What is metabolic syndrome?(Part 3)

Diagnosis

There are several ways of diagnosing metabolic syndrome (MS). However, the criteria being used by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III, otherwise known as ATP III, starting in 2001 is the simplest and best understood. In this criteria, if you have 3 of the 5 abnormalitiesfound in MS, then you can be considered as suffering from the syndrome[1]. This means that if you will not seek medical consultation as soon as possible, you may suffer and die from the so-called atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack (myocardial infarction) and bleeding in the brain (stroke). These medical problems could kill you; therefore, if you are diagnosed as having MS, your medical condition needs periodic medical attention and your utmost cooperation.

ATP IIImentioned the following abnormalities as the components of MS:

  1. Abdominal obesity
  2. High triglycerides in the blood
  3. Low HDL-Cholesterol
  4. High blood pressure
  5. High fasting blood sugar.

If you have at least 3 of the above abnormalities, then you are suffering from MS[1].

Management

Changes in lifestyle

The underlying factors that contribute to the development of MS are obesity, physical inactivity, and atherogenic diet. If you look closely at the three factors, they can be mitigated by lifestyle changes, such as engaging in more physical exercises and shifting to non-atherogenic diet.

Increase physical activities

It is a well-known fact that physical exercises are needed by your body. If you engaged in it, among other beneficial effects, your high blood pressure will go down, and your body weight will not increase that much as compared to not having physical exercises at all. By not having excess weight, you will be removing one of the components of MS which is abdominal obesity.

The least that you can do is to have walking for at least 30 minutes—daily. If you cannot do this, then you need to contrive on having physical exercises, such as parking a little bit far from your point of destination, then walk! Have shopping then while transferring from one place to another, you do a brisk walking! You can think of other ways of giving yourself physical exercises. However, ensure that you can afford to do them.

Shift to non-atherogenic diet

A diet is said to be atherogenic when it is rich in saturated fats (SFs). They are found in meats, coconut, palm oil, palm kernel oil, butter, egg yolks, milk, and milk products (except fat-free) [2]. It has been established from researches that if your diet is high in SFs, the level of your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is also high [3]. You should remember that LDL cholesterol is also known as the bad cholesterol, because it carries cholesterolmolecules away from   your liver and deposit them to far-away structures, such as the blood vessels. When LDL cholesterol is deposited in the internal lining of the blood vessels, atherosclerosis takes place, and the blood vessels become inelastic, leading to the development of hypertension. {You can read on Powertec(144)}.

Thus, you need to avoid taking a lot of foods rich in SFs; instead, shift to the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are found in canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocados, sardines, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, soybeans, tofu, and fish [2]. Hence, you need to use the cooking oil as prescribed and stated in the preceding so that you will take more of the unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). In a nutshell, avoid using cooking oil derived from animals and take more of fish, instead of meat. {You can read on Powertec (63)}.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. AHA/NHLBI Scientific Statement. Diagnosis and Management of Metabolic Syndrome. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/112/17/2735.full
  2. Roth, Ruth. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Singapore: Delmar Learning, 2007.
  3. Siri-Tarino, P., et. al. (2010). Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. http://www.ncibi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2943062/

What is metabolic syndrome?(Part 2)

Causes

Overweight and obesity[1]

If you are overweight and obese, very likely, you will developmetabolic syndrome(MS). Hence, you need to compute for your ideal body weight (IBW) every now and then so that you will know if your weight is falling beyond the normal and accepted figures; if overweight, you need to shed off some of your weight. The formula to be used in computing for your IBW is discussed in Powertec (20).

Inactive lifestyle[1]

Inactive lifestyle—that is, you lack physical exercises for a long time—will also lead to the development of MS. The reason for this is that if your life is largely sedentary, you will gain weight and become overweight.

Insulin resistance[1]

Normally, when you take your foods rich in carbohydrates, the glucose level in your blood rises. Consequently, your insulin which is responsible for the cellular absorption of your glucose will also increase. With the action of your insulin, the glucose molecules enter your cells, and it will be used as source of energy. If there is insulin resistance, your cells will not positively react to the presence of glucose even if insulin is around and available. Hence, glucose is not absorbed by your cells[2].

Age[1]

As you grow older, the possibility that you will develop MS increases.This is one of the factors that you cannot control. Therefore, if you have been having hypertension since the middle period of your life, and if you have been gaining weight, you might develop it.

Genetics[1]

Your predisposition to develop MS is also beyond your control. Among its causes,insulin resistance is one of the genetically acquired. It runs in your family; hence, if one or more of your siblings has(have) it, you will, by and large, develop it,too. As early as possible, submit yourself to some laboratory tests.

Excessive blood clotting[1]

There are indications that when you have excessive blood clotting, you are prone to have MS. Thus, if there were occasions in medical settings beforethat you were found to have this medical disorder, search for the indications of other components of MS because, by and large, you have them, too.

Low-grade inflammation throughout the body[1]

When you have inflammation in a certain part of your body, such as in your knee joints, you will experience pain; depending on its severity, you will correspondingly experience a particular intensity of pain—the more severe it is, the more painful it will be. In the case of MS, you have been experiencing low-grade inflammation throughout your body, but   you may not be able to feel and experience the pain; instead, some complications have been taking place in your different organs. With generalized inflammation, the small blood vessels—known as coronary arteries—in your heart may have been reacting to it, and the diameter of their openings may have been reduced, promoting the occurrences of heart attack or myocardial infarction. Your kidneys may also react to the inflammation, and their filtrating structures, known as glomeruli, may be damaged. Since it is generalized, no part of your body would be spared from its adverse effects.

Others

The following may also cause MS: fatty liver, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gallstones, breathing problems during sleep. Right now, these possible causes of MS are still under investigation[1].

Symptoms

The symptoms of metabolic syndrome are related to its complications. Hence, if you already have hypertension, you may experience headache and dizziness; if diabetes has been present, you may experience frequent urination, weakness, and thirst[1]; if the increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol have taken their toll, you may experience chest pain upon exertion.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms/causes
  2. Mayo Clinic, Diseases and Conditions, Metabolic Syndrome. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20027243

Importance of hydration in physical exercises (Part 1)

Physiological consequences of physical exercises

Burning of energy

When you physically exercise, your muscles will either relax or contract. However, not all muscles will contract at the same time, and not all muscles will relax at the same time. At certain point in time, some muscles will contract, and some will relax. The net result of this is the generation of movement, which could be in the form of breathing, running, walking, dancing, and many more. As the muscles contract and relax, there is burning of energy which is ultimately derived from the foods that you take. Without the foods that you take, the muscles could not efficiently work. Thus, when you exercise without previously taking your meal, you will feel weak and could not continue doing your workout.

Production of heat

When the energy is burned—and the burning is quite fast in physical exercises—there is heat production, as one form of energy is transformed into another. This biological event increases your body temperature.

Sweating

When your body temperature rises, there must be a biological mechanism of lowering it. Otherwise, your body will suffer from overheating, otherwise known as heat stroke. Hence, your body sweats; the more intense your exercise is, the more sweat your body will produce. As the water flows out from your sweat glands located beneath your skin, your body temperature goes down.

Water loss

When you sweat, water and some electrolytes, such as sodium, are lost from your body. If you do not replenish the lost water, you will suffer from a number of consequences.

Consequences of severe water loss

Dehydration

When water loss from severe sweating is so significant, you will suffer from dehydration if you will not have adequate hydration as you physically exercise. There are three gradations of dehydration. These are mild, moderate, and severe dehydration. Whichever the case is, you will need to take adequate water so that one gradation will not progress to a worse situation. If you have reached the stage of severe dehydration, and yet you do not have adequate water replacement, you may die from the so-called hypovolemic shock.

Hypovolemic shock

One of the vital signs of your body is yourblood pressure (BP). It has two figures written in a fraction form. The upper number, or numerator, represents the systolic blood pressure, and the lower number, or the denominator, represents the diastolic blood pressure. The normal systolic pressure ranges from 90 to 140 mm Hg, while the normal diastolic blood pressure is 60 to 90 mm Hg. When your blood pressure is lower than 90/60, you have low blood pressure; when your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, you have high blood pressure.

There are two determinants of your blood pressure. These are the cardiac output (CO) and the peripheral resistance (PR). Thus,

Equation 1: BP = CO x PR.

In turn, your CO equals the product of the stroke volume times your heart rate and the PR is the determined by your intravascular volume and the diameter of your blood vessels. If we summarize the relationships of the different variables, we have this equation:

Equation 2:BP = {Stroke volume x heart rate} {Intravascular volume/diameter of your blood vessels}

Based on Equation 2, even if we hold all the other variables as constants, and only the intravascular volume changes, you can conclude that the blood pressure changes. When you lose too much water from any form of physical exercises, the intravascular volume decreases, and your blood pressure drops. When the water loss is too much, your intravascular volume decreases severely and your blood pressure will drop significantly, leading to hypovolemic shock and then death.

(To be continued)

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 7)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Shins[1,2]

The shins refer to the front portions of your lower legs, and the largest muscle in this region is the tibialis anterior, whose main function is to flex your foot upward (dorsiflexion) and to extend your toes [1].Thus, it controls your foot and your leg as you strike the ground. When the muscles in the front portion of your lower leg is weaker compared to the calf muscles—which are located at the back of your lower leg and in opposite area relative to the position of yourshin muscles, you will suffer from the so-called shin splints[2].To prevent this potential imbalance between the shin and the calf muscles, thus preventing shin splints, you can perform the following physical exercises.

 

Strengthening exercises for the shin muscles using body weight

 

Toe lifts[2]

Sit on a chair, and then extend forward your legs resting on your heels until they are around one foot away from where they should be if they are immediately below your knees. Extend your toes until your feet are flat on the ground. Gradually flex your toes toward your knees while keeping your heels on the ground. When you feel that the muscles in front of the shins contract, hold it for 3 to 10 seconds, then relax. Do this 10 times[2].

Towel sweep[2]

Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with your heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot [2].

Ankle band exercises[2]

Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot [2].

 

Foot press[2]

While sitting down, put one of your feet on top of the other. Pull up with the lower foot and resisted by the other foot. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch the positions of your feet and do the same. Do 5 sets for each position [2].

Suggested strengthening workouts using body weight

To wrap up the discussion of the different workouts using your body weight, some of the most important strengthening physical exercises that you can perform are enumeratedhereunder:

  1. Squats, for quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks; {See Powertec (162)}
  2. Push-ups, for your upper body; {See Powertec (161)}
  3. Crunches, for your abdominals; {Powertec (157)}
  4. Sitting leg extensions, for your quadriceps; {See Powertec (162)}
  5. Reverse sit-ups, for your lower abdominals; {See Powertec (157)}
  6. Side leg raises, for your hip abductors;
  7. Chair press, for your hip adductors;
  8. Foot press, for your shins[2]. {See Powertec (164)}

If you do the enumerated physical exercises, start with the large muscle groups then go to the smaller ones. You can add some of the physical exercises that you want to include; however, for as long as your time permits and your body could afford, do all of the abovecited physical exercises at least 3 times a week. By doing these routinely, they will help you improve your performance and avoid injuries[2] while participating in some sport activities.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 6)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Ankles[1,2]

The ankle refers to the joint where your lower leg and your foot are joined. Since the foot requires a number of movements—aside from flexion and extension—a number of muscles (more than 20) hold the two structures together. Largely, these muscles act as flexors and extensors that play a pivotal role in movements and balancing of your body. To provide stability and versatility in your movements, some of these muscles are so long that they are attached at a point as high as the back of your knee[1].

The muscles that greatly influence the movements of your foot are the following:

  • Soleus: This muscle is found at the back of your lower leg. It extends from the back of your knee to your heel. It is very much needed for your walking and standing. When you are falling forward, this muscle contracts so that your foot hits the ground, stabilizing you and maintaining your erect position[1].
  • Gastrocnemius: This is found at the back portion of your lower leg, and it runs over its entire length. It is connected at the back of your knee and to your heel. When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards your upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk because it extends your foot[1].
  • Other muscles: Other muscles that influence the movements of your foot are plantaris, abductor hallucis, tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, flexor digitorum longus, fibularis longus, fibularistertius, andfibularis brevis[1].

Strengthening exercises for the ankle muscles using body weight

Ankle push[2]

You can sit down on the floor and then provide resistance to your foot with your hand as it moves downward, upward, inward, or outward—holding each movement for 10 seconds and doing it for 3 to 5 times [2].

 

 

Towel sweep[2]

Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with the heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot[2].

Ankle bend exercises[2]

Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot[2].

Arches[1,2]

When you look forarches, you are referring to the angles formed at the bottom of your feet by its bones and strengthened by its tendons, ligaments, and muscles. There are three: (1) the medial arch, (2) the lateral arch, and (3) the fundamental longitudinal arch. The arches are actually curves at the bottom of your feet, and they make your walking easier and less taxing for your body[1].

Strengthening exercise for the arches using body weight

Towel exercise[2]

Stand and place one of your feet over a towel. Curl your toes to put the towel under you, with your leg and your heel not moving at all. Keep on doing it until the towel is totally under you. Reverse the process by pushing the towel away from you. Do this for 2 to 3 times for each foot[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 5)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Quadriceps [1,2]

Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps using body weight

Sitting leg extensions[2]

Sit on a chair or on the edge of a table. Extend your one leg and tighten it, holding your kneecap parallel to the floor. Tighten your muscles for 2 to 3 seconds in isometric contraction—wherein there is no movement at the joint but the muscle fibers are working or contracting. Complete 10 to 20 times. You can repeat the same procedure with the other leg. If you believe your legs have grown stronger, you can add a 2-pound ankle weight and do the physical exercise [2].

Squats[2]

Stand with your feet around one foot apart, and then slowly squat to one-fourth or one-third of the way down and hold for 2 or 3 seconds before slowly returning to the starting or standing position. Complete 10 to 20 times. Do not squat exceeding halfway down to avoid injury! To provide yourself with added protection, you can do chair squats wherein you can lower your buttocks slightly over the chair and proceed doing the full exercise as described in the preceding[2].

Buttocks[1,2]

The principal muscle in the buttocks is the gluteus maximus, and it is regarded as one of the strongest muscles in the human body. It is attached to the coccyx, otherwise known as tailbone, and to the nearby bones. It is responsible for the movement of the hip and the thigh. Specifically, it aids in standing up from a sitting position, climbing stairs, and in maintaining erect position[1]. Other muscles in the buttocks are gluteus minimus and medius[2].

Strengthening exercises for the buttocks using body weight

Butt raisers [2]

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. With your heels serving as the fulcrum, raise you pelvis one inch off the floor and hold it for 10 seconds, release and relax. Do this exercise for 5 to 10 times [2].

Pelvic tilt[2]

Lie flat on the floor in supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously tighten your butt muscles and your abdominals while raising your pelvis from the floor. While raising your pelvis, press your lower back towards the floor. Hold contracted muscles for 3 to 10 seconds while exhaling. You can do this for 3 to 5 times [2].

Hips and groin[1,2]

The most prominent muscle in the groin is the gracilis. It is quite a long muscle because it extends from the pelvic bone up to the bone of the lower leg. Its main functionsare to assist in knee flexion and to adduct the legs. Adducting the legs means bringing them from the outside toward the center; hence, it means bringing the feet and legs together at the center. It is also responsible for stabilizing and rotating the knee inward. Aside from the gracilis, there are other important muscles in the groin. These include the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, and the adductor magnus[1].

Strengthening exercises for the hips and groin using body weight

 

Inside leg raises (for the adductors) [1,2]

Lie on your right side with your head resting on the outstretched right arm and your left arm aligned with your body. Flex your left leg at the knee and place the left lower leg in front of the right upper leg. Slowly raise your stretched right leg as high and as far as you can and then slowly returning to the starting position. Complete 2 or 3 sets of 10 with each leg. If you feel that your adductors have gained strength, you can add weight in your ankle to increase the resistance[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 2)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Abdominals[1,2]

The external oblique muscles serve as the cover of the sides of the abdomen. In addition, it helps in the rotation of the trunk and the spine. Serving as further support to the abdominal wall, theinternal oblique muscles are located beneath the external oblique muscles; thus, they also serve as cover of the abdomen at its sides[2].

The internal oblique muscles help in forced respiration, and aid in raising the pressure inside the abdominal cavity. They also rotate and turn the trunk with assistance from other muscles. More importantly, they serve to counteract the actions of the diaphragm[2], resulting in coordinated fashion of regulating the volume of the chest cavity.

The transverse abdominis is the muscle in the side and front of the abdomen. It lies underneath the internal oblique muscles; therefore, it follows that it is the deepest muscle in the front and side of the abdomen. Its main function is to compress the ribs and the abdominal organs. In addition, it stabilizes the thorax and the pelvis. It plays a great role when a pregnant woman delivers her child[3], by pushing the child through and out in the pelvic canal.

Probably unknown to you, there is a back portion of the abdomen, and one of the most prominent muscles in this region is the latissimus dorsi. It is responsible for extending, adducting, and rotating the arms[2]—aside from covering the abdomen at the back.

Strengthening exercises for the abdominals using the body weight

Crunches (Modified sit-ups)[1]

Lie flat on the floor in a supine position, with knees bent and your hands placed over your chest. Slowly raise your head and your shoulders around six inches off the floor. Remain as it is for two seconds then return to the starting point.Exhale as you sit up and inhale as you come down. Do two to three sets of 10 to 20 crunches daily. These exercises are intended and good for your rectus abdominis[1].

Reverse sit-ups[1]

Lie flat on the floor in a supine position, with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your side and with the palms down.Keeping your knees still bent, bring your legs up followed by lifting your pelvis towards the chest. Exhale as you gradually lift your pelvis. You can do two to three sets of 10. This exercise is intended for the transverse abdominis muscle[1].

Pelvic tilt[1]

Lie flat on the floor in supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously tighten your butt muscles and your abdominals while raising your pelvis fromthe floor. While raising your pelvis, press your lower back towards the floor. Hold contracted muscles for three to ten seconds while exhaling. You can do this for three to five times[1].

Calf muscles [1]

The gastrocnemius muscle is found at the back portion of the lower leg, andit runs overits entire length. It is connected at the back of the knee and to the heel.When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards the upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk[2].

The other component of the calf muscles is the soleus. It is located at the back of the lower leg, in close proximity with thegastrocnemius. It is primarily used to push the ground when you walk. In addition, it is very important in dancing and running. To prevent you from falling forward, the soleus will contract to pull your feet against the ground, maintaining your upright posture[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transverse_abdominal_muscle

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 1)

Definition

Strengthening physical exercises are movements that you need to do repeatedly in order to develop and improve the strength of a group of muscles. The groups of muscles are abdominals, ankles, arch, back, buttocks, calf muscles, hamstrings, hips/groin, quadriceps, shins, and upper body[1]. As to which group(s) of muscles you would like to develop depends on your purpose. If you would like to be a good runner, then the groups of muscles that you need to strengthen are the calves, hamstrings, and buttocks. If you would like to firm up your abdomen, then you strengthen your abdominals. If you would like to have firm and sturdy shoulders and chest, then strengthen your muscles in your upper body.

Means of doing strengthening exercises

Using body weight[1]

In this method of strengthening exercises, you do not use any gym equipment and gadgets. You use your own body to do them. Examples are modified sit-ups, reverse sit-ups, pelvic tilt, ankle push, towel sweep[1], and many more. This means that you can do these exercises at home, without even going to the gym.

Using free weights [1]

In contrast to the exercises using your body weight, you may need to report to the gym if you will use the free weights. Generally, there are two kinds of free weights that you can use: (1) handheld dumbbells, or (2) the weight plates on barbells[1]. The need for gym in these exercises is not solely due to the availability of these equipment; more importantly, there are personnel in the gym who could guide you on how to properly use these equipment.

Using machines[1]

Using body weight and free weights will not totally strengthen all of your muscles. In addition, you will use some machines which are intended to strengthen other sets of muscles. Examples of these machines are the biceps curl machine, triceps machine, pull-down machine[1], and many others. When you visit the gym for the first time, you can look around and familiarize yourself with these machines. Each machine has its own use and purpose. Use it (them) if it (they) is (are) what you need. Thus, before using any machine in the gym, consult any fitness adviser around so that you could be guided accordingly.

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Abdominals[1,2]

The abdominalsare muscles located in the front section of your abdomen. Their function is to provide you with postural support, protect your internal organs located in the abdomen and pelvic area, and to allow you to perform some movements, such as rotating the spine, bending, breathing, and defecating. The most prominent muscles are the rectus abdominis, external oblique muscles, internal oblique musclesand the latissimus dorsi.The rectus abdominis runs downward from the sternumdown to the pelvic bone, and the external oblique muscles are located at its sides, running downward in oblique direction—hence, the word external oblique. Beneath the external oblique muscles are the internal oblique muscles. Covering the back is the latissimus dorsi muscle[2].POWERTEC

Figure 1.0.Diagrammatic illustration showing the major muscles in the front abdomen.

The rectus abdominis is activated when you do crunches because it is responsible for pulling the rib and the pelvis toward each other. In addition, it curves the back. In terms of bodily functions, it is very important during the delivery of your child, for bowel movements, and for coughing. When you have a bulging belly, the accumulated fat is lying over your rectus abdominis. Thus, when you do periodic physical exercises for the abdominals, the fats will be burned, and you will see the exposed rectus abdominis as a six-pack muscle[2].

References:

  1. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock

Muscle cramps (Part 1)

What are muscle cramps?

Normally, when we move, there are skeletal muscles involved in it. To execute a particular move, a muscle or a group of muscles will have to alternately contract and relax. In some instances, however, suddenly and without warning, one or more muscle(s) contract(s) in a sustained manner, and the person involved in it has no control over the muscular contraction. This is called muscle crampor true cramps. It is painful, and the concerned individual, in most of the times, will be forced to stop from whatever s/he is doing. The sustained muscular contraction could take place for a few secondsor up to a quarter of an hour.

What are the causes of muscle crmuscle cramp amps?

Injury

When there is an existing injury in the musculo-skeletal system, a muscle cramp takes place because the body tends to protect the injured part. In this situation, there is a need to treat the existing injury, lest the muscle cramp keeps on recurring!

Fatigue of muscles

When a muscle or group of muscles isoverused in a physical activity, such as in a gym or outdoor physical exercises, a muscle cramp may take place. Overusing of muscles takes place when a person suddenly executes a physical exercise whose intensity and/or durationis(are) beyond what s/he used to do. If, for instance, you have been doing a treadmill exercise for only 30 minutes in a day, but suddenly you increased it to one hour, you might experience muscle cramp, either during, immediately after, or several hours after the physical exercise.

If you have been doing weightlifting, usually lifting 10 kilograms of weight, but, without proper preparation and training, you suddenly used 15-kilogram weight, you may also experience muscle cramp.

Improper positioning

Proper positioningwhile working or playinggreatly contributes in the prevention of muscle cramps. For instance, if you are using the keyboard of a computer or a laptop, ensure that your wrists are well rested on the working table, and not left hanging beyond its edge! Ensure that your head is well rested at its back against a head support structure of your chair! Ensure that your eyesight level is in line with the computer screen, not very much lower or higher! When you play a particular sport, play it with the right form!

Improper and awkward positioning while asleep could be another cause of muscular cramp! Since you cannot really control your sleeping position, the least that you can do is to have firm and flat bed that will prevent your body from sagging!

Dehydration

When you work out in a gym, or engage in an outdoor sport, you will have perspiration that will release the extra heat generated in your body. However, it is not only water and heat that are released; included is the electrolyte, sodium, that plays a very vital role in maintaining the blood pressure. When significant amount of sodium is taken out from your body, arising mainly from intense physical activity and/or use of medicine, such as diuretics (medicines that promote urination), occurrence of muscle cramp is very likely.

Low blood calcium and/or magnesium

Scientific literatures have established that low calcium and/or magnesium level in the blood could cause muscle cramp. The main reason is that when the blood levels of said electrolytes are low, the excitability of the nerve endings and the muscles being supplied by that nerve is high! Hence, with the slightest provocation, the muscle contracts, producing muscle cramp.

Low calcium and magnesium levels in the blood are caused by pregnancy, vomiting, use of diuretics, vitamin D deficiency and hyperventilation (fast breathing).

References:

Internet Website:

www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page2.htm

Suggested further readings:

  • Powertec article titled: Eleven basic rules in doing gym exercises: Importance of proper form in strength training and how Powertec machines help in reducing the risk of injury
  • Powertec article titled: Causes of injury while doing physical exercises

Interview with Powertec Brand Ambassador Mehmet Edip

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Did you play any sports growing up?

I am 29 years old and currently reside in London. As well as being a fitness model I am also a commercial model and have recently started acting.

Growing up I wasn’t really that sporty and I picked up my first set of dumbells at the age of 15 and after that I never looked back.

2. How long have you been training? Why did you decide to compete?

I have been training for 14 years now and I’m not really sure why I originally started to compete. If I’m honest competing was a way of justifying to myself why I was training. My first show was in 2008 and I have competed in 8 shows in total

3. Any plans to compete again in the future? If so, where can we expect to see you compete next?

I am hoping to compete again next year but I am still undecided as to where and when.

 4. What specific workout routines work best for you?

I alternate my workout on a regular basis as I tend to get bored easily and I like to listen to my body so I don’t have have a specific workout to be honest

5. What is your typical diet regimen like? What are some of the most important foods in your diet?

I generally always eat clean and my carb consumption is generally very low. I am very keen on lean meat such as chicken and turkey

6. Do you take any supplements? If so, what do you use and why?

I currently use Gaspari Superpump Max, size on Anavite and myofusion.

7. How was your first contest experience like? Can you tell us about the competition and the training that lead up to it?

My first show was a nerve wracking experience as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The silly things like having to wax my whole body and the fake tan was an interesting experience I didn’t quite expect to have so many problems with, but overall it was an amazing experience and the buzz from being on stage is one that got me hooked on competing. I honestly don’t expect what my training was like leading up to that show but I do remember my after show feast -pizza and chocolate! That was a great end to a long day

8. You’ve been published in magazines such as Muscle and Fitness and Ultra Fit Magazine. How did you prepare yourself for them?

I always prepare for shoots like I would do for a show so if I know about the shoot in advance I would diet for it in advance and focus on weight training that brings out the details in your body. I would also increase my cardio and reduce my calorie intake in order to get ripped accordingly and I’ve recently started carb load prior to shoots in order to make my muscles look fuller

9. Has dieting and staying lean been easy for you or was it something you have to work hard on?

Nothing in life is easy but if your regimented and disciplined enough then anything is possible. I would like to think that being organised with my training and strict with my diet is what has really helped me.

10. What is it like to become a sponsored athlete for Gaspari Nutrition?

I am currently a Gasapri Nutrition UK advocate and it is a privilege and an honour to represent such a prestigious brand and one which is led by such a trailblazer in the industry such as Rich Gaspari. I am hoping to one day become a fully sponsored athlete with Gaspari.

11. We heard you are also an actor. Can you tell us more about your acting roles? Which shows have you appeared in?

I have only just recently ventured into the acting arena and have done a lot of supporting artiste work for numerous BBC tv shows in the UK. I have also appeared in commercials for brands such as Heinz, Febreeze, and Hardees chicken wraps.

12. What the best training tips would you give for someone who wants to get ripped?

You cannot get ripped without a clean diet and cardio, best tip – reduce the calories and increase the cardio.

13. What upcoming projects are you currently working on?

All will be revealed soon ….. 🙂

 14. Any shout outs?

Obviously I would like to thank Powertec for this opportunity and also to Gaspari nutrition UK and also to my beautiful girlfriend for her continued support

15. Where can we find you on the Internet?

Catch me here: http://www.gasparinutrition.co.uk209.html
And I also have a twice weekly blog which you can find here: http://www.gasparinutrition.co.uk/210.html

I am also on twitter: @The_MehmetEdip
And also feel free to like my fb fan page: MehmetEdip.FitnessModel.Athlete