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Fitness Feature Article

Metabolism boosters and busters


Buster: Skip breakfast.


Not eating breakfast may cause your resting metabolic rate to dip by 5 percent -- a small decline, but one that may creep up to a 10-lb weight gain in just a year's time.


Buster: Eat too few calories.


When you deprive your body, it thinks you're stranded on a deserted island. The result: Your metabolism slows so you don't have to resort to eating rats to stay alive.


Buster: Extreme stress.


Whether you started a new job, or have a family crisis, stress makes it hard to lose those last few pounds. When you're stressed, your adrenal gland secretes the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite and also stimulates your body's release of the fat-storing hormone insulin. The result: Your body holds on to its fat stores as hard as it can, even if you're eating less than before.


Buster: Neglecting strength training.


A 10-week study of more than 2,000 women found that those who participated in a simple twice-weekly workout (20 minutes of strength training and 20 minutes of aerobic exercise) not only shed 4 pounds of fat but also regained 3 pounds of muscle they'd lost during the aging process. One set is fine, just make sure the weight is heavy enough to fatigue your muscles after the 12th rep. Remember: As you lose weight, you may also lose muscle, leading to a slower metabolism, so always remember to challenge your muscles.


Booster: Sip green tea.


In a study from Switzerland, men who took a green tea supplement three times a day with their meals, burned more calories during the following 24 hours than those who took a caffeine pill or a dummy pill. The researchers believe that flavonoids in the tea were responsible for the metabolism boost.


Booster: Kick your cardio into high gear.


Your metabolism may stay revved up to five times longer after a vigorous aerobic workout than after an easy one.


Booster: Eat mini-meals.


Sometimes you just don't have time for lunch, when you're busy with work or the kids. Pack healthy snacks for the car and the office, such as almonds, apples, string cheese, or yogurt. Mini-meals will help you succeed both physically and mentally. Psychologically, mini-meals can help reduce cravings and prevent you from making bad food choices -- which is easy to do when you're starving. Physically, eating small amounts every two to four hours helps keep your blood sugar on an even keel and may even help your metabolism to keep burning at a higher rate.


Booster: Have a cup of java.


The amount of caffeine (about 135 mg) in an 8-oz cup of brewed coffee is enough to raise your metabolism for more than 2 hours. Drinking it before a workout may give you an extra kick. Caffeine may help free stored fat, so your body can burn it for energy as you exercise. (If you have high blood pressure, avoid caffeine before exercise.)


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