Many leading causes of death, including heart disease, are tied to an individual’s weight. Recently, several researchers have been trying to determine to what extent this correlation is true—especially since nearly three-quarters of American adults are at risk.
Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Arizona State University, describes the six stages of what he calls the “Weight Loss Futile Cycle” as (1) Desire to weigh less, (2) Weight loss attempts, (3) Failure to reach weight-loss goal or maintain weight loss, (4) Frustration and reduced adherence to weight-loss program, (5) Weight regain/overshoot, and (6) Obesity prevalence. And then there you are back at square one. Sound familiar?
“The weight-loss message is not, and has not been, working,” Gaesser told WebMD in December. “The health benefits of exercise and diet are largely independent of weight loss.”
Previous studies have proven that ramping up physical activity lowers the risk of death from any cause by 15 to 50%. It also decreases the risk of heart disease by as much as 40%. The benefit of regular exercise is even more drastic when the activity improves your heart health (increasing circulation, lowering blood pressure, slowing your resting heart rate). Hopping from the least-fit to most-fit category can slash mortality risk by 30 to 60%, researchers say.
But, the benefits only stick around as long as the fitness routine stays in place.
“Adherence to exercise is just as challenging as adherence to diets. I think one of the reasons is that exercise has been promoted primarily as a means to lose weight,” Gaesser said in the WebMD interview.
It’s a constant battle for reasons in and out of our control. In a July 2021 review of 149 studies that involved exercise interventions of 2 weeks to 12 months, participants lost an average of 3 to 8 pounds. The human body isn’t designed to like to lose weight, so it may slow the metabolism by about 28% in an attempt to make up for calories burned during exercise, an October 2021 study suggests. It can also increase appetite.
Being aware of the gap between anticipated and actual weight loss is important, according to Gaesser. Seeing a lower number on a scale is not a healthy goal; gaining fitness through an exercise regime suited to the individual is. Staring down at a scale can be discouraging. Eliminating that from a fitness routine may help those tempted to throw in the towel.
Gaesser’s encouraging bottom line, according to his study: “Emphasizing the intrinsic value of [physical activity] and [cardiorespiratory fitness]—as primary outcomes—may avoid repeating ‘failures’ associated with a weight-centric approach.”
Light Physical Activity Might Be Enough to Stave Off Dementia, New Research Says
Karla WalshDecember 27, 2021·4 min read
Did you know the most popular New Year’s resolution year after year is to exercise more? While that’s a valiant goal, more is not always better—especially if you set such a lofty goal that you can’t stick with it … and subsequently feel like a failure and quit trying.
But you might not need to focus on going from 0 to 100 to benefit your body and your brain. Lightly active adults reduced their risk for dementia by a sizable 20% after a 3½ year follow-up compared to their inactive peers, according to a study published December 16 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
There’s no cure (yet) for dementia and its most common type, Alzheimer’s disease. So doctors are hustling to determine which lifestyle habits may reduce the risk or at least delay the onset of dementia.
For this study, a team of Korean researchers tapped into medical records in the Korean National Health Insurance Service database for 62,286 participants who were 65 or older and who had not yet received a dementia diagnosis. The individuals were about 60% women and 40% men, with an average age of 73. Each person recorded his or her physical activity including frequency, intensity and duration of exercise via a self-reported questionnaire. After 3½ years, on average, the researchers followed up and found that 6% of the participants had developed dementia.
Using these reports, the researchers split the group into levels: inactive, insufficiently active, active and highly active. In terms of dementia risk, after accounting for age, sex and other diseases, they found:
Inactive participants were the baseline
Insufficiently active participants were at 10% lower risk for dementia
Active participants were at 20% lower risk for dementia
Highly active participants were at 28% lower risk for dementia
Moving from sedentary to just some “light-intensity physical activity is associated with metabolism, and this vascular, cellular and metabolic change by light-intensity physical activity could be beneficial in reducing dementia risk,” Boyoung Joung, M.D., a professor of internal medicine at Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and the study’s corresponding author tells Medical News Today.
That said, this study cannot prove any causal link. In other words, are people who are likely to develop dementia naturally less active because they’re already experiencing some mild symptoms? Or could other factors be at play and the exercise rates just be a coincidence—or misreported, since these were questionnaires that could be fibbed on?
“The idea that physical activity reduces the risk of dementia is entirely plausible, and these findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting this idea,” John Gallacher, Ph.D., director of Dementias Platform UK at Oxford University, tells Medical News Today. “The problem is reverse causation—that is, that people with dementia exercise less. This study goes some way to addressing this by looking at incident events and dropping subjects with incident dementia in the first 2 years of follow-up.”
Physical activity could trigger metabolism changes, improve overall chronic disease risk factors, slow cell aging and promote brain plasticity, though, so it’s possible this could be a causal relationship. More research is needed, though.
“All these arguments apart, the balance of risk is that exercise is good for you, and a little goes a long way,” Gallacher adds.
Health experts believe that more than 1 in 3 dementia cases can be prevented through lifestyle modifications and, in the future, researchers hope to dedicate time to longer-range studies with more breakouts in terms of exercise styles, time and beyond.
For now, it’s still wise to lace up those shoes and sneak in a walk, bike ride, dance session or yoga routine with a goal of working up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, per World Health Organization guidelines.
Experts Say These Are the Only Workouts You Should Try for Weight Loss in 2022
by Tiffany AyudaDecember 30, 2021·13 min read
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When you’re working hard to get fit and lose weight, you want a routine that provides maximum results. And you don’t even need to become a gym rat; studies show that shorter bouts of exercise are more effective for fat loss. But what kind of exercise burns the most calories?
Cardio, of course, will crush cals. Running on a treadmill will burn 25-39% more calories than doing kettlebell swings at the same level of exertion, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. But your best bet for weight loss is a routine that combines cardio and strength.- ADVERTISEMENT -https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-10-1/html/r-sf-flx.html
If you’re walking or running like mad without results, building muscle may be key to moving the scale. Why? Because muscles are metabolically active, so they burn calories even when you’re not exercising. To fit cardio and strength into your workout, consider interval training, which experts say is one of the best ways to burn fat.
The benefits of interval training
Working out in intervals is one way to reap the benefits of cardio and strength, while maximizing your calorie burn in a short amount of time. Interval workouts involve alternating between short bursts of intense effort and periods of lower intensity or rest. The intensity resets your metabolism to a higher rate during your workout, so it takes hours for your body to cool down again. This is what’s known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). That means you burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout compared to doing a workout at a continuous moderate pace (a.k.a. LISS), according to a 2017 study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology.
“Intervals are a great way to promote weight loss beyond just the EPOC effect. A lot of weight loss comes from the mental side of the spectrum too,” says Chris Ryan, one of MIRROR’s founding trainers. “Intervals offer a great way to harness individual victories after each rep or round of exercise—and not simply looking at the workout as a whole.”
To help you find the a calorie-burning workout that fits your lifestyle and goals, we rounded up the best exercises for weight loss here. If you’re working out in intervals, do the exercise for 30 seconds every minute and rest for the remaining 30 seconds. As you progress, you can increase your time to 45 seconds of activity and 15 seconds of rest. Remember, you want to be working at your maximum—leaving you out of breath by the end of that interval.
So if you want to implement interval training into your fitness routine to rev up your metabolism, here are the best exercises for weight loss.
Whether you love or hate it, running is one of the best and simplest ways to burn calories—and you don’t need a treadmill to do it. Just lace up your shoes and hit the road. Running in intervals—speeding up and slowing down your pace—will help make the minutes and miles go by quickly. Run in fartleks, which means speedplay in Swedish, where you pick up the pace every other street lamp or water hydrant you hit, and then slow down after you pass the next one.
“The best way to burn calories while running is to vary your workouts,” says Natalie Dorset, a running coach in New York. “If you’re doing the same workout week after week, your body won’t have anything to adapt to. Vary the speed within a workout, do some bursts of faster running, but also mix up the types of runs you do. Whether it’s slow and steady, comfortable and hard, or intervals, variety is the key to constant adaptation.”
“Sprinting helps engage the core and offers shorter durations of runs at higher intensities,” Ryan adds. He also notes that running slow is relatively easy on your body as far as exertion is perceived, but running fast at 80% of your capability is even harder, pushing your body even more to its limits. This conditions your body to get used to this kind of stress. “There is definitely something to be said about getting comfortable being uncomfortable on your runs, so skip the road and head to a track or soccer field for some sprints next time,” he says.
TRY a Fartlek sprinting routine: Start out with a 5-minute jog. Then alternate between 10-second sprint intervals and 50-second moderately-paced jogs. Use that jog to catch your breath, then hit the next sprint hard. Perform these intervals for 15 minutes, then end with a 5-minute jog. When you start feeling stronger in your runs, try upping the sprint effort to 20 seconds with 40 seconds of jogging.
If the last time you held a jump rope was in grade school, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. This calorie-busting workout can burn up to 318 calories (for a 140-pound woman) every 30 minutes—and your heart isn’t the only muscle that’s working hard.
Jumping rope is a full-body workout. It fires up your quads and glutes to help you explode from the ground, and engages your core to keep you upright and stable as you land back down. Jumping rope also involves a little arm and shoulder action, as they remain tight while the rope movement comes from the wrists.
“Jumping rope is a great way to burn calories while improving cardiovascular health, all-over-toning, and coordination, and it will help build power while lowering your risk of injury,” Dorset says.
TRY this Crossrope routine: Start with 60 seconds of freestyle jump roping. You can jump with two feet, one foot, alternate, skip, or twist your hips. You can have some fun with this one. Next, put down your rope and do 30 seconds of mountain climbers. Return for 60 seconds of freestyle jump roping. End with 30 seconds in a plank. Rest for 2 minutes and repeat the cycle. Complete 3 rounds.
Strength training can help you build lean muscle mass and rev up your metabolism, which starts to slow down once you hit your 30s. “The more muscle you have, the less fat you have since your metabolism runs higher,” Ryan says. “A higher metabolism leads to more calories burned and more fat lost.”
Resistance training also helps prevent osteoporosis. According to Wolff’s law, bone grows in response to the forces that are placed upon it. So if you lift heavier, your bones grow stronger as a response. “It also works on force production to maintain shoulder, hip, and spine strength, which enables your whole body to lead to a healthier life long into your later years,” Ryan says. Deadlifts, anyone?
TRY a basic dumbbell circuit: Pick up one dumbbell and complete 10 squats, 10 dumbbell rows per arm, and 10 of any push-up variation of your choice. Move right into the next exercise as you finish the reps. Do 3 rounds. Rest for 1-2 minutes in between each round. To make it more challenging, increase the weight of the dumbbell or use two.
Kickboxing is a great way to burn calories, sculpt muscles, and get in some serious stress relief! By driving power from your legs, your arms are able to throw major jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts, making it a full-body exercise. It will also test your coordination and endurance—all essential things that make you a better athlete in and out of the ring.
“Kickboxing works your core, legs, and specifically your obliques to newfound glory by pumping up your heart and lungs,” Ryan says. “But it also helps you work on balance, coordination, and proprioception. It truly is a mind meets muscle exercise if there ever was one.”
TRY five kicking combos from the DailyBurn: Take these combos and perform 8 reps of each as long as you can for 30 minutes. Rest as needed. Play your favorite fight music and stay strong!
Spinning, whether it’s on an actual bike or a stationary one, is one of the best ways to burn calories and build endurance. “Spinning is a great weight-loss activity that is relatively low impact and targets the biggest, strongest muscles in the body,” Ryan says of the glutes and hamstrings. “When you engage your biggest muscles, you set off hormones to produce more muscles, similar to strength training, which helps to burn fat across your whole body,” he adds.
If you don’t like running, spinning is a low-impact alternative that’ll crank up your heart rate.
But there’s more to pushing the pedal than speed. By practicing good form and engaging your core as well as your thighs and glutes, spinning can be a full-body workout. Whether you’re doing a heavy climb in first position or sprinting in second, your core is the key to spinning efficiently and quickly. And as you drive your foot down with each stroke, it’s all about squeezing your inner thighs.
TRY a spinning interval routine: Warm up on the bike for 10 minutes. Go as hard as you can for 30 seconds; pedal easy for 60 seconds. Repeat four times except after the fourth work interval, pedal easy for four minutes. Repeat the whole cycle three more times for a total of 37 minutes of exercise.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT workouts are, by far, one of the most effective ways to burn calories and hike up your metabolism. The best part is, these workouts don’t have to last very long. Some HIIT workouts can last for only 10 minutes, but it’s only effective if you push your body to its limits with all-out energy. Research has shown that HIIT can help burn belly fat, a.k.a. the worst kind of fat that puts you at risk for heart disease and other health conditions.
Throughout, form is key. “Even though you are moving through movements at high intensities, you still need to make form paramount to avoid injury,” Ryan says. “Think less about the load/tension or weight intensity and focus more on completing the reps and sets in a sound manner and building load safely.”
If you haven’t used your gym’s rowing machine, you’re missing out on one of the best pieces of cardio and strength equipment. Working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, arms, and back, you get a total-body workout that’ll have you pouring sweat. Contrary to what most people think, the power of rowing mostly comes from your legs—not your arms. Engaging your quads and glutes, you drive your legs back to pull the handle toward your chest.
“Rowing is a great weight-loss tool because it incorporates the best out of the cardio and strength worlds, with a focus on pulling and opening up the hips and shoulders. At the same time, you’re working your heart and lungs,” Ryan says. Because many people have desk jobs, our backs tend to be rounded. Rowing helps correct this by opening your spine, hips, and shoulders, Ryan says.
TRY a 15-minute rowing routine: Start with a 5-minute warm up, rowing at a slow, consistent pace. Then move up to a moderate pace (about 22 strokes per minute) for 5 minutes. End the workout with a 5-minute cool down.
Don’t be fooled by the elliptical! It might look an easy machine, casually spinning your legs while watching TV or reading a magazine. But if you crank up the resistance and work at a hard pace, it’ll leave you breathless. “Riding the elliptical at an easy clip will not do much, but magic happens when the lungs start working and the blood starts pumping,” Ryan says. Be sure to stand up straight to lengthen your abs and engage your upper-body muscles. Making use of the handles and swinging your arms will help you blast more fat and calories.
Dorset adds that machines like the elliptical are a good option to keep the weight loss going while protecting your body from extra stress: “The elliptical is great for providing lower impact while maintaining fitness,” Dorset says. “It’s particularly good for helping precent injury at the onset of for coming back to running when recovering from an injury.”
TRY working out like Jennifer Aniston: As reported by Vogue in 2017, the Friends star likes to hit the elliptical for 20 or more minutes. She’ll raise the incline, then alternate between walking for 1 minute and running for 2 minutes.
No matter how fit you are, climbing up a flight of stairs is always a challenge. That’s because steps are designed to be short so that you have to engage additional muscles, like your glutes, quads, and calves, to bring your entire body up.
“The StairMaster offers a great way to strengthen the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Working the biggest, strongest muscles in the body keep your metabolic rate high, and your body strong and toned,” Ryan says. So, climb a set of stairs or try out a StairMaster machine next time you’re at the gym.
TRY aHIIT StairMaster workout. In this interval circuit, you’ll work your way from a comfortable, moderate pace to an all-out effort.
Battle ropes are an excellent, no-fuss way to get a full-body strength training and cardio workout. Working at a high intensity, battle ropes will increase your heart rate in seconds. “There is something extremely fun and satisfying about slamming heavy ropes repeatedly,” Ryan says. “It not only burns the lungs and muscles in the best way possible, but it also offers a sense of accomplishment by taking out anything that has been bothering you throughout the day.”
To use them properly: Hold one end of the rope with each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your chest up as you alternate whipping your arms to send waves down to the rope anchor. Experiment with different tempos and movement, whipping faster with one arm while slamming the rope hard with the other.
TRY this 15-minute routine: Start with making alternating waves with each arm. For the next 5 minutes, try to maintain these waves. Don’t worry about speed or intensity. Just try to endure. Try this for another 2 rounds. Rest 1 minute in between rounds.
Good news if you don’t enjoy the pounding effects of running on your body: Swimming is an excellent workout that combines cardio with strength training in one low-impact workout. Water adds an element of resistance, forcing you to recruit more muscles to move efficiently and use oxygen wisely. Need more motivation to hit the pool? “Simply being in water around 78 degrees for your workout helps to burn even more calories than on land because your body’s natural temperature is 98.6 degrees. It fights to keep itself warm in water by burning calories and fat,” Ryan says.
You’re also using your legs, arms, and core to help you stay afloat, making swimming a great total-body exercise for building strength and endurance.
Yoga is an ideal low-impact exercise for weight loss. High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, and research shows that yoga can help decrease stress. Plus, yoga increases flexibility, strength, and coordination. If you’re on a mission to lose weight, a consistent practice can help you slim down when paired with a clean diet. And if you’re looking for an extra way to burn calories during your yoga practice, take up a power yoga class in a hot studio: Not only will you burn more calories while you sweat, but power moves and faster vinyasas will help you get tone.
5 Things to Do in 2022 for Better Heart Health, According to the American Heart Association
Leah GogginsDecember 27, 2021·4 min read
After a few weeks of enjoying rich meals and seasonal sweets, the new year marks a fresh start and for many, that means making some healthy changes. Whether you’re looking for a little post-holiday reset or some tips to stick to for years to come, you might appreciate some guidance on how, exactly, you can make changes that are easy to stick to. Luckily for those looking to improve their heart health, the American Heart Association (AHA) just shared a roundup of easy-to-achieve goals and resolutions that will help you take care of your ticker in the new year.
“The most important thing is to set realistic expectations and start with small changes that you can amp up over time,” said American Heart Association volunteer cardiologist John A. Osborne, M.D, Ph.D., in a press release. “And if you get off track, don’t be discouraged or give up. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes time, so be kind to yourself and realize that making a new, healthy start doesn’t always need to coincide with January 1.”
Even if heart health isn’t your top concern in the new year, you can’t go wrong staying on top of your cardiovascular wellbeing. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And, a recent study found that 40% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 without a heart-disease diagnosis still had early signs of a condition called atherosclerosis that put them at a greater risk of experiencing a heart attack (read more on that specific study here). You can never start taking care of your ticker too early. Read on for five ways you can stay on top of your heart health in 2022.
1. Take it one step at a time.
You don’t need to tackle all of these goals at once. Look for ways to sneak some healthier options onto your plate or find ten minutes in the day to stretch your legs between meetings. Simple changes add up.
“Balance food and calorie intake with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight,” the AHA recommends. As long as you find a version of exercise that you enjoy, it doesn’t matter what it is—though research suggests that both strength training and high-intensity interval training are both excellent ways to protect your heart. Going for an afternoon walk has plenty of benefits too, so those who prefer something low-impact are in good shape.
4. Give yourself a break.
Stress can be tough on the heart. Whether you have a pet whose presence helps you relax or a walking path that helps you clear your head, giving yourself time to enjoy the things that relax you can make a big difference. Try meditation if you’re looking for a calming activity to add to your routine.
5. Make a plan.
You don’t have to meal prep every week if that’s not your style—but you should think about meals and snacks ahead of time if you want to set yourself up for success, the AHA says. When you’re making your next big grocery list, think about adding heart-healthy items like anti-inflammatory foods and whole grains to your cart. Or, if you’d like to start meal planning for the week but need some inspiration, look to simple ideas like this meal plan for beginners.
You don’t have to center healthy changes around a new year’s resolution this year. Instead, focus on simple, manageable goals that you can take on day by day. Adding heart-healthy ingredients to your meals and taking care of yourself the best you can are both simple, effective ways to stay healthy in the new year.
Mayo Clinic discovers high-intensity aerobic training can reverse aging processes in adults
March 10, 2017
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but what type of training helps most, especially when you’re older – say over 65? A Mayo Clinic study says it’s high-intensity aerobic exercise, which can reverse some cellular aspects of aging. The findings appear in Cell Metabolism.
Mayo researchers compared high-intensity interval training, resistance training and combined training. All training types improved lean body mass and insulin sensitivity, but only high-intensity and combined training improved aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function for skeletal muscle. Decline in mitochondrial content and function are common in older adults.
High-intensity intervals also improved muscle protein content that not only enhanced energetic functions, but also caused muscle enlargement, especially in older adults. The researchers emphasized an important finding: Exercise training significantly enhanced the cellular machinery responsible for making new proteins. That contributes to protein synthesis, thus reversing a major adverse effect of aging. However, adding resistance training is important to achieve significant muscle strength.
“We encourage everyone to exercise regularly, but the take-home message for aging adults that supervised high-intensity training is probably best, because, both metabolically and at the molecular level, it confers the most benefits,” says K. Sreekumaran Nair, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and senior researcher on the study. He says the high-intensity training reversed some manifestations of aging in the body’s protein function. He cautioned that increasing muscle strength requires resistance training a couple of days a week.
The study’s goal was to find evidence that will help develop targeted therapies and exercise recommendations for individuals at various ages. Researchers tracked metabolic and molecular changes in a group of young and older adults over 12 weeks, gathering data 72 hours after individuals in randomized groups completed each type of exercise. General findings showed:
Cardio respiratory health, muscle mass and insulin sensitivity improved with all training.
Mitochondrial cellular function declined with age but improved with training.
Increase in muscle strength occurred only modestly with high-intensity interval training but occurred with resistance training alone or when added to the aerobic training.
Exercise improves skeletal muscle gene expression independent of age.
Exercise substantially enhanced the ribosomal proteins responsible for synthesizing new proteins, which is mainly responsible for enhanced mitochondrial function.
Training has no significant effect on skeletal muscle DNA epigenetic changes but promotes skeletal muscle protein expression with maximum effect in older adults.
Co-authors on the article are all from Mayo Clinic:
HIIT’s definition is a heckuva lot more simple than you might think, says Annie Mulgrew, founding instructor for CITYROW in New York City and NASM-certified CPT. “High-intensity interval training is a form of interval training that alternates between short bursts of intense energy or activity followed by minimal rest, ideally until that person is unable to continue,” she explains.
What Makes A HIIT Workout
And, as Mulgrew notes, HIIT can be just about anything—from swimming to running to mountain climbers in your apartment to even weight training. The key, she says, is ensuring that the “short burst of energy” is at least 80 percent of your maximum effort (so, 8 on a scale of 10).
“For HIIT to be effective, your ‘on’ intervals need to be all-out,” she says. Mulgrew also notes that your rest period shouldn’t exceed your active period (try, 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off). That rest period can contain no movement or moderate-effort movement—that part really isn’t important, she says. Those maximum-effort bursts are where the gains are made, Mulgrew reiterates.
In Mulgrew’s CITYROW classes, for example, that on/off scheme translates to both meters rowed on the rowing machine, as well as resistance training off the rower. “You may find short rowing distance repeats or hip thrusters programmed as 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off,” she says.
If you’re using weights for your HIIT workout, choose a weight that allows you to complete 10 to 20 reps repeatedly in your “on” periods, Mulgrew recommends. Beginners should aim for no more than 20 minutes of HIIT total. And if you’re a total HIIT nut, keep it no longer than 50 to 60 minutes (so the actual HIIT portion of the workout is around 30 minutes and the warm-up/cool-down roughly 20 minutes). “Going any longer than that would most likely mean you’re not able to maintain the intensity you need in order to achieve the benefits of a HIIT workout,” she says.
5 Benefits Of HIIT
Speaking of benefits, here are five major health perks associated with HIIT, plus, how to maximize your next interval workout.
1. You’ll burn a boatload of calories—even after you’ve finished working out.
Although aerobic exercise is a great tool in maintaining your heart health, as far as weight loss tactics go, that steady-state run isn’t the best calorie-burner. And while weight training is typically the most reliable weight loss tactic when it comes to fitness type (remember though, weight loss is achieved through a calorie deficit, which is most easily achieved through diet), if there is one form of cardio that blasts calories, it’s HIIT.
One 2015 study (of healthy men) that compared calorie burn after 30 minutes of HIIT to other forms of steady-state exercise noted that HIIT burned 25 to 30 percent more calories. Other studies (also on men) have noted that HIIT propels your production of human growth hormone, or HGH, upwards of 450 percent in the 24 hours following a session, increasing overall calorie burn.
2. They may help you lose fat quicker (especially around the midsection).
Yep—a study in Journal of Diabetes Research confirmed this. The researchers divided obese, sedentary women into groups: those who partook in a HIIT program and those who did a moderate-intensity (but continuous energy expenditure) routine. The former group achieved similar body composition and aerobic capacity results in half the time.
3. It doesn’t require doing crazy workout moves.
One major (assumed) drawback to HIIT, of course, is the notion you need to be flying, flailing, bounding, and sprinting (with a series of complicated tools, no less) in order to achieve a solid workout. But as Mulgrew points out, the hallmark of HIIT lies in exertion, not the modality, so pretty much any form of exercise fits—and that includes the simplest form of cardio there is: walking.
In one Japanese study, for five months, 700 middle- and older-aged adults engaged in walking intervals (shorter bursts of speed interspersed with periods of rest). At the conclusion of the study, the individuals had noticeably improved endurance and strength.
4. HIIT keeps your brain in shape.
Studies have shown that regular HIIT exercise can boost your memory and make you sharper in everyday decision-making. One (potential) reason why, according to Mulgrew: “During a HIIT workout, you have to stay focused,” she explains.
5. It’s the perfect exercise for that perpetually strapped-for-time person.
And, what’s more, you don’t have to sweat for very long in order to see results. A 2006 study compared two groups of college men for two weeks: those who did stationary bicycling at a moderate pace for roughly an hour-and-a-half to two hours for three times a week, and those who did six 30-second all-out sprints with four minutes of recovery.
Surprise, surprise: The HIIT-ers were just as fit (in terms of exercise performance and muscle growth) as those moderate-intensity exercisers by the end of the trial—with far less time invested.
How to Get the Most From Your HIIT Workout
Here, Mulgrew shares her top tips for ensuring you blast through your next HIIT session.
Prepare to go all-out. “Choose exercises that you know how to perform well and that you are able to perform at an intense level (again at least 80 percent intensity),” Mulgrew says. “Monitor rest and keep it strict.”
But don’t sacrifice form. In that same vein, choosing exercises you know how to do well ensures you’re not attempting to move your body in a new (and potentially injuring-causing) position. When in doubt, keep the “burst” simple.
Warm up extra well. Mulgrew recommends doing five to 10 (or more) minutes of dynamic stretching prior to jumping into a HIIT workout. “If you’re doing traditional cardio HIIT work, establish a baseline of intensities at 50 to 70 percent intensity, and then build from there,” she explains. “I always suggest doing the exercises you’ll perform during your HIIT workout, but non-loaded, so your body knows how to move well first before going at higher intensities.”
Put your phone away. “HIIT requires you to be attentive and focused,” Mulgrew says. “You cannot get distracted. Otherwise, you will lose track of the clock. Use HIIT as a great way to give yourself your own full attention.”
How to: Start in a squat (feet under shoulders, toes facing forward, thighs parallel to floor) with torso upright and hands clasped in front of chest. Press through feet to straighten legs and jump up off the floor while swinging straight arms behind body. Land back in a squat position. That’s one rep. Perform as many reps as possible for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat five times.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Push Press
How to: Start standing with feet just wider than hips, a kettlebell in right hand, right arm bent with elbow close to body so that the weight rests on shoulder, and left hand on hip. Sink hips slightly into a quarter-squat. Then, quickly push through feet to extend legs, simultaneously pressing kettlebell straight up until right arm is completely extended overhead. With control, lower kettlebell back down. That’s one rep. Perform as many reps as possible for 45 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for five rounds.
How to: Start in a high plank, shoulders over wrists, pelvis tucked, and ribs drawn toward hips. Drive your right knee toward your chest, then the left. Pull your right knee back toward your chest and pause. Repeat the pattern starting with the left knee. Aim completing 45 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete for five rounds.
How to: Start in a low plank with forearms on the floor and parallel, elbows under shoulders. Pick up right forearm and press through palm to extend arm straight. Then, repeat with left to come into a high plank, keeping hips as level as possible. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform as many reps as possible for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for five rounds.
Can Intermittent Fasting Really Help You Lose Weight and Live Longer?
Arricca Elin SanSoneOctober 11, 2021·6 min read
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Maybe you’ve tried intermittent fasting (IF) to shed a few (pandemic!) pounds, since the hope and potential for weight loss is what this eating plan is best known for. And yes, scientists are looking into whether or not it really is effective at helping people slim down. But some studies show that IF—in which you only eat during a specified time period—may have other possible long-term health benefits as well.
“The goal with IF is improving metabolic health, reducing the risk of certain conditions such as diabetes, and increasing longevity,” says Laura Kelly, C.N.S., L.D.N., an advanced genomic nutritionist at Nutritional Genomics Institute. “One theory as to why fasting may be beneficial is that during the fasting period, the body’s cells are under mild stress, similar to exercise. The cells respond to this stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and to resist disease.”
The most popular IF methods include:
Alternate day fasting
5/2 fasting, which involves eating regularly for 5 days, with 2 non-consecutive fast days.
Time-restricted fasting, which limits eating within a certain window of time each day. This method appeals to many people because you can tailor the timing to your lifestyle and schedule, says Kelly. For example, some people may fast from 8 pm until lunch around noon the next day, or they may eat only between the hours of 9 am to 3 pm.
“Intermittent fasting doesn’t have a standard definition or regimen,” says Deborah Cohen, D.C.N., R.D.N., associate professor in the department of clinical and preventive nutrition sciences at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Because of the number of different methods, it’s difficult to study and compare them, and we have limited evidence beyond six months about its benefits. Many of the studies also involve a very small number of participants.”
Because of this, there’s a lot we don’t know yet about IF—but here’s what researchers have found out about the emerging science behind the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting, and answers to your top questions about it:
Is intermittent fasting safe?
For most healthy individuals, it’s fine to follow a fasting regimen. “There’s nothing really harmful in trying it if you have no underlying health issues, such as diabetes,” says Cohen. “And if it promotes weight loss, that can have great psychological benefits, which may spur you on to other healthy behaviors such as making regular exercise part of your life, too.”
Can anyone try intermittent fasting?
Still, most experts agree that some people should steer clear of IF altogether. That includes kids and adolescents because they have higher calorie needs due to ongoing growth and development; women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes; and anyone with a history of eating disorders, says Cohen.
Can you eat whatever you want when you’re not in a fasting period?
Intermittent fasting isn’t a free pass to eat anything you want, contrary to what you may have heard (or wish were true!). You still should avoid processed foods, eat more whole foods from plants and animals, and get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. “Your eating plan should be something you can follow the rest of your life to promote good health,” says Cohen.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Here’s what the science says about the ways IF might help you get healthier.
One study with 150 participants for 50 weeks showed IF to be as effective as (though not more effective than) a diet that restricts calories; other small studies have shown that IF will help you lose weight in the short-term. A review of 27 trials found that weight loss from .8 percent to 13 percent of baseline body weight occurred with IF, though the researchers pointed out that larger studies of longer duration are needed. In 16 of the studies that measured BMI, the participants’ BMI decreased by 4.3 percent, says Kelly. Reducing the daily eating window may also decrease caloric intake for the whole day, resulting in weight loss without restrictive calorie counting.
There’s some research showing potential benefits to heart health. Short-term studies show IF may be beneficial for regulating blood glucose levels and lipid panels (meaning cholesterol and other blood fats), though those effects may be partially related to the weight loss itself. A small 12-week study showed a decrease in waist circumference and visceral fat in people with metabolic syndrome. In addition, a small short-term study found that following an 8-hour time restricted feeding resulted in a slight reduction in systolic blood pressure (decrease of 7mmHg) over a 12-week period in obese subjects. However, it’s important to remember that while short-term gains are good, if you’re trying to prevent complications with conditions such as blood pressure, it’s important that those gains stick around long term, says Cohen.
Chronic inflammation is associated with a long list of health conditions, including dementia, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, says Cohen. While mice studies have demonstrated that short periods of fasting (24 hours) show a reduction in inflammatory markers, a small human study showed IF reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory factors such as homocysteine and C reactive protein, which contribute to the development of plaque in the arteries. Another small eight-week study in overweight patients showed an improvement of asthma symptoms including better pulmonary function.
Some research has shown that IF induces a process called autophagy, which plays a role in the functions of your immune system, including cell survival, cell defense, and regulation of immune responses, says Kelly. For example, autophagy is necessary for T cell production and survival in fighting off bacterial and viral infections. Preliminary research is exploring how to harness this process as a strategy for treating diseases such as Long COVID.
Decades of research has shown that rodents on fasting diets live longer. Human research also is exploring how fasting may influence circadian rhythms to increase longevity, says Kelly. Circadian rhythms, which affect physiological functions such as sleep and metabolism, are regulated by clock genes. These genes may become disrupted by age, illness, and environmental factors such as poor diet and stress. Studies have shown that fasting may optimize and “reset” these clock genes.
All of these studies show that scientists are on the hunt to figure out the real benefits of IF, whether the potential benefits last long-term, and which people would get the most out of trying out this way of eating. As the research continues, we’ll learn more about how IF may be one more useful tool for helping us live longer, healthier lives.
The Best Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Long Term, According to Experts
Jessica BallOctober 28, 2021·7 min read
There are many indicators of health, and weight is just one of them. That said, weight loss is a popular goal for many people trying to improve their health. There are several benefits associated with losing a few pounds through healthy methods, like better blood sugar control, healthier blood pressure and lower chronic disease risk. And even though you’ve probably heard that good nutrition and physical activity can lead to weight loss, it’s easier said than done.
Your whole lifestyle plays a part in getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. When it comes to diet and exercise, you can’t really have one without the other. But they might be more valuable at different times in your weight loss journey. So what’s the best formula to lose weight and keep it off? We took a look at the research and spoke with weight loss dietitian, Lainey Younkin, M.S., RD, LDN (follow her at Lainey Younkin Nutrition) to find out.
How Is Weight Loss Different Than Weight Maintenance?
Weight loss is often thought of as “calories in, calories out”, but it’s not quite that simple. How many calories you need in a day is influenced by many factors, including age, activity level, body composition, illness, injury and more. The amount of energy (aka calories) our body uses each day is also known as our metabolism. Aside from calories we burn during exercise, there are three ways our body burns calories: basal metabolic rate (how much energy is needed to keep your heart pumping and lungs breathing), thermic effect of food (the energy it takes to digest what we eat) and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (think of walking to work or going up stairs). The vast majority of our body’s energy is spent on our basal metabolic rate.
Losing weight can actually slow down our metabolism a bit (think: a smaller body requires less energy to heat than a larger one). That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you might need to be a little more strategic when trying to lose weight. Let’s break down what your primary focus should be for weight loss and weight maintenance, and how they differ.
The Most Important Thing for Weight Loss
There are many ways to lose weight, but one of the most common ways is by establishing a calorie deficit. This means consuming fewer calories than your body burns per day. “Research shows that exercise is not the way to lose weight. A calorie deficit is required for weight loss, but studies show it is easier to create and maintain a calorie deficit through changing your diet rather than exercising,” advises Younkin. So, when you’re first starting out, try to focus on what’s on your plate rather than constantly hitting the gym. Lucky for you, we have a variety of weight-loss meal plans that please any palate.
However, going on a restrictive diet is not a way to lose weight for good. “Going on a diet is not the way to sustainably lose weight. Instead of drastically cutting calories and dropping a bunch of weight quickly, you want to create a small calorie deficit that you can keep up with over time,” shares Younkin. “This can be done by eating smaller portions, increasing vegetable and protein intake and reducing intake of simple carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol.”
The Most Important Thing for Weight Maintenance
“After you’ve lost five to 10 percent of your body weight, research suggests maintaining that weight for six months before trying to lose again (that is, if you still have weight to lose). This is how you can permanently move your set point—the weight range your body likes to stay in—down over time,” says Younkin. But maintaining weight loss is notoriously challenging. In fact, a study in BioPsychoSocial Medicinefound that nearly 70 percent of people were unsuccessful in maintaining a 10 percent weight loss for two years. This might make it seem like the odds are stacked against you, but actually weight maintenance can be successful with a change in focus from weight loss habits.
Research has found that exercise might be more important than diet when trying to maintain weight loss. The number one thing that people have in common who have lost weight and kept it off is daily moderate to vigorous exercise. In fact, a study in the journal Obesityfound that people who lost an average of 58 pounds and kept it off, exercised for around 40 minutes per day. This exercise didn’t have to be consecutive, and could include 10-minute bouts throughout the day, too.
But why is exercise more important than diet if diet helped you lose weight in the first place? It all comes down to a balance of calories. While weight loss requires a calorie deficit, weight maintenance requires a calories balance—no deficit but also no excess. Daily exercise allowed people to burn more calories throughout the day and, in turn, eat more without having an excess of calories.
“If you can’t keep eating a certain way forever, then you won’t see the results forever. So you will have to keep up whatever changes you made to your diet in order to maintain weight loss,” suggests Younkin. This explains why restrictive dieters tend to gain the weight they lost back (and then some). It’s just too hard to maintain those restrictive eating habits. On the other hand, healthy habits like the ones Younkin outlined above—eating smaller portions, increasing vegetable and protein intake and reducing intake of simple carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol—are much more realistic to maintain. “Once those changes are habitual, focusing on exercise can help you continue to get results.”
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight
“Often, people have unrealistic weight loss goals. If you are restricting food intake, over-exercising or thinking about food and your body all the time in order to maintain a certain number on the scale, then that is not the healthiest weight for you,” says Younkin. Any changes you make in an effort to lose weight should be habits you can keep up for the long haul. Luckily for us, little changes that you enjoy can add up to big accomplishments over time.
Younkin has specific tips for those trying to eat in a way that aligns with their weight loss goals: “Aim to eat every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar balanced, plan healthy snacks and don’t feel guilty when you eat something you feel like you shouldn’t. Aim to follow the healthy plate method about 80% of the time throughout the week and don’t worry about the rest.” The healthy plate method refers to filling half your plate veggies, a quarter with whole grains and the last quarter with lean protein. This strategy makes portion control easy, without the need to tediously measure everything. And, adds Younkin, “Be conscious of sugar and alcohol intake can help too, as those ’empty’ calories can add up over time”.
When it comes to exercising, find something you actually enjoy. It will make it easier to be consistent. “Start small though and don’t be all or nothing with exercise. Something is better than nothing,” encourages Younkin. If you don’t have 45 minutes for a long workout, do 20 minutes or even a 10 minute walk and try to build in more active time later. If you feel stuck or at a plateau, try mixing up what you’re doing or try something new.
Lastly, accountability can be a big help when sticking to your healthy lifestyle changes. Younkin suggests including a friend, hiring a dietitian or working with a personal trainer, so you don’t have to do it all on your own.
Weight loss can be hard, but small lifestyle changes that you can keep up with will help you find success. “Dieting is not only unsustainable because it’s too hard to keep up with restrictions over time, but also it wreaks havoc on your metabolism and your mental health,” says Younkin. “Don’t get caught up in daily and weekly fluctuations on the scale. Even if you only lose one pound per month, that’s 12 pounds down at the end of the year!” Losing weight and keeping it off is a long term journey, but a little know-how and support can help set you up for success.
The most effective anti-aging workout, backed by science
Connie Capone|August 19, 2020
Exercise is hard work, but it pays. Adding to the many reasons to get moving is compelling new research that has found that two exercise methods can slow the aging process by preventing cellular aging: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance training.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and endurance training are among the best exercise methods to prevent cellular aging, according to research.
What are these exercise methods, and why do they work?
The anti-aging response
In astudy published in the European Heart Journal, researchers examined the cellular effects of different exercise interventions. Over 6 months, 124 participants were instructed to perform one of three modalities: endurance training, HIIT, or resistance training (using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to increase muscular strength). Some participants were assigned to a control group and instructed to make no change to their exercise regimen.
After 6 months, researchers found that HIIT and endurance training, but not resistance training, increased telomerase activity, which is beneficial for cell growth and replication. Telomeres are nucleotide sequences found at the end of chromosomes that protect our genetic information. When they shorten, cellular aging occurs. HIIT and endurance training were found to increase telomere length, inhibiting cell death, and ultimately producing an anti-aging effect.
Similar results were reported in Cell Metabolism, in astudy that compared the metabolic responses from HIIT and resistance training. Participants were placed in cohorts by age (<30 and >65), and randomized to one of three exercise routines: HIIT, resistance training, or a combination of both. After 12 weeks, all exercise routines resulted in improved fitness, boosted insulin sensitivity, and increased lean mass, but HIIT training increased aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function, leading to a reduction in mitochondrial decay, which contributes to aging.
For older adults, HIIT training yielded the most significant reversal in cellular aging. Participants over 65 saw a 69% increase in mitochondrial respiration—the metabolic process within mitochondria that converts energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal energy donor in our cells. Additionally, adults under 30 saw a 49% increase. Resistance training did not provide this effect in either age group.
According to senior author Sreekumaran Nair, MD, PhD, “Any exercise is better than being sedentary.” Still, he noted that for older adults, HIIT is a highly efficient way to counteract many age-related changes.
Best part? HIIT training has also been proven to be the best exercise method to reduce body fat.
Huge benefits, little time commitment
HIIT has gained popularity because it brings powerful benefits without a large time commitment, especially compared with endurance training, which requires long stretches of time. This was demonstrated in a researchtrial following two groups of sedentary men: one group performing a 10-minute workout with sprint intervals, and another performing 50 minutes of continuous exercise. After 12 weeks, researchers found that both groups saw equal improvements in cardiometabolic health, despite the 40-minute difference in time commitment. In summary, research shows us that HIIT is more efficient than endurance training.
Effectiveness is a different question. Fortunately, it can be answered simply. Which of these routines are you most likely to stick to? That’s the most effective anti-aging workout for you.
“Not everyone reacts to exercise in the same way,” said Daniel Green, PhD, a professor of exercise science at the University of Western Australia, in an interview withThe New York Times. “But there is something out there that will benefit almost everyone.”
HIIT and endurance training
HIIT combines short bursts of all-out exercise followed by short periods of rest. Intense work intervals generally last from 15 seconds to 4 minutes, and are performed to achieve 80% to 95% of a person’s maximum heart rate. Recovery intervals last about the same time and are performed at a much lower intensity: 40% to 50% of maximum heart rate. The work/recovery interval is repeated several times, comprising a quick workout between 10 to 40 minutes total. A HIIT regimen can involve treadmills or rowing machines, bodyweight exercises, free weights, or no equipment at all.
Here’s an example of a 10-minute beginner HIIT workout, completed in three rounds with no equipment. For each step, use maximum effort for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds:
Keep in mind that this is just a single example. The exercises can vary, so swap in your favorite moves. The key is to dig deep and use maximum effort, regardless of exercise type.
Endurance training is a continuous form of exercise, typically performed at sub-maximal intensity for sessions that range from 30 minutes to several hours. This type of training aims to build endurance, which allows a person to exert long bouts of effort without becoming fatigued. Popular endurance sports such as running, swimming, and cycling are good examples of endurance training, characterized by repeated isotonic contractions of large muscle groups. You can also practice endurance training by performing just about any aerobic exercise (jump rope, lunges, dancing, kickboxing, and more) at a low level of resistance over relatively long periods of time without rests, or with minimal rests in between.
OTF is a little like 80s sitcom, Cheers … where everyone knows your name and celebrate your wins.
I completely understand more than anyone that being the last on the rower to move to the floor maybe intimidating or embarrassing but honestly,
Fact #1: Everyone else is huffing & puffing for dear life so more than likely, no one even notices.
Fact #2: Not everyone is physically capable of rowing 200m in 30 seconds and that is A-OK.
I’m built like a Weiner dog and have embraced the fact that I am almost always last to finish on the rower. I can only do my best and my best is exactly that – my personal best. I can’t compete with someone who is 6’2″ who was on the college rowing team.
So the moral of OTF is this, don’t be so caught up in the thrill of competing against your neighbor that you quit rowing at 185ish m instead of rowing to the full 200m just to beat them to the floor. OR cut the number of reps on the floor because you feel like you should beat the old lady next to you … she may be the Queen of core exercises.
Instead, be happy with your personal best and keep striving forward towards new goals.