Healthy Byte: The Myth of the 10K Steps A Day

Originally Posted HERE

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A few of my friends who’ve recently retired decided to start walking more, sometimes for an hour or more a day.

Seniors Walking Together at the Park

Becoming sedentary seems to be a danger in retirement, when life can slow down, and medical research has documented the myriad health benefits of physical activity. To enjoy the benefits from walking – weight loss, heart health, more independence in old age, and even a longer life – medical experts and fitness gurus often recommend that people shoot for 10,000 steps per day.

But what’s the point of a goal if it’s unrealistic? A Centers for Disease Control study that gave middle-aged people a pedometer to record their activity found that “the 10,000-step recommendation for daily exercise was considered too difficult to achieve.”

Here’s new information that should take some of the pressure off: walking about half as many steps still has substantial health benefits.

I. Min Lee at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston tracked 17,000 older women – average age 72 – to determine whether walking regularly would increase their life spans. It turns out that the women’s death rate declined by 40 percent when they walked just 4,400 steps a day.

Walking more than 4,400 steps is even better – but only up to a point. For every 1,000 additional steps beyond 4,400, the mortality rate declined, but the benefits stopped at around 7,500 steps per day, said the study, published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More good news in the study for retirees is that it’s not necessary to walk vigorously to enjoy the health benefits.

Healthy Byte: Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Originally Posted HERE

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Why eat anti-inflammatory foods?

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and disease — like when you have swelling and redness around a wound or twisted joint, or fever while your immune system battles an illness. In the short run, inflammation can be helpful. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of conditions, and some evidence indicates lifestyle — including what we eat — may contribute to inflammation. “The role of chronic inflammation in various diseases — obesity, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, certain cancers — is fairly well-accepted in the scientific community,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, an assistant professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Naturally, people are looking towards dietary changes to reduce inflammation and promote overall health and immunity.”

Don’t exclude whole groups of foods — or limit yourself to just a few.

Some fad diets may claim to be anti-inflammatory. But experts say eating patterns with the most science behind them, like the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (the acronym stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension), are your top choices for an anti-inflammatory diet. They include a broad range of proven-healthy foods you probably have been told to eat since you were young, which research indicates are also anti-inflammatory foods. (Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet, based on the Mediterranean diet, with a few added elements like anti-inflammatory green tea, is also OK — but expert panelists convened by U.S. News didn’t rank the diet nearly as highly as the Mediterranean or DASH diets.) Here are some anti-inflammatory foods — as well as some foods that may contribute to inflammation:

Antioxidant-infused fruits and vegetables

Foods generally considered anti-inflammatory have been proven to be healthy — for any number of reasons. Case in point: fruits and veggies. We know from reams of research that they’re good for us, even if it’s still not clear to what extent anti-inflammatory properties may deserve credit. To hedge your bets, choose colorful fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants:

— For flavonols, try broccoli, kale and berries.

— For beta carotene, consider red and orange peppers.

— Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits and winter squash.

The bottom line: It’s hard to go wrong with fruits or veggies, including tomatoes, which are sometimes cut from so-called anti-inflammatory diets despite being rich in antioxidants, and avocados, a great plant-based anti-inflammatory source of fat.

Whole grains

In addition to lots of fruits and vegetables, diets considered to be anti-inflammatory are usually rich in whole grains, such as wheat, oats and quinoa, Linsenmeyer notes. These and other whole grains like brown rice and barley are a great source of fiber, as are fruits and vegetables — especially raspberries, apples, peas and broccoli. The dietary inflammatory index, a review of research on foods that are anti-inflammatory and those that seem to promote inflammation, puts fiber squarely in the first camp.

Beans

Beans are another fiber-rich food firmly in the category of lean proteins. Dietary experts like Tamara Randall, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, say these should be considered as part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. Black, kidney, pinto and other beans are a great complement to any diet.

Omega-3-packed fatty fish like salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids not only battle inflammation, they’re also good for brain health. Foods high in omega-3 include fish, nuts (especially walnuts) and plant oils like flaxseed oil. However, the two most beneficial forms of omega-3 — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — come mainly from fish. The best sources for omega-3s are fatty seafoods, which include salmon, albacore tuna and shellfish. Experts generally recommend having fish twice per week, or around 200 to 500 milligrams of EPA or DHA total. Talk with a doctor about whether supplementation is recommended if you don’t eat fish.

Walnuts and other nuts

Another food that’s anti-inflammatory and high in a different form of omega-3 fatty acids (called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) is walnuts. In fact, just a small handful, or one ounce, of English walnuts contains more than 2 1/2 grams of ALA. While nuts in general are a healthful feature of anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet, walnuts lead the pack in omega-3 content. Researchers studying the effects of eating walnuts “have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis,” notes the Arthritis Foundation, adding that studies suggest monounsaturated fats in an almond-rich diet also lower some markers of inflammation, including CRP.

Oils

Featured in the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a source of healthy fat that’s also anti-inflammatory, Randall notes. Alternatively, a person wishing to eat an anti-inflammatory diet may sparingly use safflower or sunflower oil as well, she suggests. Use oils in moderation, like a tablespoon for cooking or as dressing for a salad. Flaxseed oil, which contains 7 grams of ALA per tablespoon, is another great anti-inflammatory option.

Herbs and spices

In addition to keeping dishes flavorful, herbs and spices are also considered part of a dynamic anti-inflammatory diet. Linsenmeyer especially recommends turmeric and ginger, which many studies find to be anti-inflammatory. Other herbs and spices recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties include cinnamon, cumin, chili peppers, garlic, clove, rosemary, sage and oregano, she says.

Limit sugar.

A diet that’s high in sugar is more inflammatory, says Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University and a U.S. News contributor. Still, Salge Blake, like many dietary experts, cautions against trying to cut things entirely out of the diet. Besides being difficult to sustain and usually unnecessary, extreme dietary changes or restrictions can lead to disordered eating. That said, limiting cakes, cookies and soda — what have become everyday indulgences for many — is key to strike a balance. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to about 12 teaspoons (for a 2,000 calorie diet) per day. By comparison, the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, and many have much more than that.

Limit refined carbohydrates.

Go easy on refined carbs such as white bread and crackers, which may also contribute to inflammation. In addition, sweets like doughnuts and pastries — with refined carbs and lots of refined sugar — are a double whammy if you’re trying to avoid inflammatory foods. If you’re a pasta fan, consider a whole-grain pasta over white, refined pasta. Generally speaking, whole foods are best — and highly processed, carb-heavy foods should be limited.

Avoid processed meat and red meat high in saturated fat.

An added benefit of consuming healthy fats is that you’re crowding out — or limiting — unhealthy ones in your diet that may be inflammatory, such as fatty red meats and processed meat like hot dogs and bacon. “So you’re eating a fish — a source that is very low in saturated fat and may be displacing in your diet a protein source that’s very high in saturated fat,” Salge Blake says. If you’re craving meat, look for lean proteins like poultry or leaner cuts of grass-fed beef, which may also be a good source of omega-3s.

Avoid trans fats.

Due to public health concerns, factory-made trans fats — aka partially hydrogenated oil — are mostly gone from foods today. Still, because of the risk they pose — like raising “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and the role they play in inflammation — it’s still worth double-checking food labels to make sure they don’t sneak into your diet. Trans fats are sometimes still included in processed baked goods and fried foods — essentially fare you’ll want to avoid or limit.

Alcohol in moderation and everything in context

Having a glass of wine with dinner isn’t discouraged with diets like the Mediterranean. But drinking in excess can increase inflammation, Salge Blake says. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines suggest having no more than one drink per day for women and two daily for men.) Ultimately, if you’re trying to reduce inflammation and improve your health through diet and lifestyle, the point is to consider everything you eat and drink. Look at the big picture of your lifestyle. “You can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to have salmon two meals a week, and then I’m going to smoke and take in excess alcohol, be overweight and (not) eat any fruits and vegetables,” Salge Blake stresses. “That’s not going to work.”

What to eat on an anti-inflammatory diet

— Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

— Whole grains.

— Beans.

— Salmon and other fatty fish.

— Walnuts.

— Olive oil and flaxseed oil.

— Herbs and spices, including turmeric and ginger.

Healthy Byte: Quick Circuit

Originally Posted HERE

Image result for leg circuit trainingour leg workout should be more than just heavy loaded structural barbell moves. As good as they are at building muscle and strength, back squats and deadlifts alone won’t cut it if you’re looking to develop a truly balanced body. You cant just smash your glutes and quads all the time—you need to include accessory exercises, too.

Trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. knows that, and that her busy clients are much more likely to be able to take on circuit workouts that only require one piece of equipment and some space to move around. She designed this lower body blaster to focus on the overlooked muscles (think hamstrings, adductors and abductors, and general stability and balance) by adding a twist to some of those commonly performed leg moves: deadlifts, squats, and lunges.

“If you’re looking to add some accessory exercises to your daily workouts that target different parts of the leg, here you go,” says Atkins. “In these exercises, all we are doing is adding minor deviations and different angles of a load to a few core exercises (squats, lunges, deadlifts).”

You can add this circuit to a larger leg workout with one of those heavy loaded barbell moves, or try it as a standalone routine. All you need is a dumbbell or kettlebell for a load. Check out this adjustable dumbbell set if you need one to do this at home.

Perform 8 to 10 reps of each exercise, with little to no rest between moves

  • Lateral Squat – Good for promoting flexibility in the adductors and movement for athletes who are always in the sagittal plane.
  • Sumo Squat – Another exercise promoting adductor flexibility with an emphasis on the outer hips.
  • Single-Leg Deadlift – The best exercise for the posterior chain: glutes, hamstrings, adductors). By focusing on one leg over the other, we’re able to get a very hip dominant exercise (less quad, more glute/hams), challenge balance, and encourage stability through the hip, knee, and ankle joints.
  • Curtsy Lunge – Opposite of the sumo squat, but also challenges balance, adductor strength, and abductor stability.

Add the circuit to your workouts by performing 3 sets all the way through. Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move.

Healthy Byte: Better for Weight Loss – Cardio or Strength Training?

Originally Posted HERE

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When it comes to losing weight, should you head to the treadmill or make gains in the weight room? In the long-standing debate, cardio enthusiasts say you’ll burn fat by torching calories when you increase that heart rate. Weight lifters, however, believe excess fat is best shed by increasing muscle mass because it causes you to burn more calories throughout the day.

So which is best?

Both arguments are true, according to Dr. Andy Galpin, PhD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT and Associate Professor at California State University, Fullerton.

You burn more calories when you’re heart rate is elevated, explains Galpin. You also burn more calories every second of the day when you have more muscle. However, the difference won’t be significant for most people, says Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D, C.S.C.S..

Ultimately, there isn’t just one “right” exercise,

“Fat loss for most people is simply a product of work,” he says. “The best exercise you ever do for fat loss is the one that you’re most consistent with.”

It makes sense that you’re less likely to lace up for that jog if you detest running. “Adherence and effort will determine a huge percentage of the fat loss pie,” says Galpin.

Galpin admits the answer isn’t satisfying, but claims most people won’t notice a huge difference in fat loss by choosing one type of modality.

There’s no need to spend hours on your deadlift if you’d rather run, but Galpin believes changing your routine has benefits that go beyond weight. It’s natural to get bored of the same spin class. Trying something new, like kickboxing or weight lifting, will feel less monotonous and improve your adherence, he asserts.

You also open yourself up to injuries by continually stressing the same muscles–especially if you have bad form.

“Over time it will catch you,” says Galpin.

Plus, losing weight shouldn’t be the only reason you work out.

Aerobic activities have long been praised for making your heart stronger, lowering blood pressure, and yes, burning calories. But studies show that regular cardiovascular activity may help lower stress, improve sleeping habits, and reduces joint stiffness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Strength training is also beneficial because it increases bone density, lean muscle mass, and metabolism, Mayo Clinic reported.

That said, working out won’t change the number on the scale if you’re living on pizza and fries. Earlier this year, researchers found that people who began an exercise plan ate about 90 more calories each day. This isn’t much, but it was enough to stall weight loss, according to the paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you’d think. For example, an 180-pound man who jogs a 10-minute mile for 30 minutes burns about 400 calories, according to ACE Fitness. To put this into perspective, a supreme slice from Pizza Hut contains 330 calories. That run likely wont negate extra calories from indulgent meals.

Unless you’re Rich Froning, chances are you won’t exercise away a day filled with pizza, french fries and donuts. Low calorie (but highly nutritious) foods that contain protein and fiber are important in a well-balanced diet.

“Fiber-rich foods provide a certain level of satiety and fullness,” Bethany Doerfler, MS, RDN, Clinical Dietitian at Northwestern University, previously told Men’s Health.

And you don’t have need to exercise to notice a difference in your waist size, says Schoenfeld.

“One of my suggestions is to just get off your butt,” he says. “Try to be as active as possible.”

Your body burns calories 24-hours a day–not just when you’re in the gym. Calories burned from taking a walk at lunch, standing throughout the day, and even cleaning the house all add up, he explains.

When it comes to planning your fitness routine, Schoenfeld says you should focus on more than just the numbers on the scale.

Think about your goals: Do you want to build muscle? Or would you prefer to work on endurance training?

If you simply want to feel and look better overall, include both cardio and strength training.

“Ideally both are beneficial,” says Schoenfeld.

Healthy Byte: Warding Off Dementia with Regular Activity

Originally Posted HERE

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Even if you are at high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, there are some factors in your control to lower your chances of developing it: Adhering to four simple health measures can reduce your risk for dementia, a new study published in JAMA found.

In the study, researchers evaluated over 1,700 participants, looking at both their genetic predisposition toward Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and their lifestyles. They gauged their lifestyle based on four factors: smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and diet.

Using four healthy behaviors to come up with a healthy lifestyle score, researchers evaluated over 1,700 participants with an average age of 64 on their lifestyles and their genetic risk. The lifestyle scores included whether a person smokes, their physical activity, alcohol consumption, and diet.

The healthiest lifestyle group did not smoke, participated in regular physical activity, reported moderate alcohol consumption, and followed a healthy diet.

Researchers classified one example of a “favorable” lifestyle as not smoking, cycling at a moderate pace for two and a half hours a week, eating a balanced diet that includes more than three portions of fruit and of vegetables a day, fish twice a week and little to no processed meats, and drinking no more than one pint of beera day. On the flip side, an unfavorable lifestyle included currently smoking regularly, not exercising regularly, eating a diet that includes less than three servings of fruit and of vegetables a week, two or more servings of processed meats and of red meat a week, and drinking three pints of beer a day.

Researchers tracked the participants for around eight years. Over the course of the study, 0.8 percent of those with a healthy lifestyle developed dementia while 1.2 percent of those living unhealthily did—a pattern that held true even when taking into account those at higher genetic risk for dementia, Elzbieta Kuzma, Ph.D., research fellow in Neuroepidemiology at the College of Medicine and Health at the University of Exeter in the U.K, told Bicycling.

In fact, of those with a high genetic risk, having a healthy lifestyle cut their chances of dementia by 32 percent, compared to those living an unhealthy lifestyle. What’s more, participants with a high genetic risk and an unhealthy lifestyle were nearly three times as likely to develop dementia than those with a low genetic risk and healthy lifestyle, Kuzma said.

Though the study did not specifically look at why a healthy lifestyle can help ward off dementia, Kuzma explained that a healthy lifestyle tends to improve various cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors can also affect brain health, like high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and veggies and rich in heart-healthy fish has been known to reduce dementia risk, possibly because it helps tamp down inflammation.