Strong Legs and the Power of Water

By: sequoiahealth - February 15, 2009
This was submitted from Sequoia Health to inform FitLink members of the benefits of having strong legs and the importance of adequate water intake. Read the Sequoia Health February 15 Newsletter on the website or just scroll down to read it here...

Strong Legs for a Stronger Body

Safer Lifting, Less Injury
Strong legs, hips and back are the essential foundation for upper body
strength and the ability to lift safely and play most sports. When lifting
something, the leg, hip and core muscles are responsible for a majority of
the power. In the golf and tennis swing, strong core and leg muscles
generate straight, powerful shots. Weak legs contribute to poor body
lifting and hitting mechanics and upper body overuse and injury. Common
injuries seen are lower back strain, rotator cuff injury, tennis elbow and
carpel tunnel syndrome.

Good examples of everyday lifting are picking up the kids, pushing a heavy
wheelbarrow full of dirt or cleaning out the garage. Any of the tennis
strokes along with wood and iron shots in golf apply as well. So to
minimize your trips to the chiropractor, here is a series of leg
strengthening exercises to help build core and leg strength when you
need it the most:

The Best Leg Strengthening Exercises
To work safely and effectively, strong legs need a strong core (the back
and abdominal region muscles) to push against. The best four exercises for
creating strong legs and core are squats, lunges, box jumps and vertical
leap. In combination, these four exercises create a strong and unified
lower body as well as a balanced and stable core. What makes these
exercises so good for leg strength? They most closely imitate the lifting
movements we perform in daily life as well as the sports based hitting
motions. These four exercises are also effective at training your muscles
and brain to work in harmony while stimulating your cardiovascular system.

Lower Repetitions and Higher Weights
The leg and core muscles are designed to provide both strength and support
for the entire body. These are large muscles so they respond better to
fewer repetitions and higher weights. Of course, you only use weights that
you can handle safely. The higher weights do not present a problem for
women concerned about the size of their legs. The higher weights just
strengthen the muscle fibers faster. Following this approach gives you
stronger, more balanced leg muscles in much less time.

A Brief Exercise Review

Squats are the corner stone of any good leg workout. With your feet hip
width apart, back straight and head up slowly lower your body until your
legs are bent 90 degrees. If you do have knee problems or are very
de-conditioned, start with a ball squat against the wall. This takes weight
and stress off the knees while you learn good technique. Have an instructor
at the club show you good form so as not to injure the knees. Squats
strengthen gluteus maximus and hip flexors.

Lunges, both stationary and walking, are a great exercise to add movement
and balance to your leg strengthen program. Standing with your feet hip
width apart, take a larger than normal step forward. Pause and balance your
body. Return to your staring position and step forward with the opposite
leg. Always keep your back knee at least 6 inches off the ground. Lunges
strengthen quads, core and back muscles.

Box jumps can start with box steps (a 4 to 12 inch step is good) if you
don't feel comfortable jumping. Using your arms for balance and lift, jump
on the top of the step landing with your knees nice and soft. You can step
back down or jump depending on your ability and confidence. Box jumps are
a total leg, hip and core strengthener.

Vertical leap is a great total body exercise. You will be surprised how
much cardiovascular benefit you get from this one. Stand facing a wall with
arms above your head. With both feet, jump straight up noticing how high on
the wall your fingers touch. After 10 or 12 tries, mark the highest spot on
the wall as your effort. Next time try and beat your mark. Vertical leap is
a great total leg, hip and core and cardiovascular strengthener.

When it comes to everyday activities, strong legs are important. Loss of mobility
and independence is directly attributed to weak legs.

Drink More Water for Better Health

The Staff of Life
Water is the most important substance you put into your body. You can
survive 40 to 60 days without food but only mere hours to a few days
without water. Water is required for proper detoxification of all the cells
of your body. Without water, waste products accumulate and lead to disease
and illness. The average adult does not drink enough water. There are many
diseases associated with mild dehydration such as high blood pressure,
kidney stones, urinary tract infections, constipation, headaches,
allergies, sinus infections and joint pain.

Important in Many Ways
Water comprises 50 to 70% of your total adult body weight. Today, if you
drink enough water, you're in the minority. There is a great debate on how
much water you should consume. Many experts suggest that you can get
adequate water from drinking beverages and eating foods. Some experts say
fortifying your water with vitamins or other substances is a good idea.
Just look at all the sports drinks that have popped up. The bottom line.
for the average person, pure, unadulterated water is your best bet for good
health. Anything less will not help your body work properly. What makes
plain old water so special?

Plain Old Water
It all goes back to high school chemistry class. Water is called the
universal solvent. Dissolve something in water and the water is literally
transformed into a different substance. Just take a look at ice tea,
coffee, milk, juice. made from water but definitely not water. When you
drink water instead of juice, your body knows the difference. One of the
reasons water is so good for you is it doesn't need to be digested or
processed by your body. It can be absorbed and used immediately to
facilitate digestion, detoxification and metabolism. Water is also
self-regulating. Drink enough water and your body doesn't need to retain or
"store" fluid. Drink too little and your body will retain fluid to try and
keep you alive.

Nutritional Habits Make a Big Difference
A diet containing meat, chicken, fish or dairy products requires a higher
water intake than a diet consisting mainly of fruits vegetables. The reason
for this is the meat, chicken, fish or dairy diet is higher in protein. When
protein is digested, nitrogen is released which combines with hydrogen
releasing ammonia, a highly toxic substance. Your cells cannot tolerate
even small amounts of ammonia, so the kidneys draw extra water to flush the
ammonia. Without drinking additional water, your body can become dehydrated
with higher protein intakes.

More Active Means More Water
A very active person requires more water than a sedentary person.
Muscles are 75% water and require adequate hydration or they will not work
properly. Dehydration can result in muscle strains (pulls) and/or cramps.
Joints also require water to make synovial fluid for effective lubrication.
Without adequate water, cartilage in the joints is not adequately
lubricated and can wear prematurely leading to degenerative joint disease.
Simply drinking more water can reduce your future risk for joint
replacement surgery.

Aids in Weight Loss
Adequate hydration is crucial for efficient burning of fat and healthy
weight loss. A study, conducted at Berlin's Franz-Volhard Clinical Research
Center, tracked caloric intake and energy expenditures among seven men and
seven women who were healthy and not overweight. After drinking
approximately 17 ounces of water (slightly more than 2 glasses), the
subjects' metabolic rates increased by 30% for both men and women. The
increases occurred within 10 minutes of water consumption and reached a
maximum after about 30 to 40 minutes. For anyone wanting to lose weight,
drinking more water is a good first step.

A Simple Hydration Formula
To make sure you are drinking enough water, here is a simple hydration
formula. Take your current body weight and divide that number by 2.
Multiply the divided number by 1 ounce and that is the amount of water you
should try and drink everyday. I know, you say if I drink all that water I
will be in the bathroom all day. Well, as I used to tell my 95 year old
grandmother, "better to go too much than not at all." You can imagine where
that got me. You will feel and look your best; all it takes is your willingness
to give it a try.

Staying active and physically fit is the best way to avoid chronic illnesses like
heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis and depression. Commit to
Getting Active, Eating Healthier and Reducing Stress while living a healthier
lifestyle. No matter how old you are, Fresh Start provides the education,
motivation and accountability necessary to improve your health while helping you
feel and look your best. For a free Fresh Start consultation, please call
Woody McMahon at 703-464-5171 or email to Woody@SequoiaHealth.com.

About the Submitter


I have almost 30 years of health and fitness experience working with clients that are severely overweight, de-conditioned, post-surgical, athletes and weekend warriors. I have worked with all ages and ability levels. I have three Fresh Start! healthy lifestyle programs; Be Bone Strong! for people with osteopenia/osteoporosis; Posture Perfect! for adults who want to stay active and Healthy Weight! for people with 50 pounds plus to lose.

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