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Time to Exercise

When is the best time of day to exercise? The scientific consensus seems to be first thing in the morning, especially if you're trying to lose weight. Whether you're into power walks, weight lifting, or aerobics, such activities before breakfast burns fat much more effectively than it does later when you have food in your stomach.

Blood sugar is higher in the morning and carbohydrates in your body are low because of your overnight fast. Early-morning training prompts your body to draw on stored fat to meet the caloric demands of exercise.

As an option, if your schedule doesn’t allow early exercise, work in such activities in late afternoon or evening—but wait at least two hours after eating.

Some trainers advise eating before a workout, but that may be one reason some people just can't seem to shed unwanted kilos despite expending lots of effort in the gym. After you have just eaten, your body draws on the recently-eaten carbs instead of burning fat for energy.

While on the subject of eating, keep in mind that what you eat is an important component in the struggle to burn more calories; you cannot rely on exercise alone.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that average weight loss was a little more than three kilograms among many of the 58 obese participants in a supervised 12-week program. They endured a regimen of aerobic exercises but made no changes in their diets. Many of the participants didn't even lose three kilos.

Interesting too was a study at the University of Colorado School of Medicine which focused on whether exercise can "rev up" metabolism so you'll continue to burn fat for the rest of the day. The investigators recruited three groups, including lean endurance athletes, sedentary and lean adults, and sedentary and obese adults. All participants agreed to spend two 24-hour periods in a walk-in calorimeter, a room equipped to measure the number of calories an individual burns as well as whether those calories are derived from carbohydrates or fats. Results showed that none of the participants, including the athletes, continued to burn fat after exercise.

If you want to burn fat, the researchers concluded, your best bet is to work out at an easy intensity, because high intensity exercise draws on carbohydrate stored in the body--not fat. The good news is that if you lose weight by cutting calories, regular exercise can help you keep it off.

Granted, weight loss from exercise may be modest, but it is only one of the health benefits that getting fit offers. Whether or not you lose unwanted weight, exercise can help you control your blood pressure, tone your muscles, and boost your mood.

If you’re not into exercise, just take a walk
Want to perform better in the bedroom? Take a walk. Physical activity is one of the most powerful things you can do to prevent erectile dysfunction (ED) and at the same time lower your risk of prostate cancer.

Walking helps keep things working below the belt in a couple of ways. First, it can help prevent erectile dysfunction. Even if you're middle-aged and you've always been a couch potato, starting an exercise program can help the problem in your golden years.

Do you already have issues with erectile dysfunction? Walking can help you lose weight, and research has found that if you're overweight or obese, losing 10 percent of your body weight can help improve sexual function.

Regular workouts help ensure that you prevent something even scarier than ED: prostate cancer. Compared with men who are sedentary, those who regularly exercise at a moderate level (brisk walking counts) are more likely to have biopsies that indicate no cancer. Even men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are less likely to have an aggressive form if they are exercising.

Exercise may lower levels of hormones that spur growth of prostate tumors, as well as turn off genes that make a protein that fosters prostate cancer growth.

So take a few extra steps every day.

[New feature for Health Pages]

Focus On Foods

In our continuing efforts to improve the health and prolong the lives of Pattaya Trader readers, this new monthly feature takes a brief look at the benefits of eating the right foods.

Berry, Berry Good
Are you looking for a tasty treat to protect your heart? You can’t do much better than eating blueberries or strawberries.

In an 18-year study involving more than 93,000 women, it was found that those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries were 34 percent less likely to have suffered a heart attack than were women who ate the least of these fruits. The study of women between the ages of 25 and 42 was conducted by a team led by Dr. Eric Rimm, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

"The sooner people start the type of diet that includes a higher intake of blueberries and strawberries, the better," says Dr. Rimm.

How much do you have to eat? There wasn't much difference between women who ate just a few berries now and then and those who didn't eat any at all. There seems to be a threshold effect—that is, one has to eat a minimum amount of berries to get heart benefits.

"The people with heart benefits had three or more servings of a half a cup of blueberries or strawberries each week," Rimm says.

While the study focused on young and middle-aged women, the findings likely apply to men as well. "If you do feeding studies where they feed people a specific diet for four weeks, the biology of what happens is similar in a 60- and a 25-year-old," Dr. Rimm says. "So I don't expect the benefit is much different for others."

Blueberries and strawberries, fresh or frozen, are particularly rich in chemical compounds called anthocyanins which lower blood pressure and make blood vessels more elastic.