Tag Archive for exercise

Do You Do 150 Minutes Of Exercise a Week?

The big question in sports science is how much exercise to do to get the health benefits, and how often?  The advice is often contradictory.  Some people have been suggesting you need to break it up into five slots over the week, others disagree.

workout exerciseFortunately there appears to be some consensus emerging.

First, 150 minutes of moderate exercise seems to be the figure we need to aim for.

Second, it doesn’t really matter how u split the time so long as you hit the 150 minutes over the week, and don’t do it all in one go.  As little as 10 minutes at a time may even be beneficial.

But what counts as ‘moderate exercise’?  The disappointing news is that most people underestimate it!  Walking, for example, counts as moderate exercise so long as your heart rate increases significantly, but you can still hold down a conversation.  About a 100 steps a minute should see you about right.  This isn’t a shopping trip down Market Street on a Saturday afternoon!

For many guys, 150 minutes of exercise seems a huge target to try and fit into their everyday lives.  Here’s my advice for getting into exercise.

1. Build Exercise Slots Into Your Daily Routine.

These slots need only be five minutes to start with.  In fact they shouldn’t be too adventurous.

2. Slowly Increase The Amount You Exercise.

Only consider increasing the length of time you exercise after 4 or 5 weeks – when the routine has starting to settle down.  The biggest mistake guys make is trying to do too much too soon.  You will only become demoralised and give yourself a ‘failure’ experience.  Exercise should be a lifestyle for the long run.  Not a quick fix.  So it makes sense to build up slowly.

3. Do Something You Enjoy.

Everybody is different.  Do something you enjoy … or feel you might cum to enjoy at the very least.  There is no reason not to find an activity you find fun.  It could be walking, jogging, weights, skiing at the indoor slope, football, swimming – you could even combine exercise with a social event, like dancing.

4. Do a Variety of Things.

150 minutes of the same thing every week will bore even the most committed.  Try and mix up your activities with some strength and some cardio activities.  It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as you do something.  Down the line, when your routine is solid, you might want to fine tune your program.  Don’t worry about this too much at the start.

5. Keep a Record of Your Achievements.

Before you start, take a picture of yourself in your trunks, weigh yourself and take a measure of you waist and other body dimensions. Then repeat this every month.  There’s nothing better for building motivation than to keep a diary of how far you’ve come.

6. If all else fails … use a personal trainer.

Try Lewis Hughes, he’s starting an outdoor exercise ‘boot camp’ over the summer.  It will be a great introduction to exercise for men of all abilities.

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Pumping Iron Makes You Live Longer

I once asked a gym manager what brought his customers through the door.  His answer, “sex”, surprised me.  I had expected a more conservative response, like “to lose weight”, “train for a sport” or “recover from illness”.  He went on to say that in his experience of the industry what people want is to look good so they can attract, or keep, a good looking partner.  I suppose this sort of makes sense.  After all one of the first things many guys do when they split from their partner is head off down the gym to “get back in shape” (hear look more sexually desirable!).

The sex thing might explain why men and women often pursue different exercise regimens.  Women, on the whole, dominate aerobics classes.  These classes’ burn fat and tone muscle.  Women tend to be concerned about their weight and hip size as cues to sexual attraction.  Men, on the other hand, can usually be found pumping iron.  Because of the male hormone testosterone, which is needed to build muscle mass, men can build and shape their body more flexibly than women.  Men, often mistakenly, assume muscle size is a cue to sexual attraction (most women don’t like guys with huge muscles).

Sculpting the body beautiful may make us believe we are more desirable in the bedroom, but are there any health benefits from doing so?  Until recently, there was a disparagingly small amount of compelling evidence to suggest it did.  However, in the past few years there have been a number of studies that seem to have answered in the affirmative.

In one longitudinal study published in the BMJ (2008, vol. 337, p. 439) the researchers measured the muscle strength of 9000 American men and checked up on their health over 20 years.  The weakest 30% of the men had a death rate 30% higher than the other guys.

This doesn’t mean to say that you should avoid aerobic activity on the back of this.  One of the studies authors, Steve Blair, quoted in the New Scientist (9/1/10 p37) said “The bottom line is that both strength and aerobic fitness make independent contributions to health”.

So the message is clear:  sculpting your beautiful body will make you live longer too, but don’t forget to look after your heart and lungs … even if nobody can see them.

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Healthy Exercise Can Reduce Male Stroke Risk

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is disrupted. This can be due to a ruptured or blocked brain artery. Plaque or blood clots can block totally or partially the blood flow from the carotid arteries to the brain. When this happens, the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes limited, thereby damaging the cells in the brain.

Stroke results in the loss of sensation, voluntary movement, or function in the parts of the body controlled by the damaged part of the brain. In a severe stroke, the person may lose consciousness, or may die.

There are conditions and behaviours that may raise a man’s risk for stroke. Smoking raises one’s risk of a stroke by four times compared to the risk for non-smokers. Another cause of stroke is high intake of salt or sodium.

A stroke can be fatal. Men with a family history of heart disease are more likely to have higher risk for peripheral artery disease. The risk of an attack further increases with aging, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, and obesity.

If a man has one or more of the risk factors, his next step should be prevention.

Healthy Exercise Can Reduce Male Stroke Risk

Primary stroke prevention includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and clean living. Moderate daily workouts can improve a man’s health and may reduce one’s risk for stroke.

An American Heart Association Scientific Statement from the Council on Clinical Cardiology stated, “Because increased levels of physical activity are associated with a reduced risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease and enhanced physical and psychosocial performance, such interventions performed in a stroke rehabilitation program may have a favorable effect on the prevention of recurrent stroke and cardiovascular events.” [AHA Scientific Statement: Physical Activity and Exercise Recommendations for Stroke Survivors (Circulation.2004; 109:2031-2041) © 2004 American Heart Association, Inc., circ.ahajournals.org]

Therefore, a regular workout can help men build a healthier and stronger body. A regular workout also helps speed up metabolism and boost energy levels.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General Report on Physical Activity and Health, lack of exercise can increase risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. [Article: Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart]

How Jogging, Swimming and Walking Lower Vascular Disorder

Studies show that physically active persons were less likely to have a stroke. Dr. Carl Remeirs wrote in his article “Exercise as Stroke Prophylaxis” that physical activity has an independent protective effect against stroke. He also wrote that a regular workout can lower arterial blood pressure and body weight and improves glucose and lipid metabolism. Exercise prevents stroke and lowers the risk by up to 40%.

The other effects of exercise on the body are remarkable. Frequent and regular exercise promotes good physical shape, ideal weight, strong bones, and healthy immune system. Regular exercise can boost the mechanical efficiency of the heart. Men who regularly jog, swim, and walk will have a better physical ability later in life.

Who Needs a Dose of Jogging, Swimming and Walking?

“Lifelong Exercise Keeps Seniors Young at Heart”, is the headline of an article posted on health.usnews.com.

Seniors can keep their hearts healthy with a regular exercise. A dose of exercise can lower feelings of fatigue and stress. A regular exercise routine also enhances older people’s level of balance and endurance, which they need to be able to perform their daily tasks alone.

In addition, routine exercise is helpful to those who are obese— those with 25 or more Body Mass Index (BMI). Obese individuals have a high risk for life-threatening blood clots, which block veins and arteries. Blood clots may lodge in a blood vessel and cut off blood circulation to vital organs, which will result in a heart attack.

Dynamic activities such as sports can help dissolve blood clots. Physical activities can reduce one’s risk of blood clots. “Exercise can reverse blood clot formation,” concludes lead researcher Derek T. Smith of the University of Colorado, Health Sciences Center. [Article: Exercise Can Help Dissolve Blood Clots by Jeanie Lerche Davis, WebMD Health News, webmd.com]

Aim for half an hour a day of exercise, preferably every day of the week. Moderate exercise such as jogging, swimming and brisk walking is wise to consider for the lonely, the sedentary, the middle-aged, and the 65 and counting . . . a step to better health and younger heart.

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Exercise Helps You Beat Depression

exerciseDepressed mood is one of the most common problems I see in my practice with men. Feeling low is not the only symptoms guys complain of. Often low mood is coupled with a lack of energy, sleep disruption, reduction of libido, anxiety and appetite changes. Sometimes men feel so bad they think life is not worth living and feel suicidal. Depression is a serious health problem that can lead to death and should never be ignored. The question is how should it be treated?

I recommend a three pronged attack to get your life back on track. Antidepressants, cbt (cognitive behavioural therapy), and exercise.

Antidepressant medication is helpful for many men particularly if your low mood is starting to interfere severely with your life, for example by taking a lot of time off work. Antidepressants, however, should never be the only answer. It is really important that you get to understand ‘the depressed mind’, and how to combat it.

Depression is notorious for ‘rekindling’, that is, coming back again and again and becoming a chronic health concern. If depression is only treated with antidepressants, and you don’t learn the strategy’s you need to stay well, then you risk chronicity becoming a problem.

In fact there is a lot of research around that shows that antidepressants and a talking therapy like cbt, have a cumulative effect upon each other. That is to say having cbt while being on an antidepressant produces a positive effect greater than either antidepressants or cbt on their own.

Is there anything else a man can do? Well I’ve long held the hunch that exercise is a key factor in men’s emotional health. I’m sure it plays a role in women’s emotional health too; I just think it’s even more important for men. In fact a 2007 study in Psychosomatic Medicine found it the equal of antidepressants in curing depression. For this reason I also recommend exercise for the men I se e who are depressed.

There is a problem with exercise in depressed people, in that they often feel too tired and lethargic to get going with an exercise program. I advocate starting with a small but regular exercise regimen: one that is easily achieved. Say a five minute walk to the shops and back, three times a week. Once the routine has bedded down, start increasing the duration and intensity of the exercise. Your ultimate target is three half hour sessions of vigorous, pulse raising, exercise a week. Like antidepressants, it can take several weeks before the benefits of exercise take hold, so stick with it.

I see the best results with men who adopt all three strategies: antidepressants, cbt and exercise. However not everybody’s depression is severe enough to warrant an antidepressant, and some men simply don’t want to take a drug. I can understand and respect this. For these men, knowing that exercise is as effective as an antidepressant in shifting mood is really helpful information. I suspect exercise coupled with cbt is the way to go for these men.

The worst thing you can do if depression has got a hold of your life, is ignore it. If you are feeling depressed at the moment, the time to do something about it is now.

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