Days get crazy – even if we start them with the best of intentions and a “plan” to attack the to-do list. Trust me, I get it. I have roughly 10-12 articles due a month for various organizations and sometimes I even need to remind myself to get up every 90 minutes and move. Given that 2/3 of the country struggles suffers from poor health, we can safely assume that same 2/3 struggle with daily movement. Below are the tactics I employ throughout my day (following my morning workout) to keep the blood flowing freely and the calories burning. Continue reading “Top 10 Sneaky Ways to Fit in Fitness During the Day”
Happy March, All! Thanks for your continued readership and loyalty to this blog. I took the last two weeks as a sabbatical from Be Live Stay Well to do some self-healing. Last month marked the three-year anniversary of my father’s unexpected and untimely passing. I needed that time to process and continue to honor the grief that I still feel. But, as he would want, I am moving forward and am dedicating this blog post to some fun and fast workout ideas that I find challenging and a change from the mainstream.
Beating Workout Boredom
What is a pre-exercise warm-up?
Think about a warm-up in the context of starting your car in the middle of winter. It is unrealistic to expect that we can demand peak performance from an engine that has been sitting – cold and quiet for a period of hours. The engine of the human body is no different. Warming up is a crucial part of achieving peak performance in physical activity, exercise and training. Unfortunately, the warm-up segment of a workout, much like flexibility, is often not given the attention it truly deserves. A warm-up does not need to be long to be effective – it simply needs to be done right. Continue reading “To Warm Up before Exercise or Not? What’s the Point?”
If the title of this post sounds preposterous, trust your instincts! But now that I have your attention, let’s explore the real science behind this myth. The truth: at rest and during low-intensity activity when oxygen supply matches oxygen demand the body primarily utilizes fats for fuel. So while you drive a car, listen to music, read a book, type an email, or take a leisurely stroll – your body metabolizes fats to keep you going. This allows the body to preserve the carbohydrate stores (found in the muscle and liver as glycogen) for those more demanding bouts of activity. The problem: this bit of science has been continually misinterpreted and misrepresented to provide unassuming individuals with the recommendation to exercise at a lower heart rate in order to lose weight and burn body fat. This, at best, is exercise quackery. Continue reading “Goal: Lose Weight; Solution: Keep the Heart Rate Low”
Get. Your. Lift. On!
Strength training is a common practice among many recreational athletes. But for some individuals, the concept of strength training remains a mystery and the very idea of engaging in such an activity sends them swiftly running in the other direction. The truth: including strength training as part of a lifestyle is one of the most effective ways of enhancing health and well-being for both the body and the mind.
As time marches on, lean tissue (muscle mass) begins to decline. As a result, metabolic rate slows, body fat increases, joints lose flexibility, and daily tasks become more difficult and taxing to accomplish. There is good news! By adding resistance exercises, we can limit age-related muscle loss. The hardest part is just getting started, but with a few helpful tips, building strength – at any age – is achievable.
- Set a goal. Determine a training frequency that fits your lifestyle and needs.
- Start slow. If you do not have prior weight training experience, it is best to start out slow with a manageable routine. Begin with 2 days a week and progress from there.
- It’s all about the form. It is critical to learn the proper way to perform an exercise. Using proper form will avoid injury and lead to the desired outcome. If you are unsure how to do an exercise ask for assistance from a qualified professional (someone with a reputable certification – not a .com “I’m a personal trainer because I took a 50 question multiple-choice test and guessed well”).
- Present a challenge. In order to become stronger, muscles need a challenge. Perform resistance exercises at a level beyond what the muscles are accustomed to experiencing.
- Rest and recovery: Just like our minds, our muscles need rest to rebuild and recover. It is best to give muscle groups a 48 hour recovery period in between workouts. This means if you worked lower body on Monday you would wait until Wednesday before repeating the routine.
- Home or Gym? Research the different options. Strength training does not have to be done in a gym. Resistance bands and medicine balls are great tools in addition to dumbbells and machines. Remember, body weight is also resistance! The choice is yours. It’s the effort, commitment, and consistency that really matter!
- Be wise. It is always a good idea to seek medical clearance and/or advice before beginning or changing a routine. Consider informing your primary care physician or other healthcare professional of your plans.
In addition to increased lean tissue, improved bone-density, increased metabolic rate, increased strength of tendons and ligaments, and enhanced joint range of motion, resistance training is an effective way to relieve stress and manage daily tasks with ease. So, don’t be afraid – throw your weigh around. Your body and mind will thank you!
Here’s a question to ponder…
Heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are cited as the world’s leading causes of death – in that order (CDC, 2007). All of those diseases can be linked to sedentary behavior. So, is the real culprit and leading cause of death too much sitting?
Perhaps not officially identified as such (yet) by statistics and epidemiology, but I wonder – is it just a matter of time before the list changes to: sitting is the leading cause of death by its facilitation of the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes?
Check out this TED Talk on the subject. Quite interesting and the speaker is funny (always a bonus in my book).
Too much sitting (as revealed by previous research and literature) contributes to decreased mental health, increased risk of chronic disease and a greater risk of developing disabilities later on in life (Sitting Too Much May Harm Health -WebMD). Caveat – this same research has revealed that even if someone engages in daily physical activity, sitting the majority of the day is still problematic. In other words, a quality workout could be undone by too much sedentary behavior. This is what we refer to as “actively sedentary”.
Too much sitting “has been linked to cardiovascular events like heart attack, heart disease, overall death and death from cancer” (Dr. LaCroix, Director of Women’s Health Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego). Yikes. Not good, but good that research is starting to make some connections. Science has not quite figured out what the specific cause-effect relationship is – researchers emphasize the word link versus proven. Research has linked too much sitting to these conditions/diseases. Science has a long road to go before anything is conclusive. Some postulate (based on their findings) the following to potentially explain the dangers of too much sitting:
- Sitting causes muscles to burn less fat and blood flow to slow.
- Sitting may increase appetite causing us to consume more.
- We often use poor posture when we sit, which does not do our core muscles any favors.
- Metabolic processes tend to lag when seated.
So what does this mean for your health and your family’s health? Simply this – be more movement conscious and intentional. I’m guilty of neglecting to take a break from my desk every now and then – especially if I have a deadline looming or a big project that needs my full attention. Here are some tricks and tips to get you (and me) up and moving.
- Invest in a standing workstation. They are phenomenal. I can say this because I have one at work and I truly love it. When I’m in my office, I sit for an hour and stand for an hour. On my standing breaks, I also take a quick walk around the building in an attempt to take at least 250 steps during that hour. If a standing desk is cost prohibitive – improvise with a tall pub-style table or high counter.
- Use your phone or a kitchen timer to set reminders to get up, stand, and move.
- Host or suggest walking meetings or, if you are running the meeting, set aside 5 minutes at the beginning for “walking and talking” as a warm-up to the discussion.
- Take standing breaks during meetings.
- Use a ball chair for an office chair (a stability ball works fine and is more affordable).
- Look for ways to break up your sit-stand time throughout the day – even during off hours at home. Get up during commercials – do jumping jacks or burpees or march/jog in place. Be creative!!
As I ponder the statistics the available body of literature has published, there is one common problem and we are sitting on it. Let’s all make a commitment to be movement conscious throughout the day. Our bodies were made for movement – sitting is not a way of life. Get movin’!
Until next time…Meet you and the Well.
Good day, Well members!
I’d like to focus today’s discussion on unique fitness needs, so your participation and responses will be welcomed (as always)!
If there is one “golden rule” in the fitness industry it’s this: Always approach each client as the individual he or she is and craft a routine that safely and effectively meets the client’s needs, goals, preferences. In other words, there’s no “one size fits all” approach in this world. Client’s are rarely “textbook”. Yes, there are certain textbook cases (special populations, risk stratification factors, pregnancy status, etc.) that require us to follow certain standard guidelines. However, this does not mean every pregnant client one has will, can, or should follow the same program. If you’re training the right way, you will always feel as if you’re starting from square 1. This is a good thing!
As a professional, I’m constantly quizzed by colleagues, friends, and students about “what exercises would be right for me?” A question I both LOVE and FEAR. I love it because I love what I do and I love sharing my passion and helping people live their best life. I fear it because the answer is never easy. The best advice is tailored advice. For me (or any health and fitness professional) to provide such advice, a deeper conversation must occur – one that takes in to account what the individual truly hopes to accomplish (the goal), what the individual enjoys (the likes and dislikes), and what unique risk factors (the possible contraindications) may or may not have an impact.
With that said, in absence of opportunities for a one-on-one comprehensive assessment with those of you who are interested, I would still be happy to provide tips, tricks, and/or ideas for quick and convenient workouts.
We all get in a rut – even the professionals. I’m always joking with my hubby that I need to hire my own personal trainer! Haha.
Okay, back to the serious part of this post: part of the purpose of this blog is not just to share knowledge, but to provide ideas for helping each of you live your best life. To do that, I’d like to gather your feedback (this, of course, is assuming anyone is actually following this blog and I’m not aimlessly and fecklessly stringing together different combinations of 26 letters…:)).
Please feel free to comment (or write to me privately) as to what you’d like to see. Do you want to know the best types of exercise for X? Or get a suggestion for a 15 minute calorie blast workout? Something to do in your office on breaks? Convenient at-home options? Whatever the topic or question – hit me with it. I’ll do all that I can to provide you with that you need.
Until next time…Meet you at the Well.