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6 Apps to Help with Your Fitness Goals

Guest Post.

As everyone knows by now, there are apps to help with every area of modern life. From staying on top of work emails to finding events in foreign cities, the tiny computers that live in our pockets have become essential tools for optimizing daily life.

Health and physical fitness are issues that affect everyone and that a lot of people actively want to
improve, so it’s not surprising that there are hundreds of apps to help you do just that. You should
investigate them yourself and find your own favourites, but the list below is a good place to start.

There are many apps that work well but are designed to function in conjunction with fitness
trackers, and we’ve left those out because, obviously, they only work if you have an extra piece of
equipment (the tracker). We’ve also chosen apps that are especially interactive, since the more
engaged you are, the more likely you are to stick with them.

DietBet

DietBet is especially helpful if you’re naturally competitive or have a penchant for gambling. Choose
a challenge based on how much money you’d like to bet and how long you’d like to participate, and
if you lose a minimum of 4% of your total body weight you’ll win. To keep you motivated, tracking
your progress with weigh-ins that you submit is very simple, and you can read and send positive
messages to the rest of the DietBet community too.

PEAR Personal Coach

The PEAR Personal Coach works with all fitness levels, offering hundreds of different audio workouts led by well-known health and fitness professionals. The voices you might hear include those of Jay Johnson, who coaches the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and Olympian Deena Kastor.

The interactive PEAR Personal Coach app also allows you to determine your VO2Max. This is defined as the body’s ability to consume oxygen during exercise, and gives a good indication of
cardiovascular fitness so you can use the number to track your progress. Find it by putting on a heart
monitor, pairing it with your app, and performing a quick running test.

Sworkit

Sworkit, which stands for Simply Work It, also acts like a portable, affordable personal trainer.
Professional trainers demonstrate all kinds of different workouts, and you can choose from standard
options or customize your own. Just say which areas you want to target, how long you want the
session to be, and explain any other special needs or limitations that you have. More than 200
exercises are randomly combined with interval training, for maximum effectiveness.

CycleCast

Use CycleCast to turn any time you spend on a stationary bike into a fat-busting spin class, delivered
by experienced instructors. Choose the playlist, instructor and class length that you’d like, and get
spinning.

Couch to 5K

If you’re new to the fitness game, Couch to 5K is a simple, supportive way to get things going. I just
30 minutes a day, 3 times a week for 9 weeks, you can get yourself ready for your first 5K race. You
get to choose your own interactive coach who will keep you motivated every step of the way, and
you’ll be able to connect to the supportive 5K community, as well as share your results on social
media.

Pocket Yoga

If you’re looking for a different kind of workout, this app that allows you to practice Yoga any time
and anywhere is well worth a look. Experienced Yoga practitioners have designed all poses and
routines, and as you use the app more you’ll unlock new Yoga “environments” – this seemingly small
reward can keep you really motivated! All poses are clearly illustrated, with detailed descriptions of
their benefits.

Honourable Mention: Charity Miles

Charity Miles is interactive, but in a different way; it uses your physical activity to give back. For
every mile you run or cycle, sponsors like Lifeway Foods, Humana and Timex Sports will donate
money to charity. You get to choose where it goes, from a group that includes Habitat for Humanity
and the Wounded Warrior Project. Take your motivation to get fit to a whole new level of
philanthropy!

Sources:

https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/18-best- health-and- fitness-apps- of-2018/slide- 6

Archery on the Brain


February 14th 2018:

As someone who every year buys several vintage bows on eBay, I know what he is feeling all too well.

Fortunately I also sometimes sell vintage bows, so my collection of vintage archery equipment is in a constant flux from year to year.

In other news, Happy Valentines Day!

BTW, archery lessons for the wife makes a great gift! Maybe give your Valentines an archery theme?


 

How much does genetics effect weight and weight loss?

There are 4 major factors involved in determining a person's weight, and consequently their ability to lose weight when they want to.

  1. Dietary Habits
  2. Fitness Habits
  3. Metabolic Rate
  4. Genetics

Dietary and fitness habits basically comes down to the lifestyle of the individual.

  • How much are they eating?
  • How nutritious is the food they are eating?
  • How much do they exercise?
  • How intense is the exercises they are doing?

So the number of calories consumed daily, the nutrition value of the food being consumed, the amount of exercise they are doing, and hopefully the exercises being done are intense enough that they get the heart rate pumping harder (a higher heart rate on a regular basis increases metabolism).

Diet, nutrition, exercise and intensity all in turn effect a person's metabolic rate. The faster their metabolism, the more fat they burn.

Thus if a person wanted to they could harness specific foods and exercises that deliberately boost their metabolic rate.

Likewise, the metabolic rate effects hunger, sleeping, stress levels and a host of other factors.

But what about Genetics?

So genetics do effect your body quite a bit, but that doesn't mean you have zero control over your ability to lose weight if you so want to.

Lets look at 5 different genes that effect weight gain/loss, and how you can actually work around that specific gene to invoke weight loss. Note, there is no 1 "fat gene". There are many different genes which affect weight gain/loss, these are just 5 of them that play major roles.

#1. The FTO Gene

The FTO gene acts as a food and nutrient sensor, which affects appetite and hunger, the ability to regulate food intake and how "full" you feel while eating. Scientists have found that people with abnormal variations in this gene have a higher BMI, which effectively means the gene isn't working properly and causes them to overeat.

An abnormal FTO gene is often associated with inbreeding, which is why it is common amongst Amish / Mennonite people. However you may have noticed that the Amish and Mennonites don't have a big obesity epidemic, and this is because they are doing daily chores around their farms - thus they exercising daily.

So how do you fight an abnormal FTO gene? #1. Regulate how much you eat and #2, exercise daily. The recommended amount of exercise if 30 minutes per day, daily.

#2. The PPARG Gene

The PPARG gene affects fat metabolism, including a regulating a special protein responsible both the creation of new fat cells and metabolism the fat later to be used as energy. An overactive PPARG gene can cause too much of that protein, resulting in weight gain and increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

When people with an overactive PPARG eat more unsaturated fats than saturated fats, their body stores the unsaturated fats as fat tissue. By contrast, when they eat more saturated fats than unsaturated fats, the opposite is true - they lose weight and become leaner.

Solution? Eat more saturated fats. Avoid unsaturated fats.

#3. The ADRB2 Gene

The adrenergic beta-2 surface receptor gene (ADRB2) plays a major role for a protein that breaks down fat. An abnormal ADRB2 gene has also been found to affect your metabolic rate and increase your chance of being diabetic by a factor of 6 (as in you are 6 times more likely to be diabetic). Essentially the gene isn't doing its job, which results in difficulty breaking down fat cells.

How do you combat this? People with this gene abnormality have to workout even harder, so the recommended amount of exercise for people with this is to exercise 60 minutes daily.


#4 and #5. The PGC1-Alpha and Tfam Genes

So many scientists lump these two genes together because they both effect methylation.

Methylation is a chemical process effecting protein conversion, which in turn increases your metabolism. An unhealthy or low rate of methylation slows down your metabolism. The two genes PGC1-alpha and Tfam also effect the creation of mitochondria, which are the energy-creating part of cells. Low rates of methylation have been determined to cause various types of obesity.

Methylation is also affected by age, sex, race, exercise, and diet. So you cannot change your age, sex or rare, but your exercise levels and diet are certainly open to change.

How do you increase methylation and your metabolic rate? Healthy food and intense exercise certainly helps. Aim to be exercising at least 60 minutes daily.


Conclusions

You might think you have specific genes from the list above, but that is not a guarantee. You would need to have your genes tested to know for certain if there were any abnormalities. Also there are other thousands of other genes we did not discuss here, so it is possible you have an abnormality with a completely different gene not mentioned here.

So you may have noticed that people with an abnormal FTO gene only have to exercise half as much people with an abnormal ADRB2 gene or people with slower methylation. Lucky them! 30 minutes per day is only 1/48th of their day. Roughly 2% of their day.

The people with an abnormal ADRB2 gene or people with slower methylation meanwhile have to exercise for 4% of their day.

True, we do sleep 33.3% of the day, but is 2% or 4% of the day really that big of a deal? For the people with a genetic disorder, that 2% to 4% of their day can be the difference between leading a normal healthy life and being obese, so clearly it must be worth it.

Do genes effect your weight and weight loss? Absolutely. 100%.

But if it only takes 2% to 4% of your daily routine to rectify the problem, then clearly exercise and diet is more powerful than genetics. Like 25 to 50 times more powerful.

There are a lot of success stories out there of people who beat their genetics too. Lots of before and after photos too.

Do you know what is even more powerful?

Willpower.

Willpower and self control is the driving force behind eating well and exercising. You decide to make it happen. All you need is a good dose of stubbornness and then you just get it done. Perhaps you motivate yourself using music or you choose exercises which are more fun, which makes it easier to find that needed dose of willpower because you are enjoying the process of exercising.

You cannot change your genetics, but you can beat it into submission if you are stubborn enough.

How to do a Home Fitness Test, without a Personal Trainer

How to do a Home Fitness Test

Further below is a guide for how to do a home fitness test to determine your current cardiovascular, strength and flexibility levels. Doing the tests give you a record of what your fitness levels currently are and what things you need to work on to improve. As years go by you can repeat the test and then compare how well you did years earlier and how well you did now.

Having a certified personal trainer to help guide you through the following process is helpful, but not completely necessary. It is possible to do it without a personal trainer handy, but it is still helpful to have a friend or loved one to help you through the process and record things for you. The friend/loved one will also make certain you don't cheat on the test and are being honest with yourself. As a bonus, they might decide to take the test too because they want to see how well they do.

For example, when I first did these tests I was about 15 years old and in my high school gym class. It was the gym teacher who administered the test and recorded down the results for the whole class. It was how I first learned that I had the heart of a professional athlete because I scored so well on the cardiovascular test.

The test itself is composed of 3 parts and 6 smaller tests, which together give you a record of your current physical fitness.

The 3 parts are:
  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Strength
  3. Flexibility
And the tests themselves are as follows:

#1. The Cardiovascular Step Test

You will need: A large 12 inch high step/chair and a stopwatch / smartphone with a stopwatch app. A clock with a second hand can also suffice.

What to do:
  1. Step right foot up on to the step, then repeat with the left foot so you have both feet on the step. Then step right foot down first, and repeat left foot down. Repeat this process quickly over a period of 3 minutes, during which you want to maintain a pace of 24 repetitions per minute.
  2. After 3 minutes, sit down on the step/chair and find your pulse. Do not record it yet.
  3. After resting for 1 minute, start the stop watch and count your pulse for 15 seconds and then stop the stopwatch. Record your result.
  4. Multiple your result by 4 to get your beats per minute.
  5. Compare your beats per minute to the charge below.


So for example when I was 15 I scored a 76. That wasn't just excellent, it was the heart rate you might expect of a professional athlete who competes in a cardiovascular sport. I doubt I will score a similar result today since I will be 40 in only 2 months.

#2. The Push Up Test

Doing this test men should perform the standard pushup (hands and toes only) while for women it is recommended doing the knee pushup variant. See Girl Push Ups and More.

Your goal is to do as many push ups as you can while maintaining a steady pace and proper form. There is no time limit in this test, but you must maintain a steady pace doing the push ups / proper form. The moment you lose form or your pace slows, the test is over. (Some personal trainers allow the person to rest - you can only rest in the up position - but I consider this to be cheating as it is very easy for the individual to abuse this option. So if you are doing this at home, you should determine whether you are going to allow yourself a rest period after every 10 push ups or so. I think you get a more honest result if you don't allow yourself a rest.)

Mentally, if you just set a goal of "I am going to do 30 push ups!" even if you only maintain the steady pace part way, you should do fairly well. 30 isn't a big number, but the real challenge is to maintain the steady pace - so it is arguably better to go slowly at the beginning so you don't tire yourself out too quickly, and simply pace yourself.



For some young people doing 30 push ups will feel pretty easy. When I was a teenager I once used my hands to climb up a staircase backwards and upside-down. So basically decline push ups on stairs, but with the added challenge of climbing the stairs. I did it with an audience who thought it could not be done, but I wanted to prove them wrong as I had done it previously and so I knew I could do it.

#3. The Bent Leg Curl Up Test

You will need: It is more comfortable to do this test on a yoga mat, a rug, a carpet or some kind of padding.

  1. Lay down on the floor, feet together and flat on the ground, with your hands at your sides. Your legs should be slightly bent.
  2. Tighten your abdomen to lift your shoulders off the ground, while moving your hands forward about 3 inches.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat as many as you can while maintaining a steady pace.
Note - This is not a sit up! Observe the video below so you understand what this looks like.


So again, maintaining your pace is the important part.


#4. The Wall Sit Test

You will need: A stopwatch and a wall.
  1. Stand about two feet away from the wall, facing away from it with your feet about shoulder or hip distance apart.
  2. Bend your knees and press your back into the wall as if sitting on a chair.
  3. Aim to get a perfect 90° angle with your legs.
  4. Keep your upper body relaxed and shoulders raised so you are not using your shoulder muscles to cheat.
  5. Use the stopwatch to time yourself and hold the position as long as you can. Record your result.
Aim to make it to 2 minutes if you can. 2 and a half minutes would be even better.


#5. The Reach Past Your Toes Test

Easy. Lay down on your back on the floor with your legs fully extended, then sit up and then try to reach past your toes.

Lower Body / Torso Flexibility Results
  • Excellent - Fingers reach 1 inch or more past the toes
  • Average - Fingers reach or almost reach toes
  • Poor - Fingers are more than five inches from toes

Note - This test isn't solely a measurement of your lower body's flexibility, it is also a measurement of your torso's flexibility. An overweight person with a large belly for example would be guaranteed to do poorly in this test, even if their lower body was otherwise flexible, simply because their belly is in the way and hinders their movement.

#6. The Shoulder Flexion Test

Standing up, reach one hand towards the ceiling and then bend your elbow to reach down behind your back as if you want to scratch your back. With your other hand, bend the elbow behind your back and try to reach upwards to have both hands meet in the middle. Try to get the fingers to touch or even grip each other.

Repeat the test with the other shoulder.

Shoulder Flexion Results
  • Excellent - Fingers grip and interlock
  • Average - Fingers touch
  • Poor - Fingers are more than three inches apart
Remember to repeat this test for both your left and your right shoulders, taking note of the results of both.

For example, when I did this test today I scored an Excellent with my left shoulder, but only a Poor with my right shoulder. My right shoulder is the one I use for drawing the bow when doing archery, so it is stronger in comparison - and unfortunately also less flexible because the extra muscle tissue interferes with my flexibility. Sometimes a loss of flexibility is a trade-off when it comes to having more muscle.


What to do Afterwards

If you are looking to improve specific areas you could do exercises that focus on building muscle, building endurance, or building flexibility.

So for example if you wanted to score better on the push ups test, a simple exercise to do would be doing 30 push ups every day. And for extra challenge as you get better, increase the number, do decline push ups, incline push ups, headstand pushups, etc.

Then as you progress you can repeat the tests once every 3 to 6 months and record the progress results in a journal or notepad or chart. Whichever you prefer.

The whole point of doing this series of tests is to get an idea of where you are right now and what things you should possibly improve. If you do the tests and then are happy with the results, just keep doing what you are doing. Or for extra challenge, try to improve yourself. Why not?



Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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