Category Archives: Fitness

Getting Back To The Gym

COVID-19 is something none of us will ever forget. It’s had an impact on every facet of our lives. My industry particularly took a big hit despite the fact that exercise and staying healthy is one of the top combatants to this dreadful pandemic. Facilities big and small were forced to close doors temporarily or worse, permanently, leaving consumers lost and looking for fitness alternatives. The good news is that within the past six months some facilities have reopened albeit limited to offerings and capacity. Now that we are about a year into this nightmare, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and “normalcy”, whatever that may be, will be returning. So if going to the gym is your thing, rest assured, you’ll be going back shortly if you haven’t already. Here are some tips to think about when heading back to the gym.

Understand The Inherent Risks

When weighing your options, it is important to consider both the risks associated with exercising at an indoor gym and steps you can take to keep yourself safe. The recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from other individuals to avoid inhalation of virus-containing respiratory droplets. When someone is exercising, they breathe with more force than while at rest. Therefore, heavier breathing during exercise can result in an increased concentration of air droplets traveling farther, thus increasing the risk for COVID-19 transmission. While many fitness facilities are following guidelines by spacing out equipment and encouraging social distancing, you may find yourself in a situation where another member decides to exercise on the cardio machine next to you or several members are having a conversation right next to where you are completing your set of bench presses. Even with limits to facility numbers, weight rooms and cardio areas can get crowded, making it more difficult to maintain social distancing throughout the facility. Some fitness and wellness centers may not have ventilation systems that can adequately remove viral droplets and particles from the air, thus increasing members’ risk of infection, especially in smaller indoor spaces. With regards to using shared fitness equipment, even though COVID-19 is most commonly spread through close contact with an individual who has the virus, it is possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Therefore, using shared equipment such as weight and cardio machines, mats, or dumbbells that are not cleaned before and after each use may increase your risk for COVID-19.

One Day, One Step At a Time

  • Choose a gym where you feel comfortable and safe: Fitness and wellness facilities must follow state guidelines; however, some may take more precautions than others, such as implementing additional temperature and symptom assessments, cleaning and mask-wearing protocols and limited fitness class sizes. Therefore, visit a few different facilities and join the one where you will feel safe and comfortable to exercise. 
  • It may be beneficial to choose a facility that also offers online personal training, virtual fitness classes, and/or outdoor classes so that you can create a weekly exercise routine that includes workouts that take place at the gym, outside and at home to limit the number of times per week that you are exercising at an indoor gym. 
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose while exercising: Although it may be uncomfortable to exercise with a mask, it can help keep you and others safe from COVID-19. Also, a recent study found that heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation were not adversely impacted in healthy individuals who performed aerobic exercise while wearing a mask.
  • Remember to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet to avoid close contact with other facility members or employees. Work out in areas of the gym that are less crowded and avoid attending the gym during peak hours.
  • Bring your own equipment. When possible, bring your own equipment such as mats, dumbbells or bands to use during your workout or when attending fitness classes.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Some fitness facilities may not allow access to water fountains. Therefore, bring your own water bottle to make sure you have safe access to water.
  • Clean each piece of equipment before and after you use it, and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes throughout your workout.
  • Wash your hands before and immediately after your workout with soap and water.
  • Limit indoor high-intensity exercise. When possible, perform high-intensity activities outdoors. If performing high-intensity exercise indoors, increase distance.

Bottom line: the precautions to protect yourself from a COVID infection are the exact same precautions one should use to prevent infections from the flu. With a conscientious and consistent effort, we can all bring an end to this madness. Beginning or maintaining an exercise routine is paramount for both physical and mental health and it is especially important during this health crisis. Make sure you choose a place and format that will best support your health-related goals and level of comfort for safely starting or returning to an active lifestyle.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

The Stability (Exercise) Ball

This time of year, I find it amusing with all of the fitness and exercise tricks that are released and pushed on to consumers. Particularly, the fitness equipment that “you can’t be fit without”! When it comes to exercise equipment, the error is never in the product itself, but rather how it is sold and used. No product in and of itself is never a solution, just perhaps a creative, ingenious way to accomplish the task. Case in point, let me tell you about a simple exercise tool that on the surface looks like something kids would play with (they do and they love ‘em; so do the dogs) and is part of 90% of my fitness programming: the stability or exercise ball, aka the fitness orb.

A Little History

The stability ball was developed in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani, an Italian plastics manufacturer. It had first been called a Swiss ball after American physical therapists saw techniques used in Switzerland with great successes. Since its introduction here in the States, the stability ball became a stalwart piece of equipment used in physical and athletic therapy settings before it became popular in the fitness realm. Now, every gym, studio, or anywhere where fitness is conducted at least one of these balls can be found. But are the worth it?

The Science

Despite its popularity and wide spread use across the fitness continuum, very little research has ever been conducted. What’s more, most of the purported benefits such as greater core strength, balance training and increased strength have never been proved. Furthermore, the benefits of just sitting on the ball have never been proven either unless used in conjunction with other exercises which I will further explain. So what gives? Remember what I said previously? The error is never in the piece of equipment but rather how it is used. I will stand by and fully endorse the use of the stability ball so allow me to explain.

The Benefits

Due to its round nature, the stability ball is unstable; it moves and rolls. Instability will always recruit more muscles than just the primary muscles. EMG (electromyographic) studies have proven that. Stabilizing or secondary muscles are more highly recruited aiding in more total muscle activation. This “stabilizing” is what separates the stability ball from a lot of other unstable training devices. They can safely be used from the very young to the very old. The balls come in a variety of sizes from 45 – 85 cm and are generally prescribed based on the height of the individual but can easily be adapted to any size regardless of the individual’s height. So while just sitting on the ball will do very little, adding a movement or exercise to that seated position will yield results. Taking it a step further by adding more advance type movements like push ups off of the top of the ball or abdominal movements done with the both feet on the ball and even the most basic looking exercise can be that much tougher.

The stability ball is just a tool, an option or way to add more variety to your current workout routine. The possibilities are endless and with some creativity, safe and effective exercises can be accomplished with the stability ball. Just ask anyone of my hundreds of clients who have used them through the years. Never under estimate its use and when utilized properly, it can be just what you’re missing.

Til next time. Train smart, eat well, and be better

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 12 – Three Reasons Why Physical Activity Should Be a Family Routine

(This is part 12 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was released in late 2018. The new guidelines reiterate best practices for physical activity and shed light on new research findings related to physical activity’s impact on growth and development, sleep quality, brain health and much more. Here’s the bottom line: Physical activity improves health during all stages of life and is good for the entire family. Read on for three reasons why physical activity should be a family routine.

Family Physical Activity Models Positive Health Behaviors for Children.

Developing positive physical activity habits is like any other behavior—we learn by observing. Parents are children’s first role models and have the ability to shape attitudes about physical activity. When children adopt healthy physical-activity habits, they benefit not only in youth, but as teenagers and adults. A 21-year tracking study found that high levels of physical activity between the ages of nine and 18 predicted higher levels of physical activity in adulthood. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that parents not only participate in physical activity with their children but also facilitate environments that encourage self-directed physical activity. For example, parents can place equipment such as balls and jump ropes near doors and play areas. Additionally, parents can help kids to form healthy habits by limiting screen time, focusing on enjoyment (rather than competition) and by working with school officials and other caregivers to ensure that active playtime is encouraged even when children are not at home.

Families That Move Together Build Stronger Social Bonds.

Social bonds describe the level of closeness we have with our family members, friends and other people we interact with every day such as coworkers and schoolmates. Our social ties impact several dimensions of our personal wellness, such as physical, emotional and mental well-being. Strong social ties not only affect the quality of our lives, they are linked to longer life expectancy as well. Healthy social bonds develop over time. Making physical activity a family affair can provide protected time for family members to share joys and frustrations about their day, which is important in building trust and a sense of closeness. Furthermore, when families complete an exercise or physical-activity goal together—whether running a 5K or simply taking a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood—they get to enjoy a shared sense of accomplishment. These shared experiences strengthen family social bonds.  

Families That Move Together are More Likely to Meet Physical-Activity Guidelines

Only 24% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and less than 23% of adults meet the physical-activity guidelines for aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activities. Social support, however, has been recognized as a determinant of physical activity for decades, and can be measured in several different ways:

  • Emotional support is the act of offering empathy, concern or encouragement. This type of social support lets other people know that they are valued and that their efforts toward becoming more physically active, whether big or small, matter.
  • Tangible support occurs when goods or services are provided for another person, such as providing free childcare services for an hour so that a friend can go to the gym.
  • Informational support is the provision of guidance, advice or some other form of useful information. A qualified health and exercise professional providing a free 30-minute fitness consultation is an example of informational support.
  • Companionship support is seen when two or more individuals participate in shared social activities.

All forms of social support are beneficial in health behavior change, but a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology revealed that companionship and emotional support are key in encouraging exercise participation. Subjects in the study who exercised with at least one partner who could provide emotional support increased both self-efficacy for exercise and frequency of exercise sessions.

If you are at the beginning of your family health and fitness journey, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Try to keep family fitness activities simple. Select activities that everyone will enjoy and ones that do not require advanced sport skills.
  • Get outside. Hiking, walking and biking are all great ideas.
  • Get behind a cause. Consider training for a local 5K or some other event tied to a cause important to your family.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Best Wishes to You and Your Families for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and New Year!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

Day #8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery
Day #9 – Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the Healthiest Countries
Day #10 – 5 Bodyweight Exercises That You Can Do Right Now
Day #11 – How Exercise May Fight Aging

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 11 – How Exercise May Fight Aging

(This is part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

According to an interesting new study, regular exercise throughout adulthood may protect our muscles against age-related loss and damage later. The study finds that active older men’s muscles resemble, at a cellular level, those of 25-year-olds and weather inflammatory damage much better than the muscles of sedentary older people. The study also raises some cautionary questions about whether waiting until middle age or later to start exercising might prove to be challenging for the lifelong health of our muscles.

Why Wait?

Physical aging is a complicated process, as any of us who are living and experiencing it know. Precipitated by little-understood changes in the workings of our cells and physiological systems, it proceeds in stuttering fits and starts, affecting some people and body parts earlier or more noticeably than others. Muscles are among the body parts most vulnerable to time. Almost all of us begin losing some muscle mass and strength by early middle age, with the process accelerating as the decades pass. While the full causes for this decline remain unknown, most aging researchers agree that a subtle, age-related rise in inflammation throughout our bodies plays a role. “A lot of studies show that higher circulating inflammatory factors in people are associated with greater loss of muscle mass,” says Todd Trappe, a professor of exercise science at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., who oversaw the new study. Since it was already widely accepted that physically fit people tend to have lower levels of inflammation in their bodies than inactive people. So, the researchers wondered, would active, older people also have more and healthier muscle mass than other older people? And if so, what might that tell us about how human muscles can optimally age?

Some Profound Results

In the study, it was noted immediately that the men’s thigh circumference reflected their ages and lifestyles, with the young athletes sporting the burliest legs, the elderly athletes slightly smaller ones, and the inactive elderly men the spindliest. The researchers found that inflammatory responses differed in the men. The young athletes displayed the least amount of inflammation in their blood and muscles at the start of the study and continued to do so after the workout. While their muscles flared briefly after exercise with inflammatory cells and related gene activity, the microscopic examination found that countervailing anti-inflammatory signals were also increasing and should soon cool the inflammation. A similar response occurred inside the muscles of the elderly athletes, although their inflammatory markers were slightly higher and their anti-inflammatory reactions a bit lower. But in the untrained elderly men, inflammation was much more of a bushfire, spiking higher than among the other men and showing fewer cellular signs of resolving any time soon. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that long-term exercise may help aging muscles remain healthy in part by readying them to dissipate inflammation. But on the flip side, sedentary living seems to set up muscles to overreact to strain and remain inflamed, potentially leading to fewer muscular gains when someone does exercise. More important, the findings should not discourage middle-aged or older people who have been inactive from starting to visit the gym. Even if inflammation gets in the way a bit at first, your muscles will respond and grow and eventually should start to resemble those of people who have been exercising lifelong.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

Day #8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery
Day #9 – Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the Healthiest Countries
Day #10 – 5 Bodyweight Exercises That You Can Do Right Now

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 10 – 5 Bodyweight Exercises That You Can Do Right Now

(This is part 10 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

If there’s been a positive spin on this pandemic, it’s that people have discovered that you don’t need to belong to a gym to workout. Home gyms, online programs, and virtual training have become increasingly popular. But the one thing that has always been there and never needed any real specific instructions is using your own body as an exercise apparatus, better known as bodyweight training. Whether you find yourself on vacation without any exercise equipment or you’re working out at home, bodyweight exercises can help you stay on track. Here are five bodyweight exercises you can add to your routine right now and get your whole body moving.

  • Moving Squat to Balance

Begin with your feet directly under your hips and your core engaged to support your low back. Bend your knees as you move your hips back, keeping your torso as upright as possible; keep your weight on your heels to perform a narrow squat. Stay in this narrow squat position and step out into a wide squat. Return to the narrow squat. Rise up to standing and focus on contracting your abdominal muscles as you bring your knee up to hip height; aim to keep the hips level. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

  • Lunge With Rotation

Begin with your feet directly under your hips and your core engaged to support your low back. Step forward with your right leg and bend both knees to sink into a lunge. As you lower down, simultaneously hinge at the hips and reach the left hand to the instep of your front foot and the right arm up toward the sky for the rotation. Be sure to keep your weight in the heel of the front foot and your spine long during the lunge with rotation. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Once you feel confident with the exercise, aim to fluidly connect the lunge with the rotation.

  • Deadlift With Hip Flexion and Extension

Stand tall with your best posture and slowly sweep one leg forward while keeping the hips level. Pass through center and extend the same leg backward with the hips remaining level. With the back foot lifted or lightly touching the ground (like a kickstand), hinge forward at your hips to slowly lower your chest toward the floor. With the hips level and the spine long, the goal is to lower yourself as far as you can to feel the hamstrings of the standing leg contract. Return to an upright position, place the foot on the floor and repeat on the other side.

  • Double Push-up to Downward-facing Dog

Start in a plank position with either your knees or your toes on the floor. Scoop your belly away from the floor to set your core. Walk your hands out wide and bend your elbows to perform a wide push-up. At the top of the push-up, walk your hands back under your shoulders and perform a narrow push-up. At the top of the push-up, lift your tailbone to the sky and gently press your chest toward your thighs and move into downward-facing dog, gently pressing your heels toward the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat.

  • Table Top with Lift and Reach

Begin seated with the knees bent, feet hip-distance apart and positioned close to the hips. Place your hands behind your hips; your fingertips should face your heels or be slightly turned out. As you press through the heels and begin to lift your hips toward the ceiling for the tabletop (with knees directly over the heels and shoulders directly over the hands), lift your right leg and simultaneously reach toward your foot with the opposite hand. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Give one or give them all a try. Always best to keep moving.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

Day #8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery
Day #9 – Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the Healthiest Countries

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 9 – Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the Healthiest Countries

(This is part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

While the world finds itself in the midst of a public health crisis with the COVID-19 virus, there are still many things Americans can learn from the health and wellness habits of those­­ who live in the healthiest countries in the world. Each year, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index ranks 169 nations on several factors to determine their overall health. They evaluate countries on measures such as life expectancy, incidence of obesity and tobacco use as well as environmental considerations such as access to clean water and sanitation. Topping the list in 2019 was Spain, with an average lifespan of 83.5 years. Rounding out the top five on the list were Italy, Iceland, Japan and Switzerland. Unfortunately, the United States. didn’t break into the top 30 on the index last year, primarily because of the obesity epidemic that continues to plague the country. While Americans are exercising more than ever (up from 18.2% in 2008 to 24.3% by 2017), more than 42% of are still considered to have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, what can the U.S. learn from these global leaders in wellness and life expectancy?

Eat Simply

A person’s overall health and wellness is determined largely by what he or she eats. In the U.S., average diets have grown in portion sizes, saturated fats and calories over the years and the desire for convenience has left many people eating more highly processed foods and beverages. According to a study by researchers at George Washington University, “The rising obesity epidemic in the U.S., as well as related chronic diseases, are correlated with a rise in ultra-processed food consumption.”

Conversely, many European nations have stayed true to their culinary traditions over the years and consume diets that include fewer processed foods, are lower in unhealthy fats and higher in vegetables, fiber and lean proteins. On Bloomberg’s list of healthiest countries, Spain and Italy’s populations typically follow a Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be one of the most nutritious globally because it focuses on healthy fats, vegetables, legumes, fish and seafood, which promote heart health. In addition, Spain, as well as many other European countries, is known for tapas meals (small plates), which encourage right-sized portions. While they are thousands of miles from the Mediterranean region, the populations of Iceland and Japan also follow traditional diets that center on whole versus processed foods and include fish, seafood and vegetables. Japan’s style of eating encourages natural flavors in food rather than dousing it in sauces. Icelandic diets typically focus on lamb, seafood and dairy. Finally, while Switzerland may be known for its rich and decadent cheese and chocolate, they also base their diets on eating real, unprocessed foods that create satiety and prevent overeating.

Move More

In each of the top five healthiest countries on Bloomberg’s list, outdoor exercise reigns over indoor gyms. In Iceland, a country that moves more than any nation in Europe, outdoor hikes and swimming top the list of favorite workouts. Spain, Italy and Japan all have plenty of opportunities for walking, hiking and running outdoors, while Switzerland boasts some of the finest skiing in the world in the Swiss Alps. Overall, the healthiest countries have plenty of traditional indoor and outdoor exercise options, but they also maximize movement in the everyday activities of life, such as walking to the store or planting and working in a garden. In addition to the nutrition and fitness trends all these countries embrace—whole foods, smaller portions, regular exercise—they all have excellent air quality, fewer issues with opioid drug addictions and more walkable towns and cities, all of which contribute to a longer life expectancy according to the Bloomberg Index. Americans are exercising more than ever but we’re not making gains in the kitchen, which is so important to overall health.

Taking a cue from our healthier neighbors, Americans would do well to get back to eating whole, unprocessed foods that provide a balance of macro and micronutrients. Combined with regular exercise, a change in diet would undoubtedly help the U.S. rise in global rankings of health and, more importantly, increase both quality of life and life expectancy for all its citizens.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you Monday for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

Day #8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I will continue to say that age is just an excuse when it comes to fitness. For many men and women that continue to work out regardless of their age, a daily or weekly workout routine is one of the few escapes from everyday life, not to mention an opportunity for some alone time or socialization at the gym. Yet many workout enthusiast, pros and amateurs alike, are ignorant when it comes to how age affects recovery. So how exactly does one’s age impact their recovery period? Are older workout enthusiasts hopelessly doomed by the sands of time? As luck would have it, people of any age can still enjoy a healthy, structured workout routine—they just shouldn’t expect to bounce back instantly if they’ve reached a certain age.

Taking Some Time for Recovery

Everyone, regardless of age, needs to take some time off for recovery every now and then. For older individuals, particularly those who are well past their 40s, this recovery period may be longer than they remember from when they were young. Yet those who maintain a healthy diet and a safe workout routine can expect to bounce back with little troubles, provided they’re exercising on a consistent basis. For the more experienced, age has often been found to have little impact on recovery times. This isn’t true for every fitness endeavor, however. Runners who have been honing their cardio craft for decades will find that age doesn’t necessarily slow the recovery process too much, but heavy weightlifters who have seen the years go by may be in a different boat. Pain from muscle fatigue, for instance, is often felt for a longer period when the individual in question has reached their 40s. No one can push back the sands of time, and older people will inevitably struggle at a higher level during their recoveries than they did when they were younger. Nonetheless, studies have confirmed that older individuals feel muscle fatigue for longer periods also determined that consistent exercise helps maintain performance levels and overall health, so keep at it. Our bodies, the muscles that move them, and the hormones and chemicals that power them inevitably change with time, but a determined human heart has many decades of exercising in it before it will give out.

Don’t Be Fooled by Appearances

People who hope to stay in shape well into retirement shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by appearances; fully grown adults and seniors regularly show the resilience and strength of the human body and mind. Similarly, older women shouldn’t fear that their beloved days of exercise are behind them, either. You don’t have to be a young, muscle-clad man to be healthy or successful in your fitness endeavors. Plenty of others haven’t let themselves be deterred by age. Wise people know they can’t always rely on spirit alone, however; so what are some practical, scientific ways to ensure you keep kicking for the foreseeable future?

How To Keep It UP

To start with, an incredibly protein-rich diet has been shown to be much more beneficial to older athletes and exercisers than traditional diets. Older people can’t quite expect the same levels of energy or spryness that they enjoyed in their youth, but smart habits like eating nutrient-packed foods and avoiding age-old hazards like smoking can go a surprisingly long way. It’s also important that older individuals don’t scare themselves into never taking a recovery day, for fear of “never getting back up” once they sit down. Alternating workouts, such as doing lower body workouts one day and upper body workouts the next, can also go a long way in maintaining your body’s physical prowess for years to come.

Staying strong and spirited well into your old-age is often a matter of maintenance. Putting in the right work, eating the right foods, and knowing when to take a break can go a long way toward keeping you in tip-top shape for the rest of your life.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise

(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I hear it all the time. “I’m too old to start exercising now.” “When you get to me my age, you’ll see.” As often as I hear it, I understand these statements to be more like myths than truths. It was once thought that once you reach a certain age all physical work is to stop. Contrary to those myths, you can actually improve your physical well-being in your older adult years even if you’ve never exercised before.

Age vs. Movement

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests adults do at least two-and-a-half to five hours a week of moderate-intensity activity. Not too bad. In addition, focusing on the postural alignment of the body may also help to start feeling better and moving with confidence. Proper postural alignment helps with everything from cardiovascular health to relieving joint pain and arthritis. When we’re young and continuing that habit throughout life it improves our health and decreases the chances of death. But a recent study found the same is true for adults who start exercising later in life. According to the study’s authors, “Although long-term participation in physical activity may be important to lower mortality risk, the present study provides evidence that becoming physically active later in adulthood (40-61 years of age) may provide comparable health benefits.” Other scientific studies have uncovered similar conclusions, including the fact that exercise programs for sedentary middle-aged adults can help to decrease the risk of heart disease  Now that you understand that exercise can help you turn around your health at any age, the next step is figuring out what activities you enjoy and will stick with over the long term.

A Change of Heart..and Mind

Starting exercise later in life requires that you find more meaning in why you’re moving. For example, can you transition from standing, down to the floor, and back up again easily? How do you feel when you get out of your car? Do you feel sluggish when you’ve been sitting for a long period of time? Ask yourself these questions and start to reshape your fitness goals to enhance your day-to-day functions in life and the confidence you have in your body. Choose activities that you enjoy, which will make it much easier for you to stick with your exercise routine. Get your family involved by going on a hike or a walk around the neighborhood. Dance with your grandkids in the kitchen, play a game of pickleball with friends or go for a swim at your nearby gym. Willpower will only get you so far, so find a way to make exercise a new routine for your daily life. Reward yourself for exercising so you’re motivated to do it again.

The bottom line: The earlier you start the better, so start today.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you Monday for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Most of us eat more when we exercise, and though it may be just a few extra bites a day, the result is weight gain. People hoping to lose weight with exercise often wind up being their own worst enemies, according to the latest, large-scale study of workouts, weight loss and their frustrating interaction. The study, which carefully tracked how much people ate and moved after starting to exercise, found that many of them failed to lose or even gained weight while exercising, because they also reflexively changed their lives in other, subtle ways. But a few people in the study did drop pounds, and their success could have lessons for the rest of us.

Is Exercise Effective Enough?

In a perfect universe, exercise would make us thin. Physical activity consumes calories, and if we burn calories without replacing them or reducing our overall energy expenditure, we enter negative energy balance. In that condition, we utilize our internal energy stores, which most of us would call our flab, and shed weight. But human metabolisms are not always just and cogent, and multiple past studies have shown that most men and women who begin new exercise routines drop only about 30 percent or 40 percent as much weight as would be expected, given how many additional calories they are expending with exercise. Why exercise underwhelms for weight reduction remains an open question, though. Scientists studying the issue agree that most of us compensate for the calories lost to exercise by eating more, moving less, or both. Our resting metabolic rates may also decline if we start to lose pounds. All of this shifts us back toward positive energy balance, otherwise known as weight gain. It has not been clear, however, whether we tend primarily to overeat or under-move as compensation, and the issue matters. To avoid compensating, we need to know how we are doing it.

How Are We Doing It?

One of the main complaints about exercise is that it can make you hungry and cause you to eat more. It’s also been suggested that exercise may make you overestimate the number of calories you’ve burned and “reward” yourself with food. This can prevent weight loss and even lead to weight gain. Although it doesn’t apply to everyone, studies show that some people do eat more after working out, which can prevent them from losing weight. Exercise may influence the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is also known as “the hunger hormone” because of the way it drives your appetite. Interestingly, studies show that appetite is suppressed after intense exercise. This is known as “exercise anorexia” and seems tied to a decrease in ghrelin. However, ghrelin levels go back to normal after around half an hour. So although there is a link between appetite and ghrelin, it doesn’t seem to influence how much you actually eat. Studies on calorie intake after exercise are mixed. It’s now recognized that both appetite and food intake after exercise can vary between people. For example, women have been shown to be hungrier after working out than men, and leaner people may become less hungry than obese people So, if you are hoping to lose weight with exercise, pay close attention to what you eat and not quit or blame the exercise.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You

 

Sifting Through the Fitness Bull#@*%

I’ve been a fitness professional for over 25 years. During that time, I think I’ve seen and heard it all before. But then, something else will come down the line leaving me scratching my head. What I’m talking about is all the lies and deceit that fitness marketing pushes on you, the consumer. Allow me to explain.

The Great Ab Deceit

Abs, short for abdominals, continue to be one of the top reasons someone will start to workout or continue to workout. It’s assumed that if one trains their abdominals hard  and excessively, they will attain the coveted 6 pack. That will never happen. All of the ab programs, DVDs, classes, etc. are nothing more than a pipe dream that will never see the light of day. But they’re sold and presented in such a way that the buyer thinks that this time will be different. This time it will work. Again, that’s a big no. First of all, being able to see the abdominals divided into 6 separate parts has so much more to do with diet than any exercise. Period. Second, it’s a conscientious, consistent, and difficult dietary journey that many people don’t even possess the genetics to make happen. It should never be one’s ultimate goal, just something that potentially, and I mean potentially can occur. And the marketers will continue to lead you otherwise.

The Great Cardio Myth

Cardio, short for cardiovascular, is great exercise. Don’t get me wrong. Cardiovascular exercise works the cardiovascular system, plain and simple. But where that ends is when people are led to believe that it’s the only way to lose unwanted pounds. You see it in the gyms and health clubs where 2/3 of the equipment in there is cardiovascular exercise equipment. In January, they are occupied to the fullest, complete with sign up lists in some places. Again, cardio is good and yes it does burn calories, but no where near the amount that most of those machines are programmed to report. Why do they do that? To keep you engaged and working towards a misguided number. It’s easy to use numbers as a guide, but in the end they rarely correlate with effort..

The High Intensity Faux Pas

If cardio is not effective enough, then higher intensity, HITT for short, must be the way. Not necessarily. HITT is a great side car to an already strong exercise base. Meaning it’s not a great place for a beginner to start. Exercise is a stress and if you are not adapted to the stress of exercise to begin with, HITT can severely hurt you. These HITT programs are sold and marketed as the next best thing and what you’ve been missing. They are good when applied appropriately, not thrown at you as the best way to exercise.

The Spot “Toning”, Spot “Reduction” Fallacy

Toys and gadgets are sold on the promise of delivering quick results to a certain location on the body. Good news: you can spot “target “ a specific muscle or body part. However, that doesn’t mean miraculously the fat layer on top of said muscle disappears. That’s the result of a systemic loss in body fat. When someone says they want to tone, what they’re really saying is that they want the muscle to show and that won’t happen without fat loss occurring systemically. Consequently, you can not work a specific area exclusively and hope to decrease the body fat that is present. It all takes place as an overall effect, not a specific one.

The Nutritional Fiction

I am a fitness professional, not a dietitian, but I would be remiss to not discuss nutrition. The topic of nutrition is probably the biggest source of deceit when it come to exercise success because they are closely associated. Without getting into the semantics of carbs and protein and fats (the macronutrients), I can 100% assure that there are no cleanses, magical foods, detoxes, or super supplements that will answer or correct a poor or even so-so eating pattern. You will continue to be duped and reeled in because that is how the machine works. Sell, sell, sell, and sell more.

The True State of Fitness

It’s all of the outside distractions that take away from something that’s inherently very basic. It’s an annual battle that continues and unfortunately will continue leading more and more into a state of confusion and craving the next best thing. The message has never changed – you need to exercise in whatever form you enjoy. You just need to do it. You need to be mindful of not only what you eat but how much you eat. If it’s off, it’s easy to blame it on something out of your control. The thing is, you always have control. You just need to find what works best for you, not others. Nothing, and I mean nothing will ever replace hard work done honestly and consistently. If you’re capable of those two things, you can never be disappointed.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.