De-stress at your office desk with three easy exercises

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Workplace stress and daily tension can take their toll on your health and impair your weightloss efforts. Whether you are busy at your desk or are relaxing at home, these simple postures will help reset both your body and mind into an optimal state.

  1. Forward Bend: Sit on the edge of your chair. Place your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. Now fold forward from your hips and take hold of the tops of your feet. Allow your body to fully relax between your legs. Hold for 10 breaths.
  2. Chest Opener: Sit on a chair and press your torso firmly against its back. Interlock your fingers behind your head. Push your elbows backwards to expand your chest. Gently press the back of your head into the palms of your hands at the same time. Hold for 10 breaths.
  3. Twist: Sit sideways on your chair with your feet hip width apart. Twist your body towards the back of the chair. Take hold of the back of the chair with your hands and gently lever your body to twist further in that direction. Make sure you keep your shoulders directly above your hips (without lifting your shoulders) and turn your head to look over your shoulder in the direction of the twist.

More than half an hour of exercise needed for fat loss

Harvard Medical School researchers have found that exercise can only encourage fat loss if done in substantial amounts. While 30 minutes of exercise a day will reduce the risk of various diseases like heart disease and reduce the risk of early death, it is not enough for long-term weight loss and weight management. When it comes to losing or maintaining weight, overall energy expenditure must be taken into account, so it is crucial that the energy you burn is equal to or more than the amount of energy that you take into your body through food. In a society where we consume more than what we expend, we must look at more than 30 minutes and perform up to 60 minutes of exercise each day if we want to prevent weight gain. Combining this with a sensible balanced diet is the surest way to effectively manage weight. So, while a short stroll is better than nothing, if you really want to achieve fat-loss then you need to up the ante.

Working out for 'Real Life' situations

'Functional fitness' and 'functional exercise' are the latest gym buzzwords. They focus on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in an idealised posture created by a gym machine. The key to functional exercise is about teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently. So what's an example of a functional exercise? Think of a bent-over row where you are leaning over a bench, holding the weight in one hand with your arm hanging straight down, and then pulling the weight up as your elbow points to the ceiling, finishing with your upper arm parallel to the ground. This is an exercise that will build the muscles of the back, the shoulders, the arms, and because of its nature will work your whole body. Compare that motion to a carpenter bending over a piece of wood, a nurse bending over a bed to transfer a patient, or a mechanic bending over to adjust an engine. In functional fitness, most of the time, you should be standing on your own two feet and supporting your own weight when you lift anything.

To get started with functional fitness: You must teach your body to control and balance its own weight. Start with simple movements, like the one-legged squat. Be sure to work each side evenly to promote balance and muscle integration on either side of your body. Other popular tools that promote functional exercise are things like stability balls and the wobble board, both of which force you to work your core to keep your body balanced while you're lifting a weight.


Seaweed may assist fat loss 

A recent UK study has found that seaweed can reduce fat uptake by up to 75 per cent. It was discovered that alginate, a natural fibre in sea kelp, prevents the body from absorbing fat more efficiently than many existing anti-obesity treatments. This finding suggests that if the natural fibre is added to products commonly eaten daily, such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts, up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body, assisting people to lose weight as they eat them. Alginates not only have great potential for weight management – adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fibre content.

Ways to enjoy sea kelp now: Eat sushi for a low-fat lunch or snack. Buy dried sea kelp and other seaweeds and vegetables from health food shops and add to salads, soups or casseroles.

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Mareike Bout is a qualified and registered personal trainer who specialises in holistic fitness and lifestyle coaching. She is a recognised leader in the industry, receiving the peer-voted South Australia Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2008. She is also a regular guest on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1> Adelaide’s top-rating radio station FIVEaa. Mareike runs her personal training business, One Life Live Well, both online and from a private studio in Adelaide. Services include one-on-one training, outdoor group fitness, lifestyle coaching and weight-loss programs. Individually tailored programs encompass aspects of exercise, nutrition, relaxation, positive thinking, life balance, and goal setting. Her approach is to guide, support and educate her clients so that they posses the tools required to live a life of health, strength and vitality!