Tag Archives: burn calories

9 Ways to Burn More Calories

burn-300-caloriesLike most Americans, I am always searching for quick and easy ways to boost my metabolism. Is there really anything we can do to increase the number of calories our bodies burn each day?

The simple answer: yes and no. There is no magic trick to burning calories. Your age, gender and genetics play a role in your metabolism. You may inherit a speedy metabolism. Men tend to burn calories more easily than women. And, for most of us, metabolism slows steadily after the age of 40.

So, what can you do? The best way to burn calories is the old fashioned way: by moving more.

However, research suggests that there may be other ways to amp up your metabolism. Here are 9 ways to burn more calories:

Get Active
Energy is burned when you move. From making your bed in the morning to lifting your arm to push the remote control at night, you are burning calories. Simple daily activity can account for 30% of the calories you burn each day. So, get moving! The more active you are each day, the better.

Build Muscle
While you can burn calories when you’re doing nothing, the resting metabolic rate is higher in people with more muscle. For every pound of muscle you put on, your body uses about 50 extra calories a day. Training with weights 3 times a week for just 20 minutes is enough to build muscle.

Add Protein
Your body can burn more calories when digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. To create a balanced diet, replace some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods. Good sources of protein include lean meats, such as beef, turkey, fish and white meat chicken. You can also add protein to your diet with nuts, beans, eggs, tofu and low-fat dairy products.

Snack smart
Eating more frequently can help you lose weight. When you eat 3 large meals a day with several hours between them, your metabolism slows down in between. Having smaller meals or snacks every 3 or 4 hours can help keep your metabolism going at a steady pace throughout the day. In addition, small snacks help you eat less at mealtimes.

Hydrate
We know that water is good for our health. Your body also needs water to process calories. If you become even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In studies, adults who drink 8 or more glasses of water burned more calories than those who drank four glasses.

Spice it up
Spicy foods have natural chemicals that can rev up your metabolism. Eat foods spiced up with chopped red or green chili pepper, order Thai food or spice up pasta dishes, chili and stews with red pepper flakes. Spicy foods can spike up your metabolism by 23 percent.

Drink coffee
Caffeine is a stimulant and can help you burn more calories. In moderation, one of coffee’s benefits may be a short-term rise in your metabolic rate. Caffeine can also help you feel less tired and increase your endurance while exercising or give you the motivation to get moving!

Sip tea
Green and black tea may have calorie-burning effects beyond the caffeine they contain. Green tea contains catechins – substances that rev up your metabolism for a couple of hours. Drinking tea at meals may have another fat-fighting benefit. Tea extract may interfere with the body’s absorption of carbohydrates when eaten in the same meal.

Get fidgety
Fidgeting qualifies as movement and can help you burn more calories. What counts as fidgeting? Anything that keeps you moving! You can tap your feet, swing your legs, drum your fingers, pace, wriggle, stand up and stretch, move your head from side to side, or clench and release your muscles.

It’s easy to work these tips for burning calories into your daily routine. And, if you do nothing else, get moving! Make it a point every day to find more ways to be physically active.

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Water workouts to tone up and lose weight

Workout and exercise in swimming poolWhen I think of swimming pools, I imagine myself floating on a raft soaking up the sun and drinking a cold beverage. However, the pool can be a great way to get in a fun and refreshing workout.

Not only can you burn calories and strengthen your muscles, you can keep cool during the hot summer months. You get in your cardiovascular exercise, toning and stretching without even feeling like you’ve broken a sweat!

Warm up with cardio:

If you’re a decent swimmer, you can swim laps for a few minutes to get your heart pumping. In a smaller, backyard pool, you can swim back and forth across the pool or swim circles around the outside of the pool.

Walking or running in the pool can be just as effective. You may be surprised by how quickly you get tired. Try to work up to 20 minutes at a time. Be sure you plant your feet and heels on the bottom of the pool – rather than on your tiptoes – or your calves will be hurting the next day.

Tone up with these moves:

Tread water
In the deep end of the pool, tread water by making smaller circles with your hands cupped and kicking your legs like you’re pedaling a bicycle. See how long you can continue to tread without feeling overly tired or struggling to stay above water. Treading gets harder the longer you do it!

For even more difficulty, as you tread lift your right leg straight out in front of you at the hip and as high up as you can. Keep your left leg stretched straight down toward the bottom of the pool. Hold it for 5 seconds and then switch to the other side for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side. Squeeze your butt and thighs as you do it to keep your legs straight and help tone your muscles.

Pike tread
If you only have shallow water, you can do a modified treading exercise. Sit back in the water while treading using your hands at your sides. Lift both legs up together and fold at the hips to create a wide V shape. Your toes should peek out above the water’s surface. Hold yourself in the V for 30 seconds. You can also paddle yourself around as you tread. If your toes are sinking, tighten your abs or widen your V a little bit.

Squats
Stand in shallow water with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms bent at your sides. Like a regular squat, slowly bend your knees into a squat position with your butt out behind you. Act like you are sitting in a chair and make sure your knees don’t extend out past your toes. Slowly push down with your hands, tighten your abs and stand back up straight. Repeat for 30 reps.

Kicks
Hold onto the side of the pool and extend your legs out behind you. Kick your legs in a scissor motion. Keep it up for 30 to 60 seconds, then rest and repeat. You can tone your glutes, abs and hamstrings all at once. You can even swim around with a noodle tucked under your armpits or on a wave board, and scissor kick your legs behind you.

You can also do a side kick. Hold onto the side of the pool and slowly lift one leg straight out to the side while keeping your back straight. Slowly bring it back down for 15 to 30 reps. Repeat on the other side.

Make waves
You can make waves while you kick. Facing the pool wall in chest deep water, hold onto the edge with your left hand and brace your right hand on the pool wall with your fingers facing down. This position will give you stability. Then, extend your legs behind you and keep your knees and feet together. Swim like a dolphin – in a wave motion from your hips to knees to feet – for 30 seconds. Rest for a few minutes and repeat.

Push ups and pull ups
To do push ups, stand facing the edge of the pool, leaning toward the edge with your arms out straight. Slowly, bend your arms and lean in to touch your nose on the edge. Then slowly push back out. Do 30 repetitions.

You can do pull ups by grabbing the edge of the pool with your back to the edge and lowering your body as far down as your arms will allow. Then, keeping your knees bent, slowly pull yourself up as high as you can and then lower yourself slowly back down. Repeat 30 times.

Crunches
To work your abs, you can do crunches in the pool. With your back to the wall, hold onto the edge of the pool. Keeping your legs straight, slowly bring both legs up at the hip to a sitting position and hold it for ten seconds. Put your legs slowly back down and repeat 30 times.

Play ball
Hit a beach ball back and forth with friends or family. You can also play a modified game of volleyball in the pool. Swimming, jumping and diving for the ball will definitely give you a workout.

Stretch to the finish:

You can do almost any stretch that you do on land in the water. Just move slowly and keep your feet flat on the floor. And, you can get dehydrated in the pool so be sure to drink plenty of water. You may not feel like you really did a hard workout, but you may be sore in the morning!

Do you have exercises you like to do in the pool? Or you do have fun games that can help tone you up without it feeling like a workout? Let us know!

How to rev up your metabolism

Rev up your metabolismYou probably know someone who eats constantly, yet never seems to gain any weight. Metabolism – and good genes – may be part of the reason. In fact, one of the key factors in losing weight is your rate of metabolism.

The good news is you may not be stuck with your metabolism. More research is showing that you can get your body to burn calories more efficiently.

We recently wrote a blog about how to lose weight safely and effectively. You may be able to take more control of your weight loss and rev up your metabolism by adding some of these boosters to your routine:

Eat breakfast
You’ve gone all night without eating, so having breakfast first thing in the morning will kick start your metabolism for the day. Studies have found that regularly skipping breakfast puts you at a much higher risk of obesity. And, the heartier your first meal, the better. So, eat a good breakfast.

Kick it up a notch
The next time you exercise, ramp up your workout and mix up your frequency or intensity. For instance, if you’re running or swimming, change up the pace and push yourself harder for 30 to 60 seconds and then go back to the original speed. If you’re on a treadmill, mix in inclines while you’re running or walking. By doing this, you will use more oxygen which makes your body work harder to burn energy.

Build muscle
When your body has more muscle, you will have a more efficient metabolism. Each pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day while a pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day. If you strength train on a regular basis, you can increase your resting metabolism by 100 calories a day. You can keep your metabolism revved up even on the days you aren’t able to fit in exercise.

Drink green tea
Green tea is often touted for having many health benefits. You can add increasing your metabolism to the list. Brewed green tea contains a plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning. According to studies, two to four cups of green tea per day may burn an extra 50 calories.

Eat those calories
In other words, don’t diet. If you drastically cut your calorie intake, you will send your body into starvation mode. You actually slow down your metabolism, and your body starts storing more fat because it thinks it’s starving. You also start burning muscle, which – as we mentioned earlier – is a vital part of your metabolic levels.

Go ahead and snack
To help keep your metabolism chugging along, eat more often. That doesn’t mean eat more. Have small meals or snacks every 3 or 4 hours. Your body will burn energy at a steady rate. If you eat large meals or skip meals, your metabolism will jump up and down and won’t burn calories as efficiently.

Drink more water
You need water to burn calories. Drinking 8 or more glasses of water a day can help you use more energy. If you add ice and make it cold water instead of room temperature, it may boost your metabolism even more.

Spice it up
Spicy foods that contain the chemical compound capsaicin can help kick your metabolism up a notch. Eating about a tablespoon of red or green chili peppers can boost your metabolic rate. You can spice up chili, soups or pasta dishes with red pepper flakes.

Add in protein
Your body burns up to twice as many calories digesting protein as it does when you digest carbohydrates or fat. Don’t eliminate carbs and fats entirely, but be sure to add in lean, protein-rich foods.

Go to bed
Studies have shown that getting a good night’s rest can help you keep from putting on extra visceral fat. Getting less sleep than you should throws off the hormones that regulate your appetite and metabolism. There are many reasons to get plenty of sleep, including helping you keep off the weight.

Boosting your metabolism can help you lose weight or maintain your current weight. Do you have tips for revving up your metabolism?

How to lose weight safely and effectively

How to lose weight safely and effectivelyEveryone wants to know the secret to weight loss. Well, I’ll tell you. The secret is changing your habits. It’s that simple. There are no fad diets or magic pills that will allow you to safely and effectively lose weight and keep it off.

The key to successful and healthy weight loss is balance. It’s about balancing the energy – or food – you take in with the amount of energy you burn. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.

You can also help balance the scales by exercising to burn off extra calories. I like to eat. I especially enjoy snacks that may not be the best choices. I know that they come at a price. I will need to put in extra time exercising to burn off those added calories.

Here are some tips to help you find balance and lose weight the safe way:

Forget about short cuts
For many of us, it really is a matter of changing our mindset. There is no easy solution to losing weight and keeping it off. There are no shortcuts. It takes consistency. It means eating a healthy diet and exercising for the rest of our lives. Once you change your outlook, you’ll realize that finding a healthy balance is the only way to achieve long-term success.

Reduce your calories
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you are taking in. However, don’t cut your daily calorie intake below 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. While you may lose weight more rapidly at first, it will eventually backfire on you. Your body will go into starvation mode and slow down your metabolism. You may also become deficient in important vitamins and minerals.

Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than most meats, snack foods and pre-packaged foods. By eating fresh fruits and veggies, you will be less inclined to eat those unhealthy foods, and you will be able to reduce your calorie intake.

Chose whole grains
Whole-grain cereals, breads and pastas are much more healthy for you than processed foods. They contain fewer empty calories. Whole grains also add fiber to your diet which is good for your cholesterol, blood pressure and digestion.

Consume fats
You can eat fats, but it should be the right type. Saturated and trans fats can contribute to weight gain and should be left out of your diet. These fats are found in fried foods, potato chips and snack foods. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that can help you lose weight. These good fats are found in olive oil, salmon, nuts and avocados.

Add snacks
It’s okay to snack. You can eat three smaller meals a day and add in regular healthy snacks to keep you from getting hungry and making poor food choices. Eating at more regular intervals actually helps keep your metabolism working steadily so that you burn calories more efficiently.

Go with water
Drinking empty calories just adds to your daily caloric intake. If you avoid sodas, juices, sports drinks, and any sweetened beverages, you have more calories you can use for healthy, filling foods. Drink water, skim-milk or flavored waters with natural sweeteners to avoid adding unnecessary calories.

Get more exercise
Like we mentioned earlier, you can burn off more calories with exercise. It’s recommended to get 30 to 60 minutes a day to promote weight loss. Try to find activities you enjoy doing. I don’t like to run, so I don’t have much success when I try to start an exercise routine that focuses on running. I do like to play sports, such as volleyball and softball. I also like to bike, walk and do aerobics in the swimming pool. By finding ways to exercise that you find fun, you are more likely to keep at it.

Build muscle
Building muscles can help you burn more calories because muscle burns more than fat. Start lifting weights or doing other strength training exercises. You’ll not only become more toned and fit, you’ll also increase your metabolism and lose more weight.

Work in cardio
Make sure you are getting your heart rate up when you exercise. The simplest way to get the heart pumping is to run. However, you can also do a cycling class, swim, take a Zumba or kickboxing class, or play tennis. Giving your heart a workout helps you burn calories and lose weight.

Mix it up
One of the keys to maintaining a successful exercise routine is to continue to mix things up. Doing the same thing over and over can get monotonous. Add in new types of exercise. You may also be able to modify your routine based on the season. For example, go ice skating in the winter and rollerblading in the summer. Play tennis when it’s nice outdoors and racquetball on cold or rainy days. Try new things and mix it up!

I know we all wish there were an easy way to lose weight and keep it off. It comes down to balancing a healthy diet with plenty of exercise. Do you have any tips to help others lose weight safely and effectively?

Kissing: It’s good for your health!

couple kissingDo you remember your first kiss? I do, but I’m not one to kiss and tell. Whether you’re kissing your date goodnight after an evening out or giving your spouse a smooch before you head to work in the morning, kissing is good for your health.

Spend some time kissing this Valentine’s Day and reap the following health benefits:

Perk up your heart
Kissing makes the body produce adrenaline. Adrenaline causes the heart to pump harder and increases blood circulation. Frequent kissing can stabilize cardiovascular activity, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.

Burn calories
A simple kiss can burn six to twelve calories. A steamier kiss will burn even more calories. While it’s not quite as effective as going for a walk or running on the treadmill, it’s definitely a more fun way to burn calories!

Live longer
People who kiss more seem to live longer. Research shows that kissing your spouse or partner can add years to your life. A regular good morning kiss may add five years to your life.

Prevent illness
The increase in saliva while kissing produces natural antibodies. This extra saliva can help the immune system fight off disease and infection. Saliva can also produce a natural anesthetic that has more powerful pain relieving effects than pain killers like morphine.

Relieve stress
Kissing is a stress reliever. It can clear the mind, decrease anxiety and help you relax. Kissing increases oxytocin. Oxytocin is a calming hormone and promotes feelings of tranquility. When we feel loved, it gives us a sense of well-being and improved self-esteem. Kissing just makes us feel better!

Tone facial muscles
Kissing is a workout for your face. You use 30 different facial muscles while you’re kissing. Working these muscles can tighten up your cheeks. A kissing session can tone your face and keep the blood circulating. Good circulation in your face can help you stay young looking and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Fight tooth decay
Smooching with your honey may help fight tooth decay. That extra saliva we talked about can also help prevent and reduce plaque build-up. But, don’t forget to keep up with your brushing and flossing. For good dental health, brush, floss and kiss every day!

So, this Valentine’s Day grab that someone special, pucker up and smooch your way to improved health.

Is laughter the best medicine?

boy laughingKids laugh hundreds of times a day. As adults, we can go all day without laughing or sharing a laugh with someone. Why is that? For one thing, we may feel like we have to take life more seriously. In addition, we have more stress and anxiety. It’s harder to see the humor in things.

Laughter may actually be good for us. It may have physical and mental health benefits. While there may not be definitive research on the healing powers of laughter, it certainly won’t hurt you any!

What happens when you laugh?
When we laugh, we stretch the muscles throughout our face and bodies. I have laughed so hard that my stomach muscles will be sore later. It addition, your pulse goes up as well as your blood pressure, and you breathe faster which sends more oxygen to your tissues. The results of laughing are very similar to exercise. Laughter may even burn calories. What could be better than that?

How does laughing effect your health?
Finding humor in life may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the blood. It may also boost the levels of immune cells. So, laughing may help strengthen your immune system.

Laughter may help lower blood sugar levels – helping reduce the risk of diabetes.

Laughing can help you relax, give you a general sense of well-being and help you sleep better. It may also help those with chronic pain relax and achieve more pain free sleep.

You may have a more open mind when you have a good sense of humor. Laughing may help you improve your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Could laughter be the best medicine?
Scientist are not completely convinced that laughter really has major effects on our minds and bodies. For one thing, it’s really hard to conduct a controlled experiment on laughter. For instance, if research subjects reported that they were in less pain when they were laughing, is it the act of laughing or the distraction in general that brings about the pain relief? So, it becomes hard to measure the true benefits of laughter.

Yet, even if it’s not the laughing that makes you feel better, isn’t it still beneficial to laugh? Laughing means you have a good sense of humor and that means you typically take things less seriously and may better manage stress. You most likely have a positive attitude if you can see the humor in situations. You may have supportive friends and family who help give you reasons to laugh. And as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, reducing stress, having a positive outlook and having good relationships are all vital to good health.

5 ways to increase your laugh-ability:
Want to ramp up your ability to laugh and have more fun? Here are some activities to help you get in more laughs.

Spend time with happy people – If you hang out with fun and playful people, you are bound to have some laughs.

Laugh at your own expense – Share your embarrassing moments with your friends and family. Real life can be the best comedy.

Search out humorous entertainment – Go see funny movies. Read humorous books or watch comedies on TV.

Play games – Playing board games or charades with friends and family will most likely involve friendly bickering, good natured name-calling and quite a few laughs.

Hang out with kids – Spending time with kids brings out the kid in all of us. And, kids can say the darnedest things. They bring spontaneity and humor without even trying.

So, take time to laugh today. You’ll feel better, you may be healthier, and you just might brighten someone else’s day!