210117 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

210117 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

If you are using a pedometer, keep in mind that step counts are not particularly accurate when it comes to high-intensity exercise measurements or of the quality of this type of exercise. You will be far better off getting a good heart rate monitor to track your exercise intensity. Once you have the monitor then set your sights on getting the necessary amount of minutes each day of cardio exercise.

The current recommendations of aerobic training are five days a week of moderate paced exercise for thirty to sixty minutes a day or at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week. On the other hand, if you are already doing this amount then up the ante and go for twenty to sixty minutes a day of vigorous-intensity exercise for at least seventy-five minutes a week.

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.

100916 Timing your meals to increase the effectiveness of your workouts

100916 Timing your meals to increase the effectiveness of your workouts

Morning workouts may be somewhat better for weight loss. There is some evidence showing that more fat is burned when exercising before eating breakfast. This may be because when exercising later on these sessions will be fueled by the proteins and carbohydrates from meals eaten earlier in the day.

However, if you have any type of a heart disease, working out in the morning may not be your best option because your risk of a heart attack is slightly elevated.

Some of the research is showing that exercise in the afternoon may be better for building strength and endurance. These same studies are showing that your aerobic capacity, coordination, flexibility, muscle strength, and reaction time show the greatest training peak between 1600 and 1900 hrs.

Even though the research is becoming clearer as to the best time to exercise each day, it is not going to make a hill of beans if these times are not good for you.

Each day is special, and each day you have to make a conscious decision as to when you are going to work out. The more habitual this workout time becomes the better the chances are that you are going to stick with it over the long haul.

As for deciding what time to eat your biggest meal of the day, you may want to keep this in mind: stuffing yourself at the local buffet shortly before going to bed will almost guarantee you of a poor night’s sleep because your body is working to digest all the food you ate.

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.

080816 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

080816 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

New research recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a link between weight and memory loss in older women. An analysis of data gathered from 8,745 women, aged 65-79, showed no signs of dementia at the beginning of this study. Things changed.

Throughout the study, periodic body mass index (BMI) measurements were taken on the participants.

The researchers found that for every increase in the BMI unit, memory loss also increased when measured from the memory test. This is not unexpected.

Clearly, from all the scientific studies conducted over the years, there is a direct link between excess body fat and heart disease. The fact is that for every risk for cardiovascular disease there is also a risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the findings were not inconsistent with other data gathered relating to weight gain, cardiovascular health, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The question may arise as to what is a good BMI number. The standard reply is between 18.5 for a normal weight, 24.9; 25-29.9 is considered overweight and 30 plus is obese. However, these numbers should be viewed with caution if you are athletic and muscular. For the purposes of the study, the women were neither athletic nor muscular.

Some dietitians believe that individuals over seventy may be better off if their BMI scores are slightly higher, i.e. 25-27, than recommended by the BMI charts. The reasoning behind this lies in the definition of the ideal weight, which can change, as we get older.

Shedding weight does not seem complicated; eat less, exercise more. However, there is more to it than that. There are dietary changes one can make in cutting weight safely. Putting these changes into effect is another matter though. Here are few ideas to help.

Enjoy frequent but smaller nutritionally balanced meals.
Leave fried foods off the menu.
Eat more fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods add more fiber to your diet.
When cooking, use canola or olive oils. They are healthy monounsaturated fats that your body needs to function.
If you are over fifty, add more lean proteins such as chicken and turkey, without the skin and fish.
Cut back on the simple sugars in your diet. Consider whether you actually need that pop or sugar based fruit drink. You probably don’t.

To get a kick start in losing weight begin with a daily log of what you eat and drink. These diaries help maintain the focus on healthy eating and make you accountable for the calories going into your body each day.

Additional actions that will lower your BMI are aerobic and anaerobic exercise five to six days a week. Not only will exercise help with weight loss but it can help raise your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

You may be thinking that losing a lot of weight until you are under the BMI recommendations would be even better. However, this is not the case.

If you are under the numbers on the chart, you may be at risk of being or becoming malnourished, which can lead to other health related issues such as osteoporosis.

Admittedly, some older citizens may unintentionally be losing weight by not be eating enough nutrients due to poor teeth or dentures, decreased appetite, and in certain instances difficulty in swallowing their food. If this is your case, see your doctor. If not then consider eating more frequently each day.

Eating smaller, but balanced, meals five to six times throughout the day will help you gain weight. Foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, poultry and whole grains taste great and make it easier to add the calories to your diet.

If you are still unable to lose that excess fat then it is time to seek the counsel of a registered dietician. These professionals will closely examine your habits, lifestyle, overall health then create a well thought out outline for you to follow in regaining your health.

Not only will losing weight help to keep your memory intact it also contributes to less pain in the joints, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar control, which assists in diabetes and cardio management.

260616 Getting ready for a joint replacement-part four

260616 Getting ready for a joint replacement-part four

According to the National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, which is a part of the National Institute of Health, there are over 1 million Americans having a hip or knee replaced every year. Research, over the years, has found that even if you are older a joint replacement will increase your ability to move around with less pain.

Once you are home, you need to notify your doctor immediately if:

  • The area around the surgical site looks red or begins to drain fluids. Examples include, bruising or nosebleeds.

You recognize one or more of these common signs of an infection.

  • a fever,
  • increased redness or swelling,
  • your skin feels hot,
  • more drainage from the site,
  • color changes in the drainage, or
  • more pain than before

Notify your surgeon of any new symptom, such as a pain that gets worse or refuses to go away with medication

Moreover, call them immediately if you experience any pain or notice swelling in your calf or have shortness of breath because this can be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which is a clot forming in your lower leg.

If you notice any of these symptoms of a DVT, don’t massage your calf. Immediately call your doctor. Don’t wait, even if it is after hours, call so you can be examined and if necessary treated. You may have to go to the Emergency Room.

This is a serious condition, don’t treat it lately.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the calf that gets worse when you pull your foot forward
  • Increased skin temperature in the area over your calf

Any pain or difficulty in walking after the joint replacement that has suddenly occurred should be a red flag. Your doctor needs to know about this especially if the recovery up to this time has been going smoothly.

It cannot be emphasized too much that you must listen to and follow your surgeon’s recommendations and guidelines.

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.

071013 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life – part six – Following the Mediterranean style diet may be better for your overall health and quality of life.

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life – part six – Following the Mediterranean style diet may be better for your overall health and quality of life.

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

Following the Mediterranean style diet may be better for your overall health and quality of life.

As a refresher, the Mediterranean diet consists of eating fish, fruits and nuts, olive oil, vegetables and whole grains. It has been linked to lowering the risks of numerous chronic, potentially preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the metabolic syndrome here is a brief explanation from the National Heart Lung And Blood Institute.

Metabolic (met-ah-BOL-ik) syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.

In this explanation, “heart disease” refers to coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary (heart) arteries.

Plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart muscle. This can lead to chest pain, a heart attack, heart damage, or even death.

Metabolic Risk Factors

The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

• A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
• A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.
• A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.
• •High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup. High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

After reviewing the syndrome and the problems associated with the conditions listed perhaps, the Mediterranean style diet is more appealing. A study, recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 11,015 students attending an unnamed University for four years. At the conclusion each one was asked to rate their mental and physical health. The researchers found that those who closely adhered to the Mediterranean over the four years scored higher on the quality of life issues in the questionnaire. In their report, the scientists stated, “adherence to the Mediterranean diet seems to be a factor importantly associated with a better health-related quality of life.”

Potential changes in behavior considerations

By knowing the damage the diseases of the metabolic syndrome cause and then reviewing the Mediterranean diet and the potential health benefits of following such a plan, perhaps now is the time to seriously consider changing our dietary eating habits.

230913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part three – Using a tape measure to assess your risk for sudden cardiac death

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part three – Using a tape measure to assess your risk for sudden cardiac death

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

Using a tape measure to assess your risk for sudden cardiac death

A person with excess belly fat, as determined by the waist to hip ratio formula has a 40% greater risk of dying due to a sudden heart problem. A sudden death means dying within an hour of the onset of symptoms.

In a presentation to the Heart Rhythm Society, 301 cases of sudden cardiac death within 15,156 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study who were between the ages of 45 and 64 died over 12.6 years. At the beginning of the twelve-year period each individual was tested using the three common measures of obesity, which are Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and waist to hip ratios.

Originally, all three measures were linked with a higher risk of suffering a sudden cardiac event. After making adjustments for other conditions also linked with obesity such as high blood pressure and diabetes it was found that the waist to hip ratio was a “significant predictor of risk.” Those in the top 1/5 of the ratio had waist to hip measures of 0.97 or higher for women and 1.01 or higher for men, indicating a waist roughly as big as the hips.”

Those in “the lowest 1/5 had ratios of less than 0.82 for women in less than 0.92 for men.”

The danger of too much belly fat, according to the researchers, is due to the “effects of inflammation, which in turn can lead to fibrosis in the heart muscle.” Additionally too much belly fat puts unneeded pressure on the kidneys which by the very nature of their makeup is one of our body’s fragile organs.

The take-home message here is to calculate your waist to hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Healthy numbers are:

  • “Women with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 0.8 are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution.
  • Men with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 1.0 are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution. “ (1)

If it is too high then do something to alter it by changing your diet and getting more exercise.

(1) The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)).

110913 Exercising to lose fat

Exercising to lose fat

There is evidence that more body fat, rather than sugar, is burned with prolonged easy to moderate exercise. This conjures up the vision of untold hours on a boring bicycle, elliptical, or treadmill machine. However, just because the body may be using more fat than sugar during these long exercise periods, it has not been determined whether there is much of a physiological difference in the body’s use of these two fuels.

This specifically relates to how much fat or weight you are going to lose with either method.

It is a well-known fact that in order to lose fat and increase your lean muscle mass you have to exercise. It is also a fact that if you exercise consistently and if you burn more calories than you take in from food or drink you will lose weight.

Perhaps one of the reasons people lose weight on a moderately intense but prolonged type of exercise is that they stick with it. It is much easier to plod along than it is to really hit it hard with a vigorous, intense exercise session. Either type of exercise will help you lose weight. You just have to stick with it.

If you are the type of person that wants to hit it hard and lose weight, try interval training. Exercising in this manner means you are going to intersperse bursts of high intensity vigorous activity with much easier activity. The reason interval training works is because the extra high intensity bursts generally do not last very long and this allows your body to catch up during the moderate activity.

Interval training offers a challenge enabling the exercise session to continue longer than it would be if it were all high-intensity movements. Because of the high intensity periods combined with the moderately paced times, your overall calorie usage is higher than when simply doing moderate paced activities.

But keep in mind you will NEVER be able to exercise enough to lose weight if you have a poor diet unless you have an eating disorder. If this is the case, then seek professional help.