Tagged as: exercise

Minding Your P’s and Double Q’s

By now, you’ve probably heard of COQ-10 and what the supplement can do- boosting energy, speeding recovery, and helping to reduce the effects of certain medicines on your heart, muscles, and other organs. Well, one of the newer supplements on the block is PQQ-10, which some consider the “fountain of youth” for your cells.

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PQQ-10 – its scientific name, Pyrroloquinoline quinone – is actually a compound found in plant foods. And, while it’s not currently thought of as a vitamin, some experts believe it could be considered an essential nutrient in the not too distant future.

 

So, what does it do? PQQ helps grow and develop cells and is an extremely powerful

antioxidant. Research shows that it plays a critical role in nutrition. And, when it’s deliberately omitted from diets in mammals, it impairs growth, compromises immune systems and interferes with the ability to reproduce.

 

But, what’s considered the most important function of PQQ is what it does to key enzymes involved in producing energy in our cells – called the mitochondria. PQQ not only improves energy production, it promotes the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria within aging cells – and that’s where it gets credit as being a “fountain of youth” – at least, for your cells.

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The benefits of PQQ revolve around what it can potentially do for (or block) what happens to us as we age- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many other chronic degenerative illnesses. The current research on PQQ has mostly focused on its ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans.

 

In animal studies, PQQ has been shown to:

  • reverse cognitive impairment caused by chronic stress and improve performance on memory tests
  • protect brain cells against damage
  • protect against the likelihood of severe stroke
  • prevent the development of a protein associated with Parkinson’s disease
  • protect nerve cells from a protein linked with Alzheimer’s disease

 

PQQ is sort of anti-aging armor for our most energy-intensive organs – the brain and the heart. And, it’s been shown to optimize health and function of the entire central nervous system.

 

So how much and how often? Well- the current recommendation of 10 to 20 mg of PQQ daily is mostly based on what researchers have seen in animal studies. For humans, studies have shown that 20 mg per day of PQQ resulted in improvements on tests of higher cognitive function in a group of middle-aged and elderly people. But, get this – the effects were even more significant when the test subjects also took 300 mg per day of CoQ10.

 

So, the bottom-line? Minding your P’s and Q’s may just help you (and your cells) have a longer and more productive life.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Getting Ready for 2020 Ski and Board Season

The leaves have turned and there’s already been a dusting of snow on Colorado’s highest peaks. That means ski and snowboard season is just a few weeks away.

 

Unlike other sports, it’s hard to practice the elements of skiing or snowboarding unless you’re actually on the run at the resort. And, since snow sports can be a bit expensive, most of us only ski or board a few times a year. So, conditioning for it can be problematic.

 

But, you need to get ready to avoid injury and the misery of sore muscles and possibly a few bumps and bruises. If you’re not currently working out, it’s not too late to get started so you can enjoy ski season this year. If you are regularly working out, all you need to do is to add a few tweaks to your program.

 

One of the biggest things is simply endurance. Cardio endurance. If you’re not doing cardio now, just think about how you might be feeling after skiing or boarding all day with that expensive lift ticket. Sure, the lift gets you to the top. But, you have to get to the bottom. Without cardio conditioning, your legs are going to feel like Jell-O, you’ll be tired and those two added together equal an increased risk of accidents.

 

To get your heart and body ready for all day skiing or boarding, your cardio program should include at least three to five days a week of running, the Stairmaster or the elliptical trainer. Workout from 20 to 45 minutes, and one day a week, do it for a complete hour.

 

One of the great things about skiing and boarding is that they use quite a few muscle groups- they’re pretty much full body exercise. However, some muscles are used more than others. Those are the ones you want to concentrate on in your workouts.

 

  • Quadriceps. They’re probably the most used muscle. Quads help hold you in position as you glide down the slope. Simple squats and lunges, with or without weights, are probably the best quad exercises.
  • Hamstrings and Glutes. When going downhill, you hold your body (lower body) in a flexed position, with knees bent. Hamstrings and Glutes help stabilize you. Work these muscles with dead lifts, step-ups and hamstring curls.
  • Inner and Outer Thighs. If you ski, your inner thighs have to work to keep your skis together. You use your outer thighs to stay stable and steer. Work these muscles with side lunges, inner thigh leg lifts, inner thigh squeezes, side step squats and leg lifts.
  • Because you’re keeping your knees bent, your calves have to work to keep you on your skis or board. Do standing calf raises or machine calf raises to strengthen these muscles.
  • Abs and Back. Because you’re in a flexed position, your back and abs have to also work to keep you stable and keep your body in that position. Work these muscles with exercises like back extensions, dumbbell rows, and pain old sit-ups.
  • What happens when you get stuck in powder or you slow down a bit too much to make the turn to get back on the lift? If you’re a skier, that means you have to use your poles to get where you’re going. So, work your biceps and triceps along with the rest of your body.

 

Getting ready for ski and board season is not that hard. And, it pays huge dividends because you’re more able to enjoy the sport and you’re less likely to get injured. If you’re lucky enough to be able to hit the slopes this winter, you’ll have a much better and safer time if you’re prepared.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Magnesium, the supplement you probably are not taking

 

There are hundreds of supplements out there and you can go crazy trying to figure out the benefits and drawbacks to each one. Doctors sometimes tell their patients about the benefits of different supplements; for example, COQ10 is a great supplement to help you keep muscle mass if you’re taking statins for cholesterol. Statins will rob your body of the COQ10 you naturally create, so replacing it is a good idea.

 

Magnesium is another supplement- a mineral- that is crucial to keeping your body functioning well. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.

 

Most people should take a magnesium supplement because as a whole, Americans don’t eat enough foods that contain magnesium. Adults who take in less than the recommended amount of magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers. Inflammation has been associated with major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and an elevated risk of osteoporosis.

 

Every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys, uses magnesium. In fact, if you’re experiencing unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.

 

Magnesium is also an antidote to stress; it’s the most powerful relaxation mineral available and can help improve your sleep. You can think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff  – whether it’s a body part or even your mood- is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

 

So what do you do? Whenever possible, you should try to get your magnesium and other nutrients the natural way- including foods that are good for you in your diet. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic all have higher magnesium content. And, of course, eating whole foods is best. Refined and processed foods often lose vital vitamins and minerals.

  • What to avoid: drinking excessive amounts of soda or caffeine. Also know that certain medications and certain antibiotics can rob your body of magnesium.

 

But, like we said, most Americans can’t get enough magnesium through diet alone. So, talk to your doctor about magnesium supplements. The RDA (the minimum amount needed for adults) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.

 

 

Also- be sure to check the label on your multi-vitamin before buying a separate magnesium supplement. Your multi-vitamin may contain what you need.

 

  • And, last, but not least, another enjoyable way to get magnesium- a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Your body actually absorbs the mineral while you soak. You can unwind and relax while doing something good for you.

 

 

Prioritize Your Fitness

5 Reasons Why You Should Think About Yourself First

 

Of course you want to work out. But, it’s hard to make time, what with work, the family, summer activities – you get the picture. It’s difficult to keep that promise to yourself to do something for yourself. Everyday.

 

There are legitimate excuses – you’re sick, a family emergency, or a huge project with a tight deadline at work. The problem is, if you look around long enough, there are plenty of excuses to keep you from ever working up a sweat. I’m here to tell you that you really need to think about yourself for a change.

 

We all want to look our best and exercise and a good diet are the keys to achieving that goal. But, exercise is important in other ways. It makes you feel better and improves your performance at work and at home. So, all those things you need to do everyday? Exercise can help you get them done.

 

Top 5 reasons to exercise:

  • Exercise increases energy. It improves your muscle strength, increases endurance and helps your lungs and heart work more efficiently. That gives you more energy.
  • Exercise reduces stress. Whether you’re just overwhelmed with a work project, or a family “crisis” (like a two year old’s public meltdown), a quick workout can help relieve stress.
  • Exercise helps you sleep better. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just don’t do it close to bedtime.
  • Exercise can put some spice back in your sex life. Ok- increased energy, reduced stress, more sleep. Add to that, a better self-image. That equals more couple time.
  • Exercise improves your mood. Again, reduced stress, increased energy, better sleep and more sex. That would put most folks in a good mood.

 

So, WHY aren’t you exercising? Here’s what my clients tell me:

 

  • No time.
  • No energy.

 

Let’s talk about time. While it’s understandable that each day brings up unforeseen problems or situations, when you make something a priority, you find the time.

 

The energy problem. It stands to reason that sitting at a desk all day, coupled with work and family stress can drag you down. Remember, regular exercise will GIVE you energy. Just push yourself a little to get the ball rolling.

 

 

How to make exercise a priority? Even I struggle with this sometimes. But, I make it a point to fit a daily workout into my lifestyle. I have to say that I always feel better after a few minutes of cardio or weights. Or, even a hike on the weekend.

 

Here are a few things to consider:

 

  • Be realistic and start slow. You’re not going to be able to fit unrealistic goals into your lifestyle. Exercise needs to fit as seamlessly as possible into your life. If you have to adjust everything to fit in a workout, you probably will continue to make excuses why you just can’t do it. So, start out with two to three days a week. Then, add another day, another workout.
  • Put exercise on your calendar. Seriously. Block out the time. Let your family and your co-workers know. It’s harder to ignore if it’s on your calendar.
  • Be prepared. Plan ahead. If you know you’re doing cardio at lunch, be sure to have your workout clothes. If you forget, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse.
  • Get the family involved. There are going to be times, especially for busy parents, that you just can’t do your planned workout. So, be creative. Take the kids and the dog for a walk. Or, go to the park or a local school. While they play in the infield, you can jog around the track.

 

The key is to make that commitment to yourself. You will look better, feel better and, guess what, you’ll be a much better person to be around. Your family and your co-workers will thank you for that.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness, Denver, CO

 

Crack of dawn, or after dark? The best time to workout

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Quite a few of my clients lately have been asking me- when is the best time during the day to work out? Some like to get up before dawn for a run. Others could never bring themselves to break a sweat before noon. The truth is that while there could be some calorie burning advantages to working out in the early morning- it’s certainly not for every one.

 

Why? Well, I like to work out early, but my body clock is probably not the same as yours. Your body’s circadian rhythm determines whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and there’s not much you can do to change that.

 

The earth’s 24-hour rotation governs your circadian rhythm. The rhythms influence pretty much everything about your body- blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels and heart rate. All of that plays an important role in whether you’re ready to exercise or not. Of course, most of us also have to take into account our work schedules and family obligations.

 

Bottom line- the most important thing you can do it to choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit.

 

Why early morning? That could be best, especially if you have problems with consistency. Get your exercise in before other pressures interfere- like work and family.

 

Of course, to feel like exercising in the morning, you need to have a good night’s sleep. Good, regular bedtime habits help get your body ready for rest so you can get your eight hours. Late night physical activity or eating late can sabotage your body’s urge to sleep.

 

For some people, lunchtime is the best time to exercise, especially if they enjoy company, like co-workers who are willing to hit the gym or take a run or a walk. One thing to keep in mind- eat after you work out, not before. If you eat before, the blood that needs to go to your muscles is going instead to your digestive tract to help you break down that meal. Remember what your mom told you about swimming? Wait 90 minutes after a heavy meal to work out.

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You don’t have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to determine the best time to exercise. Simply try different times of the day. Work out in the morning for a few weeks, and then try lunchtime, then early evening. Discover which time you enjoy most and which makes you feel the best? Then, make every effort to keep that appointment with yourself.

 

Most importantly is to find a time that makes working out a consistent part of your life.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness