The Advantages of Exercising on an Empty Stomach

Exercising on an empty stomach may not appeal to everyone, but it seems to have some positive effects on fat burning. If you don’t load up on carbohydrates for quick energy before a workout, it makes sense that you would be pulling energy from your fat stores. Still, the approach is a little controversial and the jury is still out on whether it actually benefits athletic performance.
The term “train low, compete high” refers to the idea of doing some workouts in a carbohydrate-depleted state, then racing or competing with a full supply of carbohydrates. Initial research claims that this technique enhances fat-burning and other metabolic responses. While you will go further and faster by drawing on readily available carbohydrates, the theory behind training low is to stress your body to the point it becomes stronger. Fourteen cyclists in New Zealand trained for four weeks, half before breakfast and the other half after breakfast for five mornings a week. The group that trained before breakfast increased the amount of carbohydrate they stored in their muscles by 54.7 percent, while the after breakfast group only increased that amount by 2.9 percent, according to the website Natural Society.
Muscle biopsies were tested in a study from the University of Birmingham in Great Britain, reported in the November 2010 issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.” The study showed that “training low” caused the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates. However, a test of performance in a 60-minute cycling time trial did not show that performance improved compared to the control group. Still, athletes such as Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic marathon champion, and Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, are two well-known people who indulged in long, difficult training sessions in a carbohydrate-depleted state.
A study published in the November 2010 “Journal of Physiology” found that exercising before breakfast has a protective effect on a bad diet. Twenty-eight healthy, active young men in Belgium ate a diet of 50 percent fat and 30 percent more calories than usual. One group did not exercise at all while the other two groups did exhaustive exercise four times a week. One group ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast and additional carbs during their workouts. The second group worked out on an empty stomach and drank only water during training, then ate the same high amount of calories later. Six weeks later the non-exercise group had gained an average of 6 lbs., developed insulin resistance and begun storing extra fat. Those who ate breakfast gained half as much weight as the non-exercisers, but had also become more insulin-resistant and fat-storing. The group that exercised prior to breakfast gained almost no weight, had no insulin-resistance and burned the fat they were ingesting more efficiently.
Obviously, you cannot train as hard or fast without having more fuel to rely on. It is possible that you could increase your risk of illness or injury by exercising in a depleted state. Exercise on an empty stomach can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue. To make the best use of the concept of exercising on an empty stomach, you might consider “training low” at times to help your endurance, but switching over to fueled training before a competition or race.

How to Get Better at Soccer in a Week

Soccer is one of the world’s most popular sports, with millions of players at every level from youth to professional. Mastering the game takes years of training and practice, with players of high skill levels earning opportunities to compete at the high school, college and professional levels. Improvement over the course of one week is difficult. However, you can make progress ¡ª particularly in fundamental areas that provide the framework for future success.
Run constantly for each of your first six training days. Alternate training for endurance — which will take you through the course of 90 minutes of competition — and short bursts of speed. Three days of running three miles or more, along with sprints on the other three days and a day of rest, should do it.
Control the soccer ball while running up and down the pitch. Known as dribbling, this skill set is very important if you are not to be a turnover machine. Become comfortable with the ball at your feet while moving up and down the field by practicing.
Increase your power by practicing your penalty kicks. Players who score frequently on penalty kicks can be an asset for any soccer program. Take 50 practice kicks each day, working on making contact with the ball on the inside of your foot and driving it toward your target.
Pass the soccer ball back and forth repeatedly with a partner, and learn to hit your partner in stride while running down the field. This is known as a through ball, and is crucial in creating scoring chances.
Chip the ball up in the air to your partner, learning to lob it high over defenders into tight spaces. This skill can be developed in a relatively short time and is essential to helping your game to the next level.
Study the fundamentals of team defense, like clearing the ball and marking your man, and incorporate those facets into your own game. This study ¡ª which you can do by watching soccer in person or on television, or on websites with many hours of soccer video such as footytube ¡ª will render you a “student of the game,” a trait that all coaches seek in exceptional players.

How Do Energy Drinks Affect the Body?

Energy drinks are often cloaked in sporty logos that imply physical activity and health. About 30 to 50 percent of teens and young adults consume energy drinks, and they are also marketed as a quick energy booster for adults of all ages. However, some energy drinks may not be any better than soda; many varieties contain high amounts of sugar and stimulating compounds that can adversely affect your body.
The concentrated amounts of caffeine and other ingredients found in energy drinks can lead to adverse effects in some cases. A review published in 2011 in the journal “Pediatrics” reported that children, teenagers and young adults with diabetes, seizures, heart problems, or mood and behavior disorders are more prone to serious side effects after consuming energy drinks. The stimulating compounds in energy drinks may also negatively interact with some medications such as prescription drugs for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.
The jolt of energy from your energy drink likely comes from caffeine and caffeine-containing ingredients such as guarana. Caffeine and other energizing compounds, such as taurine, found in these drinks are diuretics, meaning they cause water loss through increased urination. The journal “Amino Acids” published a study in 2006 that found that many commercial energy drinks contain both of these substances, however, caffeine is the primary cause of water loss from the body. Dehydration can cause serious damage to the body, so stay hydrated with non-caffeinated drinks if you are exercising strenuously.
Most energy drinks are sweetened with a high amount of processed sugar. While this refined carbohydrate provides quick energy, it also dramatically raises blood glucose levels, causing it to crash shortly after, leading to fatigue, irritation and unhealthy food cravings. Sugar also adds excess calories — and no nutrients — which increases your risk of excess weight and obesity. A review published in 2008 in the “Journal of the American Pharmacists Association” reported that some energy drinks contain as much as 35 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving.
According to the review in the “Journal of the American Pharmacists Association,” caffeine and other stimulants such as ginseng, taurine and guarana can cause insomnia, headaches and a fast heart-rate. The high amounts of caffeine found in many energy drinks may also lead to elevated blood pressure. Additionally, there have been reports of seizures linked to energy drinks, however, clinical studies have not yet confirmed this.

How to Reduce Bloating & Discomfort in the Belly When Pregnant

During pregnancy, an expectant mother experiences a wide range of biological and physical changes. Along with these changes comes varying degrees of bloating and discomfort, which many times, are caused by gas, constipation or heartburn. Fortunately, there are several ways that these issues can be alleviated.
Avoid carbonated beverages. Drink water instead of carbonated beverages to flush out and invigorate a sluggish system, which prevents constipation. Carbonated beverages can also contribute to bloating by causing excess gas.
Exercise regularly to help prevent constipation and a buildup of excess gas by helping gas and stool move through the stomach and intestines more rapidly.
Monitor your response to dairy. Dairy products can produce excess gas in some people, which causes bloating. Avoid dairy if this occurs with you.
Create the right balance of fiber in your diet, snacking on fibrous foods such as blueberries and strawberries. Then, gradually increase your fiber, while making appropriate adjustments based on your body¡¯s responses.
Chew slowly with a closed mouth. This helps prevent swallowing excessive amounts of air while eating, which is a major cause of bloating.
Screen your medications. Some prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and supplements — such as those containing iron, carbonate or bicarbonate — can cause bloating and constipation.
Consult your health care provider before taking stool softeners and simethicone anti-gas products. The active ingredients in these products are not absorbed in the body, thus, the possibility of adversely impacting the baby is improbable. However, discuss taking these or any other medications with your doctor beforehand.
Avoid common heartburn triggers. This includes greasy or spicy foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, chocolate, tomato sauces, peppermint and caffeine.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Consuming six smaller meals as opposed to three larger ones may help prevent heartburn and acid reflux.
Elevate your head or bed. Lifting the head of your bed an additional 4 to 6 inches may reduce the occurrence of acid reflux.
Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Tight clothing around the waist area increases stomach and lower esophageal sphincter pressure, which could contribute to acid reflux or heartburn.
Do not lie down immediately after eating. Waiting three to four hours before lying down helps prevent stomach acids from backing up into your esophagus.
Consult your health care provider before taking certain antacids. Antacids containing calcium, aluminum or magnesium are found to have little to no side effects during pregnancy. However, discuss this with your doctor before taking these or any other medications.

How to Put a Belt on Football Pants

Every item a football player wears, including his belt, plays a significant role in his safety and ability to play well. Although a belt might not present itself as being particularly important, it keeps a player’s pants in place when running and can keep protective hip and butt pads in place during a game. The fit between a belt and football pants is a tight one, but it is not impossible to manage.
Place your football pants on a flat surface with the waist section within easy reach.
Slide an index finger and thumb into the slot to the left side loop in the pants. This refers to the side that is on your left when wearing the pants. Push one end of the belt toward your thumb and finger sitting inside the first loop. Pinch the belt with your finger and thumb. Pull the belt through the loop.
Pull the belt through the front loop slit until the free end sits six to eight inches away from the front edge of the loop. Continue working the belt through each loop until you reach the mounting point of the left hip pad. Align the slots of the pad with the corresponding loop in the pants. Slide the belt through both sets of slots. Move to the next pant loop and push the belt through.
Align the slots of the butt pad with the corresponding pant slots. Push the belt through. Make sure the pads remain in place as you continue putting the belt in the pants until you reach the right side pad. Repeat the alignment and threading procedure as described for the left side pad.
Finish putting the belt in the pants until you reach the opening located at the groin.

Dryland Hockey Cardio Exercises

You need a strong motor during the third period of a hockey game when everyone on the ice is gasping for air. That’s where cardio strength and endurance comes into play. During the season, and especially in the offseason, dryland cardio workouts help build up your aerobic endurance capacity and your anaerobic quick-burst ability. Some workouts are traditional, and some are the result of advances in sports science.
The old-school approach to cardio development is well-known by athletes and coaches. You build up your endurance capabilities by running long distances at less than maximum speed. Other dryland exercises, recommended by former NHL conditioning coach and exercise physiologist Peter Twist, who leads on-ice and off-ice training camps for adult and junior hockey players, include indoor spinning classes on a stationary bike and outdoor bike riding on hills. Elliptical machines, treadmills and stair climbers also can get you heart pumping for hockey season. And running up and down the bleacher stairs has never gone out of fashion.
On the STACK website, author and fitness coach Chris Costa recommends a cardio program, developed by Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata, for hockey conditioning. “To achieve optimum endurance, players need to replicate an actual shift on the ice as closely as possible,” Costa advises. The Tabata program comes close. You warm up for two to five minutes on a stationary bike, then blast at full-intensity for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat for eight minutes. A two- to five-minute cool-down completes your workout. Although you could do Tabata running or swimming workouts, Costa says the stationary bike is your best bet, because you can adjust the bike’s resistance to ensure an all-out effort during the 20-second bursts.
Metabolic running workouts are akin to the way hockey is actually played, according to conditioning coach Ben Peterson on the STACK website, and are ideal for both hockey and football players. You can use metabolic training for two to four weeks to establish a broad base of cardio conditioning before the season. You run sprints of varying distances and movements — for example, shuffling motions or skipping or jumping motions — in 30- to 40-second all-out bursts with 20 seconds between reps. Unlike straight-ahead running, metabolic training enables you to work the smaller support muscles in the legs and not just the large muscles. These smaller muscles help hockey and football players improve their ability to plant, cut, cross over and shuffle during competition.
Both Tabata training and metabolic sprints are part of the HIIT revolution in cardio conditioning. As “The New York Times” explains, HIIT training — high-intensity interval training for as little as seven minutes — has been shown in to give you a cardio workout that seems to be just as effective as the traditional long sessions of lower-intensity running, biking or swimming. However, hockey players live by their legs as well as their hearts and lungs. So even if HIIT training makes their hearts as strong as traditional exercise, old-school forms of cardio are still valuable for developing strong legs for hockey.

Can You Wear Eyeglasses Playing Football?

More than 90 percent of the 40,000 sports-related eye injuries per year are preventable, according to FamilyDoctor.org. High-vision-risk sports are those played with a stick, racket, ball, bat or puck, and football is high risk because games involve bodily contact as well as a ball. If you normally wear glasses, you can wear glasses when you play sports, but you will need to make some modifications to stay safe.
Most sports-related eye injuries occur in people under 30, and most commonly in children. Three types of sports-related trauma to the eye, as reported by the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology, are blunt injuries, penetrating injuries and abrasions to the cornea. Eye injuries range from irritating to painful to potentially blinding. Fingernail scratches to the eye are common and don’t normally require treatment. Bleeding in the eye, called hyphema, often caused by the blunt trauma of an elbow or ball, requires a visit to the ophthalmologist. Potentially devastating injuries may occur when shards of broken eyeglasses penetrate the eye, and the UIC Department of Ophthalmology considers this type of injury to be an emergency warranting immediate treatment.
Protective gear worn during football is a must, but don’t stop at a helmet and pads. KidsHealth.org recommends the following additional safety equipment: proper shoes, a mouth guard, an athletic supporter for males and — if you wear glasses — shatterproof glass or plastic lenses. Do not wear regular eyeglasses on the field.
Many major league athletes now wear eye protection, says All About Vision. Some fitness clubs and athletic facilities even require eye protection. Proper sports eyewear, whether prescription or nonprescription, reduces the risk of injury to the eye and enhances vision, allowing the player to see better. If you want to play football, the best lens is made of polycarbonate, which is resistant to impact and has ultraviolet protection built in. Scratch-resistant coating prevents damage to the lenses and increases durability. Choose sports frames designed to fit inside the football helmet, and ensure the frames are made of impact-resistant polycarbonate or plastic. Good football frames also contain rubber padding where the frames contact the wearer’s nose and head. Avoid the temptation to buy frames that are too big, thinking that children will grow into them because frames do not protect as well if they don’t fit. Frames that a child has outgrown may also interfere with peripheral vision, increasing the risk of injury.
Some people who have trouble wearing contact lenses for long periods are able to wear them during sporting events only. Choosing contact lenses that are disposable and then throwing them away after the game, says All About Vision, is one option for those who don’t want the hassle of cleaning and storing contacts. If contact lenses are an option, you should still consider wearing nonprescription protective eyewear while playing football because the contacts do not protect against traumatic eye injuries or UV rays from the sun.

What Are the Health Benefits of Being a Football Player?

Football is a dangerous game because of the high speed and collisions. Players regularly suffer knee, shoulder and ankle injuries and the possibility of catastrophic injury is one that players and their families must consider. Players prepare to play football by getting in excellent physical condition. Despite the dangers, football players enjoy greater strength and cardiovascular health, not only during the regular playing season, but during the off-season when in training.
Football players work on improving their cardiovascular condition throughout the season. One of the ways this is done is with interval sprint training. Coaches line their players up at the goal line and sprint to the 10-yard line and back, the 20-yard line and back, the 30-yard line and back and then the 40-yard line and back. After completing these sprints, players get a one-minute break and repeat the sprints.
All football players lift weights and do exercises to get stronger. This is especially essential for linemen and linebackers. Lifting free weights helps players build explosive strength, and some of the top strength-building exercises include the bench press, arm curls, dead lifts and lunges. Players also do pushups, burpees and bear crawls to build strength that can be used in games. When players increase their strength and power levels, they can make explosive movements on the field that can increase the likelihood of big plays.
The most effective players are the ones who have the most speed and quickness. This is especially true of running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs. Increasing speed can be done by running hills, running with resistance and plyometric training. Hill running will build strength and power when you run uphill and balance and technique when running downhill. Resistance training can be provided by running with a parachute attached to your back. Box jumping will give you a significant plyometric workout and build up the key speed-building muscles in your calves, hamstrings and glutes.
Whether a player is a starter or a bench-warmer in football, going through the process of training to get ready for a full season is a confidence builder. You will go through strenuous workouts that not everyone can finish successfully. The work you do will help you get bigger, stronger and faster and this will pay off in confidence in everyday life. Walking through your daily activities with confidence can improve your mental outlook and help make you happier and healthier.
No matter how much you improve your condition, football remains a dangerous game. This is especially true of players who play at the high school level and above. Players at those levels are fast, strong and powerful, making collisions more violent. Never lead with your helmet when tackling, don’t take anabolic steroids to build strength and don’t over-train. If you are lifting weights three times per week, you won’t get twice as strong by lifting six times per week. That will overwork your muscles and lead to injuries and cause your muscle fibers to breakdown.

Back of Heel Burning Pain When Stretching

Burning pain in the heel while stretching can be a sign of many different ailments. Tendonitis, bone spurs, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures are just a few causes of heel pain. The heel is a structure that includes bones, muscles, tendons and fascia. All of these structures must work together properly to avoid pain and injury. Treatment for heel pain begin with resting the heel, icing the injured area, stretching and strengthening within a pain-free range, and using orthotics or foot supports.
Achilles tendonitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This tendon connects the bone of the heel to the muscles of the calf. The tendon is commonly inflamed by overuse during sports or running. The result can be mild to severe pain, as well as tenderness and swelling. The tendon may be aggravated by flat arches and trauma. If untreated or injured further, the Achilles tendon may tear or rupture completely. The pain may increase during stretching because of the inflammation of the tissues.
Bone spurs usually build where the ligament and tendon meet the bone. Bone tissue is deposited here because the body feels excessive stress along the ligament or tendon. Pain results when this bony buildup rubs against surrounding tissues. When stretching, the pain may increase due to the bone spur stressing the tissues of the heel. It can cause sharp, burning pain and a loss of motion, which are associated with plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, from the toes to the heel. It usually causes sharp, stabbing pain in the morning or after a long period of rest or standing. This affects people who are overweight, pregnant or have inadequate shoe support. Plantar fasciitis is also an inflammatory process and may be aggravated by stretching the heel where the plantar fascia attaches.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in bone tissue. They commonly result from repetitive injury or overuse injury. The lower extremity, including the heel, can be affected because the weight-bearing joints are susceptible to this type of injury. Stress fractures may occur where tissue attaches to bone because of the pull of the soft tissue on the bone. Stretching may aggravate the pain as the two ends of the stress fracture rub against each other. This pain can be sharp and burning.

Will the Angle of a Football Affect the Distance it Goes?

Football is a hard-hitting sport at times, where brute force is often needed to obtain goals on the field. However, when it comes to throwing or kicking the ball downfield, pure strength will not always give you the best results. The flight angle of the ball can greatly affect how far it travels through the air, so understanding what flight path is best for a given situation will help you hit your mark more consistently as a quarterback or kicker.
You can measure the best launch angle for horizontal distance with a football throw or kick by finding out how far it travels over fixed time intervals. According to the physics department of the University of Illinois, the football will always travel the same horizontal distance over a fixed time interval regardless of the flight angle as long as the forward velocity of the ball, or its speed in a specific direction, remains constant.
The vertical distance, or height, of the ball when thrown or kicked increases when you launch it at a greater angle. As the ball travels upward on its parabolic flight path, the vertical distance it travels decreases because the vertical velocity is decreasing against the push of gravity. At the peak of the ball arc, the vertical velocity reaches zero and the ball no longer gains distance. As gravity then pulls the ball back to earth, the vertical distance over a set time period increases until the ball hits the earth. The higher the launch angle of the ball, the more vertical velocity and the less horizontal velocity it has.
All football quarterbacks strive to throw the football with a perfect spiral through the air because it minimizes air resistance. However, a 2007 study by physics researchers at California State University Fullerton notes that there will always be a slight torque produced on the ball along its rotational axis because of the quarterback¡¯s fingers pulling it down to begin the spiral. Even the slightest wobble in the spiral can reduce horizontal velocity, which in turn can reduce the overall horizontal distance of a throw launched at the perfect angle.
Associate professor of physics at Brooklyn College, Peter J. Brancazio, states in the ¡°The Physics of Sports, Volume 1¡± that when comparing net yardage gained in a kick, the best launch angle for a kickoff is 45 degrees and the best angle for a punt is 60 degrees. This is because a 45-degree angle produces optimal horizontal distance, while a 60-degree angle gives the best combination of horizontal distance and vertical distance, or hang time. Similarly, the University of Tennessee states that the best throwing angle for maximum horizontal distance is 45 degrees.