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16851992Walking is low-risk and easy to start. It can help keep you fit and reduce your risk of serious diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more.

A regular walking program can also:

American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Even short 10 minute activity sessions can be added up over the week to reach this goal. If you would benefit from lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol, aim for 40 minute sessions of moderate to vigorous activity 3 to 4 times a week. You could do this by walking 2 miles briskly (about 4 miles/hr). If that’s too fast, choose a more comfortable pace.

Get ready

All you need to get started are comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. Layer loose clothing, keeping in mind that brisk exercise elevates the body’s temperature. Shoes designed for walking or running are best. Make sure you have a little wiggle room between your longest toe (1/2″) and the end of the shoe. Avoid cotton socks since they retain moisture and can promote blisters.

Work on your technique

  • Begin with short distances. Start with a stroll that feels comfortable (perhaps 5-10 minutes) and gradually increase your time or distance each week by 10-20 percent by adding a few minutes or blocks. If it’s easier on your joints and your schedule to take a couple of 10- to 20-minute walks instead of one long walk, do it!
  • Focus on posture. Keep your head lifted, tummy pulled in and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally. Avoid carrying hand weights since they put extra stress on your elbows and shoulders. Don’t overstride. Select a comfortable, natural step length. If you want to move faster, pull your back leg through more quickly.
  • Breathe deeply. If you can’t talk or catch your breath while walking, slow down. At first, forget about walking speed. Just get out there and walk!

Pick up the pace

To warm up, walk at an easy tempo for the first several minutes. Then gradually adopt a more purposeful pace. A good way to add variety is to incorporate some brisk intervals. For example, walk one block fast, two blocks slow and repeat several times. Gradually add more fast intervals with shorter recovery periods. Concentrate on increasing your speed while maintaining good posture.

Walking hills is a great way to tone your legs. Using Nordic walking poles can help your burn more calories and give you better posture and overall muscle endurance. Treadmill walking, while not as scenic, can be convenient during bad weather.

The end of your walk is an ideal time to stretch since your body is warmed up. Stretch your hamstrings and calves as well as your chest, shoulders and back. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Track your progress. Although experts recommend walking at least 30 minutes a day, there are no hard and fast rules. Walking 60 minutes/day and brisk intervals will help you burn more calories. Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean three 10-minute walks over the course of a day. The best schedule is one that keeps you walking and keeps you fit!

Be safe

  • Avoid traffic accidents. Listening to lively music while you walk is a great way to energize your workout. But if you wear headphones, keep the volume down and watch out for traffic that you may not hear. Wear light colors or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or glow stick if you walk when visibility is low.
  • Walking on sidewalks is best, but if you have to walk on the street, stick to streets with lower speed limits. Faster streets are riskier because motorists are less likely to see pedestrians and cannot stop as quickly. Accidents involving pedestrians have an 85 percent chance of becoming fatal if the car is moving at 40 mph as compared to only 5 percent if the speed is 20 mph.
  • Know your area. Pay attention to what businesses are open in the area you’ll be walking and know the location of emergency telephones. Walk on well-traveled streets rather than taking shortcuts in less crowded areas such as alleys or parking lots. If you give the message that you are calm, self-assured and have a purposeful gait, you’ll lower your chances of becoming a victim.
  • Two heads are better than one. Walking with a partner or in groups discourages crime and may help alert you to dangers such as speeding motorists or unleashed dogs.

If you experience foot, knee, hip or back pain when walking, STOP and check with your doctor to find out the cause. You may need special exercises or better shoes. If you have osteoarthritis and experience increased joint pain lasting an hour or two after walking, consider an alternate activity like stationery cycling or water exercise. But don’t stop exercising!

Source: Walking 101

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8295214_XXLMorning, midday or midnight — when’s the best time to work out?

Well, that depends on when’s the best time for you.

“The best time of the day is when you will do it most consistently, because the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked to the amount you do on a consistent basis,” said Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Your best time is based on a “constellation” of factors:

  • location,
  • time of day,
  • type of physical activity and
  • social setting, among others.

“It’s not just what time, but what activity, with whom and where,” said Pate, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “This mix of factors for people come together to result in being consistent.”

Everybody’s Different

“Different people will have different preferences and predispositions with regard to how they respond to exercise at different times of the day,” Pate said.

For example, if you’re much more likely to work out consistently with a partner, “then you’re better off to opt for a social part regardless of the time of day,” Pate said. “On the other hand, some people like the solitude, the chance to get away.”

You might have heard that the best time to work out is early in the morning — to get your metabolism revving or to avoid unexpected distractions during the day that could derail your regimen. “Are there differences in working out at different times of the day? Maybe. But those differences would be minor compared to the overall effect of doing it consistently,” Pate said.

“If you’re not a morning person, it does no good for you to try to get up at 5 in the morning to work out,” he said. “Try to stack as many cards on your side of the table as possible by doing what’s most likely to work for you. The converse is, don’t make it as hard as it doesn’t have to be.”

Fit in Fitness

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. But what if you’re tight on time? Then, be creative and break up your activity into daily bouts of 3-10-minute increments.

For example:

  • In the morning, park 10 minutes away from the job and walk briskly.
  • At lunch, walk 10 minutes in or around where you work.
  • In the afternoon/evening, walk briskly 10 minutes back to your vehicle.

And there you have a 30-minute workout!

“Accumulation across the day doesn’t have to be performed in one bout, but can be across the day,” Pate said. “More is better, but we’re absolutely certain even modest amounts are much better than being sedentary.” And remember, “exercise” is any kind of physical activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes at a time.

So get moving — at the time that’s right for you!

Source: When is the best time of day to work out?

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9 Things to Look For in a Quality Weight Loss ProgramMaintaining a healthy weight can be challenging and, for some people, even more difficult than losing weight. The good news is that achieving lasting weight maintenance is possible. Use these 13 tips to help you succeed at maintaining your weight-loss goals.

Dr. Kevin Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health recently published the results of his six-year study of participants from the television show, The Biggest Loser. He found that all but one of the people he studied regained all or more of the weight they had lost. But even more staggering was that their resting metabolic rates dropped significantly, so much so that weight regain was inevitable. Participants’ resting metabolic rate continued to stay low even after they had gained back the weight.

Now, we already know that a body at a higher weight burns more calories than the same body at a lighter weight because there is less mass to move and keep alive. However, with weight loss, one has to look at a few variables: how fast the weight loss occurred, and how much of the lost weight came from fat and how much came from lean tissue, primarily muscle mass.

Muscle mass is directly linked to resting metabolic rate, as this tissue requires more calories to keep alive. When lean muscle mass makes up a significant portion of total weight loss, resting metabolic rate takes a nosedive. However, a weight-loss program that promotes weight training to increase muscle mass can potentially offset the decline in metabolism.

The good news is that achieving lasting weight maintenance is possible. Use the following tips to help you succeed at maintaining your weight-loss goals:

1. Stay consistent both with your activity levels and eating plan.

We often see people use the achievement of their weight-loss goal as a sign to stop what they’re doing, celebrate and subsequently revert to their old habits. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for weight gain. Whatever it took to help you lose the weight is the same plan that will help you keep it off—with some tweaks, of course. Remember, you no longer burn the same amount of calories that you did when you were heavier, so you’ll need to recalculate your calorie needs and make adjustments to your nutrition and/or exercise.

2. Build those muscles.

As stated earlier, muscle mass is directly tied to your resting metabolic rate. Having more muscle mass means your resting metabolic rate will be higher. Focusing on building muscle mass through strength or resistance training is the only way to create new, metabolically active muscle tissue. For weight maintenance, weight training becomes just as, if not more, important as aerobic conditioning.

3. Continue to set goals.

We encourage you to set both long-term and short-term goals and make sure that they are both realistic and achievable. Goals can be about exercise (trying something new), nutrition (have a go at changing up macronutrient percentages, cut out sugar, or stick with a whole-food diet) or training for a race. You might also consider setting goals outside the diet and exercise realm, such as booking an adventure vacation. When you are having fun and are happy, you reduce your production of the stress hormone cortisol, making you more likely to be successful with maintaining your weight.

4. Practice mindful and intuitive eating.

Mindful eating means that you are present when you eat—no television, emails, Facebook or surfing the web. When you are focused on your meal, you can notice the taste, texture, temperature and aroma of it and really find enjoyment with what you are eating. You will be more likely to walk away from that meal feeling full and satisfied. Being an intuitive eater means that you are listening to your body’s signals when it comes to being hungry and full. You eat when you are hungry (not waiting until you are ravenous), and stop when you are full (about 80 percent full), but not stuffed.

5. Have a plan.

You know the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Plan out your week—each day’s workout, as well as what meals you will be preparing and eating. Having a plan means you will more likely stick to it and be successful.

6. Come up with a list of non-food coping strategies.

Emotional eating causes many people to turn to food when they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, bored, lonely or even happy. And the foods most people typically reach for are salty, crunchy, fatty foods and sweets. When you are in an emotionally neutral state, come up with a list of non-food coping mechanisms that can make you feel better. Try singing, dancing, a short burst of exercise, taking a walk, calling a friend or our personal favorite, laughter therapy. Find some funny video clips to watch and once you start laughing, the stress hormones quickly recede and it becomes easier to feel better.

7. Find support.

Nothing feels more difficult than going through something alone. If your weight-loss journey was a solo trek, reaching out to others, especially people who are going through the same thing, can be both comforting and rewarding. You need to be able to open up and express your thoughts and feelings to like-minded people. You’ll be amazed at the great ideas you’ll come away with, as well as an increased sense of motivation.

8. Eat real, whole, clean food.

Once you achieve your goal weight, you might find yourself a little lax when it comes to your diet. A piece of chocolate cake, a slice of pizza and an extra glass of wine can really add up quickly. Remember what got you to your goal weight in the first place—a sound eating plan. Ditching the refined, processed food and replacing it with real, whole, clean foods, such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, clean complex carbs and plenty of water and green tea, can get you back on track for success.

9. Stay within 3 pounds of your maintenance weight.

While we don’t believe in being slaves to the scale, a once-a-week weigh-in should be enough to make sure you are staying on track. If the scale indicates more than a 3-pound gain, it’s time to check in with yourself and assess what you’ve been doing differently. Are you keeping food records? Do you get enough sleep? How’s your stress level? All of these factors play a role in weight gain.

10. Setbacks happen.

You travel for business or pleasure, attend parties and have holiday gatherings—all of which typically mean an abundance of food is available. Again, have a plan for handling these food environments to your advantage. But if you do slip up and decide to overindulge at the buffet, that’s O.K. Learn how to move past it and go right back to your consistent new lifestyle.

11. Stay hydrated.

Did you know that most of the time you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty? Next time you find yourself with the munchies, go drink 12 ounces of water and wait 15 minutes. You might have just solved the problem. However, if you find yourself physically hungry go ahead and eat. As for how much water you should be drinking each day, a general rule is to drink (in ounces) half of your body weight (in pounds). For example, if you weigh 150 pounds (150 x 1/2 = 75), you need to drink 75 ounces (approximately 10 cups of water). Add 1 cup if you live in a hot climate and another cup when exercising and sweating.

12. Practice stress management.

Stress plays a big role in weight regain. The main stress hormone is cortisol and when it is high, due to stress, it causes your body to become more insulin resistant. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so the more you have floating around your bloodstream, the more fat you are likely to store, especially around your abdominal region. Stress-management techniques can be as simple as taking a few one-minute breaks during the day during which you close your eyes and practice deep breathing. If you have more time, try longer stretches of meditation or breathing exercises. Again, laughter therapy is a great way to deal with stress.

13. Sleep seven to nine hours each night.

There is ample scientific evidence about the role that sleep plays in weight. When you sleep fewer than seven hours per night, there is a disruption in the production of two main hormones that control hunger and fullness. Poor sleep causes your brain to produce more ghrelin, which makes you feel hungrier, and less leptin, which helps make you feel full. So now you’re feeling hungry all the time. And who wants a salad when you’re tired and hungry? This is what it’s like when ghrelin and leptin are out of whack. Proper sleep keeps these hormones at proper levels and hunger and fullness are back to normal.

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N., are the co-founders of U Rock Girl!, a website designed to nourish the mind, body and spirit of women of all ages and stages of life. They have just authored the rockin’ breakfast cookbook, No Excuses! 50 Healthy Ways to ROCK Breakfast! available at http://www.URockGirl.com

Source: ACE Fit | Fit Life | 13 Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss Over the Long-term

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What's Your Ideal Body Weight?To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. But it’s not always clear how to do that. For most people, a successful weight-loss plan has two parts: healthy food choices and physical activity. Understanding the balance between the two can help you lose weight more easily and keep it off!

According to the National Weight Control Registry, of adults who have successfully maintained their weight loss:

  • 98% have modified their eating habits.
  • 94% have increased their level of physical activity, especially walking.
  • 78% eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of television per week.

So you think you’re ready, but you’re not sure how to take that first step? It’s not as hard as you might think.

Start your weight loss journey using these 5 steps:

Set realistic goals.

Before beginning a weight-loss program, assess where you are today so you know what you need to improve. Learn your BMI to help determine how much weight you would like to lose to reduce your risk of health problems.

Set yourself up for success with short-term goals, like “I will make lifestyle changes which will help me lose (and keep off) 3-5% of my body weight” or “I will reduce the amount of times that I eat out each week from ___ to ____.”

Short-term goals like these can seem more achievable, and can, little by little, keep you on track toward your long-term goals. If the goal is too difficult, it’s harder to achieve and can lead to self-judgement and disappointment that can derail the smaller successes you’ve achieved.

Understand how much and why you eat.

Use a food diary or tracking app for a while to gain an understanding of what, how much, and when you are eating. If you tend to snack late at night or visit fast food restaurants several times a week, those might be opportunities to make healthier choices. Being mindful of your eating habits and aware of common roadblocks and excuses in your efforts to lose weight can help you set and reach realistic goals.

Manage portion sizes.

It’s easy to overeat when you’re served too much food. Smaller portions can help prevent eating too much. Learn the difference between a portion and a serving and how to keep portions reasonable.

Make smart substitutions to reduce sodium, saturated fat and added sugar.

Foods high in saturated and trans fat and sugar are often high in calories too. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite flavors. Learn to make smart substitutions instead. Learn how to reduce the added sugars in your diet with these infographics. Take the 21-Day Sodium Challenge to reduce the sodium you eat. Discover healthy snacks for between meals and fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods to help keep you fuller longer.

Balance what you eat with physical activity.

Most of us can agree it’s easier to take calories in than to burn them. The amount of physical activity an individual needs to lose weight can vary, but in the weight-loss equation, healthy eating and physical activity complement each other. Both are essential parts of losing weight and staying at a healthy weight. Physical activity is anything that gets your heart rate up. Learn the AHA Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults.

Tips to help you on your weight-loss journey:

  • You may want to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) to create a healthy eating plan. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers a “find a dietitian” resource on their website.
  • Learn how sleep can affect eating and see if there are changes you could make in your sleep schedule.
  • If you feel you need more support, look for a weight-loss program that’s been proven safe and successful. Get personal support from a weight-loss group or buddy.
  • Aim for a gradual weight loss with healthy lifestyle changes until you reach a healthy weight.
  • If you have any heart conditions or you are experiencing symptoms of other chronic health issues, talk to your healthcare provider before starting a weight-loss or exercise program.
  • Include maintenance in your goals to help you keep the weight off.
  • Remember, these steps lead to life-long healthy eating. They are not a quick-fix diet.

Source: 5 Steps to Lose Weight

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How to Eat Mindfully: Learn to Appreciate Every Bite.Most of the excitement and the emphasis on the cholesterol health issue have centered on the concept of lowering cholesterol and the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. There are many treatment plans, including drugs and nutrients established to lower LDL cholesterol.

In my opinion, what is of equal importance is looking at raising your “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol as this has a very beneficial effect on your risk of heart disease and stroke.

HDL cholesterol molecules are manufactured in the liver. These specialized, small, and dense molecules transport various types of fats including triglycerides and cholesterol throughout the blood stream. In the case of HDL, this molecule transports fat deposits from the artery walls back to the liver where it is metabolized. Typically, HDL can be measured by standard blood tests—and higher amounts of this good cholesterol have been associated with many positive health outcomes.

Here are some important things you can do which increase the production of HDL good cholesterol in your body:

Avoid Trans Fat

Trans fat is produced when liquid vegetable oils are heated and infused with hydrogen. The resulting fat produced is solid at room temperature but dangerous to ingest. The consumption of trans fats increases LDL and decreases HDL cholesterol synthesis within the liver. To increase your good cholesterol, avoid fried foods and commercially prepared snack foods, baked goods, hard margarines, and frozen entrées, which will help decrease your exposure to this dangerous fat. Make sure you read labels carefully, to ensure there’s no trans fat in the product.

Avoid Sugar

Diets which contain high amounts of soda, candy, sweets, baked goods, fruit drinks, and deserts have a tendency to lower good cholesterol levels in the blood by a direct influence on liver synthesis. Sugar causes high amounts of insulin which is secreted over prolonged periods of time which can decrease the production of HDL cholesterol in the liver. Cutting down and trying to eliminate the bulk of the sugar intake in your diet can greatly influence the level of protective HDL you have in your blood stream.

Consume More Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber found in oatmeal, bran, fruit and flax seed, can increase the synthesis of HDL cholesterol by increasing the concentration of lignans in your body. Lignans can exert a direct effect on the liver by increasing the formation of HDL cholesterol. Increasing the intake of soluble fiber also lowers blood sugar and insulin levels which directly affects the production of HDL in the liver. This is necessary to increase good cholesterol.

Consume healthy fats

Fats derived from salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines contain the omega-3 family of fatty acids known to reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke. One of the ways these fats can achieve this is by increasing the production of HDL cholesterol in the liver. The fats of the omega-9 family commonly found in nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados can also exert a beneficial effect upon HDL cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Increase good cholesterol by eating more healthy fats.

Drink Moderately

The moderate intake of red wine and alcohol has been shown to be associated with higher amounts of circulating HDL cholesterol. Moderate intake of these beverages implies one glass of wine per day for a female (or one ounce of spirits) and one to two glasses daily (two ounces of spirits) for a male.

Physical Activity

Becoming more physically active has a tremendous benefit to your health in so many ways. Physical activity can improve the synthesis of HDL cholesterol by improving insulin sensitivity and blood glucose utilization. It can also reduce inflammation and body weight while encouraging stored body fat oxidation for fuel. The net effect is, among other things, higher blood levels of HDL cholesterol. Exercising is a great way to increase good cholesterol.

Many people always focus on the ways you can lower your bad cholesterol, but it’s also important to increase good cholesterol to reap many health benefits.

by Dr. K.J. McLaughlin

http://www.foods4betterhealth.com/6-easy-ways-to-increase-your-good-cholesterol-3228

Source(s):
  • Schofield, J.D., et al., “High-density lipoprotein cholesterol raising: does it matter?” Curr Opin Cardiol. July 2013; 28(4): 464-74.
  • Hausenloy, D.J., et al., “Targeting residual cardiovascular risk: raising high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels,” Heart. June 2008; 94(6): 706-14.
  • Barter, P., “HDL-C: role as a risk modifier,” Atheroscler Suppl. November 2011; 12(3): 267-70.
  • Garneau, V., et al., “Association between plasma omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease risk factors,” Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. March 2013; 38(3): 243-8.

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