311216 Fat-the good and bad of it

311216 Fat-the good and bad of it

Just what you wanted to know entering the New Year festivities. Sometimes guilt trips work…

A key component in assessing an individual’s health and physical fitness is knowing the body composition makeup. Obesity (excessive body fat relative to body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more) and becoming overweight (Adults with BMI between 25-29.9 kg/m2 or with children being in and over the 95th percentile for their age and sex) is at epidemic proportions in the United States and the trend is gathering momentum.

Right now we are at the top of the fat list compared to the majority of the nations in the world-an unfortunate but sad fact.

Being obese brings serious health consequences and reduces life expectancy by increasing the risk of developing serious diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, aka the silent killer, type 2 diabetes, obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis and even certain kinds of cancer.

Just as too much fat in the body can cause problems, so can too little. Our body needs fat to operate in a normal physiological fashion. For example, the essential lipids such as the phospholipids are vital to cell membrane formation. The non essential lipids such as triglycerides which are found in the adipose (fat) tissue protect the body by providing a layer of thermal insulation. Fat tissue assists in storing metabolic fuel in the form of free fatty acids.

These same lipids are also involved in the storage and transport of the fat soluble A, D, E, and K vitamins and in helping to maintain the functionality of the nervous system. The menstrual cycle in females and the reproductive systems in both male and female rely on these cells, as does the growth and maturation processes of the pubescence child.

Thus, too little body fat as seen in those with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, or someone with an exercise addiction or even certain diseases such as cystic fibrosis can lead to serious physiological health related consequences.

The best option is to be in the normal range for body fat, not over or under the recommendations if you desire to have good health.

Testing the body fat levels

The previous article briefly discussed the near crisis issue of being overweight and the staggering rise of obesity in our nation. Here we are going to look behind the scenes at the testing methods that determine fat or fit.

A classification of the level of body fat relies on the standard relative body fat percentages commonly used across the world. These classifications are in turn then broken up into age, sex, and activity body fat percentages at recommended levels. Across the scale women carry more body fat than males and younger people of both sexes carry less fat than older adults. This is due to the role women have in the reproduction of our species.

What are the body composition measures used for?

Body composition measures are useful in estimating a healthy body weight and figuring out a recommended nutritional plan. Both of these components are essential in designing an exercise program that will be beneficial to the trainee. Athletes who participate in weight bracket sports such as bodybuilding and wrestling need to know their ideal weight in order to be competitive. Pediatricians and other health care professionals make note of these measurements while monitoring the growth of children and to identify those who are at risk of being under or over weight.

The population of our country is getting older and the changes in body composition are important indicators of whether the person is remaining healthy or not. In each case, the assessment of body fat helps to determine the nutritional and exercise prescription intervention strategies that play a prominent role in charting a course of action to improve health and fitness levels.

Background on the measurement procedures

The body is made up of water, protein, minerals and fat substances. Most body fat identification procedures rely upon the two component model which divides the body into two sections: fat free and the fat tissue. The fat free is made up of all the chemicals and the tissues including water, muscle and the bones. The rest is fat. The testing methods separate the water, protein and minerals from the fat and then give a percentage of lean body mass to fat mass. Stay active and healthy in your life.

291016 Reasons to exercise

291016 Reasons to exercise

The benefits of regular exercise are well known in today’s society. It has been consistently demonstrated that it leads to a healthier more productive life. Being active lowers your risk of developing heart disease, adult on set diabetes, sometimes referred to as type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. It’s not only these benefits that result from exercise, others fall into place as well.

Those who are regular participants in moderate to vigorous activities have the ability to deal with the stresses of daily life and are less likely than non-exercisers to suffer from anxiety and depression. Longevity has a direct correlation to being active. The more active you are throughout your life the greater your chances of staying healthy and living a longer life.

Following a plan of regular exercise and eating healthy foods and fluids can lower the actuary[1] predictors of coronary heart disease and stroke. Exercising regularly often times means your critical health numbers will become lower. These numbers include your blood pressure, body weight, fat composition, blood triglyceride levels, and low-density lipoproteins (LDH).

The numbers indicating good cholesterol (HDL) rise with good exercise and a healthy diet.

Blood sugar tolerance, also known as glucose tolerance, is the ability of your body to regulate the level of sugar circulating in the blood. When this tolerance becomes lower, the amount of sugar in your blood becomes higher, which may lead to diabetes. Currently, about one in four older adults are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes in the US. The studies are clear in their findings: physically active people are less likely to develop this disease then those who are sedentary. Exercise improves the ability of the body to use insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. This process maintains the blood sugar at the recommended levels.

The benefits of exercise far outweigh the time spent working out. Just of few of the reasons to exercise, include stronger bones and better mental health.

Improved bone density

Osteoporosis, a disease where the bones become fragile and fracture easily, is of concern to many older adults. This affects more women than men even though men still suffer from the disease.

Once osteoporosis has progressed to a dangerous level, even a small slip and fall can cause a broken bone, especially in the hips and wrists of a female.

Weight bearing exercise has been well documented in both medical and scientific literature to be of value in strengthening the skeletal bones. Strength training and impact exercises have a direct positive relationship to building stronger bones, particularly the long bones in the body. These types of exercises can help prevent further skeletal bone loss in those with osteoporosis.

Mental well-being is enhanced when you exercise. The release of natural chemicals into your body helps improve your outlook on life. They make the minor momentary pain of exercise feel good all day long. That’s not all there is to the role of activity and exercise in making your life batter. An added outcome of regular exercise is the ability to control your weight.

Less body weight means less stress and trauma on your lower torso joints, i.e. the hips, knees and ankles. It makes sense that the more you weigh the more these joints have to work to stay healthy. Too much bodyweight can damage the cartilage, which in turn fosters the onset of arthritis and osteoarthritis and leads to joint implants.

Remember you will never exercise your way to more lean muscle mass through a high calorie diet. Eating or drinking too many calories will not be exercised away, contrary to what the machines are telling you about the caloric expenditure for X-amount of time on them.

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

060616 Getting the most from your breathing (1/3)

Getting the most from your breathing 

Breathing, as we all know is an important function of life. It is just as important knowing how to breathe or not breathe, while lifting. Surfing through the internet will be a roller coaster ride if you are looking for helpful directions in the proper way to breathe. Some say, in fact most are saying to breathe out as you lift the weight. Unless there is a medical reason for breathing out as you enter the concentric phase of the lift don’t do it.

Breathing out works as long as the weight is light, insignificant, and puny because your body doesn’t need to stabilize itself as much. However, once the load increases up to a level that will make a difference in your strength levels, you will automatically hold your breath near to, at, and through the sticking point. Try and see for yourself.

Now I am not so naïve as to think some of you will not force yourself to consciously breathe, during the heaviest part of the lift just to show that you can do it. However, if you (or your partner if you have one) are truly paying attention to your breathing patterns, you will notice that you hold your breath during the heaviest part of the lift.

This is similar to trying to achieve muscle isolation; with light weights it may work. But once again, with heavier weights your body will reach out for assistance from surrounding muscles to complete the lift. The body does what it has to do to complete a task, whether it be recruiting other muscles or breathing adjustments.

Regarding breathing, you can make these adjustments to enhance your ability to move heavier weight. It will take a conscious effort on your part to successfully change a previous non-helpful habit such as forcing yourself to breathe out throughout the concentric portion of the heaviest part of the lift.

Instead, some coaches disregard the prebreathing phase altogether and recommend using a modified version of the Valsalva maneuver throughout the lift[1]. As previously stated, you will automatically hold your breath during the heaviest part of the lift—this is normal. What is not normal is using it throughout the entirety of the lift. Problems may arise when using the Valsalva maneuver.

[1] Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver is performed by attempting to forcibly exhale while keeping the mouth and nose closed.

 

290516 Knowing your numbers – blood pressure

290516 Knowing your numbers – blood pressure

High blood pressure is commonly referred to as the silent killer because unless it is extremely high there are no outward symptoms or signs.

High blood pressure is a contributing factor to:

  • Strokes
    • Very high pressure can cause a break in a weakened blood vessel, which then bleeds into the brain. This can cause a stroke. If a blood clot blocks one of the narrowed arteries, it can also cause a stroke.
  • Eyes
    • Continuous or high blood pressure can in time cause blood vessels in the eye(s) to burst or bleed. Your vision may become blurred or otherwise impaired. This can result in blindness.
  • Arteries
    • As people age, the arteries throughout the body harden, particularly those in the heart, brain, and kidneys. High blood pressure is associated with and is a direct contributor to these stiffer arteries. This in turn, causes both the heart and kidneys to work harder to do their job of keeping the body healthy.
  • Kidney
    • The job of the kidneys is to act as filters to rid the body of wastes. Over time, high blood pressure can narrow and thicken the blood vessels of the kidneys. Once this happens the kidneys filter less fluid. This causes waste to build up in the blood. At this point, the kidneys may fail altogether. When this happens, medical intervention is necessary and treatment in the way of dialysis or a kidney transplant are distinct possibilities.
  • Heart
    • A major risk factor for heart attack is high blood pressure. Throughout the body, the arteries bring oxygen-enriched blood to the heart muscle. Without enough oxygen in the heart, chest pain, known as angina, can occur. If this blood flow back to the heart is blocked, a heart attack results.
  • Congestive Heart Failure
    • High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF is a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs.

Therefore, it’s important to know whether not you have high blood pressure. And the only way you know this is to have your blood pressure checked.

Blood pressure is both measured, and displayed with two numbers. The first number is a systolic this is the highest pressure in the arteries when your heart beats. The second number is the diastolic pressure. This, the lowest number, is when your heart is resting between strokes.

The ideal blood pressure is under 120 over 80. Anything above these two numbers is either pre-hypertension or hypertension. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high blood pressure. About two-thirds of people over the age of 65 have high blood pressure.

If you have had your blood pressure checked and it is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then you have prehypertension.

300416 A lack of sleep may lead to a host of health problems

300416 A lack of sleep may lead to a host of health problems

Many people find a direct association between a lack of sleep with being irritable and tired and having difficulty focusing on tasks. It has even been shown that there is a delayed reaction time with being sleepy. This,can make you dangerous when driving down the road.

However, there are other less obvious health consequences of not getting enough sleep. A recent study found that those who regularly incur the sleep debt were more susceptible, by almost three times, to getting a cold. These people were compared to others who slept a minimum of eight hours a night.

It was also discovered that people who had difficulty in falling asleep or had a fitful night’s sleep of tossing and turning were 5 1/2 times more likely to catch a cold than others were who slept soundly for eight or more hours a night.

A more ominous problem arises with those who regularly sleep less than six hours a night. They have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure or worsening an existing high blood pressure condition. A person with high blood pressure or untreated high blood pressure increases their risk of a stroke and other heart problems. Sleep researchers believe that poor sleep prevents the normal nightly decline of blood pressure, which is common to those who sleep eight hours or more.

This continuous lack of sleep also hurts your body’s ability to control and manage its stress hormones, which over time contributes to higher blood pressure numbers. If you didn’t already know it by now, high blood pressure is a killer and must be controlled.

Frequently observed in those who don’t sleep well at night are migraines or tension headaches. However, this connection is not well developed but is certainly thought to be a contributing factor to these types of headaches. Oddly enough, not only is sleeping less than six hours a possible factor that leads to these headaches but also sleeping more than eight hours maybe just as bad for those who suffer from this problem.

If you are not getting at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, then you may want to consider talking to your doctor. There are strategies that can help you sleep better.

Some of the more obvious include:

  • Making changes to your sleep routine, including setting up your bedroom to exclude as much light as possible, keeping it cool and quiet,
  • Making behavioral changes in your going to sleep ritual,
  • Getting a better handle on your acute or chronic pain,
  • Cautious and thoughtful use of sleeping pills or
  • Even treatment for a sleeping disorder

Getting a good night’s sleep can lead to better physical health.

290216 Eating clean

290216 Eating clean

The experts at Tufts University set out the basic principles of eating clean as described in the book Eating Clean for Dummies. These are simple, common sense, guidelines that follow good dietary advice.

Start out with whole foods, preferably right from the farm that produced them. These would include such food items as whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and chemical free meat. Included in this area will be low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts (Costco sells these and they are delicious) and many varieties of seeds.

Some people believe that if the food is frozen, it detracts from the nutrients. This is not so, because by neglecting the frozen food isle in the store, you miss the great food choices such as the countless fruits and vegetables available there. Don’t forget the canned beans either. Rinse the liquid off of them first and then have at it in your salads or other dishes.

The most recommended advice from numerous sources is to avoid processed foods. This means any food with a label on it. If you actually do this, you miss out on many healthful options. For example, sugar is processed but so are the other options that are sugar such as agave syrup, fruit concentrate, or honey. The message here is to lower your intake of sugar regardless of its source.

Eating clean means figuring out what are the best options for your eating habits. Some have success grazing all day with five to six small meals during the day. Others stick to a more traditional three meals, with healthy snacks between them. Just make sure the food you eat is more nutrient dense with fewer unhealthy fats, less sugar, and lower sodium contents.

Whether you like to cook or don’t like to cook, the fact of the matter is if you cook your own food, you decide the contents. This can mean less sugar, less fat and less sodium in each meal all of which contribute to a healthier eating style. Plus you may save money too.

The last bit of advice from the experts at Tufts University is to make healthy food choice every day. Choose from the tremendous options of foods in the stores and make certain to get all three categories in your meals. These include the lean proteins found in fish, chicken, and vegetables. Stock up on whole grains of all sorts and use them in your cooking along with high fiber carbs and unsaturated fats[1].

Alter your eating habits one at a time; soon you will notice the benefits of the changes in your health and overall self-confidence.

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550

Monounsaturated fatty acids. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.