by Amy Reiter in Fitness, February 9, 2017
by Amy Reiter in Fitness, January 29, 2017
Those of us who (try to) exercise regularly often do so with our weight or overall health in mind. Both great reasons, obviously. But there’s another benefit to staying active: It could make you a happier person.
“Exercise on a regular basis can keep your mood elevated,” says Ramona Braganza, a fitness expert and celebrity trainer whose clients have included, among others, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Zac Efron and Ryan Reynolds. “Mood swings don’t occur as much, and overall wellness is achieved when balance takes place in the body.”
Exercise’s mood-boosting benefits were recently underscored by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, who asked more than 10,000 study participants to track their happiness and physical activity using a specially developed smartphone app. The participants’ self-reported activity data (the researchers asked them what activities they were engaged in the last 15 minutes) was then tracked against information collected directly from built-in activity monitors (accelerometers) on their phones.
At the end of the 17-month-long study, published in the journal PLoS One, the researchers concluded that people who are more physically active are happier than those who are less active. “We found that, regardless of whether we looked at self-reported physical activity or physical activity sensed via the accelerometer on their phones, people who were on average more active were also on average happier,” says study co-author Gillian M. Sandstrom, Ph.D., who contributed to the work as a postdoctoral research assistant at Cambridge and is now a lecturer at the University of Essex. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Diets & Weight Loss, Fitness, January 25, 2017
So many of us worker bees spend our weekdays glued to our desk chairs, wondering, perhaps, if tapping at our keyboards counts as exercise. (Sadly, it doesn’t.)
But the prospect of spending a huge chunk of our day working out may seem daunting and frankly, unworkable. A new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity indicates that, in fact, spending just five minutes getting up and engaging in moderately intense exercise (like a walk) every hour may actually be better for us, in many respects, than a solid 30-minute daily workout before we slide into our cubicles in the morning and start our long sit.
The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, among others, concluded that introducing short periods of activity spread throughout the day would help not only boost workers’ energy levels, but also elevate their moods and lower their sense of fatigue and appetite, calling it “a promising approach to improve overall well-being at work.” Read more
by Amy Reiter in Fitness, January 21, 2017
We swear off pizza, ditch the cookies and vow to exercise every day. But research shows that this is the time of year when we start backsliding on our resolutions. In fact according to polling, more than 20% of us aim to lose weight and eat better in 2017, but less than 10 percent actually succeed. Here are 5 practical strategies to help you keep your resolutions and reach your goals.
Set (small) goals
Stay motivated by setting and accomplishing weekly or even daily goals. Have one less cup of coffee, go an extra half mile on the treadmill or add an extra serving of fruit to your daily diet. Establish some foundational habits you can build on as time goes by.
Dramatic changes almost never last, and giving up on foods you absolutely love typically just breeds resentment. Allow yourself to indulge in a not-so healthy food or beverage from time to time – not depriving yourself completely will set the stage for long-term success. Read more
by Sally Wadyka in Fitness, January 15, 2017
Exercise is supposed to be the answer for myriad health concerns – from cardio-respiratory fitness and blood pressure maintenance to weight control – but there are those of us who may feel that, no matter how much we exercise, we don’t see much in the way of results. Turns out, it may not be in our heads.
Fitness experts estimate that anywhere from 20 to 45 percent of those who undertake a form of regular exercise experience no measurable physiological change as a result – and they even have a name for us: non-responders.
“Although it would appear to be intuitive that all previously untrained and sedentary individuals undertaking exercise can expect positive changes to their physiological function and overall health, the scientific literature is quite clear that for a segment of the population this is indeed not the case,” says Lance Dalleck, associate professor of exercise and sport science and director of the Center for Wellness and Human Performance at Western State Colorado University, who has done research on non-responders.
One unfortunate effect of the phenomenon is that non-responders can become frustrated with their lack of progress and decide it’s not worth it to stick with their exercise program – or, really, any exercise program.
But recent research has indicated non-responders to one form of exercise may yet respond to another, and so it may be just a matter of finding the right exercise program for you. That study, which was conducted Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Ottawa, determined that non-responders could benefit by swapping out one form of exercise for another. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Fitness, January 8, 2017
I’ve never been one to make (and then feel bad about breaking) a bunch of New Year’s resolutions. But I am determined to make 2017 The Year of the Ab. My abs, specifically. Because even though I’m fit—I run several times a week, hike, ski, rock climb and do the occasional yoga class—my middle is still kind of mushy.
If you’re in a similar situation, feel free to join me in a year long plank-a-thon. Rumor has it not only will our abs be rock hard, but our posture will improve and our backs will be stronger too. “Done correctly, a plank is an isometric contraction of all the muscles that stabilize the spine, hips and shoulder girdle,” explains Christa Bache, MA, a personal trainer in New York City. “It is truly a whole body exercise.” The key words there are “done correctly.” The plank is all about form, so here, Bache shares some tips for getting the most out of every plank: Read more
by Amy Reiter in Fitness, January 1, 2017
Exercise more and lose weight: So many of us resolve to do both those things in the new year. Every year. But do they actually go hand in hand? And why does it sometimes feel like we actually gain weight when we increase the amount of exercise we get, and lose weight when we moon around the house like a lump? (I know, it’s cold outside, but still…).
That question was recently put to the Well bloggers at the New York Times, who confirmed that studies show that our hunch is correct: We don’t always lose – and sometimes gain – weight when we exercise more. That’s mostly because exercise makes us hungrier and so we eat more – off-setting the calories we’ve burned.
What’s a health-minded person to do? We asked nutrition coach, consultant and yoga teacher Alexandra Caspero MA, RD, CLT, RYT of Delish Knowledge, and the author of the book Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation, for her perspective. She works to help clients find their “happy weight.” Here’s what she had to say:
Why do we sometimes gain weight when we start exercising? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? And does that mean we should not exercise if we want to lose weight?
Weight loss is just one of the many benefits to exercise, so I still encourage movement, even if weight gain is a side effect. It’s beneficial for cardiovascular, mental and skeletal health, among other things. And, this isn’t true across the board. The more important thing to focus on is that exercise alone doesn’t equal weight loss; the diet still counts. I break it down to 80/20: Exercise is 20 percent of the equation; diet is 80 percent. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill likely burns 300-400 calories for the average person, which can easily be negated by an extra serving of pasta. Additionally, exercise may increase appetite and many of my clients think exercising gives them a reason to “eat more,” which isn’t always the case. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Fitness, December 30, 2016
Do you wear a fitness tracker, a doohickey that counts the steps you take and/or the calories you burn every day? If so, you’re in good company. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. Internet-connected adults — yep, more than one in five — use some form of wearable technology, according to research firm Forrester.
Although some pricier wearable fitness trackers promise complicated analytics, most people use wearable fitness trackers to count steps or track distance “with a weight loss goal in mind,” says nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and Healthy Eats contributor Dana Angelo White.
A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggests those wearable fitness trackers may not actually help us lose weight. In fact, the study indicated, just the opposite may be true. The devices may actually backfire, prompting people to eat more and undercutting weight-loss efforts. “It’s somewhat common for people to use exercise as an excuse to overindulge,” White notes.
The study’s research team put 471 overweight study participants on a low-calorie diet and urged them to exercise more, providing them with support such as group counseling. All began to lose weight. After about six months, half the study cohort was asked to self-report their diet and exercise behaviors; the other half was given wearable devices to monitor them. Two years later, both groups remained active, but those who were using the fitness trackers lost less weight than those who were not, prompting the researchers to conclude that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches. Read more
by Sally Wadyka in Fitness, Healthy Holidays, December 12, 2016
Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or a resolution-driven exercise newbie, there are always ways to freshen up your routine. If your New Year’s resolutions involve getting more exercise, use these strategies to set yourself up for success.
Instead of calorie-laden celebrations, reward your hard work with a little retail therapy. Set realistic exercise goals such as a personal record on the treadmill or increased daily steps for a week, and then reward yourself with some new threads. Target and Kohl’s have durable and fashionable exercise clothing and shoes. Under Armour, Athleta and Lululemon offer high-end options that fit beautifully and are on trend with latest fashions. No matter what your budget you can find some new gear to get excited about. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Fitness, November 28, 2016
’Tis the season for overindulgence — holiday parties, family gatherings, piles of cookies and candy all over the office. And while it can be difficult (if not downright impossible) to avoid all those temptations, you can help offset some of the negative health effects of straying from your normal healthy diet. The secret weapon? Exercise.
A 2013 study found that just one week of eating 50 percent more calories than normal can impair insulin sensitivity. But that research was based on people who were sedentary. So researchers at the University of Michigan decided to test the same scenario — but this time using lean, active adults as subjects. “In conditions of excess food, there is more circulating fat interfering with the normal function of tissues that are not supposed to have fat (like muscles and the liver),” explains Alison C. Ludzki, first author on the study. But if you stay active, you may ameliorate some of that damage. Read more
Just because the temperature dips doesn’t mean your exercise routine needs to take a dive. Keep these four rules in mind to exercise safely all winter long.
Rule #1: Warm Up
Pun intended! Get blood flowing to muscles, and increase your heart rate before heading out into the cold. The increased circulation will help prime muscles for activity and may help reduce the risk of injury.
Rule #2: Keep On Hydrating
This may be more obvious during warmer months, but you still need to drink plenty of fluids when exercising in the cold; you’re still sweating, and you need to replenish fluids lost. Both warm and cold fluids will help contribute to hydration, so reach for whichever you prefer. A little caffeine will help boost performance, but too much can have a negative effect on digestion, so keep your intake conservative. Read more