The Rowing Machine: King of Cardio Equipment

It is of the utmost importance to any exercise-oriented individual that an adequate amount of cardiovascular exercise is completed regularly. Whether you are a bodybuilder with 22″ arms or simply a lean yoga enthusiast, the rule applies across all levels. Without a properly trained heart and lungs, your body misses out on a whole slew of health benefits and a decreased risk of heart problems; not to mention creating a disproportionate distribution of vitality within your body. Sure, your biceps have veins thicker than a garden hose, but what about what’s on the inside?

A dedicated gym goer may look at his/her six pack and scoff, “Cardio? My aerobic-free training has me leaner than ever and sweating it up on the Stairmaster for an hour isn’t my idea of a worthwhile workout.” OK, valid point, but a high performance vehicle is for nothing if the goods under the hood are garbage. Moreover, if you pack on muscle yet refrain to train your cardiovascular system, your physicality will resemble a hulking Toyota Tundra with the dinky engine of a Honda Civic. Struggling.

So, why rowing; better yet, why the rowing machine? Well, considering rivers that weave through your neighborhood with adequate boat houses are scarce, the rowing machine is the best substitute to mimic the movement and reap the rewards of such activity. Better yet, you never have to worry about bad weather, and even better than that, a great cardio workout can be accomplished in a fraction of the time that one may be looking at when getting on board an elliptical or treadmill.

The majority of people are under the assumption that rowing is an upper body intensive movement. Although there is some truth to that statement, the driving force in a successful rowing motion is derived from the lower body, where the body’s powerful leg muscles are able to sustain prolonged exertions that only they can deliver.

Need more reasons to try the rowing machine? How about the fact that the word impact can’t even be found in the same sentence as rowing machine, unless the word ‘low’ is front of it. Unlike running, which places unnecessary stress and trauma on the knees and ankles,  rowing favors a far more fluid, floating sense of power and work. As your body moves back and forth over the rolling seat, your joints praise you as they are gently coerced into the flexion and extension of various limbs.

Still need more reasons? One of the greatest aspects of the rowing machine is that it is a cardio exercise that trains your whole musculature; not just your lower body, as many machines do. When stepping away on the Stairstepper, one can feel the sole distribution of strain compiling itself on your legs, while the upper body remains slack and in complete boredom. The rowing machine ties the two sides together, with the legs generating the massive power and force for each stroke and transferring it up the body, giving your abs, arms, shoulders, and of course, back, an awesomely toning workout.

If you have located and affirmed the presence of a rowing machine at your local health club, here is a great way to get introduced to the motion:

  1. Adjust the foot stretchers: Each machine is equipped with a platform to strap your feet into, both in socks or with shoes, and it needs to be adjusted so that the strap rests atop where the balls of your feet are, and also so that your bending motion isn’t inhibited by the strap.
  2. Set the fly wheel resistance: 10 is heavy, 1 is light – to put it simply. Personally, I like to warm up in the higher digits (7-10), and then commit to my workouts between 4 and 5, as most university programs suggest.
  3. Set the clock: The rowing machine has a great computer for tracking your workouts, but for now, simply hit ‘Just Row’, or begin pulling on the handle and the clock will start on its own.
  4. Row!

Of course, it isn’t so easy to master the rowing stroke on your first few tries, so keep in mind these pointers:

  • Always begin each stroke with lower leg perpendicular to the ground and your seat as far up as can be achieved. At this point, your should be fully outstretched and grasping the handle.
  • Legs first! When driving, press off with your glutes, quads, and calves and drive your legs down to full extension.
  • Back second! once the legs are down, lean back with a straight back and begin to transfer the speed of the fly wheel to your upper body.
  • Arms in third! Once you have achieved a slight posterior lean with your straight back, pull the handle into your nipple line with by retracting your scapulae and flexing your arms.
  • The ‘finish’, or end of the stroke goes exactly in reverse order: Arms back out, back over, then slowly move back up the slide with the legs, ready for another stroke.

Sample Warm-Up:

20 strokes arms only

20 strokes arms and back only

20 strokes half leg extension

40 strokes full leg extension (full strokes)

Sample workout: 1 x 3000M, 1 x 2000M, 1 x 1000M, 1 X 500M, 1:00 rest in between each.

As you may notice this is a descending pyramid type of workout and it is great because mentally, the workload becomes easier and easier as you pass through each interval.

Select workout, then select Interval Variable, then enter the first distance, followed by the three others; then the rest.

The first 3000M should be done at 60-80% of your VO2 max, with that intensity increasing until the last 500M goes by at an all-out effort.

That’s it for now, I hope you can look into incorporating the rowing machine into your next workout and join the thousands who swear by rowing as the King of cardio.

 

 

Three Health Issues Every Man Should Discuss With His Doctor


Free image courtesy of Fredigitaldownloads.net

Most men are squeamish about discussing their concerns about testosterone, erectile disfunction or trouble urinating, however these embarrassing topics could shed light on deeper more serious health issues like heart disease, cancer or hormone imbalance.

Since most visits to the doctor last less than 20 minutes, getting warmed up can take some effort.

Be armed with a list of questions and concerns to get the most out of your time with your physician.

Glutathione, the antiaging secret

Have you ever heard of glutathione (pronounced; gloota-thigh-own)? Neither has almost anyone else. Many researchers say it’s probably the most important substance we require to stay healthy. Many go as far to say it’s the secret to prevent aging. So where’s Oprah, and the rest of the media? A quick search of the term “glutathione” on PubMed.gov reveals 94,117 scholarly articles, reviews and abstracts.

Present in every cell of our body, glutathione levels just might be one of the best biochemical markers there is; the higher your glutathione levels are the healthier you will be. Glutathione deficiency is found in almost all patients with extreme illnesses, e.g., cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, liver disease, diabetes and more. In fact, researchers are concluding glutathione deficiency may play a role in patients with schizophrenia. In cerebrospinal fluid of drug-free schizophrenic patients, a significant decrease in the level of total glutathione was observed as compared to controls. EJN

Glutathione’s importance to a properly functioning immune system has been shown in many studies. According to Dr. Gustavo Bounous, “The limiting factor for the proper activity and multiplication of our lymphocytes (white blood cells) is the availability of glutathione”.

Every day our bodies are exposed to stress, pollution, infection, drugs (illicit or licit) and alcohol, poor diet, infections and injury, which drain our bodies of glutathione; this depletion leaves our bodies susceptible to high levels of oxidative stress, which leads to aging, disease and eventual death. I predict that concern about glutathione levels will eventually be on par with other preventative health issues.

Coffee cuts agressive cancer risk

A study that involved 5929 Swedish women, found a 33 percent to 57 percent lower risk for ER-negative cancer (the most aggressive type of breast cancer) than did those who drank less than one cup a day.

“Now, we don’t have all the details,” he cautioned. “We don’t know, for example, what specific type of coffee we’re talking about here. But what we do know is that the protective effect is quite striking and remains even after adjusting for a lot of other factors that have the potential to play a protective role. And we know that we’re talking about what we could call a relatively normal amount of coffee drinking. Certainly we’re not talking about consuming gigantic amounts of coffee. So, this is a very intriguing finding.”

HealthDay

Now the challenge is finding what it is in coffee that produces this protective effect, and if it will work with other types of cancer.

Hot dogs better than chicken?

Many people when shopping for a convenient ready to eat meat at the grocery store would choose rotisserie chicken over hot dogs or pepperoni, but as it turns out in a new study, they’d be wrong. Surprisingly, according to a new study, hot dogs and similar meats like pepperoni and deli meats are relatively free from carcinogenic compounds, and rotisserie chicken would be the riskier option.

The carcinogens in question are heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are compounds found in meat that has been fried, grilled or cooked at high temperatures. Diets high in HCAs from meat increase people’s risk of stomach, breast and colon cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers from Kansas State University tested the HCA levels of eight popular ready-to-eat meat products: beef hot dogs, beef-pork-turkey hot dogs, deli roast beef, deli ham, deli turkey, fully cooked bacon, pepperoni and rotisserie chicken.

Pepperoni had the lowest levels of HCAs; hot dogs and deli meat came in second. Overall, these products were low in HCAs, researchers said, while cooked bacon and rotisserie chicken meat had the highest levels. However, rotisserie chicken skin had the highest levels of HCAs overall.

But, before you go purchase pepperoni, consider that its low HCA levels may have to do with processing, which is in itself a health hazard. According to a KSU statement.

Remember, You cannot judge the danger of a food by its HCA content alone, which is based on the manner in which its been cooked. You also have to evaluate all those added ingredients, such as preservatives, flavoring, and food colors. Hot dogs, deli meats and bacon are notorious for their nitrite content, so even though they might be low in HCA’s, they are far from healthful.

Vitamin D anticancer research project

Vitamin D3, which is technically a prehormone, has a whole host of benefits. This invaluable substance has a role in preventing or treating many diseases including cancer. Below you’ll find a letter I received as being a participant in a Vitamin D study, the results of which were published in the International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment

GrassrootsHealth New Research Publication in the Anticancer Research Journal, 2/21/2011
Dear Michael,

Congratulations and thanks to absolutely everyone who has participated in and supported this project! According to one of our panel members, Dr. Anthony Norman:

“This paper provides a long awaited insight into a dose-response relationship between orally administered vitamin D3 and the resulting levels of serum 25(OH)D in over 3600 citizens. The results will allow a new definition of high vitamin D dose safety and reduce concerns about toxicity. This is a landmark contribution in the vitamin D nutrition field!”
Anthony Norman
Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, Emeritus
University of California Riverside

Key findings:

There were 3667 people’s first test data reported on

No suggestions of toxicity were reported even up to intakes as high as 40,000 IU/day (not a recommended amount, however)

It’s going to take about 9600 IU/day to get 97.5% (almost everyone) to the 40 ng/ml level. Individual variations however range from 0 to over 50,000 IU/day!

Testing is necessary to determine what the starting serum level is and how to adjust intake

It took 3 tests (1 year) to determine the optimal dose for each individual

The NEW rule of thumb for dosing will be changed. We’ll publish a chart for all very shortly. Currently, it is stated that you can increase the serum level by 10 ng/ml with 1000 IU/day. Per our research, this is true only when starting at about 10 ng/ml. If you want to go from 50 to 60 ng/ml, it will take an additional 2000 IU/day (i.e., the rise is only 5 ng/ml for each 1000 IU/day).

Please visit our website, GrassrootsHealth and listen to the interviews with the study’s authors, Dr. Cedric Garland and Dr. Robert Heaney. They both speak to the significance to public health of this study.

Another key item that I am very aware of is the public’s readiness to ‘take charge’ of their own health. With this view and the information to make it happen, we are bound to see some very exciting things with own health!

The research article is ‘open access’ so that everyone can download and read it! Please do so here: GrassrootsHealth Research Article

Again, very, very many thanks to all of you for your participation and support. You are helping change the face of public health! We CAN move to a much more ‘preventive’ model of healthcare. Please let me know at any time how we can best help.

We do need your ongoing financial support as well, to keep ‘spreading the word’. Please consider a donation to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency for our future health.

Onwards!

Carole Baggerly

Director, GrassrootsHealth
carole@grassrootshealth.org

4 causes of aging

In his book, “The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer”, Johnny Bowden identifies what he calls “the four horsemen of aging,” which are thought to be dangerous processes that age our bodies and are triggered by the foods we eat and the lifestyles we lead. Conquer these four horsemen, Bowden contends, and you can slow down the aging process.

1. Free radicals: Free radicals are chemically unstable molecules that attack your cells and damage your DNA. You can limit your exposure to them by avoiding cigarettes, trans fats, charred meats, and other sources.

Organic fruits and vegetables will also limit your exposure to pesticides and herbicides, which contain the harmful molecules.

2. Inflammation: Inflammation is a major player in many diseases of aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. One way to avoid it is to follow a Mediterranean-style diet.

Other great anti-inflammatory foods include turmeric, dark chocolate, and the anti-aging chemical resveratrol. Exercise is another great way to lower inflammation.

3. Glycation: Glycation is what happens when sugar mixes with proteins and fats to form molecules that promote aging. Advanced glycation end products, or AGEs (Isn’t that an appropriate acronym?), are thought to accelerate your aging process by churning out free radicals and promoting inflammation. One way to avoid ingesting AGEs is to turn down the heat when you cook. The browning effect of high-heat cooking causes these molecules to form. Limiting your intake of sugar-filled foods in general will also help.

4. Stress: Stress initiates the release of a variety of hormones that make your pulse race and cause your blood pressure to rise. The hormone cortisol, released to lessen these effects, also creates problems when it remains chronically elevated. Try practicing relaxation techniques to help manage stress, and get enough sleep every night.

U.S. News & World Report July 29, 2010

Benefits of Green Tea

Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world. Although water is the most widely consumed beverage, still, hundreds of millions of people drink tea every day based on health benefits and taste. Tea comes in three main varieties, black, green, and oolong. Green tea (Camellia sinesis), is believed to have the most health benefits thanks to the way it’s processed. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves, which contain the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea neutralize free radicals and reduce or help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Free radicals are damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, tamper with DNA (genetic material), and cause cell death. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet rays from the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) also give rise to these damaging particles. Many scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems including cancer and heart disease. Based on studies using human subjects, animals, and in laboratory experiments, green tea is useful for:

-Arthritis
-Atherosclerosis
-Cancer
-Colds
-Diabetes
-High Cholesterol
-Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
-Influenza
-Liver Disease
-Obesity
-Tooth Decay
-Weight Loss

Green tea has been used as a stimulant, diuretic, astringent, and to improve heart health throughout the ages in China, India, Japan, and Thailand. Other traditional include improving mental processes, promoting digestion, regulating body temperature and blood sugar, and treating flatulence (gas).

In addition to tea leaves, green tea is available in capsule form and liquid form made from leaves and leaf buds. A cup of green tea contains 50-150 mg of antioxidant (polyphenols). Decaffeinated green tea also contains polyphenols, but they are concentrated. If you are sensitive to caffeine, caffeine-free supplements are available.

U.S. News and World Report; Best hospitals of 2010-2011

US News and World Report ranks America’s hospitals? They also rank colleges, law schools and medical schools. I’ve read that these institutions go through great lengths to improve their standings because these reports have so much influence. This year, only 152 of the 4,852 hospitals evaluated performed well enough to rank in any specialty. And of the 152, just 14 qualified for a spot in the Honor Roll by ranking at or near the top in six or more specialties. Below are the top 3 in three major categories.

Cancer:
#1 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
#2 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY
#3 Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
#9 Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, Ohio

Heart and Heart Surgery:
#1 Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, OH (Hometown pride)
#2 Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
#3 Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD

Neurology and Neurosurgery:
#1 Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD
#2 Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
#3 Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA
#6 Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, Ohio

Go to USNews see all the rankings of the best hospitals including the top children’s hospitals

New research: cut back on carbs, live longer

According to the 2002 United States Life Tables, In 2002 the average person in the US could expect to live a little over 19 years longer than in 1920. But does longevity come with a healthy life? Not for most. Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, deteriorating senses, and other diseases and conditions all come with age. However, new research may have uncovered a true fountain of youth, and it may be as simple as cutting down on consuming carbs.

Professor Cynthia Kenyon, a US genetisist, has discovered that the carbohydrates we eat like bananas, potatoes, bread, pasta, and cakes directly affect two key genes that govern youthfulness and longevity.

But what Professor Kenyon found out was why ­drastically reducing calories has such a remarkable effect.

She discovered that it changed the way two crucial genes behaved. It turned down the gene that controls insulin, which in turn switched on another gene, which acted like an elixir of life.

‘We jokingly called the first gene the Grim Reaper because when it’s switched on, the lifespan is fairly short,’ she explains.

The ­second ‘elixir’ gene seems to bring all the anti-aging benefits.

Professor Kenyon has changed her diet as a result of her research.

‘Carbo­hydrates, and especially refined ones like sugar, make you produce lots of extra insulin. I’ve been keeping my intake really low ever since I discovered this.

‘I’ve cut out all starch such as potatoes, noodles, rice, bread and pasta. Instead I have salads, but no sweet dressing, lots of olive oil and nuts, tons of green vegetables along with cheese, chicken and eggs.

‘I’ll have a hamburger without a bun and fish without batter or chips. I eat some fruit every day, but not too much and almost no processed food. I stay away from sweets, except 80 per cent chocolate.’

She is adamant it will be well worthwhile. ‘You could have two completely different careers if you could stay healthy to 90,’ she says. ‘How fascinating that would be.’

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