Getting in Shape Quicker in 2018

Every year we all make our lists of New Year Resolutions and promise ourselves to get in better shape. The truth is less than 7% of us will actually change anything. If you really want to change, then you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Workout like you are 19 years old and willing to really sweat and be exhausted and sore. Figure out what motivates you and what kind of workout you enjoy. If you like running, do that. If you prefer elliptical or biking, do that. And if you prefer varying your work out, mix it up.

Nobody has enough time to work out the way they want to. I try to get an hour work out in before work; unfortunately, I can usually only do 30 minutes. We need to maximize the use of the minutes we have in the gym to be as efficient as possible. Interval training has been shown to have much more benefit than standard work outs. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to be even better than interval training.

A standard workout is going on the elliptical for 20 minutes at one speed. Interval training would be varying the resistance/speed with peaks and valleys during the workout. An HIIT workout would involve making the peaks much higher pushing you where your body cannot supply enough oxygen to the working muscles. This could include not only your leg and arm muscles but also your heart muscle. The HIIT workout will require your body to recover for hours after your workout. Your metabolism will be increased and you will be burning more calories for several hours even after you are done with your training. Short but intense workout challenges are the key to HIIT.

I was caught up in my routine workout and getting bored doing the same regimen for years. Then 3 months ago I decided to go on a bike trip to South America with my 19-year-old son. I knew I had to step up my training to avoid embarrassment and so I would not feel old next to a much younger real athlete. I started biking outside and then started spin classes as the weather got colder. Also, I hired a personal trainer to kick my butt and help me do new workouts. The trainer was smart and goal-oriented helping design a legs and core workout to get me ready for the mountains of Chile. Over the next 6 weeks, I lost about 7 lbs. and dropped my waist size. I also felt better and more energetic during the day. I was well prepared and did great biking abroad.

I am competitive by nature, and this is part of what motivates me. When I am in spin class I won’t quit because I would not let the person next to me work harder. When my son passes me on the bike, I am pushing myself to keep up or even try to pass him. A lot of the work is mind over matter. Find what motivates you and use it.

Whatever physical activity you do, you need to push yourself. However, make sure your body can handle the challenge. As a physician, I advise you to know your body and realize that in doing too much you can hurt yourself. You need to know your limits and if you are uncertain talk to your own physician. It is a new year. Decide to be one of the 7% that actually change yourself for the better in 2018.

By Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital

What is the Paleo Diet?

 

Many diet gurus, workout fiends, and nutrition specialists have been touting the benefits of the Paleo diet. A Paleo diet is named appropriately because it focuses on eating foods available only in the Paleolithic Age, when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. This eliminates ALL processed foods, refined grains, cereals, and milk. Only fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and seeds are allowed. The diet makes sense because evidence has shown that processed foods and sugars are responsible for many health issues. It increases the consumption of meats, fruits, and vegetables, which add nutrients and antioxidants to the diet.

Some of the health benefits of the Paleo diet include weight loss, reduced inflammation, increased satiety, regulated blood sugar levels, and corrected nutrient deficiencies. The diet is high in protein and fat, and since it’s all-natural, it is filled with nutrient rich foods.

Foods that should be avoided on the Paleo diet are refined sugars, refined oils, dairy, legumes (including peanuts, beans, and tofu), salt, potatoes, cereal grains, starches, and alcohol. Many Paleo experts allow grass-fed butter since it is more a fat than a dairy product, but that is a little controversial. Other controversial foods are pseudo-grains, such as quinoa. Quinoa is not strictly Paleo, but some people on Paleo diets eat it from time to time. It should be avoided if weight loss is the goal or if there are gut issues.

If your goal is weight loss, certain foods that are considered Paleo should be consumed in moderation. For example, butternut squash, acorn squash, yams, sweet potatoes, and beets are starchy vegetables. While technically allowed, their high starch content increases blood sugar levels and may promote weight gain, so they should be consumed in moderation. Additionally, processed meats and meat high in fat should be avoided since they provide more calories and fat. While fruits are Paleo-approved, they are also high in natural sugars, so consumption should be limited to once a day, with the focus on low glycemic fruits, such as berries and apples.

Some critics of the Paleo diet state that the diet may be too high in protein and difficult for many people to follow. Additionally, the diet is high in seafood. Many types of fish and shellfish are very high in toxins. However, in general, I believe the benefits of the diet far outweigh the negatives. In fact, if your goal is to lose weight in 2018, a version of the Paleo diet is a great way to start off the New Year!

 

By Denise Groothuis MS RD

For Men, Exercise is Key to Increasing Fertility

A comprehensive randomized control study that came out earlier this year suggests that engaging in moderate aerobic exercise can significantly increase male fertility rates in previously infertile men.  The study was conducted over a 24-week intervention period, with both exercise and non-exercise groups being physically similar in terms of body composition, semen quality, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.

Throughout the course of the study, measurements were taken against baseline measurements, showing significant improvements in the exercise group in following areas:  Increase in Vo2 Max, which measures aerobic capacity, an increase in semen quality and decrease in sperm DNA damage, decreased markers of oxidative stress, and decreased pro-inflammatory markers.  Furthermore, during and post intervention, there were more total pregnancies and live births in the exercise group than in the control group, which reported 0% live births.

As the exercise subjects became more aerobically active, they experienced decreased body weight and body fat during the intervention.  The decrease in oxidative stress is attributed to an increase in exercise-induced antioxidant enzymes.  It was also reported that discontinuing exercise four weeks after the intervention period was not a long enough period have a significant adverse effect on fertility and pregnancy outcomes.

The take-away for men and couples hoping to increase their fertility, is that even a little goes a long way.  Try to incorporate moderate physical activity into your lifestyle, 3-4 days/week, for at least 25 minutes per bout.  Examples of moderate physical activity include:

  1. Brisk walk
  2. Light jog
  3. Heavy cleaning
  4. Mowing the lawn
  5. Light bicycling (10-12 miles/hour)
  6. Tennis- doubles
  7. Recreational badminton
  8. Hiking
  9. Recreational swimming
  10. Kayaking in calm water

By Rima Sidhu, MS

We Now Have a Circuit Area!

Circuit training is a great way to lose weight! Check out our videos with directions  on how to complete a circuit so you can get yourself into a weight loss and exercise routine. Circuit training has many benefits.   Read this article to find out the benefits of circuit training: http://thearenafitness.com/circuit-training-for-a-new-you/

How to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for family get-togethers, office parties, and lots of delicious foods & drinks. It’s a common belief that people pack on the pounds during the holiday season. That isn’t necessarily the case. The truth is, while you may gain a couple of pounds, chances are it won’t be anything significant. The holidays don’t necessarily signify weight gain – but overindulging does, and that can happen at any time of year. The key is learning balance. It’s important to focus your time on loved ones rather than counting calories. You should enjoy yourself and some treats, but there’s no need to be reckless! Here are some tricks to beating the bulge this holiday season:

Don’t skip meals! Often times, people think that if they skip a meal it will give them more calories to use later on. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you’re doing serious damage to your metabolism when you skip meals. Your body will go into starvation mode, and instead of distributing the food the way it should, it turns to fat. Ultimately, you will end up being twice as bloated and feeling worse than if you had just had a small meal or snack prior to your party.

Bring your own healthy dish to the festivities. Let’s face it – time is of the essence this time of year. I’m sure the host will be more than appreciative for the help. Offer to make a healthy side dish or dessert. This will not only be a big help to the host, but it will allow you and your friends &/or family to enjoy the time together and not to worry about what’s on your plates.

If making something isn’t an option, practice portion control. This should be something that’s done all year round, but it’s especially important this time of year. Begin with salad or veggies and be sure to pace yourself by eating slowly before going back for seconds.

That being said, you want to choose your indulgences wisely. No one is saying you can’t have your favorite dessert or your family’s secret, delicious dish. Less is definitely more. Have a little bit of everything you really enjoy and move on. The easiest trick to ensure you won’t overindulge is to load up on water & veggies. That will keep you fuller and keep you from grazing the table.

Be realistic with time. This is another big one. Do your best to keep up with exercise – just 30 minutes a day can make a big difference physically AND mentally. This can be walking around the mall or walking when you first wake up in the morning – every little bit counts and will even serve as a great stress reliever.

Above all, focus on what’s truly important this time of year. If you do eat too much or don’t get as much time to exercise, be kind to yourself – you’re doing your best. Don’t feel guilty – just do better the next day. Life is short – don’t waste precious time agonizing over an extra serving of pie or an extra glass of egg nog. Spend that time with your loved ones; you’ll be happier for it in the long run.

Happy holidays to you & yours!

By Gina Stallone

Why Does Everything Hurt?

As we age, it seems like every day we discover a new ache or a pain in our body that never bothered us before.  Many of us are plagued by chronic pain, and we do not know how to alleviate it. Part of the issue is that we are constantly doing things during the day which exacerbate our symptoms and we don’t even realize it. Additionally, as we get older, we often forget that our bodies are not quite as resilient; after a week of sedentary behavior, we will hit the gym or play sports full force on the weekend and wind up injuring ourselves.

One of the most common complaints is lower back pain. This often results from sitting for too long and from sitting incorrectly. Sometimes lower back pain can be a result of a disc injury or arthritis, but for most of us, it is just the result of not moving enough. First, position your desk so you are sitting with proper posture. It is also important to get up for frequent breaks and to stretch and to move around. Outside the office, lower back pain can be exacerbated while exercising. It is imperative to make sure you are not using your lower back during weight lifting or other exercises. Instead, focus on activating the hips and glutes to protect your lower back during your workouts. Additionally, strengthen your core muscles to stabilize your trunk, which will also decrease the load on your back.

Another common malady is neck pain and stiffness. This can result from sitting improperly, walking incorrectly, driving with your head jutting forward, or from sleeping with you neck turned.  Also, stress and tension play a significant role in neck pain and stiffness as well.  Neck pain can increase outside during exercise as well. Often, while performing exercises, we lead with our chin and put extra pressure and strain on our necks without realizing it. Proper form and activation is key to keep the neck pain free. Meditation, stretching and other stress relief techniques are also helpful for decreasing neck pain.

Other common ailments are knee pain, joint pains, muscle strains, and carpal tunnel syndrome. If symptoms are severe and you do not see improvement, you should visit a doctor to rule out a major injury. Assuming there is no disc issue or major tear, sprain or break, many of these problems are caused by our activities of daily living and improper form during therapeutic and strength exercises. The way we sit, walk, talk on the phone, sleep, and exercise all impact how our body moves and feels. Form during exercise is extremely important. Many clients don’t realize their positioning is off and might be affecting their mobility, flexibility, cardio endurance, and strength.

Most people will feel better by engaging in a routine that includes stretching to improve join mobility. It is helpful to use tools like a foam roller or baseball to alleviate knots and to help stretching. Secondly, weight loss often helps with daily aches and pains. Extra weight can put pressure on the joints and cause pain and discomfort. A healthy diet and cardiovascular exercise can help decrease weight and issues with pain. Lastly, strength training, especially core training, helps decrease muscle pain because the muscles stabilize the joints.

It seems like the answer to feeling better and decreasing pain is to engage in physical activity with proper form. As the New Year approaches, make your body a priority, and meet with a personal trainer to ensure you are performing exercises correctly, and to make sure you are utilizing exercises to help with your individual issues.

 

Happy Holidays!

Exercise

Exercise As You Age

As Corporate America gets older, the baby boomers are finding it harder to adhere to a healthy and active lifestyle. Anyone, from the receptionist answering phones to the CEO closing 7 figure deals, can have terrible eating habits, less time to exercise, and more stress than they are meant to endure. These environmental stresses speed up the aging process, thus contributing to the deterioration of the body. Throw in a crazy travel schedule and bad sleeping habits, and you have your average American. Because of these stressors, 1 in 3 Americans is considered obese and struggles with weight issues.  Our lack of activity is actually killing us, and the older we get the more important exercise becomes.

So why do people refuse to exercise even a little bit? There are too many reasons to list, but often I hear, “I don’t know where to start.”  In a sea of misinformation and in an unregulated fitness industry, it is almost impossible to know where to begin. The gym can be a dangerous place if you do not know how to use the equipment. As an expert witness, I have seen improper form and misuse of equipment that leaves me speechless. My advice to those confused about what to do is to start by finding a reputable professional, who has an accredited certification and who can list doctors as references.

As we age if you get hurt it takes longer to recover. For this reason err on the side of caution when starting a program. Regardless of age the most common injuries are low back and shoulder. Very often, these injuries are simply a result of poor exercise form or performing the wrong exercise in general. Starting out at a high intensity and doing complex exercises may seem like the best avenue for fast results, but more often than not, it results in injury. It is crucial to take a person’s daily activities and orthopedic issues into account before prescribing exercise. For example, if you sit all day and have low back pain or discomfort, sit ups and leg raises may actually make your condition worse. Planks, chops and deadbugs are safer and more effective alternatives for the core. In addition, some machines are not designed properly and can contribute to injury. For instance, some seated leg presses can stress the lower back and cause pain and/or injury. For the lower body, it is safer to start with a ball squat or step up instead of a machine, so as not to disrupt natural movement patterns.

As we age, we lose muscle mass and flexibility, and our balance degrades. Posture is a major problem, especially for corporate America, because they sit for so many hours, often without breaks.  It is important to create a solid foundation for an active lifestyle and focus on exercises that attain personal goals. Performing balance exercises, stretching and correcting postural distortions are critical to participation in daily activities. Without these exercises, the likelihood of daily pain and injury is markedly increased. Stretching and core strengthening will eliminate most of common everyday aches and pains.

Balance, mobility, postural training, and circuit training with weights at a 50-60% intensity are a great start for the older sedentary population. It might sound easy, but if you haven’t been exercising for a long time, it will be plenty challenging. It is important to remember that we are all individuals with different strength and weaknesses, so what may be easy for one person may be impossible for another person. Do not just copy exercises that surround you in the gym. Remember that you are a unique individual and your workout needs to be tailored to your specific needs. A majority of older clients who were not athletes or workout buffs in their youth have no interest in looking like a fitness model or a bulging Adonis on the beach. They just want to feel better and live longer. More than half the battle is the training consistency, not the training intensity. If a client does a low to moderate level workout and follows a fairly healthy diet, he/she will feel better and have health benefits, even if he/she is only exercising a couple of days per week. The bottom line is some exercise is better than no exercise.

I have worked with many older clients, and in fact, my oldest was 90 years old. In my experience, I found that exercise programs do not include enough flexibility training and intensity is usually too high. Many professionals believe you must train at a high intensity to get any substantial results. There is plenty of reputable research that shows higher levels of intensity can be a better use of time compared to low to moderate levels of exercise. The majority of these professionals will insist that regardless of your age, you need to build your workouts up to intensities beyond 80-90%. While there is truth to the science behind this theory, the experts fail to explain that working out at lower levels is still extremely beneficial. They don’t take into account that at higher intensities, injury risk is increased, and a majority of older individuals are not interested in exercising at that level and will never stick to that sort of program. Others cannot train at that level because of orthopedic injuries or some other health limitations. If a client’s goal is to eliminate back pain, to increase balance and to be able to play with their grandchildren, plyometrics and intense sprinting is probably unnecessary. They will get more benefit from full body circuit training with active rests and with sets that include therapeutic exercises and stretching. When we look long term consistency is king because the most consistent person regardless of intensity will reap the most rewards of exercise.

The fact is low to moderate intensity workouts will produce significant results and keep your client healthy and pain free. If a person is capable of more and wants to work up to a high intensity program, I am not against it and agree that it works for some people. I believe the average person does not have an athletic history and is frequently deconditioned. In my personal experience, it seems that the people who need low intensity exercise the most believe it is a waste of time to work out if they aren’t “dying” during a workout, and therefore they won’t engage in lower intensity training. The truth is most Americans just need to move and do low level exercises to remove stress and to keep them healthy.  For some people, exercise is a stress outlet, it helps them stay healthy, and it keeps their eating habits on track.  Lower intensity exercise is also important for those who need to recover from their active lifestyle. For example, clients playing 2 hrs. per day 4-5 times per week or those who are avid runners training 25 miles per week should focus their training on flexibility, recovery and exercising when they are in the gym. The goal should be to increase efficiency and to increase the longevity of participation in that activity.

My advice it to focus on the fundamentals and to get the client moving better and feeling good. Once you achieve this, then you and the client can decide what is next. Individualize the workouts and encourage them to meet their individual goals. Start with a solid foundation, and if high intensity is their goal, gradually build up to those type of workouts at a pace that works for the client physically and mentally.

 

By Charles DeFrancesco CPT

THE ARENA, 1133 Westchester Avenue, White Plains, NY 10604   www.thearenafitness.com

 

Contributing Author: Denise Groothuis RD CPT

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4619258/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2723667/

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20140401/too-much-running-tied-to-shorter-lifespan-studies-find
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S053155651730503X?via%3Dihub

https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/doc-calls-deconditioning-a-conditio-12-08-15/

https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/bonemass.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296958/?
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228112008.htm

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/exercise/article/intense-aerobic-exercise-best

http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/physical-activity/exercise’s-effects-on-the-heart.html

https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/physical-activity/print.html

https://blog.paleohacks.com/low-intensity-high-intensity-exercise/

https://www.stoptheclot.org/news/athletes-and-blood-clots.htm

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity

https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/11585920-000000000-00000

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/obesity-report-one-third-of-u-s-adults-are-beyond-overweight/

http://www.onyourmark.nyc/single-post/2016/02/24/Uncounted-Personal-Trainers-in-NYC-Lack-Certification-You-Get-ALL-The-Risk

https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/personal-trainers-2

 

Eating People

Another Reason to Eat Dinner Together!

In today’s society, many families struggle with how to serve healthy meals to their kids, and more importantly, how to get their kids to actually eat them. Part of the problem is that the US culture is always in a rush, and we don’t take as much time as people in other countries to enjoy our food and to enjoy the dining experience.

A new study published in Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that preschoolers made healthier food choices when eating in a happy, pleasant environment. Children tend to have better meal experiences when the interaction with their parents is positive and the atmosphere is supportive and warm.  This is further strengthened when meals are routinized and children are aware of the expectations and can express themselves.

So instead of grabbing something on the go or rushing through dinner, try to eat with your kids in a calm, positive setting. It will benefit your children both physically and emotionally.

Arthritis

Do I Have Arthritis?

This is the question everyone older than forty worries about and no one under 40 thinks they could possibly have. The problem with arthritis is that it is an irreversible disease process that often progresses and gets worse.

What is arthritis? Arthritis is simply the damage to cartilage in a joint. The cartilage is the smooth white end of the joints that protects the underlying bone and allows your joints move smoothly. The most common joints affected are the knees, the hips and the shoulders. It also occurs commonly in the hand at the base of the thumb. It can occur in all other joints of the body including ankles, wrists, elbows, fingers and toes.

The most common symptom of arthritis is pain; pain with moving and pain when sitting too long. The joint can also swell and be affected by changes in the weather. Many arthritis sufferers feel stiffness in the morning and it starts to loosen up with activity. People with arthritis often feel popping and crunching in their joints.

Preventing arthritis is much better than treating it. Get your weight where it should be because wear and tear from carrying extra weight will cause arthritis. Stretching and strengthening will prevent arthritis. This is especially important for your larger muscle groups like quadriceps and hamstrings. Avoid unnecessary trauma to joints such as from falls or car accidents, but running does not cause damage to joints. Again, studies have shown that running does not cause arthritis.

Treating arthritis is not complicated and orthopedic sports specialists deal with this problem frequently. Therapy can be very effective. A steroid shot is called “a miracle” by many patients. However, the most important aspect of treating arthritis is first confirming that you have the correct diagnosis.

Almost every day I see patients who were told by another doctor that they have arthritis and that they need surgery. However, most people can be improved or even cured without surgery. If you did not have an x-ray, then arthritis has not been confirmed. Popping and swelling is a symptom of arthritis but the only way to know for certain is get an x-ray and have an orthopedist review it with you.

I always recommend getting a second opinion before you go for major surgery such as total knee or total hip replacement. Some surgeons push patients to surgery too quickly. Find an orthopedic doctor you trust and ask questions. Surgery is almost never the first line of treatment.