How To Take Better Care Of Yourself After A Heart Attack

Life is really put into perspective when you suffer a heart attack. After such a medical emergency, you wonder if you will ever be able to enjoy all of the activities you once did. You may even feel as if you need to be coddled and monitored for an extended period of time. This is just not the case. After a myocardial infarction, the damaged muscle will need time to heal. It will take about one to two months for scar tissue to fully form and to prepare the muscle to handle moderate to heavy activity once again. During this time, it is important to avoid stress and physical activity.

After recuperating from a heart attack, it is actually recommended that the patient begin to engage in physical activity again. Aerobic exercise is helpful. Walking, swimming, or biking allows the body to learn to use oxygen more efficiently. This puts less stress on the muscle that pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Moderate exercise is important to promoting overall health as well. It brings bad cholesterol levels down, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure levels, and helps people manage their weight.

Doctors that treat heart attack patients also encourage their patients to make some dramatic dietary changes. Individuals should cut out saturated fats and start eating nutrient-rich foods that strengthen blood vessels and repair damaged cells. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are said to help prevent inflammation, blood clotting, and blood pressure spikes. These unsaturated fats can be found in fish, nuts, beans, and whole grain oats.

Consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables is also part of a new healthy lifestyle. Fruits and vegetables are concentrated sources of phytonutrients. These are organic compounds that have antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and even cancer-fighting properties. Patients should add colorful produce items to their diets. Some of these choices could include berries, leafy greens, carrots, apples, grapes, tomatoes, and anything else that has a distinctive hue. The phytonutrients are what give these foods their brilliant shades.

With a little discipline and the right diet and exercise plan, heart attack survivors can get change their lifestyle and get into better shape. If you are recovering from such an incident, you don’t have to feel like your days are numbered. Instead of fretting, make an effort to avoid stressful situations and take better care of yourself. Feeling great will give you a new outlook on life and can allow you to be more active and healthy.

Have you recently suffered at heart attack? New Orleans residents can go to West Jefferson Medical Center for cardiac rehab to recover from this traumatic event.

The Hidden Ab Muscle That Will Get You a Six-Pack

As you learned in the episode 10 Flat Stomach Alternatives to Crunches, I’m not a huge fan of crunches. Not only do crunches burn a miniscule amount of calories and fat, but because they involve lying on your back and repeatedly bending and extending at the spine, they’re a big culprit when it comes to placing excessive strain directly on the portion of the low back that has the most nerves and is most susceptible to injury and fatigue..

So how can you maintain six-pack abs without doing crunches? One of the keys is a hidden ab muscle that you tend to hear very little about. In today’s episode, you’re going to learn exactly what that ab muscle is.

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The Hidden Ab Muscle That Will Get You a Six-Pack

There is a muscle called the Transverse Abdominus that acts as a stabilizer to the middle part of your body. This muscle is actually located right behind your abdominal muscles.  If you’re not familiar with this muscle, you may want to sign up for the military, because military drill sergeants are very aware of how to make the Transverse Abdominus sore.  The reason drill sergeants love exercises that involve the Transverse Abdominus is because when this muscle is strong, your back and stomach are strong.  And if you want a strong stable core that helps six-pack abs form, this muscle must be strong.

As a matter of fact, I spoke with one of my military friends, seargant Michael Volkin, and he had this to say about the Transverse Abdominis:

 “I have to admit, I was doing sit ups for most of my adult life, but when I reached 30 I realized that my ab muscles were getting harder to see. No matter what I ate (or didn’t eat) and no matter how many stomach exercises I did, my abdominal muscles kept slowly disappearing. Then, I did some research on the anatomy of the stomach muscles and found the Transverse Abdominus.  Ever since then, I am happy to say my stomach muscles are more prevalent than ever before. Not only that, my posture is better.”

So why did Michael find that this rarely mentioned ab muscle makes such a big difference? It’s primarily because the Transverse Abdominus is connected to your back, your ribs, and your pelvis.  In essence, it is the ultimate stabilizing muscle for your entire mid-section.

However, there is a catch: This can be an extremely difficult muscle to strengthen, and although there are a multitude of techniques and exercises for strengthening the abs, few of them target the Transverse Abdominus.  But here are three exercises that actually do target this hidden ab muscle in a way that will get you a six-pack:

Exercise #1: The Focused Crunch – This exercise is far different than a traditional abdominal crunch and involves what is called an isometric hold. Here is a video that will help you maintain good form.Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor.

  • Put your hands just below and to the sides of your belly button. Press a couple fingers from both hands into your lower abdomen.
  • Begin by drawing your lower abdomen down towards the floor, but do not move your pelvis.  Your chest should rise slightly.
  • Stop drawing in your stomach as soon as you feel your muscles begin to tighten. The muscles underneath your fingers should feel tight. If you move too far, you will stop working your Transverse Abdominus and instead begin stressing your oblique muscles.
  • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds while breathing normally.
  • Begin with 10-12 repetitions, and be cautious not to overdo it the first time you do these – or the next day you will be very sore.

Exercise #2: Scissor Kicks – A drill sergeant’s favorite!

  • Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Place your hands under your buttocks and raise your head off the ground.  If your head is not raised, the exercise loses its effectiveness.
  • Raise one leg about 12 inches off the ground and slowly lower it back down.
  • As you lower one leg, raise the other in the same manner.
  • Start with three sets of 10-12 repetitions and increase repetitions as needed. Here are more instructions and photos for the scissor kick.Exercise #3: Modified Plank Pushup – This is a tough exercise, so proceed with caution.
  • Start in the push-up position with your palms on the floor and toes on the ground.  Your back should be straight and your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Raise one leg as high as you can and then do a push-up.  Switch legs and repeat.
  • Start with three sets of 10-12 repetitions, and increase repetitions as needed.

Want more push-up variations that will target the Transverse Abdominus in a similar way? Check out the Get-Fit Guy episode Top 16 Push-Up Variations.

What Exactly Causes Constipation and How to Prevent It

In a normal healthy person, the bowel movement or the emptying of the bowels is supposed to happen swiftly and with ease. If you have had difficulty ever since you were a child, you may have come to realize that some amount of straining at emptying of the bowels is normal.

It is not.

It is supposed to happen with complete ease with no straining whatsoever. However it doesn’t mean that if you have to strain a little, once in a while, it is wrong. Occasionally if you have to strain a bit, it is not a big deal. But for the most of the time, the movement is supposed to happen kind of automatically.

Formally constipation is defined as a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels. Bowel movement becomes infrequent. The difficulty is present in very much all bowel movement. Also in constipation feces becomes hard. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) a bowel movement of less than three times a week qualifies as constipation.

Intestinal muscles and intestinal walls are made to handle soft feces. If it hardens too much, the intestinal muscular movement cannot empty the bowel with ease.

Lets understand a bit more of what goes on in our intestine to get a better idea about constipation.

When partially digested food is in the small intestine, it is pretty much in a liquid form. When the food enters the large intestine from the small intestine, it is in complete liquid form.

Within the large intestine, the water is absorbed from the liquified partially digested food. This makes the food semi solid (still very soft) and gives it a shape. This transformation of liquid to a semi solid shape is taking place when food is travelling through the large intestine.

As the bulk forms in the large intestine, the walls of the large intestine detect the presence of the partially digested food. If food remains shapeless liquid in the colon, the presence of the food is not recognized by the intestinal wall.

If the presence of food is detected by the intestinal wall in the large intestine, it triggers the muscular movement in the large intestine. This pushes the content of the large intestine forward towards the rectum.

An important characteristic of the colon is that as soon as the partially digested food enters the colon, the walls of colon start absorbing water from the food. The colon wall will keep absorbing the water as long as the contents are present in the colon and as long as there is water.

The implication is that as soon as liquified food enters the colon, it starts losing water. By the time it has lost all the water, if it cannot form enough bulk, it will be trigger enough muscular movement in the colon to propel the contents forward.

You can see that the food content needs to have bulking agent to trigger the proper muscular movement in the colon. Only if there is proper muscular movement in the colon, the contents will progress towards the rectum and the proper elimination will happen.

Also the food content needs to have enough water. If there isn’t enough water entering into the colon, the feces will become hard fast. Hard feces cannot travel easily through the colon. It slows down and causes difficulty.

With typical western food habits, what happens is that by the time all the water is absorbed in the colon wall, there isn’t enough bulk formed in the remaining semi-solid mass. And the colon walls don’t contract enough as they don’t detect enough mass.

This causes the content of the colon get stuck and not move in the colon. This leads to even more water loss if there is any water left. What you get is constipation.

As you can see that lack of bulking agent or lack of water could cause constipation.

You may wonder what is this bulking agent? Yes it is the dietary fiber. But it is a very specific type of fiber. It is insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber doesn’t usually bulk up. But the insoluble fiber is the one that bulks up.

As the name suggests insoluble fiber doesn’t get dissolved in water. But it actually absorbs water and swells in the size. It can increase in volume by up to 20 times its original size! This property of insoluble fiber to swell up or bulk up is crucial in helping the colon detect the presence of the contents and get the muscle movement going. Hence it is critical that you have enough of insoluble fiber in your diet.

Usually any food that has dietary fiber, has both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. But their proportions vary and they may have more or less of insoluble fiber. Some common examples of foods high in insoluble fiber are legumes, cereal bran and certain vegetables like okra.

Another cause of constipation is ignoring the urge. When you ignore the urge, the stool will stay longer in the colon. As mentioned earlier, as long as the stool is in the colon, it will keep losing water. The stool will become drier, which will lead to constipation.

Unfortunately in our day-to-day lives, we often have all three causes of constipation present altogether. Our diets are low in fiber, we don’t hydrate enough and we frequently resist the urge. No wonder, constipation is so widespread.

Sedentary lifestyle also contributes to constipation. It turns out that physical activity stimulates the large intestinal muscles. Physical activity plays a key role in maintaining a healthy transit time through the colon. Although the actual mechanism is not known but it seems to have mechanical origins. It is not difficult to imagine that moving legs would stimulate the digestive organs.

Stress is also a major reason that contributes to the constipation. When we are in stress, our body deploys fight or flight response. It shuts down parts of the body which are not essential at that moment and diverts the blood flow and the neural activity towards the other parts of the body where it thinks it is more needed.

Unfortunately during the stress response, the digestive system get low priority. Blood flow is diverted away and neural activity directed towards the intestines is at least subdued. Digestive hormone activity slows down and intestinal movement slows down. This leads to both indigestion and constipation as digestion pretty much comes to a halt temporarily.

More frequent stressful episodes leads to the frequent shutdown of digestion and more constipation.

Human large intestine holds hundreds of different types of bacteria. Most of them are beneficial ones which have a symbiotic relation with the host. Some of them are not so friendly. But usually there is a balance between two types of bacteria.

There is growing evidence that the imbalance of bacterial flora is responsible for many digestive disorders including constipation. We inherit gut flora at birth. The use of antibiotics, probiotics and prebiotics can change gut flora.

Gut flora is a huge topic that we will discuss at length in later articles, but there is growing suspicion that antibiotic use can cause constipation through gut flora imbalance.

Normal intestinal muscles propel stool for elimination. This muscular movement towards the end is called defecation reflex. If one loses defecation reflex, the stool gets stuck and due to extra water loss, one gets constipated.

Stimulant laxative stimulates the colon wall to cause the defecation reflex. Overuse of such laxative could cause the colon wall to become insensitive. Which may cause one to lose the defecation reflex and associated constipation.

Muscle relaxant can interfere with normal intestinal muscular movement and could cause the stool to get stuck.

Aging can also cause muscles to become weak. This would mean less strong defecation reflex and associated constipation.

Long term diabetes can cause nerve damage to the nerves responsible for proper intestinal muscular movement. This may lead to improper colon muscle movements and loss of defecation reflex and associated constipation.

Surgery can cause temporary paralysis of the intestine and could cause stool to get stuck and later constipation.

Having learned about causes of constipation, it is obvious that you would expect to know more about the cure and prevention of the constipation.

I have listed major causes of constipation like lack of dietary fiber, proper hydration and the stress. One can address those issues to try to prevent constipation. There are other remedies which can help with constipation.

We will discuss the prevention and cure of constipation at length in future articles.

Rimas Sony is a writer with expertise in human digestion. You can check out his latest website How to Stop Foul Smelling Flatulence, where he provides details, unbiased reviews and advice about how to stop flatulence problems and promote better digestive health.

8-Minute Fat Loss

Most of us exercise more than we actually need to. Sure, if you want to finish an Ironman triathlon, run a marathon, or compete in some crazy competition such as the CrossFit Games, then you’ll need either amazing genetics or a lot of time on your hands to exercise.

But if you just want to burn fat, get a better body, and target trouble spots, you’d be surprised at how little you can actually exercise, especially when you use the strategy you’re about to learn in today’s episode – which allows you to get fast fat loss with just 8 minutes of exercise..

How to Use Tabata Sets

Have you ever tried incorporating  something called “Tabata training” into your routine? If you want to learn how to lose fat fast with just 8 minutes of exercise, then you’ll need to be familiar with this style of training.

Tabata sets, which are appropriately named after Dr. Izumi Tabata, involve 4 minutes of intense exercise. During those 4 minutes, you alternate between 20 seconds of your maximum effort and 10 seconds of complete rest. Here’s a video of me demonstrating a Tabata set.

You can do a number of exercises with Tabata training – including jump squats, push-ups, sprints, cycling, elliptical – you name it! They key is to go as hard as you can possibly exercise during the 20-seconds-on and then rest for the 10-seconds-off. Tabata training is not only a great way get a better body fast, but it will also significantly boost your metabolism and improve both your aerobic and anaerobic (sprint-style) cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

In fact, in Dr. Tabata’s 1996 study, published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, subjects improved their fitness by 28% after just 6 weeks of training, with 5 days of Tabata sets each week. I’ve also written an article about how even extreme athletes can benefit by including Tabata sets and high intensity interval training in their training routine.

The 8-Minute Fat Loss Workout

Now, are you ready for the Get-Fit Guy spin on the classic Tabata set? Here’s how it goes:

Step #1: Begin your workout with a single 4-minute Tabata set that “warms up” your entire body and works nearly every muscle group. This can be accomplished with exercises such as burpees, squat to overhead press, or dumbbell walking lunges. The key is to burn as many calories and work as many muscles as possible in that short 4-minute time frame.

Step #2: After you’ve finished that first Tabata set, take a breather if you need it (which you probably will if this is your first experience with Tabata training!). Rest for 1-2 minutes. Then, as soon as you’re ready, do another Tabata set, but this time, focus on the one trouble spot that you really want to work.

For example, in Step 2, you could do:

  • Narrow-grip push-ups to work the back of your arms (triceps)
  • Overhead presses to work your shoulders
  • Mountain climbers to get a flat stomach
  • High step-ups to work your butt
  • Dumbbell incline chest presses to work your upper chest

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. That second set is your chance to laser target a specific area you want to change on your body. As I wrote in my article How to Tone and Lose Fat in One Body Part, the key to “spot reducing” a specific body part is to not simply work that body part, but to also incorporate in the same workout some kind of exercise that burns lots calories and works lots of muscles. And that is why this potent one-two combo is so effective!Of course, if you have more than 8 minutes to spare and you want even better results, I’d recommend you include a good warm-up and cool-down into your workout.

If you have questions or you want to talk more about fast fat loss, Tabata sets, or how to lose more weight in less time,