell you if the program is right for you.

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