Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Posts Tagged ‘Muscles’

Nia is Play

Posted by terrepruitt on September 4, 2010

Nia, at one point, was called NIA or Neuromuscular Integrative Action.  Neuromuscular pertains to both nerves and muscles.  Our movements involve both muscles and nerves.   In a Nia cardio class, we stimulate and activate both during the workout.   While leading a group of elder adults in a mobility-enhancement exercise (in a job unrelated to Nia) an observer commented, “It is like kindergarten.”  My response was, “Yes, and isn’t it fun?”  As I continued to watch these 90+ year olds toss around the ball, she said, “Yeeaaaahhhh!”

Adults just lose it.  The stigma that comes with adults playing just to play is too great.  Yes, there are competitive teams that adults can join, and those that do are exercising their inner child and having fun, but what about playing just to play.

If a suited adult were to skip down the cubbed corridor they probably would be put on leave of absence.  If an adult were to be alone, without children, and were to walk down the street balancing on the curb, they would receive stares from others.  Breaking out in song is only acceptable for children and actors in musicals.  As adults society does not generally allow us to let out our inner child in everyday life without thinking we are a little off balance.

That is where Nia comes in.  In a Nia class we get to play.  Also our dance is something that allows you to release that inner child.  Nia invites and encourages you to skip, jump, run, walk, shout out, crawl, and move as you did when you were a child.  In a non-judgmental freely accepting atmosphere we get to play.

Does that sound like something you could enjoy?  Doesn’t it sound like something your body longs to participate in again?  Come to a Nia class and find out.

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Quadriceps

Posted by terrepruitt on February 20, 2010

I subbed a Nia class in another part of San Jose today and so I had a different group of participants, and the routine we did today has a lot of bows in it.  Watching the class do the bow stance made me think of how a bow is somewhat of a lunge. Reminded me how we really do work a lot of muscles in our Nia workouts with all of the different exercises we do.  The bow stance is one of Nia’s 52 Moves.

Did you know you Quadriceps are made up for four muscles?  Maybe, but since we always say, “quads” we might be thinking of them as one muscle.  Of course, when we stop to think about it we understand that “quad” means four so it makes sense that quadriceps is four muscles.

Basically they work together.  It is not as if you can work just one.  Our quads extend the leg and flex the thigh.   They move our thigh towards our chest and kick our foot out (as an example).  Quads would be included in a “Push” workout.    Lunges and squats target the quadriceps.

I am pretty sure you knew that the quadriceps were four muscles, but I thought I would just remind you.

Posted in Muscles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Muscle Contractions

Posted by terrepruitt on January 19, 2010

Muscles contract.  An isotonic muscle contraction is when the length of the muscle changes.  The isotonic contraction could be a concentric contraction where the muscle shortens or an eccentric contraction where the muscle lengthens.

As an example, your arm is hanging at your side, when you lift your hand to touch your shoulder that is an isotonic contraction.  Your biceps muscles are shortening, pulling your hand up to your shoulder in a concentric contraction, your triceps are lengthening in an eccentric contraction.  Lowering your arm the biceps muscles are lengthening in an eccentric contraction and it is actually your triceps contracting in a concentric contraction that is pulling your arm down.  But since gravity is helping the triceps don’t have to work very hard.

An isometric contraction is when the muscle contracts but the length of it does not change.  For instance, when you sneeze or cough. Your abdominal muscle contracts, but unless you bend into the sneeze/cough the length does not change.

To strengthen the muscles resistance needs to be added to the contraction.  Muscle must be challenged and learn to overcome the challenge in order to become stronger.  Tension/resistance needs to be added to movement/contraction.

There are many forms of resistance; gravity, weights, bands, tubes, immoveable objects (that you try to push or pull), all of it can assist in strengthening the muscles. 

The muscles can gain strength from both the concentric contraction and the eccentric contraction.  So lowering the weight after having lifted a weight toward your shoulder in a biceps curl can contribute to strength.

When the muscles contract in a concentric contraction they are pulling on bone. But that is not be be confused with a push workout or a pull workout.  Even when you are working your “pushing muscles” your muscles are actually contracting and pulling on the bones to complete the exercise.

Muscles contract, it is the added resistance that makes them stronger.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Get Down On It, Get Up Off It

Posted by terrepruitt on August 4, 2009

Serious.  Do it.  Every day.  It is a great exercise.  Get down on the floor and get up again.  Over and over.  At least 10 times.  For some of you it might be easy, fine then, make it challenging, put a book on your head, hold a glass of water, chew gum, don’t use your arms, do it on one leg, who cares, just make it an exercise for you that challenges your body and your brain.  That way your brain will be trained and it will know how to get up.
 
If it is already a challenge, then do it.  And do it again.  Start off however you can.  Use a couch, a chair, a person, a cane, a dog, whatever . . . .just get down, and get up at least five times.  Keep doing it every day until you can do it more and without help.

Whether it is a challenge or not, while you are doing it, think about it.  Think about what muscles you are using to get up.  Try to get down on the floor differently every time, think about all the different muscles you are using.  Also, try getting up differently, thinking about all of those muscles.
 
No, this will not increase the size of your muscles, for some of you it won’t even tone them, but if you try to make it a challenge it will challenge your muscles.  Balance and being able to get up are a key part of health that we just either don’t think about or we take it for granted.  But it really is a great exercise, right up there with the push-up, but maybe more functional.

Of course this is just ONE exercise of many that I believe qualifies as a functional exercise.   And for a lot of you it should not be your only workout, but for some it might be a start and a good start.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Health Benefits Of Coffee

Posted by terrepruitt on July 28, 2009

I love coffee.  I am not a connoisseur, but I love it.  In the August 2009 copy of Self they touted that coffee has some amazing benefits.

The article, well, it is not so much an article as a few pages filled with pictures and facts, has one statement that says that if you want the healthiest coffee you should stick to the home brewed kind because the paper filters catch coffee compounds that can raise cholesterol.

Here are some highlights from that article.  The information suggests that coffee MAY:

  • assist in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • help your teeth with its “antibacterial and antiadhesive powers”
  • reduce the risk of oral cancer by half
  • help in limited cancer cell growth and DNA damage
  • reduce the risk of breast cancer (in premenopausal women that drink 4 cups of regular coffee a day)
  • help prevent gallstones
  • reduce risk of nonmelanoma
  • reduce chances of diabetes for people who drink 3 to 4 cups of regular or decaf

Information also states that drinking from 300 mg (3 cups of home brew) to 500 mg (16 oz Starbucks Pike Place Roast) in an hour could possibly make you panicky, increase stress hormones, and raise blood pressure.

Way surprising to me, it says that a shot of espresso “has less caffeine than a cup of drip does.  Plus, one downside of espresso is that it may raise cholesterol.”

It also suggests to eat your cereal and dairy later, after your coffee because coffee might block the absorption of iron from fortified grains and could lower calcium uptake.

The pages reveal, along with a lot of other publications I’ve been seeing recently, that coffee helps you get through your workout.  Not only does it give you a zing, it seems to block your brain from knowing your muscles are tired.
Those are just some highlights that somewhat focus on the health benefits.

Even though I teach my morning Nia classes in Willow Glen not too far from where I live, so I don’t have to get up super early,  I still think I have more energy in the morning when I drink coffee.  I don’t have any before I teach my evening class in San Jose, nor my late afternoon one in Los Gatos.  But I feel like I need that extra “wake-up” in the morning.  Do you drink coffee before your workout?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

My First Zumba Class

Posted by terrepruitt on March 21, 2009

I took my first Zumba class recently in Willow Glen (San Jose).  I want to say it was fun.  The instructor was awesome, just fabulous.  She would do the move at least once slow so that we could learn it, then she would crank it up!  Now don’t let that scare you.  If you have been thinking about taking Zumba, but have been intimidated, don’t worry, it is very similar to Jazzercise, except it is to Latin music.  Once you get the “Jazzercise part” down, then you can Zumba it up with all the moves that make it Zumba, like the hip gyrations, the Latin motion, the “Orange Julius”, the shimmy, the shake, the hip bumps, and all the things that make it Latin.

Since I have taken Jazzercise in my past and I am currently practicing Nia, I think I did well.  Nia has actually helped me find the confidence to just go into a class and shimmy, shake, and gyrate! 

The music is club-pumping loud, but the instructor either shouts above it or uses hand motions to try to get you going the right direction.  I honestly hadn’t thought about blogging about it so I wasn’t paying attention to the other participants that much—aside from giving them enough space and trying not to run into them–so I can’t report much there, except they were having a good time.  I was so intent on the instructor AND trying to make sure that I was doing it in “my body’s way” that I didn’t focus much on the others.  Even though I was in a Zumba class doing Zumba I still wanted to make sure that I was doing what my body needed.  So I have to say that the three minute cool down was not enough for me and that I didn’t follow it because I needed to stretch in different ways in order to properly facilitate my cool down and recovery.

As for the rest of the class, it is a great sweat inducing cardio workout.  But I didn’t feel as if any of my muscles or my core got any work, but I did get very sweaty jumping around to the music.  I want to get two for the price of one, so I want a workout to make me feel as if I have worked my muscles and did some cardio.  So, it’s not what I am looking for in a regular workout, but I will probably make it to a class every-once-in-awhile to throw some change into my workout regimen.   And like I always say, find something you like and do it.  Zumba might be right for you.

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Personal Trainer – Just Helping You Move

Posted by terrepruitt on March 10, 2009

In my introduction I made a comment about blaming my husband again, because a couple of years ago I made a comment and his response was “Why don’t you do something about it?” and so I have been working out ever since. I try to eat healthy. I don’t think I am a fanatic, I just try to exercise and eat well. I also wanted to help people like me so, at that time, I thought the best way to do that would be to become certified as a personal trainer.  I, Terre Pruitt,  am a certified personal trainer through the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF).

(Pause)

So, what image popped into your head when you read “personal trainer”? Doesn’t matter what it was I am pretty sure it was not me. Most people think of huge gyms, machines, heavy weights, big muscles and sweat when they think of personal trainers. When I became a personal trainer I was thinking more along the lines of “movement coach”. Just trying to help people realize that they need to move because there is truth in the old axiom “move it or lose it.” And I fear the day when my age group loses it. I think that the time will come sooner then it did with earlier generations who were accustom to movement in their everyday lives.

So I wanted to help people with functional fitness. Yes, there is such a thing. It is exercises and movement that actually help your body stay mobile so when you need to put your arms up to get a shirt on you will be able to. When you need to stretch and reach for something on a shelf you will be able to. At the same time you can be working on building your strength, stability, flexibility, and agility because all these things are what we use in our everyday lives. Things like that is what I am interested in.

I still believe that weight training is important, and you have to get your heart rate up to burn the calories to lose the fat, but I do not subscribe to “no pain, no gain”. Although, I might define pain differently than you . . . I don’t think you need to be in pain, per se, to gain. There are all types of “gain” so it really depends on what your goals are.  I also think that a form of stretching is necessary to keep the body mobile. Some exercise forms combine these different elements, some forms keep them separate. It is best to find something you like so you can stick with it. Whatever works for you.

What form of exercise interests you?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »