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October 13th, 2007

There are a number of ways in which you can determine your ideal weight. You can use the Body Mass Index (BMI), height/weight charts and formulae to indicate a healthy weight range.

Unfortunately all these methods are unlikely to give you an accurate ideal weight range. You may be trying to achieve an impossible target weight.

Body Mass Index
Your BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. The resultant value is compared against predetermined set of values that tell whether you are underweight, healthy, overweight or obese. Read more »

What is …?

October 1st, 2007

Within the “What is…” category, I aim to provide you with factual information and expand your knowledge of a particular product or health issue.

After reading the article, I hope you’ll have a better understanding of the subject and how it may benefit you.

Cardio equipment
… an elliptical trainer?
… an exercise bike?
… a heart rate monitor?
… a treadmill?
… a rowing machine?
… a stair climber?
… a stepper?

… blood pressure?
… moderate exercise?
… my ideal weight?
… my maximum heart rate?
… white coat hypertension?

Resistance equipment
… dumbbell weights? (coming soon)
… a multi-gym?
… a resistance band? (coming soon)

If you’re interested in buying a piece of equipment then why not check out my Buyers Guide category. Here I explain what you should consider when buying a particular piece of equipment, the main functions you should look for and the training benefits.

What is an exercise bike?

September 21st, 2007

The Exercise Bike is an indoor piece of equipment that simulates the action of cycling.

kettler-golf-st-pro.JPGIt is very popular in gyms and can be purchased for home use. You can use the bike to get a great cardiovascular workout. It’s a low impact machine which means that there is less stress placed on your joints when exercising.

Exercise bikes have the advantage of being smaller than other cardiovascular machines such as a treadmill, or elliptical trainer.

Exercise bikes can help you to get the maximum benefit from your workout within the time available. When you’re on the bike you are in control of your session. You can repeat a session and compare your performances.

The bike provides you with a cardiovascular workout and engages the major muscles of your legs.

Most good exercise bikes have the following features:

  • Variable resistance levels
  • Console that displays elapsed time, distance, revs per minute, calories burned, power output
  • Pre-programmed workouts
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Adjustable seat
  • Pedals with adjustable toe straps

What is my maximum heart rate?

September 15th, 2007

In simple terms your maximum heart rate (MHR) is the highest number of times your heart can beat in a minute. It is genetically determined. In other words you are born with it and it will vary from person to person.

There are a number of ways you can determine your maximum heart rate. These include:

• Laboratory testing
• Comfortable pace test/Graded three point test
• Mathematical formula

Laboratory testing
A laboratory test will normally be conducted on a treadmill or an ergometer. Studies have shown that MHR on a treadmill is consistently 5 to 6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2 to 3 beats higher than on a rowing ergometer.

Laboratory testing is normally conducted by a Sports Scientist and is usually performed on conditioned athletes, i.e. individuals who have been training for many years. Typically, these tests will take you to your maximum where you are unable to continue with the workload that is applied. Read more »

What is a Stair Climber?

September 13th, 2007

The Stair Climber is an indoor machine that can simulate the motion of walking up stairs. It tends to be a commercial machine that’s found in most well equipped gyms. It’s a low impact machine which means that there is less stress placed on your joints when exercising.

The Stair Climber tends to be quite expensive and should not be confused with the Lateral Thigh Trainer or Stepper.lifefitness-stepper.jpg

The Stair Climber enables you improve the strength in your legs, particularly your glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Exercising on the stepper is good for active sports such as skiing because it strengthens your legs.

When you’re on the Stair Climber, you’re in control of your session. You don’t have to worry about the weather, pollution, road surfaces, uneven terrain, pedestrians or road users. You can even watch TV while you’re exercising. You can repeat a session and compare your performances. You can train at the exact pace you want to or within specific heart rate zones.

Most Stair Climbers will have the following features:

  • Pre-programmed functions
  • Variable resistance levels
  • Display console that can typically show elapsed time, calories burned, heart rate, distance, intensity level, revolutions per minute

What is Cholesterol?

September 4th, 2007

Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) made by the body. It’s essential for good health and is found in every cell in the body. However, a high cholesterol level in the blood (hypercholesterolaemia) is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Coronary Heart Disease is caused by blood vessels becoming narrowed with fatty deposits called plaques, which cholesterol contributes to. The narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the heart. This can result in angina (chest pain) or, if the vessel is blocked completely, a heart attack.

High cholesterol can also increase the risk of other conditions, depending on which blood vessels are narrowed or blocked. These include stroke if the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced. There is also a risk of peripheral vascular disease. This is caused by narrowed blood vessels in the limbs, particularly the legs. It may result in leg pain, ulcers, and infections.

Cholesterol is transported around the body in the blood attached to a protein. This fat-protein combination is called a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins can be high density (HDL), low density (LDL) or very low density (VLDL), depending on how much protein there is in relation to fat.

In order to estimate the risk of a person getting CHD, doctors look at the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL (”good” cholesterol), called the TC:HDL ratio. A lower ratio is desirable, indicating that the level of HDL is high.

Measuring cholesterol involves a simple blood test. A blood sample may be taken either by using a needle and a syringe, or by using a finger prick. This may be done at a GP’s surgery, at a hospital appointment, or as part of a health assessment examination.

For many years doctors have been assessing the role cholesterol plays in health by referring to the total cholesterol level.

A Total Cholesterol (TC) in excess on 5.5mmol/L is itself a risk factor for heart disease. But knowing your Total Cholesterol level is NOT enough.

To fully understand the effect of cholesterol has on your risk profile, you must also know the relationship between the Total Cholesterol and HDL Cholesterol. This is TC: HDL


TC:HDL ratio

Ideal Range

< 3.5

Acceptable Range

3.5 - 5.5

Needing Attention

> 5.5

An individual with a TC of 5.4mmol/l and HDL of 1.80mmol/l will have a TC:HDL ration of 3.0 which requires no attention. However, a person with a TC of 5.4mmol/l and HDL of 0.77mmol/l has a TC:HDL ratio of 7.0 which does require attention.

An HDL cholesterol level less than 1.0 mmo1/l is also considered a risk factor for the heart disease. Your aim is to decrease you ratio by increasing your HDL Cholesterol and decreasing your Total Cholesterol.

What is a good TC: HDL ratio?

Ideal Ratio:
Less than 3.5 - is associated with a less than half the average risk of developing heart disease.

Average Ratio:
3.5 - 5.0 - is associated with an average risk of developing heart disease - a 25% chance by the age of 60.

Marginal Ratio:
Between 4.5 and 9.6 - is associated with twice the average risk of development heart disease by the age of 60 - a 50% chance.

Dangerous Ratio:
Between 7.0 and 15.0 - is associated with tripled average risk for developing heart disease by the age of 60 years.

Anyone who has any cardiovascular disease, such as coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease (disease in the blood vessels that supply the limbs) or stroke, should have their cholesterol measured by a doctor.

Anyone, even children, with a family history of familial hypercholesterolaemia should have their cholesterol measured.

Anyone aged 35 or over should consider having their cholesterol measured if they have one or more of the following risk factors: family history of early heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking.

A healthy lifestyle - exercising on most days, eating a low fat diet, not smoking and drinking alcohol within the recommended limits - will help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.

source: bupa

What is white coat hypertension?

September 3rd, 2007

White coat hypertension is sometimes known as “white coat syndrome”. The term is used to describe people whose blood pressure is persistently high in the doctor’s clinic, but is normal at other times.

It can be detected by measuring the blood pressure over a period of 24 hours using a technique called ambulatory monitoring. This involves wearing a blood pressure monitor that can take readings while you are going about your normal daily activities, typically every 15 minutes.


People with white coat hypertension are not necessarily nervous or neurotic, and they may look and feel quite calm while in the doctor’s office. It is generally thought that they do not need to take medications for their blood pressure, and that they are at relatively low risk of heart disease and stroke.

It is, however, very important that they continue to have their blood pressure checked (by self-monitoring, for example) on a regular basis.

Source: A&D Instruments

What is “moderate exercise”?

August 21st, 2007

UK Government guidelines recommend that we take 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. But what is “moderate exercise”?

It’s clear that many people who exercise are not working out at the right level of intensity. How many times have you been to the gym and watched a person reading a book or magazine while on the upright bike? How many people do you see each day that are dressed for exercise but are just strolling around the village?

At fitness-etc we believe that one of the simplest ways to check the intensity of your workout is to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. Read more »

What is blood pressure?

July 29th, 2007

Blood pressure can be defined as the pressure the blood exerts on the artery walls. It is measured in millimetres of mercury. There are two measurements associated with blood pressure. These are:

SYSTOLIC blood pressure. This is the pressure within the arteries when the heart is pumping, thus causing an increased volume of blood flow through the arteries and increasing the pressure within the arteries. Anxiety, exercise, food and caffeine affect it and it rises linearly with exercise.

DIASTOLIC blood pressure. This is the pressure within the arteries when the heart is in a relaxed state and the pressure within the arteries decreased. Since the diastolic blood pressure is the “relaxed” measure, it should be more stable and therefore, changes in this measure are usually significant in diagnosing contra-indications to exercise such as hypertension. Read more »

What is an elliptical trainer?

July 27th, 2007

The Elliptical Trainer is basically an indoor cross country ski machine that can help you improve your cardiovascular fitness. It’s also great for shaping and toning the muscles in your legs, arms and chest. Not surprisingly it’s one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment used in the gym or at home.


The Elliptical Trainer can help you to get the maximum benefit from your cardiovascular session within the time you have available. It’s a low impact machine which means that there is less stress placed on your joints when exercising. Read more »

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