Entries in Exercise (93)


Zumba Fitness Rush for XBox Kinect Will Teach You How to Zumba


Microsoft(NEW YORK) -- On Feb 13, Zumba fitness dancing returns to XBox Kinect with Zumba Fitness Rush, bringing with it the craze that launched classes, clothing lines and, yes, even conventions all over the world. Will the new game live up to an in-studio Zumba workout?

While the Wii incarnation of the game works by strapping a Wiimote to the hip, which does little to score players correctly for things like arm movement, the game's transition to Kinect has done a fine job of providing motion-tracking that scores accurately based on a full body range of movement and timing.

While some of the moves can seem repetitive compared to other dance games, the game does focus less on quickly throwing complicated dance steps one's way and more on moving to the rhythm of the music. Don't expect to interpret the lyrics with your body or do the robot; instead, you'll get an aerobic workout with flares of salsa and reggaeton. Because Zumba Fitness Rush's dance moves are sustained for longer than in other games, indicators for upcoming moves are not constantly in one's face. They pop up sparingly, and the game is more aesthetically pleasing for it.

The songs and moves were lifted directly out of a Zumba class and the soundtrack includes all of the staples from the Wii version of the game, with plenty of additional tracks. Each song has only one level of difficulty, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In Zumba Fitness Rush, the tempo and length of the music inform the difficulty of the workout, meaning the slower-paced "easy" songs are not shoehorned into difficult mode by adding complicated moves that don't fit the rhythm.

Zumba Fitness Rush could be the ideal game for those looking to learn how to dance, Zumba style. There's a tutorial mode to teach you the ropes with step-by-step instructions. Kinect does a far better job scoring, based on full-body movement, than Wii does, so you're more likely to pull off your moves correctly. Essentially, the game will train you into a Zumba dancing machine.

The game also provides an unexpected amount of detail. The stages are populated by real-world Zumba instructors, and the locations are places where actual dance classes have been held. Zumba Fitness Rush is like a sports title in this respect, trading stadiums and famous pro athletes for real life venues and celebrity trainers.

Perhaps most intriguing is the number of workout "classes" the new game was offering, increasing the total from 30 on Wii to 45 on Kinect. A one-disc game offers an impressive number of classes at 20-minute, half-hour and hour-long increments, providing programs of varying difficulties that can be continuously danced through without having to navigate menus.

Calorie counters track your progress. But for most of the game's modes, don't expect the game to record burned calories if you have to bail halfway through a class.

Anyone remotely familiar with the Zumba fitness dancing craze or the XBox Kinect motion sensor can recognize the potential of a game that does it right, and Zumba Fitness Rush delivers.

The Zumba curious or current Zumba fans will eat it up. And guys, there might be no better way to Kinect with your Valentine this year. So don't overlook the game when out choosing between restaurant reservations and that trip to the drugstore for chocolates.

Zumba Fitness Rush is available in stores on Feb. 13 for the XBox Kinect.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Family Super Bowl Snacks: Nachos, Guacamole

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The first family will likely spend Super Bowl Sunday at the White House, watching the big game over a plate of nachos and a side of guacamole, Michelle Obama said in an interview with celebrity chef Rachael Ray set to air Wednesday.

“We’ll probably watch it at home. It’ll probably be a quiet Super Bowl this year,” Obama told Ray of the family’s plans.

As for the favorite Obama snacks that would be part of a game-day spread, Obama said nachos are “always good,” particularly if “it’s fresh tomato sauce and you get it on sort of a good-quality tortilla.”

President Obama prefers avocados as his “favorite snack food,” she added. “A chip dipped in some guac.”

The first lady also discussed her family’s commitment to physical fitness, which is the focus of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to fight childhood obesity.

“We’re a huge sports family,” she said. “I work out as often as I can, usually every day and when we can, we exercise with the kids. I usually exercise after the girls go to school, but they play basketball, my older daughter plays tennis, we play with her. Barack helps to coach Sasha’s basketball team, so we do make sports a part of our lifestyle and that’s the other leg of ‘Let’s Move!’

“It’s nutrition, but it’s also movement,” she added.

As for those cheesy-typically high-caloric nachos, Obama agreed with Ray that they can be made in a healthy way.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


4 Ways to Practice Safe Yoga

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many of yoga’s practitioners tout its benefits for strength, flexibility and general health.

But the practice can also cause a range of injuries among beginners and experienced yogis alike, according to a report in the New York Times.

William Broad, author of the Times story and an upcoming book, “The Science of Yoga: Risks and Rewards,” describes gruesome injuries that have happened as a result of the practice -- popped ribs, ruptured spinal discs, torn Achilles tendons, even partial paralysis and strokes.

Yoga and sports injury experts say yoga is right for some people, wrong for others and, like any physical activity, carries an inherent risk of injury. But if people approach the practice in the right way, they can do a lot to minimize their risk of injury.

"Yoga is a powerful tool and if you misuse it, you’re going to end up in the emergency room,” said Leslie Kaminoff, a New York-based yoga educator and author of the book, “Yoga Anatomy.”

Here are some ways to keep your yoga practice safe:

No. 1 -- Know Your Limits

Experts say the chief culprit in yoga injuries is often overzealousness. Most people don’t think of yoga as a competitive sport but, at times, the need to out-perform others in class can seem irresistible.

Another path to potential pain comes from taking on classes meant for more experienced yogis. Certain types of practices, such as high-heat bikram yoga, can encourage stretching that’s too aggressive. Beginners should steer clear of classes that are too advanced or strenuous.

Karen Sherman, who studies yoga and other complementary medicine techniques at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, said it’s important to listen to your body and respect its limits.

No. 2 -- Poses Can Aggravate Injuries

Certain poses, too, can be too much for the casual yoga-phile and create problems if done incorrectly or by people with little experience.

Bar said certain seated, stretching poses can aggravate sciatica or injure spinal discs. Headstands can be risky for the nerves, blood vessels and joints in the neck and spine, not to mention the risk of injury from toppling out of the pose. Even certain breathing practices can exacerbate asthma.

Any sore joints, such as the hips, knees, wrists, shoulders, neck and back, can become more painful if tweaked or twisted in even the simplest of poses. For example, downward dog could put too much stress on an injured shoulder; forward- or back-bending might be too much for a strained back. Also, patients with other health concerns, such as high blood pressure, should steer clear of certain poses or yoga practices.

No. 3 -- Let Teachers Help

Injuries don’t necessarily put yoga off-limits. Students should let their instructors know if they are injured or have a medical condition so instructors can tailor a yoga routine to their specific physical needs.

Kaminoff said experienced teachers will get to know their students and ask to hear about any physical problems. Then, it’s up to the student to be honest with the teacher.

No. 4 -- Choose the Right Teacher

More people than ever before are toting yoga mats and regularly practicing their asanas. The number of Americans who do yoga has grown from nearly 4 million in 2001 to 20 million in 2011, according to the New York Times.

As interest in yoga has exploded in the last decade, the number of yoga studios and instructors has grown along with it. But not all teachers have the same level of qualifications and experience to safely teach yoga.  

To help choose the right teachers, experts offer this advice:

Observe a teacher’s class before you participate to see if it’s right for you.
Be sure a teacher is qualified; the Yoga Alliance certifies instructors as registered yoga teachers at basic, intermediate and advanced levels.
Avoid teachers that aggressively adjust your poses -- they may push your body over its limits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Trainer Chris Powell’s Tips for Eating Carbs to Drop the Pounds

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Chris Powell, the trainer behind the miraculous weight-loss transformations on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, says people looking to lose weight in the New Year don’t need to run away from carbohydrates like pasta and bread, which have been long feared by dieters.

It’s just the opposite, Powell says.  Carbs can amplify your weight loss if consumed the right way.

In his new book, Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, Powell lays out his Carb Cycle Solution plan that alternates high-carb and low-carb days to boost your body’s metabolism and fat-burning ability, and thereby maximize weight loss.

Powell appeared Thursday on ABC's Good Morning America to reveal diet and exercise tips he says will give you a whole new body in the new year.

Powell’s Diet Tips:

Even the most dedicated dieter still gets cravings, so Powell has three tips to help curb hunger and keep you on track.

1 -- If you are going to a party or out to eat with friends, take psyllium fiber pills beforehand.  The pills, available at health food stores and in some grocery stores, help keep you full longer.

2 -- Chew sugarless mint gum to curb cravings and distract yourself from eating more food.

3 -- Add a flavor packet to your water to enjoy the taste, while cutting the hundreds of calories found in regular fruit juice.

Powell’s 3-2-1 Exercise Rule:

When it comes to exercise, Powell applies the same high-low rule that he uses in the diet, incorporating intervals to maximize fat and calorie burn.  Follow this 3-2-1 plan, he says, to banish your bulge.

3 Minutes Low Intensity -- You can maintain a conversation and are breathing easily.

2 Minutes Moderate Intensity -- You can still maintain a conversation but your breathing is heavy.

1 Minute High Intensity -- You are breathing heavily and you can’t hold a conversation longer than three words.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Academic Performance Linked to Physical Activity, Study Finds

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM) -- A healthy body means a healthy mind, and according to a new report by a group of Dutch researchers, there's some truth to that old adage.

Spending more time in the classroom and less time playing outside may, in fact, be the absolutely wrong choice when it comes to getting better grades.
According to a review of multiple studies, published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, there is "strong evidence" linking better grades to physical activity.
Researchers looked at 14 previous studies -- most conducted in the United States that involved more than 12,000 children between the ages of 6 and 18 -- and found that "participation in physical activity is positively related to academic performance."
There could be several reasons why.

Exercise may:

  1. Increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
  2. Reduce stress and improve mood, making children more likely to behave in the classroom.
  3. Improve concentration and discipline. Simply put, children who participate in sports learn to obey rules.

Because not all the studies reviewed were considered "high-quality," the authors call for future research to confirm their findings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Neck Pain: Chiropractors, Exercise Better than Medication, Study Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to neck pain the best medicine is no medicine at all, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, tracked 272 patients with recent-onset neck pain who were treated using three different methods:

  1. Medication
  2. Exercise
  3. A chiropractor

After 12 weeks the patients who used a chiropractor or exercised were more than twice as likely to be pain-free compared to those who relied on medicine.

The patients treated by a chiropractor experienced the highest rate of success, with 32 percent saying they were pain-free, compared to 30 percent of those who exercised. Only 13 percent of patients treated with medication said they no longer experienced pain.

“Doesn’t surprise me a bit,” Dr. Lee Green, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan, told ABC News. “Neck pain is a mechanical problem, and it makes sense that mechanical treatment works better than a chemical one.”

Dr. John Messmer, who specializes in family medicine at Penn State College of Medicine, agrees.

“I always prescribe exercises and/or physical therapy for neck pain,” he wrote. “I also tell patients that the exercises are the treatment and the drugs are for the symptoms.”

The exercises prescribed to patients in the study were simple and designed to be performed at home with the help of instructional photos.

Click Here to See the Neck Exercises

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Research: Physical Activity May Help Kids' Grades Too

Ezra Shaw/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands) -- While physical activity is known to improve children's physical fitness and lower their risk of obesity, new research suggests it may also help them perform better in school.

Dutch researchers reviewed 14 previous studies from different parts of the world that looked at the relationship between physical activity and academic performance.  Their review is published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The data from the studies, "suggests there is a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance," wrote the authors, led by Amika Singh of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center's EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research in Amsterdam.

While they didn't examine the reasons why the relationship may exist, the authors, citing previous research, said regular physical activity seems to be linked to better brain function. The effect on the brain could be the results of a number of factors, including increased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain as well as higher levels of chemicals that help improve mood.

This latest report comes at a time when schools across the country debate cutting physical education from their curriculum or have already eliminated it because of budget constraints, the desire to stress academics or a combination of both. There is also concern that physical activity in schools can be detrimental to academic performance.

But in addition to the latest research review, a 2010 literature review done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that out of 50 studies, more than half showed a positive association between school-based physical activity -- such as physical education, recess and extracurricular sports -- and academic performance, and about half found no effect. Only a few showed a negative relationship that could be attributable to chance.

Some of the research reported that concentration, memory, self-esteem and verbal skills were among the improvements noted in students who participated in school-based physical activity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Weight Loss Tips Every Petite Woman Should Know

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The New Year brings new resolutions to slim down and shape up, but if you are one of the 50 percent of women in the U.S. classified as petite -- 5’4″ or under -- you face unique challenges when trying to lose weight.

Fitness expert Jim Karas wrote his new book, The Petite Advantage Diet, to help shorter women left wondering why regular diets don’t work for them as they watch their taller friends drop the pounds.

Karas appeared on ABC's Good Morning America Wednesday and shared these diet and exercise tips for petite women:

1. Allow Yourself Carbs: People forget that carbohydrates are not just breads and pasta, but items like fruits and vegetables too, Karas says.  Healthy carbs, especially those with a high water content, are needed to help people stay full and lean in the midsection.

2. Watch the Small Stuff: Karas estimates petite women who overeat by as few as 28 calories a day will gain 30 pounds over the course of one decade. A 45-year-old woman who weighs 160 pounds and is 5’9,” for example, can eat 2,013 calories per day to maintain her weight.  A petite, 5’3″ woman of the same weight and age would only be able to consume 1,973 per day without gaining weight.

3. Eat High-Calorie and High-Fat Foods Sparingly: Karas says petite women should watch out for three foods in particular when counting their calories: olive oil, avocado, and juice.

Just one tablespoon of olive oil, for instance, contains 120 calories and is 100 percent fat, so Karas recommends using it sparingly, no more than one serving per day.  Juice, meanwhile, has 25 percent more calories than soda and twice as many calories as liquid sports drinks, so petite women should watch their intake. Commercial juice products are also pasteurized, which kills valuable nutrients and vitamins.

4. Swap Your Meals: Eaters in the U.S. typically start the day with their smallest meal, breakfast, and then work their way up to the largest, dinner.  Petite woman in particular, Karas says, should do just the opposite.  To start off, he recommends flipping breakfast and lunch servings in order to better balance the day calorie-wise.

5. Skip the Treadmill, Pick Up the Weights: Karas says cardio can actually cause petite women to gain weight because it increases their appetites.  Instead, petite women should focus on strength training, which fulfills their cardio needs while also increasing their caloric burn, enhancing their posture and strengthening and flattening their core muscles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Holiday Travel Tip: Eat Right and Exercise

George Doyle/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of people will hit the roads, rail and sky over the remainder of the holiday season, and tagging along with them will be hordes of germs ready to spread to the traveling masses.

Despite being surrounded by bacteria and viruses in stores, airports and other public places, there are a few simple ways to minimize the risk of catching a disease, such as the cold and the flu, which could zap the happy out of the holidays.

"You don't want to be a hermit, and you want to enjoy the holidays, but try to use some common-sense principles to avoid getting sick," said Dr. Lisa Bernstein, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

Along with washing your hands, remaining especially vigilant and getting your flu shot ahead of time, remember that proper nutrition and physical activity are especially important during the holidays. People may neglect these needs because of bad weather or other obligations, but they are vital to staying healthy.

"Eat a healthy diet and exercise -- those are the best preventive activities along with not smoking," said Dr. Michael Perskin, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. "Your immune system will be healthier and that will help fight off infection."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman's Body 'Swallows' Breast Implant

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Pilates is intended to realign the body. With every focused breath and movement, the physical fitness system is supposed to help you achieve balance as you reach deep into your body's core.

But all one 59-year old woman found in her core was her right breast implant, which shifted when she engaged in a deep exhale.

The case of the pilates-session-turned-breast-disappearing act was published by Johns Hopkins' University emergency medicine doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The woman, who had not been identified, had a history of breast cancer and had undergone a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

But while forcefully exhaling while keeping her mouth closed and nose pinched shut -- called the Valsalva maneuver -- the woman lost her implant somewhere in her body.

I remember her saying, 'My body swallowed my boob,' Dr. Tiffany Fong, resident physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told ABC News.

An ultrasound performed in the emergency room helped doctors find the implant, which was lodged between the lower part of the woman's right lung and ribcage.

"When she would do the breathing maneuver, we saw a part of the chest bulge out," said Fong. "We found that it was a part of her lung that was protruding."

But for this woman, it didn't hurt as bad as it sounds, the emergency physicians wrote in the case report.

"She could've had a hard time breathing because it would've taken up space in her lungs," Dr. Gedge Rosson, director of breast reconstruction at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told ABC News. Fortunately, she didn't.

More than 90,000 breast reconstruction procedures were performed in 2010, an eight percent increase from the previous year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and while there are many different types of reconstruction procedures, breast reconstruction surgery heals much like other surgeries.

The incision area should not be subjected to excessive force or motion during healing, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Patients are often advised to wait about four to six weeks before exercising. The same waiting time recommendations apply for heart valve surgery, said Rosson.

The woman described had also undergone a procedure to repair one of her heart valves, which required surgeons to re-enter from the same incision used for her reconstruction operation. The heart valve procedure required surgeons to create a tiny incision between her ribs.

According to Rosson, the incision from the heart procedure, not the breast reconstruction, caused the implant to move out of place.

"It made a tiny enough opening to make the breast implant fall through," said Rosson. "If you just have breast reconstruction alone, this is highly unlikely."

Fong recalled that the woman participated in the Pilates session about three months after her surgery, which was outside the restriction window.

The surgeons retrieved the implant from her chest, repositioned it in its proper place, and sealed the internal incision with mesh.

This type of case is extremely rare, Fong said. She recalled finding only three similar reported cases of women who'd lost their breast implants.

But Rosson said this rare case shouldn't deter women from exercising after the recommended wait time is over, as exercise can help keep women who have undergone such procedures healthy and in good spirits, he said.

"Patients should really not be worried about having a breast reconstruction," said Rosson.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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