Healthy Byte: American Physical Activity Guidelines, Second Edition

ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Top 10 Things to Know About the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

  1. The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides evidence-based recommendations for adults and youth ages 3 through 17 to safely get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. There are new key guidelines for children ages 3 through 5 and updated guidelines for youth ages 6 through 17, adults, older adults, women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, adults with chronic health conditions, and adults with disabilities.
  2. The new key guidelines for children ages 3 through 5 state that preschool-aged children should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Adults caring for children this age should encourage active play (light, moderate, or vigorous intensity) and aim for at least 3 hours per day.
  3. The recommended amount of physical activity for youth ages 6 through 17 is the same. Each day, youth ages 6 through 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity to attain the most health benefits from physical activity. Most activity can be aerobic, like walking, running, or anything that makes their hearts beat faster. They also need activities that make their muscles and bones strong, like climbing on playground equipment, playing basketball, and jumping rope.
  4. The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is the same. To attain the most health benefits from physical activity, adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing, each week. Adults also need muscle-strengthening activity, like lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week.
  5. We now know about more health benefits from physical activity — and how Americans can more easily achieve them. The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is based on the latest scientific evidence that shows that physical activity has many health benefits independent of other healthy behaviors, like good nutrition.
  6. The first key guideline for adults is to move more and sit less. This recommendation is based on new evidence that shows a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. All physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks.
  7. We now know that any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. Americans can benefit from small amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the day. The first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans stated that only 10-minute bouts of physical activity counted toward meeting the guidelines. The second edition removes this requirement to encourage Americans to move more frequently throughout the day as they work toward meeting the guidelines.
  8. New evidence shows that physical activity has immediate health benefits. For example, physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.
  9. We now know that meeting the recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans consistently over time can lead to even more long-term health benefits. (New benefits appear in bold with *.)
    • For youth, physical activity can help improve cognition,* bone health, fitness, and heart health. It can also reduce the risk of depression.
    • For adults, physical activity helps prevent 8 types of cancer (bladder,* breast, colon, endometrium,* esophagus,* kidney,* stomach,* and lung*); reduces the risk of dementia* (including Alzheimer’s disease*), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
    • For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.*
    • For pregnant women, physical activity reduces the risk of postpartum depression.*
    • For all groups, physical activity reduces the risk of excessive weight gain* and helps people maintain a healthy weight.
  10. New evidence shows that physical activity can help manage more health conditions that Americans already have. For example, physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.

Healthy Byte: Sticking with It

Originally Posted HERE

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Faced with a seemingly endless supply of trendy new workouts that all promise a better body and improved health, choosing the best one can seem overwhelming. As a doctor, I’m setting the record straight: the single best exercise program is the one that you stick with. The simplest way to do this, of course, is to focus on physical activity that you actually enjoy and avoid anything that you hate (even if every Victoria’s Secret model swears by it). But beyond common sense, there are plenty of science-backed methods for sticking to an exercise program. If you’ve ever had grand plans of overhauling your fitness routine only to find yourself returning to your couch three weeks later, these techniques are for you.

Shorten your workouts.

Though it sounds counterintuitive, focusing on shorter bouts of exercise has distinct advantages over longer workouts. In a study among young women who were asked to start an exercise program, those who were assigned to multiple 10-minute workouts throughout the day stayed more committed than women who were asked to complete one continuous workout of up to 40 minutes. In fact, the shorter-bout group logged more total workout time and exercised more days per week compared to the longer workout group. Rest assured: the cumulative effect of exercising in short bouts has the same physical benefits as longer workouts, both in terms of weight loss and overall heart health.

Believe in yourself.

Decades of studies on exercise psychology have consistently identified self-efficacy as the most important predictor of exercise adherence. Self-efficacy is defined as the belief in one’s ability to succeed in a specific goal or behavior change, much like the “I think I can” motto of the little engine that could. Self-efficacy is, thankfully, not an inborn trait but a learned skill that can be developed through achieving small successes over time. When starting a new exercise program, set yourself up for small wins and celebrate them. Focus on the better night’s sleep you may get after just one workout instead of the weight you hope to lose by the end of the month. Another way to improve self-efficacy is to find a role model you identify with who has achieved her fitness goals. Research shows this can vicariously bolster your own self-efficacy.

Make it social.

Though it’s not surprising, the dramatic effect of social support on exercise is worth emphasizing. In an analysis of 44 studies on exercise adherence, researchers found that it was highest when it involved a group, like a sports team or a dance group. Drop-in fitness classes were associated with slightly lower adherence, but they were still superior to solo, home-based exercise programs. Even if home-based exercise is your only feasible option, you can still harness the power of social support by recruiting a family member or friend to work out with you or harnessing the power of an online community. Some studies even suggest that simply discussing your plans to exercise with a healthcare provider, mentor, or friend can increase your likelihood of following through with it.

Adopt other healthy habits.

A handful of studies have demonstrated that people who prioritize eating a healthy diet are more likely to be active. The theory is that engaging in one health-promoting behavior tends to inspire others, and although the link is strongest between healthy eating habits and exercise, it’s likely that any healthy behavior – like getting a full night’s sleep or even flossing your teeth – can increase your probability of following through with exercise.

Keep your expectations in check.

If you expect to see a physical transformation within the first few weeks of starting an exercise program, you may be less likely to keep at it. Studies of new exercisers have found that those with unrealistic expectations of physical change tended to give up when their hopes were not immediately met. Health psychologists have dubbed this the “false hope syndrome.” To avoid it, remember that noticeable physical changes from a new exercise routine can take months to develop. And if your goal is weight loss, it’s important to know that exercise alone – without dietary changes – typically isn’t enough. What you can expect from exercise, however, are short-term improvements in mood and sleep and, in the long term, a dramatically reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia, and several different types of cancer. How’s that for motivation?

Healthy Byte: The Big Four to Getting Stronger

Originally Posted HERE

Bodybuilding is great. Weight training is great. Crossfit, Pilates, plyometrics–they’re all great.

But some people just want to get stronger and fitter in a useful, “everyday life” kind of way. They don’t want to spend hours at the gym learning new exercisesand new routines.

If that’s you, here’s a foolproof workout plan that is guaranteed to work — as long as you stick with it.

The key is to focus on four basic exercises, and follow one simple principle.

First the exercises:

  • squats;
  • push-ups;
  • dead lifts;
  • pull-ups.
Yep: The big four.

Squats increase leg and core strength. Push-ups increase chest, shoulder, and triceps strength. Dead lifts increase lower back, glute, and core strength (not to mention seemingly every other muscle in your body). And pull-ups increase back, shoulder, and arm strength (or you can reverse your grip and do chin-ups to engage your biceps more than your shoulders).

Do these four functional exercises and you’ll target the major muscle groups and build the kind of strength that makes everyday life easier. And, oh, yeah: Over time, you’ll not only be fitter, you’ll look fitter.

Now the guiding principle: Stick to just these exercises, and always do a little bit more each time you work out.

Why? Your body is superb at adapting. Do 100 push-ups a day for three weeks straight, and at first you will definitely get stronger, but eventually your body will decide that 100 push-ups a day is the new normal–and you’ll stop getting stronger. Do the same thing long enough and your body adapts. That’s why following the same routine, no matter what the routine, eventually results in a plateau.

To avoid a plateau, instead of changing exercises, the key is to change the loadyou put on your muscles.

Of course, you might be thinking that the cure to plateaus is to constantly vary your workouts. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with mixing up exercises on a regular basis, if you’re just trying to improve your functional strength, that’s the wrong way to go. Constantly changing your workout may seem less boring, but constantly doing new exercises doesn’t force your body to adapt–and get stronger–nearly as quickly.

Again: The best way to avoid a plateau is to follow a system that forces your body to adapt.

Let’s use push-ups as an example. Say you’ve been doing 10 sets of 10 push-ups, with a 45-second rest between each set. Next workout, increase one aspect: Do one more push-up per set, or rest for only 40 seconds between sets, or place a 10- or 25-pound plate across your back to add weight to the movement. Then, the next time you work out, do more push-ups per set, or maybe do one additional set of 10, or maybe rest even less. You get the point.

Follow the principle of progression — by always adding a little more — and you can avoid plateaus and slowly but surely get stronger and fitter.

Just make sure you strategically change up the more. For example, you may start out doing seven pull-ups per set, then eight, then nine, then 10, but then, no matter how hard you try, you can’t do 11 pull-ups in a row.

No problem. Increase the load by doing fewer pull-ups per set while wearing a weight belt with a 10- or 20-pound plate attached to add resistance. Work on pulling up more weight for a week or two — and doing more reps each workout — and then go back to doing bodyweight-only pull-ups. I promise you’ll be able to do more than 10 reps per set because you will have forced your muscles to adapt and get stronger.

Just like life finds a way, your body will also find a way. As long as you force your body to find a way.

And while you may someday run into a wall that you just can’t overcome, that’s actually a good thing, because it means you’ve pushed your body close to its potential.

And then you can try doing some different exercises, and start the process all over again.

Try it: Do squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and dead lifts at least twice a week, preferably three times a week (until you’re doing so much that you need more time to recover). Stick to that schedule; if you don’t, your body won’t be forced to adapt.

In terms of reps, sets, and weight, begin however you want. If you start out too light or too easy, don’t worry–as time goes by and you add weight, reps, etc., your workouts will soon get hard.

Log each workout you complete, but more important, plan each workout ahead of time. Decide what you will do, and then do it. If you fail, fine. Try again next time. But don’t let “I’ll just do as much as I can today” be your plan. Decide exactly what you plan to do each workout. Then do it.

Think of it this way: Your long-term goal is to get stronger, but your immediate goal — your real commitment — is to complete every workout as planned, on schedule.

Healthy Byte: 15-Minute Strength Training

Originally Posted HERE

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Consistently hit up the gym: Check! Crank out multiple strength training workouts weekly: Check! See results over time and feel like a total badass: Check and check! If you’re checking all these boxes, it’s time to officially take your fitness regiment to the next level, and get the most bang for your workout buck. How exactly? With a technique that works your muscles as they lengthen in addition to when they contract, called “eccentric training.”

What it is: Emphasizing the lowering portion of a rep. Also known as “negative training,” the technique increases the time your muscles are under tension, which helps boost muscle fiber activation.

The benefits: Higher calorie burn both during and after exercise; fewer injuries, as it strengthens tendons and helps muscles absorb high-impact stress (like running); and a new study says it can help you break through strength plateaus in five weeks.

When to do it: Once a week, swap out one of your three strength-training workoutswith this routine. Complete the circuit in order, moving from the first exercise to the next and resting as needed in between. Repeat once for two total sets. After three weeks, take one week off, then continue with heavier weights. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

Your trainer: Exercise physiologist Joel Seedman Ph.D., owner of Advanced Human Performance in Atlanta

Deadlift to Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Deadlift to Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

BETH BISCHOFF

Squat to grab a barbell with an overhand grip (a). Thrust your hips forward as you rise to stand (b). With your right knee slightly bent, lift your left leg behind you, hinging at your hips and lowering your torso until it’s parallel to the floor (c). Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep; do three or four, then switch sides and repeat.

Negative Pullup

Negative Pullup

BETH BISCHOFF

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

BETH BISCHOFF

Stand with the top of your right foot on a bench behind you and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides (a). Keeping a tall chest, take three to five seconds to bend both knees to lower your body as far as you can (b). Pause for three to five seconds; return to start quickly. That’s one rep; do six to eight, then switch sides and repeat.

Negative Skull Crusher

Negative Skull Crusher

BETH BISCHOFF

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and lie on a bench with your arms reaching toward the ceiling (a). Slowly bend your elbows to bring the weights to the sides of your forehead (b); pause, then, with elbows bent, lower arms to bring the weights above your chest (c). Press weights up to return to start. That’s one rep; do six to eight.

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.