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Diet Safety

Safety while dieting is crucial. What good will a lean body do if it is at the cost of your health? Excessive exercise can lead to muscle weakness and injury. A diet high in certain food groups but missing others can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency. As long as you are taking necessary precautions, you should find that dieting and exercise can lead to good health and a boost in self-confidence.

How do you know if your dieting plan is safe? Does the plan include all groups of foods? If a weight-loss plan excludes a whole group of foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy), you are in real danger of deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. Also, a lack of variety will make it hard to continue the plan in the long term. Remember that the changes you make to lose weight are the same changes that will maintain your hard-won weight loss. And yes, you will have to continue good eating habits to maintain weight loss.

Secondly, does the plan allow reasonable calorie levels? Most experts agree that women need at least 1,400 to 1,600 each day to maintain a healthy body; men require at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories. And even at those levels, it's almost impossible to obtain all nutrients from the diet. Eating at least 2,000 calories a day is a safe bet for everyone.

Clearly, people with health problems should contact their doctor to find out what types of diet and exercise will be appropriate for them. People with heart disease will often have head pain instead of chest pain. Like chest pains, cardiac headaches begin during exercise and subside when exercise stops. See a doctor for an exercise stress test if the pain of your "exercise headache" is severe, you normally don't get headaches unless you smoke, you're over age 50, or you have any risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease.

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Muscle Soreness with Exercise

There are two common kinds of exercise-related muscle soreness. The first is acute soreness, the kind that occurs during or immediately after exercise. This is the type of soreness caused by excess lactic acid flooding into your muscles. The discomfort usually subsides after a minute or two of rest. Once the soreness goes away, you can usually continue exercising without any residual effects. A second type of muscle soreness is delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It develops 12 hours or longer after exercise. DOMS is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The soreness you feel reaches its peak within two days after the activity and subsides over the next few days. A certain amount of DOMS is a reasonable and expected consequence of getting in shape; but if you are so sore that your legs buckle when you walk down stairs or you can barely lift a pencil, you have overdone it.

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Basic Exercise Safety Tips

Before starting a strength training program, get a complete physical checkup. You might have to modify or avoid weightlifting if you have muscle or joint problems, seizure disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, previous injuries or any other physical condition with potential for danger.

Proper breathing is essential in weightlifting. If you hold your breath while lifting a weight, you run the risk of raising your blood pressure and starving your brain of oxygen. You should try to exhale during the "positive," or main exertion phase, and inhale during the "negative," the phase in which you resist and come back slowly. Consider having a spotter, someone responsible for watching and helping you work out - friends can be great spotters, since the most effective spotters give encouragement, technique suggestions, feedback, and just enough assistance to permit completion of that final, difficult repetition. Be sure to wear a weightlifting belt on exercises that place stress on your lower back, such as bent-over lifts like Squats, or Barbell Rows.

Don't forget to integrate warm-ups, stretching, and a cooling-down period into your program. This will reduce your risk of injury by increasing your blood flow and preparing your muscles for the work they are about to do.

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Pregnancy and Exercise Safety Tips

Staying fit during pregnancy is an important part of feeling your best. If you are having a low-risk pregnancy, and your doctor approves, you can continue to exercise and derive health benefits even from mild-to-moderate exercise routines. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends following these guidelines to ensure a healthy pregnancy - for you and your baby.

  • Stay consistent. Exercise regularly (at least three times a week) - not intermittently. Keep your exercise regimen in the mild-to-moderate range.
  • Keep your balance. Falling over when you lose your balance could cause harm to your abdomen.
  • Eat a good diet. Be sure you eat an adequate diet that allows you to gain the 25 to 35 pounds that is recommended for women of average weight over the nine months. Most pregnant women require an additional 300 calories a day. If you exercise regularly, you will probably require more. Include plenty of carbohydrates in your diet, as pregnant women use up this fuel source more quickly during exercise than non-pregnant women.
  • Drink up! Drinking plenty of water will keep you from becoming dehydrated and prevent overheating.
  • Keep cool. For the same reason that you should avoid hot baths, do not become overheated, especially in the first trimester. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, overheating, especially in the first trimester, may be a contributing factor to the development of birth defects. Drinking plenty of fluids before and during exercise can prevent overheating, as can wearing layers of "breathable" clothing.
  • Don't overexert yourself. While pregnant, you're providing oxygen for two, so stop exercising when you become fatigued, and don't exercise to the point of exhaustion.
  • Avoid activities that require jumping motions or sudden changes in direction because these may strain your joints and injure you.
  • Exercising for long periods of time on your back after your first trimester can reduce blood flow to the uterus.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, you'll want to avoid certain sports altogether while you're pregnant. These include activities at high altitudes and those that are associated with a risk of falling or colliding with another participant, such as horseback riding, climbing and snow and water skiing. Also, avoid scuba diving because there's a risk that your oxygen intake could be compromised, and diving can put pressure on your organs and baby.

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