Fitness Tips

As much as it may stress you out just to think about exercising, once you actually start working out, you'll experience less stress in every part of your life.  "Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction," says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. He says it also helps elevate your mood and keep depression at bay.  You're not the only person who will benefit from more happiness and less stress in your life. When you're less stressed, you're less irritable, Atkinson says -- and that could improve relationships with your partner, kids, and co-workers. -Web MD


If you have knee arthritis, the wearing away of cartilage at the joint, you may think that only long-term, intensive therapy will keep you walking.  But simply increasing light activity may be all it takes to keep you from being sidelined.  A study published in BMJ April 29, 2014, found that more time doing light-intensity physical activity-such as pushing a vacuum cleaner, walking around a room, or strolling through a grocery store-protects against knee arthritis becoming worse and against developing a disability as you age.  How much more activity does it take?  People who spent four hours a day doing light activity had 30% less risk of disability compared with people who spent three hours a day doing the same activities.  Even among people who did almost no moderate activity, the more light activity they did, the less likely they were to develop disability.  "That means that almost any activity you do that is not just sitting will keep you mobile and independent longer, able to walk around the house or go grocery shopping. The more you do each day, the better your knees will support you," says geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School.  (Article copied from Harvard Health Letter Volume 39-Number 10| August 2014)

Many factors put you at risk for developing heart disease, such as being overweight, smoking, and having high blood pressure.  But a recent study shows that starting at age 30, inactivity has the biggest impact on a woman's risk of heart disease.  The research, published online May 8, 2014, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at health surveys of 32,000 Australian women to determine how much each risk factor contributed to a lifetime heart disease risk.  Before age 30, smoking contributed the most risk.  But from age 30 until the late 80s, low physical activity levels had more influence than any other risk factor.  Researchers estimate that if all women between the ages of 30 and 90 were able to reach the recommened weekly exercise quota-at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking-then more than 2,000 middle-aged and older Australian women each year could be saved from premature death.  What can you do to become more active?  Start a walking program today!!

(Copied from Harvard Health Letter Volume39-Number 10|August 2014)


Research shows that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese (Ogden et al 2014), a health condition associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and various cancers (Malik, Schultz & Hu 2006).  Furthermore, studies find that Amercians tend to gain weight slowly over time after age 50-adding approximately 1 pound per year (Mozaffarian et al. 2011)  Understanding the specific behaviors  that increase the risk of weight gain is essential to helping clients manage their weight.


1.  Eating High-Calorie Foods on a regular basis consisting of potato chips, potatoes, red meat, processed meats, butter, sweets, desserts and refined grains will contribute to weight gain.  Foods that help with weight management include nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cheese and milk appeared to curb weight gain (Mozaffarian et al. 2011) because these foods have slower digestion rates and enhance satiety.

2.  Consuming Sugar Sweetened Beverages can contribute to weight gain because they have little nutritional benefit and are reportedly the greatest provider of kilocalories in the American diet (Dennis et al. 2009).  A study by DiMeglio & Mattes 2000 found that people who drank SSBs gained significantly more weight than they did when consuming a comparable amount of carbohydrate in solid form. 

3.  Too Little (or Too Much) Sleep as several epidemiological studies suggest that weight gain is influenced by sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours per night (Marshall, Glozier & Grunstein 2008).  People who sleep too little develop chronically impaired glucose metabolism, steadily contributing to obesity.  In addition, sleep deprivation significantly lowers circulating levels of the hormore leptin and increases circulating levels of the hormone ghrelin-both effects that promote food intake (Van Cauter et al. 2008).  Ideally, sleeping 7-8 hours each night complements a successful weight management program. 

4.  Quantity of TV Watching especially in young people (Chapman et al. 2012) for more than 2 hours per day is highly correlated with weight gain because these people tend to snack more while watching TV; have higher overall caloric intake of foods; and consume more energy dense foods.  Other evidence indicates that visual images of palatable food (as regularly seen in food commercials) evoke increases in plasma ghrelin concentrations, thus boosting the hunger/eating response. 

5.  Alcohol Consumption is a risk factor because alcohol is very energy dense-at 7 kcal per gram, it is second only to fat, with 9 kcal per gram.  Alcohol consumed before or with meals tends to increase food intake, probably enhancing the short-term rewarding effects of food.  Some epidemiological data suggests that alcohol in moderation can protect against obesity, specifically in women. 

6.  Inactivity is what defines nearly half of all Americans. The recommended volume of exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity and only 51.6% get that amount and even worse only 29.3% do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week (CDC 2011).

These six factors are clear indicators of an "obesogenic" lifestyle and should be the targets of any behavior-change plan designed to prevent weight gain.  Psychological stress accompanying these behaviors may exacerbate weight gain (Montes & Kravitz 2011).

Source: IDEA Fitness Journal May 2015 By Troy Purdom, MS, and Len Kravitz, PHD

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