How Often Should You Exercise

People often wonder how often you should exercise and how long your workouts should be. As a general rule, you want to exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week to achieve optimal health. If you have specific goals, such as muscle building or weight loss, you will need to do more. You don’t need to spend a ton of time or be in a gym to get a good workout. You can get your daily exercise by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your office building, or even taking a lunchtime stroll. Another rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of time spent sitting. The more hours you sit each day will increase your risk for metabolic problems, regardless of whether or not you achieve the recommended amount of physical activity. No matter what, make it a point to exercise more throughout your day. It will be good for your mind and for your body.

 

by Gina Stallone

Fitness Isn’t a Seasonal Hobby. Fitness is a Lifestyle.

Summer is here! Time to break out the bathing suits, suntan lotion, and to start planning that trip of a lifetime! Let’s face it – we’ve all been guilty of considering a vacation our “reward” after dedicating ourselves to eating healthy and working out. It’s perfectly fine to indulge a little and let yourself truly enjoy your vacation. However, you can make tons of memories without destroying all of your hard work!

For starters, you can keep up with your workouts. A great way to get exercise while on vacation is to run or walk by the beach. Get up a little early and hit the boardwalk before the heat kicks in! You can even add some strength training to the mix. Be creative and just soak in the moment – after all, it’s not every day that you can run next to or on a beach. Another great idea – hiking. Find a trail or mountain near where you’re staying and spend your morning exploring. You can even include your friends &/or family in on the fun! Lastly, you can work out in the hotel. Even if the hotel you’re staying at doesn’t have a gym on-site, you can get creative and do a short workout in your room. A short workout is better than none at all!

One of the hardest parts of a vacation is avoiding all of the delicious food and drinks available to you. Often people use a vacation as an excuse to just eat everything in sight. You’ve spent months getting ready for this vacation – so why throw it all away now? You can still eat reasonably healthy while enjoying a few treats from time to time. Pick and choose! For instance, if you want that Belgian waffle for breakfast, make sure to have a salad for lunch and a sensible dinner. If you want to enjoy a few frozen cocktails by the pool, just make smart choices elsewhere throughout your day. If you decide to go to a buffet, load your plate with salad, protein, and vegetables so that you only have a small amount of the more decadent things.

Whether you’re hitting the Vegas strip, heading to the Caribbean on a cruise, or just heading to your nearest shore point, you can still be healthy while making memories that will last a lifetime. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and to not spend every waking second agonizing over a few extra calories or a few less workouts. Don’t stress; just do your best to be as healthy as possible while having the time of your life.

by Gina Stallone

Of Exercise, Mice, and Men?

Would you exercise if it meant you’d have smarter babies?  In a new study that was published in Cell Reports, exercising male mice produced offspring with enhanced brain activity.  Physical exercise has been shown to alter gene expression- turning certain genes on and others off, and now it looks like these changes can be passed along to the next generation- a phenomenon known as epigenetics.

There has been plenty of research showing how exercise has a positive effect on our brains, from improving mood, increasing neuronal connections, enhancing brain activity, as well as improving memory.  But for the first time, albeit in male mice, we can observe an epigenetic effect of exercise and brain activity.  Furthermore, the mice had not been active until they were adults, and still passed along the beneficial changes in their brain activity to their pups.  The exercising and non-exercising male mice were paired with sedentary female mice.  Only the offspring from the male mice who exercised showed the same enhanced neuronal connections that result from exercising as their fathers.  They also learned faster and remembered better than the mice whose parents were sedentary, even though none of the pups ran.

For this study, the scientists also focused on two particular microRNAs, molecules that are known to have an effect on genes.  Levels of these two microRNAs increase in the brains of mice after they start exercising, and are believed to enhance the connection between brain cells.  For the first time, they also found increased levels in the sperm of the running mice.  But the increase in microRNAs in the active adult mice were not found in their sedentary pup.

What this research tells us is that exercise can have a positive impact on brain activity in both adult mice, as well as their sedentary offspring.  But the epigenetic effect stops at the second generation.  None of the sedentary second generation mice produced pups with the same enhanced brain activity that they had inherited from their parents.  In order to pass along the benefits of increased neuronal connections for generations to come, it is essential for each generation to exercise.  The bottom line:  Start moving, and keep moving at any age, to have smart babies… and encourage them to exercise too!

by Rima Sidhu, MS Exercise Physiology

Maze Sexual and Reproductive Health

Exercise Your Way Out of Boredom

Bored with your daily routine? Sick of the same, monotonous schedule? Switch it up & add some exercise into the mix! Exercise is beneficial for your mind and body. Incorporating just 30 minutes of exercise into your day can lift your energy and boost your mood. You can do anything from taking a quick walk around your work premises, some light exercises at the gym, a bike ride around the neighborhood, or even meditation & yoga. Maybe you always wanted to get into a certain sport – this would be the perfect opportunity! Find something you’re interested in or passionate about & it will help cure your boredom.

Studies show that boredom also leads to weight gain. This is due to emotional eating, often triggered by boredom. We reach for unnecessary snacks, which pack on unwanted calories. Instead of reaching for that pack of cookies or bag of chips along with your remote control, stand up and exercise instead. Your mind…and body…will thank you.

by Gina Stallone

What is ART (Active Release Technique)?

ART, which stands for “Active Release Technique” is a type of soft tissue massage that was created and patented by P. Michael Leahy. It treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascia. It focuses on relieving nerve trigger points and tight muscles. By manipulating the soft tissue, less stress will be placed on the joints and nerves, which can help relieve a wide range of chronic pains and injuries.

The goal of ART is to restore the mobility to the muscles so they can move easier around nerves. It also stimulates the lymphatic system and lowers inflammation by moving joint fluid around the body. Many times, overused muscles can develop scar tissue, tears, pulls, strains and inflammation.  Specifically, when a muscle is overused, the tissue can transform by either not getting enough oxygen, accumulating small micro-tears, or through an acute condition, such as a pull or tear. All of these can cause the production of scar tissue, which binds the tissue and prohibits it from moving freely. As a result, the muscle is weaker and shorter, which may entrap nerves or cause tendonitis. This results in pain and reduced range of motion. Some possible symptoms of scar tissue in the body are neck stiffness, stiffness in the elbow, hands, knees or back, increased pain when exercising, loss of muscle strength, inflamed or painful joints, reduced flexibility, and signs of nerve damage, such as tingling or numbness.

During an ART session, the therapist will use tension combined with patient movements to treat the affected areas. There are over 500 treatment protocols used to correct the issues of the individual clients. The protocols use precise, targeted movements, and each treatment is individualized for the patient. ART works to actively release and break up the scar tissue to restore range of motion, increase flexibility, improve performance, and prevent running injuries. Some of the conditions that can be alleviated by ART are lower back pain, tension headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, frozen shoulder, bursitis, and sciatica. ART is different from a massage because a massage may decrease pain by utilizing pressure points, but it won’t break up the scar tissue in your body.

ART is an aggressive therapy, and it may feel painful during the treatment. The amount of sessions needed will vary by condition and range in the frequency needed. Make sure that the practitioner is a certified ART provider, and they can be found on the ART website.

 

by Denise Groothuis

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder in which there is a sideways curvature to the spine. The curves are often s-shaped or c-shaped. While there is no known cause and people of any age can have this disorder, the most common form of scoliosis (idiopathic) occurs in children during the growth spurt just before puberty. There are several signs & symptoms you should look out for with your child and/or loved ones.  Look for uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other, an uneven waist, or one hip being higher than the other. If a scoliosis curve gets worse, the spine will also rotate or twist, in addition to curving side to side which can cause the ribs on one side of the body to stick out farther than the other.

Mild curves can develop without the parent or child knowing it because they appear gradually and usually don’t cause pain. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly. Seek medical attention if you notice signs or symptoms of scoliosis in your child.

 

by Gina Stallone

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is always important, no matter what time of year. However, as more people are spending time outside and exercising outdoors, we perspire more and lose more fluids. It is imperative to drink fluids to make sure your body systems are functioning properly. Our body is roughly 55-60 percent water, and water is found inside and in between our cells to maintain blood volume, to regulate body temperature, to allow for proper circulation, and to act as a shock absorber for the joints and brain.

We lose water through sweat, urine, breath and stool, and replenish it by drinking fluids. Dehydration occurs when we do not ingest enough fluid, when we excrete too much fluid, or a combination of both. It also may occur due to diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, diabetes, burns, and frequent urination.

Early symptoms of dehydration include thirst and decreased and darker urine production. However, some people do not feel thirsty when they are dehydrated, especially as we get older, so adequate fluids should always be consumed. As dehydration progresses, people experience dry mouth dizziness, lethargy, headaches, and weakness. If symptoms become severe, people can suffer delirium, unconsciousness, low blood pressure, sunken eyes, and lack of sweating.

To avoid dehydration, be cautious doing activities during the hottest part of the day or in extreme heat. Also, when exercising, replenish fluids regularly. Drink before, during, and after you exercise to improve performance to improve endurance and to reduce the risk of dehydration.

A good formula to determine adequate hydration is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. It is important to make sure your electrolytes stay in balance as well. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help increase your hydration status while simultaneously maintaining the electrolyte balance because they contain a high water content plus vital electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium.

Water is vital to life, so make sure you drink enough fluids to keep yourself healthy. If you stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, find methods to destress and exercise regularly this summer, you will be in good shape!

Get Outside and Walk!

Walking is an underrated, under-utilized form of exercise. It is low-impact and easily accessible to anyone. For optimal health, we all know we must move. Exercise can be intimidating for some, especially in a gym setting. However, if you get outside and walk for a few minutes each day, you will see great results. The longer you walk, the more benefits you will see.

Regular walking can help with losing/maintaining weight, preventing/managing various conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, and it can be an excellent way to reduce stress. For those who suffer from knee, ankle, or back problems, it can also serve as a lower impact exercise that can be done multiple times per week for longer periods of time.

Studies show that group nature walks are often associated with a whole host of mental health benefits including decreased depression, improved well-being & mental health, and lower stress levels. In addition, the positive effects on one’s mood are especially strong among people who recently experience a traumatic life event, such as a serious illness, death of a loved one, or divorce.

Walking is often underrated as a form of exercise but the fact is it can be as good of a workout, if not better, than running. In fact, people who walk outdoors have been known to cover more distance in a faster time, noting that they feel less exertion on their body. Regardless of how old you are or what fitness level you may be at, get outside and walk! Your body will thank you for it.

 

by Gina Stallone

Kick the Sugar Habit

By now, we’ve all heard how bad sugar is for us yet most of us still eat it. The average American consumes about 20 teaspoons of added sugar per day! That’s not counting the sugar naturally found in fruits & milk either. Sugar, regardless of its form, can have negative impact on your entire body.

Too much sugar can not only lead to excess weight gain, it can also lead to inflammation of joints, kidney damage, type 2 diabetes or heart disease. So, how much is too much? Everyone’s tolerance is different however, it is recommended that adults & children consume no more than 5% or 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar daily, for a 2,000 calorie diet.

 

by Gina Stallone

Osteoporosis and Exercise

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Over 53 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at risk for osteoporosis due to low bone mass.   Osteoporosis is defined as a disease which weakens the bones so they become fragile and break easily. It is especially prevalent in the bones of the hip, spine, and wrist. Often, osteoporosis is a “silent” disease because the person does not exhibit symptoms or knows he/she has it until a bone is broken or the vertebrae in the spine collapse.

While anyone is susceptible to osteoporosis, it is more common in older women, especially non-Hispanic white women and Asian women. Other risk factors include being small and thin, having low bone density, taking certain medications, and having a family history of osteoporosis. Bone mass can be tested with a bone mineral test.

There are a few ways you can prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones strong, such as consuming a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercising, not smoking, and not drinking alcohol excessively. Falls are the number one cause of broken bones, so weight bearing exercise and balance are extremely important to prevent falls and to increase bone density. If bones become extremely fragile, fractures can also occur through normal daily activities, such as bending, lifting, coughing, or from minor bumps or stresses.

Exercise improves bone health, muscle strength, coordination, balance, and overall health, and it is vital for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Weight-bearing and strength training exercises are both recommended for peak bone mass because you are working against gravity. Weight-bearing exercises include weight training, hiking, jogging, walking, stair climbing, dancing, and tennis. They can be either low impact or high impact. Strength training is also known as resistance exercise, and it includes lifting weights, using bands and balls, and utilizing your own body weight. Yoga and pilates are also great options since they improve flexibility, balance, and strength, but certain positions will need to be avoided to avoid spinal injury.

Consult a doctor before beginning any type of exercise program, especially if you have osteoporosis. You may have to avoid bending, twisting, and flexing to protect your spine if your bone mass is low. Additionally, high-intensity exercises should be avoided to avoid fractures. It is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles properly and to improve posture. It is good idea to consult with a personal trainer to learn how to perform exercises properly and how to progress your activities and routines.

 

By Denise Groothuis MS RD CPT

 

Sources:

The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseaseshttps://www.nof.org/patients/fracturesfall-prevention/exercisesafe-movement/osteoporosis-exercise-for-strong-bones/ (National Osteoprosis Foundation)