Tag: fitness

Are You An Exercise ‘Non-Responder’? Don’t Give Up Hope!

by in Fitness, January 21, 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

Fitness Fundamentals: Building a Better Plank

by in Fitness, January 15, 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

Why Exercise Doesn’t Always Lead to Weight Loss

by in Fitness, January 8, 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

Re-Examining the Health Benefits of Fitness Trackers

by in Fitness, January 1, 2017

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

Refresh Your Fitness Routine For the New Year

by in Fitness, December 30, 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.

Gear

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

How to Survive the Season of Overindulgence

by in Fitness, Healthy Holidays, December 12, 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

Tips for Exercising in Cold Weather

by in Fitness, November 28, 2016

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

Can’t Take More Steps Each Day? Then Take Faster Ones

by in Fitness, November 27, 2016

An entire industry of fitness-tracking devices has sprung up to support the expert-recommended goal of taking 10,000 steps daily. And while that’s a great amount to shoot for, a new study has shown that if you can’t get in quite that many steps a day, there are other ways to reap the same health benefits. The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows that if you (like the average American) can get in only 5,000 to 7,000 steps daily, the trick is to pick up the pace for about half of them.

Walking at a brisk pace (which the researchers defined as 100 or more steps per minute) should be your goal for at least 30 minutes a day, in order to reduce a variety of cardiometabolic risk factors. The other key finding was that no matter how many steps you get in daily, it pays to try to reduce the amount of time you spend not moving at all.

Need help achieving those goals? Here are some tips from Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist, to get you moving. Read more

Fitness at Every Age

by in Fitness, November 7, 2016

Many things about the body change with age, and our nutrition and exercise needs are no exception. Certain types of food and exercise can optimize health from decade to decade, so a little know-how may help you avoid illness and injury. Use these tips to help stay fit at any age.

20s
Your 20-something years are all about establishing good habits. As grown-up responsibilities begin to set in, the stress of joining the workforce, paying bills and possibly even getting married can take up a lot of time and attention. Make your health and fitness a priority by eating less takeout, getting enough fruits and veggies, and setting up a consistent exercise regimen.

30s
The sad truth is that your metabolism begins to slow down when you’re in your 30s. Eating consistent meals and choosing healthy, balanced snacks like vegetables and hummus can help keep energy levels high and prevent overeating. It’s also a great time to increase cardiovascular exercise to help promote heart health. Kara Lydon, registered dietitian, yoga teacher and author of the Nourish Your Namaste e-book recommends taking your yoga practice to the next level. She says: “People in their 30s should take advantage of their strength and stamina to learn more challenging poses like inversions, arm balances and back bends … it’s also important to adopt a restorative yoga practice during this decade. Restorative yoga (supported poses held for long periods of time) will help the practitioner to feel more grounded, calm and relaxed amidst a number of life transitions.” Read more

Adjusting Your Workout When Daylight Saving Time Ends

by in Fitness, November 2, 2016

As soon as we “fall back” at 2AM this Sunday, November 6th, we lose an hour of daylight in the evening…which means it’s already dark by the time we head out of the office at the end of the day. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give up on outdoor exercise until we change the clocks again in the spring. There are plenty of ways to make your post-work walk or run safe and enjoyable — even after dark. Lisa Jhung, a veteran runner and author of Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running (VeloPress, 2015) has these tips:

Lose the Headphones
You need to be able to hear oncoming traffic and not be distracted by listening to music or a podcast. “If you absolutely can’t run without music, keep the volume very low and keep the earbud on the road side of your head out,” suggests Jhung.

Bring Your Phone
A good idea when it’s light out too — you never know when you might need to call for help. Read more