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Realistically Beginning A New Exercise Regimen

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Are you embarking on a new exercise program to redress the flab put on over years of sedentary living? Well, there are a few things you should be aware of right at the start.

The human body was built for motion, and until the computer age changed the workplace during the last generation, we had plenty of motion just staying alive. To find food, ancient hunters had to walk or run for miles. To kill it, they had to exert great muscular strength and reflexes in battle. An image that depicting people running on a treadmill To carry it home, they had to be weight lifters. Even in the Industrial age, men at work needed brute strength on the assembly line, and women, lacking refrigerators and cars, put in thousands of calories of exercise walking to stores, tending the vegetable gardens, and, for the minority, joining the men on the assembly lines.

Well, now we all have the easy life, at least as far as exercise goes. With no more exercise than pushing a few buttons or keys at work, and with an average of 5 hours of television to watch each evening after work, it is no wonder that we have collectively turned to flab.

To correct this, many have embraced the quick fix exercise remedy. Jogging along with Jane, or bouncing along with Biff on the TV fitness shows, the average person can be setting him or herself up for injuries big-time. First of all, there is no way that these people get their terrific bodies doing just twenty minutes a day. These professionals work out almost as many hours a day as you work at your desk. So the first step to reintroducing motion to your body is to have a realistic goal, such as to have fun and to gradually improve your exercise tolerance. The sports medicine clinics are filled with weekend athletes wearing slings and tensor bandages to treat injuries caused when their mental enthusiasm exceeded their physical shape.

If you have been under-exercised for years, don't try to make up for it in minutes.

  • Make sure you invest in the right equipment: Wearing appropriate clothing is a crucial part of exercise injury prevention. An exerciser should choose an outfit that allows him to remain comfortable during his workout, but does not pose any safety risks. For instance, a cyclist should not choose to wear loose-fitting pants, as they can become caught in a bicycle’s pedals, causing a fall. If exercising outdoors, it is also important to select clothing that suits the weather. In cold weather, layers can help an exerciser stay warm, while a lightweight long-sleeved top can be useful for preventing sunburn on warm days.
  • Seek professional instruction: An overwhelming 250 certification programs exist throughout the United States, yet all have different requirements, ranging in depth from "heavy" to "feather" weight. While some programs require a college degree in a health-related field, along with the passing of written and practical exams to qualify for certification, others can be completed with little preparation by taking a simple test in an afternoon. And just because a personal trainer is "certified" does not necessarily mean that he or she is qualified to work with people in all different areas of fitness. at a minimum a good trainer should have a certification by a reputable organization, such as the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Council on Exercise.
    • Ask a health professional you trust to refer you to a good trainer. Health professionals who recommend exercise may have a network of personal trainers that they routinely refer people to.
    • Arrange to meet with the trainer before making your final decision. Be sure to ask about his/her background and any relevant training.
    • Ask to speak to some current and former clients. They can give you a good picture of the trainer's style.
    • Make sure you are comfortable talking openly and honestly with the trainer about your needs and goals. Do not choose someone who intimidates you or someone with whom you feel uncomfortable.
  • Check your pulse regularly during the exercise. Review Stressipedia's written and video instruction on how to check your pulse here (Read Your Speed)

And remember, one of the best exercises of all is to turn off the TV for a while, and go out for a walk!

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CPR - A Beginner's Guide to Saving a Life

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CPR, or Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation, can save a life if a person's heart stops beating.  Obviously this isn't a skill that you would practice on a regular basis. However, if you or anyone else, has a sudden heart attack it is critical that everyone around you knows how to do CPR.  In my years past, both as a teen-aged lifeguard and then as an emergency doctor, I have performed CPR on dozens of cases.  While not all went on to recover, the procedure is indeed most amazing, and one of the most gratifying skills to every use.  However, like shooting firearms, flying planes, and playing a musical instrument, this is a perishable skill that gets rusty without practice.  So learn it once, then plan on revisiting it to maintain your skills.  There are excellent courses in your area that can be found on line, sometimes sponsored by your local hospital, fire department, or Red Cross.  The sequence below is to show the beginner the process, but is not designed to replace hands-on training sessions or certifications. 

If you see someone on the ground (or strapped into their seat) and you suspect they have had a heart attack, here are some action steps for you to follow.

1. YELL: Use the patient's name if you know it, or simply raise your voice to see if they are merely sleeping.  You can feel for the carotid pulse in the neck  below the angle of the jaw, and you can try to listen for the sound of breathing.  If no response, then take a deep breath of your own and begin these remaining steps...

2. CALL: If you are with others gathered around the victim, do NOT say "Run for help!"  I have seen this happen, and the whole crowd vanishes, leaving nobody to help with the resuscitation.  Look one person in the eye, point to them, and ask them to please call 911.  Tell the others to stand by, as there may be more they can do (from flagging down the ambulance to taking a turn at the CPR if your arms get tired).  If you are the only person around, call 911 and leave your cell phone on speaker so you can get directions from the dispatcher, and have both hands ready for action.

3. Attend to POSITION: If the victim is on the ground, make sure you roll them on to their back, and lift the chin so it is not resting on the sternum.  If the victim is strapped into a seat (and we hope that it is not the driver seat next to you in a moving vehicle!) then lie the person down, preferrably on a firm surface.  Loosen any obvious constraints like neck ties or tight collars. 

4. Start the CAB: the sequence of  Cardiac, then Airway, then Breathing is now the standard.

  Begin by one smart smack with your palm against the sternum.  I have seen cases where this one blow can stun the heart back into action.  If still no sign of life, then place your palms on the chest wall, keeping your arms straight, and lean into each push.  You should be able to compress the chest a couple of inches with each thrust, and you should time it to be about the speed of fast dance music (or 100 beats a minute). 

5. Now check the air entry.  If breathing has not restarted, try to pry the victims jaw open and sweep a finger inside to move the tongue or other matter out of the way.  Pulling the jaw forward by using your fingers behind the angle of the jaw will help remove a swallowed tongue. 

6. If there is still no spontaneous breathing, procede to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  If you are compressing the chest wall at a rate of 100 per minute, then pause every six beats to allow for the next breath.  

7. The first few minutes are critical, but miracles can happen even after prolonged resuscitation times. 

For more information, please seek out professional courses, preferrably one that ends in certification and offers updates for your skills annually.  For more info, check: Red Cross CPR

For a great beginner's approach with only two steps to remember, please look at the video on this link:

Hands-Only CPR

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