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190218 Blood pressure, daily walking and the connection with being overweight

190218 Blood pressure, daily walking and the connection with being overweight

If you are overweight, then daily walking may not dramatically decrease your blood pressure. The healthy benefits that walking has on the blood vessels of a normal weight person may be lost on the overweight individual.

In general, terms this means that your arteries are not widening and the blood flow is not improved with walking, thus your blood pressure may not change to more optimum numbers.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern conducted a study that analyzed over 35,000 Caucasian men and women. Each person in the study had regular checkups that included measurements of their Body Mass Index (BMI), and readings of their systolic blood pressure each visit. Additionally these participants exercised at each visit so their fitness levels could be assessed. The results may give anyone who is overweight a reason to reassess their situation.

The results were published in the American heart journal and they revealed that a normal weight person had an average of 12 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure than one who was obese. The blood pressure of the fittest was only 6 mmHg lower than for those who were least fit. Still, that wasn’t all they found.

After analyzing the blood pressure, BMI, and fitness data of the participants, they found that physical fitness was an important element in lowering blood pressure in those of a normal weight person. However, it was not as effective of a component in those who were overweight. Interestingly enough, many in this overweight group were physically fit yet their blood pressure was still high.

The take-home message here certainly indicates that diet alone may not help lower your blood pressure. The combination of losing weight, by engaging in regular exercise, and calorie counting will need to be in place before you begin to notice the beneficial effects of exercise on lowering your blood pressure.

120218 Blood pressure statistics and exercise suggestions for your information

120218 Blood pressure statistics and exercise suggestions for your information

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

High blood pressure is the direct cause of thousands of needless deaths a year. Here are just a few of the facts about hypertension.

  • 878,421 people died if cardiovascular disease and stroke in 2000. Or one in CVD for every 313 Americans who died.
  • 90% of 55 year olds will develop hypertension in their lifetime.
  • 50 million Americans have Hypertension, one out or every five of us!
  • The higher the blood pressure the higher the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.
  • In adults over 50 systolic numbers over 140 is an important number to stay below.

Systolic/Diastolic

  • Optimal: under 120 under 80

See a doctor for any of the following:

  • Pre-hypertensive: 120/39-80-89
  • 140-159 or 90-99
  • 160-179 or 100-109
  • 180-209 or 110-119
  • 210 or more 120 or more

Signs of hypertension:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Vision changes or problems
  • Excessive sweating
  • Paleness or redness of the skin
  • Nosebleeds
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Palpitations
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Impotence
  • Headaches

Stressors

  • Lack of Exercise
  • Smoking

Weight control

  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Loud, consistent noises

High blood pressure causes:

  • Death from stroke
  • Coronary events
  • Heart failure

Mitigating measures:

  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Maintain adequate intake of potassium
  • Follow the DASH diet
  • Maintain adequate intake of calcium and magnesium
  • Reduce dietary intake of saturated fats and cholesterol
  • Smoking-cut back or stop
  • Weight control-get within normal range
  • Diet-follow doctors advise
  • Stressors-eliminate or mitigate
  • Alcohol-cut back
  • Loud, consistent noises-protect yourself

DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION UNLESS AND UNTIL YOU CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR

Regular exercise:

  • Slows progression of renal failure
  • Prevents progression to more severe hypertension
  • Reduces all-cause mortality

Exercise methods used to control or reduce high blood pressure:

  • Resistance training
  • Muscular endurance
  • Circuits
  • 100’s
  • Rapid quick sessions
  • W:R of 1:1

Cardio training

  • 5-7 times per week
  • 20-40 minutes per session
  • 40%-70% @ maximum heart rate
  • 5-7 times per week
  • 10 minute bursts
  • Total time-30-45 minutes
  • 40%-70% @ maximum heart rate

“Losing 10 pounds will help remarkably” “If you don’t have time for physical activity, you will find time for illness.” Dr. Edward J. Roccella, coordinator of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.

050218 Blood Pressure Basics The effects of exercise on blood pressure

050218 Blood Pressure Basics The effects of exercise on blood pressure

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

High blood pressure is the direct cause of thousands of needless deaths a year. Here are just a few of the facts about hypertension.

Dr. Laura Svetkey, director of the Duke Hypertension Center at Duke University states. “Americans can keep blood pressure low if they: keep trim, exercise, cut back on saturated fats, limit alcohol and sodium, increase dietary potassium and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables”. http://www.bupa.co.uk/

There are positive, and negative, effects on our blood pressure when we exercise or exert ourselves physically and/or mentally.

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. One in FIVE Americans has Hypertension. Many do not even know they have it, thus the term “the silent killer” It is not uncommon for young people to have hypertension.

Blood pressure is measured by stopping the blood flow for a few seconds and then beginning again. The amount of pressure the monitor detects accurately reflects the resistance your heart is pushing against each time it beats. The monitor works in the following fashion:

The arm cuff is placed on the upper arm or forearm. The brachial artery is then pinched off to stop the flow of blood. The circulation is briefly cut off, and then the air is let out of the cuff. The first heartbeat heard is the Systolic and the last one heard is the Diastolic.

Systolic pressure is the upper number in the formula

  • When the heart contracts to pump out the blood. Pressure is highest during this phase of the process

Diastolic pressure is the lower number.

  • The heart relaxes after pumping. Pressure drops to its lowest point just before a new beat.

Pre-hypertensive

Previously pressure readings below 130/85 were considered normal.

Previously readings above 130-139 over 85-89 were considered to be in the high normal range.

290118 Changing your physical activity habits

290118 Changing your physical activity habits

Here we are, into the New Year and already many people have broken at least one New Year’s resolution. Are you one of them? If so, now could be the perfect time to step back and reevaluate why you’ve fallen off the wagon and are about to end up under the wheels.

New Year’s resolutions most often involve changing habits and that takes time. Your old habits won’t change in a flash. They weren’t developed that quickly and won’t go away that fast either.

Here are a few suggestions that may help you successfully succeed in achieving this year’s resolutions. They involve creating new habits to replace the old ones that are not working for you.

  1. Use your resolutions as your goal list. It is already written down or should be. Take this readymade list and divide it up into long term, intermediate and short term relatively easy to achieve goals. Tell others about them and begin developing your support group to help your reach each one.
  2. Change takes time and if you try to change everything at once then nothing will change. Go slowly in making these changes.
  3. Pick out the smallest and easiest habit you want to get rid of.
  4. These changes will take upwards of three to four months to complete. Develop and secure one small success at a time and then move onto the next one on your list.
  5. Since you have decided, or at least considered deciding, to begin with the smallest change on your list let me give you an example of a small something that you can do immediately. Grab a pen and paper and write down what you most recently ate or drank. Do this for a week, you will be surprised at the stuff you are putting into your body.
  6. If you want to start exercising, start small. Ride or walk for five minutes every day. No excuses just get the time in. Soon these few minutes will become easier to do and you will want to increase the time spent doing them. These minutes, short as they are, are the future building blocks toward more physical activity.
  7. If you expect these habit changes to be a walk in the park you are setting yourself up for failure. Life brings with it setbacks. How you handle them will ultimately determine your success or failure at making these habit changes permanent.
  8. If you didn’t reach a goal, reset it and go at it again. Don’t give up. The world is full of quitters, figure out where and why you didn’t meet the goal, readjust and move on. You can’t change the past, it’s over but you can change your future. Don’t waste time looking back; instead, keep focused on the goal.
  9. If today is not changed then tomorrow will not be any different.

220118 Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

220118 Burning off the calories and keeping healthy

Physical activity burns calories. The optimum method of controlling your weight is a combination of good nutrition (see a registered dietitian), and exercise. The question now is what kind of exercise is the most efficient and longest lasting in its effects.

Many people use aerobics to successfully to help control their weight and improve their physical fitness while others use strength training to achieve similar goals.

In each case, physical activity speeds up your metabolism for a few hours afterwards. Of course, how much this materializes depends a great deal on the intensity and duration of the activity. Nonetheless, it happens and at a higher rate than if you did nothing at all.

The best way to keep this higher rate of calorie burning is to strength train. The reason: strength training increases your lean muscle to fat ratio. The higher this ratio is the more your body burns the calories because muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue.

Strive to strength train 2-4 times a week for a minimum of thirty to fifty minutes at a time. Do your large muscle groups such as the chest, shoulders, legs, and back for 3-5 sets of 8 to twelve repetitions for each exercise. On the off days from strength training, do your aerobic training for fifteen to forty minutes per session.

No matter which method you choose, consult with your doctor beforehand, keep the intensity up, and stick with it.

 

150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2

150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2 

There are different styles of Tai-Chi, some are more aggressive than others and involve faster paced movements. Those most commonly practiced utilize gentle slower motions that are suitable for everyone.

As with anything in life there are positives and negatives in the practice of Tai-Chi. The pros seem to outweigh the cons though in these respects:

  • The movements are self-paced and non competitive, which to a competitive person may be a negative attribute.
  • The physical space requirements are negligible as well as the attire. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy gear to take part in Tai-Chi. It’s easy to do; you can do it anyplace and anytime either alone or with others. Once you become accustomed to the activity and more proficient in the art then you can add in your own to make it even more individualized and specific to your needs.

The negatives are almost non existent but do include the usual warnings of possible soreness if the first few sessions are overdone beyond your current physical fitness levels.

Beginning a new activity starts with learning how to do it correctly. In the case of Tai-Chi this will mean seeking out a competent instructor who will guide you in the technical aspects of posture and movement. Pay strict attention to your breathing and body position throughout the training session. Develop the ability to perform the motions effortlessly and without conscious thought. Doing so helps avert muscle strains and damaged joints.

Tai-Chi classes are taught throughout the world. In the United States contact your local senior center, the YWCA or YMCA or check with the gyms in your area. You can even look it up on the internet; there are scores of sites listed.

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

Tai-Chi is an ancient art that uses a series of gentle continuous movements which place an emphasis on joint leverage based on coordination and relaxation instead of muscular tension. Practioners of the art have discovered increased balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular benefits. The elderly have reduced their risk of falling after learning and applying Tai-Chi training practices.

Healthy individuals also have reported reduced pain while using Tai-Chi as an alternative exercise method along with lowered blood pressure readings, decreased pain from arthritis and the effects of multiple sclerosis.

Progressively self paced, Tai-Chi is a noncompetitive gentle exercise that is performed in a very specific defined series of movements and postures. Each of which flows gracefully and slowly from one to another without a pause.

A major benefit to older people is the reductions in falls that accompany the art of Tai-Chi due to the increased enhancement of their balance and coordination skills. Since these movements are low impact they place minimal stress on the joints and muscles which is ideal in some situations for those with advanced arthritis or osteoporosis.

Anecdotally the relationship of Tai-Chi to reduced stress, increased flexibility, improved muscle strength and definition along with the development of greater energy, stamina and agility are well documented. These benefits all contribute to a greater sense of well being. However the art has not been scientifically studied until recently. The findings, thus far, are supportive of the anecdotal reports.

The scientific research into Tai-Chi have indicated reduced anxiety and depression, improved balance and coordination which helps to reduce falls in those prone to falling and improved sleep patterns. The time spent in sleeping was found to be longer and with greater alertness reported during the following day.

Practicing Tai-Chi was shown to slow bone loss in post menopausal women an especially important issue to those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. It also reduced high blood pressure and improved cardiovascular fitness along with providing relief from chronic pain. All of these healthy benefits made for better daily living functioning.

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

A brief snapshot of Insulin resistance and why it is important to avoid.

This condition causes the body’s muscles, fat and liver cells to improperly respond to insulin. The pancreas makes the hormone, insulin. This hormone helps the cells take in and use glucose which in turn is a fuel used by the body to function. If there is not enough circulating insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream and increases the potential for developing diabetes. It is in everyone’s best interest to have as much lean muscle mass as possible to possibly avoid this serious medical condition, especially as you get older.

One of the unwelcome conditions of aging is muscular frailty, also known as sarcopenia[1]. Without strong muscles, coordination and balance problems begin to appear. These problems may be held at bay by greater lean muscle mass. A new study reports that increasing skeletal muscle mass by as little as 10%, is also associated with an 11% reduction in the body’s resistance to insulin and a 12% lower risk of developing transitional, prediabetes or diabetes.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles look at the data and 13,644 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Since these people were involved in the study between years of 1988 to 1994, the research is somewhat old. However when the muscle mass of one quarter of the participants was compared between those with the most muscle mass and those at the bottom with the least muscle mass, those with the greatest amount of fat three muscle mass were 63% less liable to get diabetes.

After making adjustments to leave out those with diabetes, the connection between muscle mass and improved insulin resistance became even stronger. According to the study[2], “increases in muscle mass above even average levels were associated with additional protection against insulin resistance and prediabetes.”

Not only is increasing your lean muscle mass important, but also losing weight helps to improve your metabolic health. Most of us already know that the fitter you are, the healthier you are probably going to be.

[1] Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and coordination that results from the process of aging.

[2] Preethi Srikanthan, MD of the University of California Los Angeles, USA

261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

Where you grip the bar may be the best predictor of how you will injure your shoulders. Research in England has determined that certain widths related to a person’s body size may increase your chance of becoming injured while performing the bench press. A closer look at the anatomical structure of the shoulder may help to explain why this is such a common occurrence.

The shoulder, unlike the hip joint which is a true ball and socket joint, is a semi and shallow ball and socket joint. This means the skeletal bones directly involved in the bench press motion are not mechanically secure. Unlike the hip, the integrity of the shoulder primarily relies on the muscles, ligaments and tendons to keep it intact and not the joint structures. Incidentally, in some literature the shoulder is not even considered a true joint. I consider the shoulder as a joint and as such will continue to refer to it as one.

One of the main primary structures within the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint. When bench pressing this part of the shoulder supports the weight and is subjected to the constant heavy loads of the active lifter.

While benching wide with the upper arms at or near perpendicular to the upper torso the shoulders are placed into external rotation. According to the research ‘ninety degrees of abduction combined with end of range external rotation has been defined as the “at risk position” that may increase the risk of shoulder injuries.’

Now comes the pay attention part of this article. These research findings have clearly shown that benching with a hand grip greater than or equal to ‘2’ bi-acromial widths-the distance between the acromion processes, i.e. shoulder width, is destructive to your shoulders. For the ease of conversation the bi-acromial width is basically measured at the ends of both of the collar bones.

In fact a grip width greater than 1.5 bi-acromial width increases the torque on the shoulder by 1.5 times when compared to that of a narrow grip less than 1.5 bi-acromial width.

For those of you who think that taking up a wide grip on the bar (100%-190% biacromial width) gives you additional pounds you are exactly right; it does. You may realize a slight gain of less than 5% total to your maximum with these extreme grip widths but over the long haul the cost to your shoulders may be prohibitive. At the outer ranges of width the recruitment and activation of your pectoralis major is nearly insignificant in comparison to the narrow and safer grip.

When using the narrower grip positions your triceps brachii are more involved thus making this an ideal triceps building exercise while at the same time saving your elbows from potential damage.

Summary: Constantly bench pressing with a wide grip on the bar is a prelude to an eventual shoulder injury. This is a classic case of risk versus benefit; is it worth your shoulder health to be able to bench a few more pounds?

NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal October 2007. The affect of grip width on bench press performance and risk of injury by Green, C. M. and Comfort, P.

191217 Balance

191217 Balance

Beginning around the fourth decade, we start to lose a small percentage of the ability to keep our equilibrium . Losing your balance leads to falls and possible fractures, or other injuries if not prevented.

Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.

Balance is critical to our daily living activities. Without balance, we would be constantly reaching and grasping for stable objects to prevent falling, stumbling or injuring ourselves.

Here are several variations of a basic exercise to help develop and maintain your sense of balance. Once you are able to do one exercise example for up to one minute without movement, then progress to the next example.

Make certain you are standing near a sturdy chair, or wall, to help catch your balance, if need be, in the following sequences of movement.

Basic example:
• Stand with your feet touching one another in a side by side or heel to toe fashion.
• Hold your hands at your side and close your eyes.
• Maintain this position, without swaying side to side or backward to front, for several seconds up to one minute.

Novice example:
• Assume the same position with your feet as the basic example above.
• Move your arms to the sides in a random fashion, still maintaining your balance.
• Tip your head back and continue to move your arms.
• Now close your eyes and continue the arm movements.

Intermediate example:
• Maintain the feet in the same pattern, side to side or heel to toe.
• Reach down to the front, side and the rear with one arm then the other.
• See how far you can reach down before losing your balance.
• Remember to keep your feet together and don’t sway as you reach, just reach, keep your balance and then reach in another direction.

Advanced example:
• Keep the feet in the same position as the rest of the examples.
• Tip your head back and now close your eyes.
• Move your arms in a random fashion, one arm at a time.

More advanced example:
• Feet are still in the side-by-side or heel to toe position.
• Head tipped back and eyes closed.
• Lift one leg off the floor and maintain your balance for 10-15 seconds, gradually build up your ability to remain in one position without moving about to stay upright.
Another advanced example:
• Set up is the same as the more advanced example with the simple change now of adding the reaches as mentioned in the intermediate example.
• Or you can move your head from side to side in a rapid manner while maintaining your balance.

Have fun practicing these few sample exercises, they will keep your life more balanced!

Of course there are many other ways to practice balance training but this article is not being written to list them all. Suffice it to say balance is a critical part of living a healthy life.

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