Healthy Byte: Get to Know Your Fats

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ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Over the last few years we’ve changed our attitude on one major food group in particular: fat. Fat is no longer the main enemy to a healthy body and mind (that’s sugar, in case you hadn’t guessed!).

But not all fat is created equal. Eating good fats is great, having a healthy balance of body fat is too (especially for women) but there’s no getting around it – some fats are still bad for us, and putting on too much of the wrong type of body fat can play havoc with our health.

We asked itsu’s collaborating nutritionist, Alix Woods, what different types of fat our body has, which are healthy and which we could stand to lose.

THE FACTS

“We have four main types fat in our bodies,” explains Alix. “Each has its own molecular structure and health implication, so knowing which is which and what they do can help us manage our health better.”

Alix compares body fat to an organ, like the heart, lungs and skin. “It stores energy and manages hormones, especially metabolism, meaning that the types of body fat you already have affect how much more you store, and where.”

Alix goes on to lay out the main types: brown, beige, white subcutaneous and white visceral fat.

“In general, darker fats are the ‘good kind’, while light, or ‘white’ fats are what accumulate in the body when your diet and lifestyle aren’t right for you, and cause longer term health issues.”

1. Brown fat

This is the ‘good’ fat which provides cellular energy. It actually feeds on droplets from the white fat, so helps keep your weight down.

Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), is responsible for our core temperature and is found in the back of the neck and chest areas.

As well as being a ‘fat burning’ fat, it may also help keep diabetes away.

The good news is that we can increase the healthy brown fat by eating healthily, taking the right supplements and making lifestyle changes. And other elements, such as being exposed to cold temperatures stimulates the transformation of white fat to brown fat.

2. Beige fat

This is a combination of white and brown fat and is found along the spine and collarbone.

With exercise, the hormone, irisin is released, which converts white fat to beige fat. Certain foods, in particular grapes, can also help with this ‘browning’ process.

3. White subcutaneous fat

This stores calories and produces adiponectin, another hormone, which helps the liver and muscles to manage insulin. (Insulin is the glucose or sugar-controlling hormone that’s super important for our energy levels.) It keeps blood sugar stable and keeps white fat stores in check.

A problem arises when there is so much of this white fat (and subsequently adiponectin secretion) that the metabolism slows down. When this happens, we start to gain excess weight – especially around the hip, thigh and tummy area – which is often the most difficult to lose.

4. Subcutaneous fat (SF)

This is just under the skin, and is the fat that’s measured to determine body fat percentage. It’s found all over the body, but particularly on the back of arms, thighs and bums.

You want to avoid excess SF around the belly to prevent long term health risks like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

This fat also produces oestrogen hormones in both sexes, and if there is excess oestrogen it becomes the dominant hormone, causing toxic weight gain that increases the risk of obesity, CVD disease, diabetes and cancer.

5. Visceral fat

This is the more ‘dangerous’ deep fat found around abdominal organs. It may feature as a ‘big belly’, or more seriously as an enlarged liver – caused by the blood draining from the visceral fat around the organs, getting dumped there.

This causes an increase in overall blood cholesterol, along with inflammatory chemicals that may lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

This is why abdominal fat – fat around your middle – is a worrying sight of excess visceral fat in your body. However, in healthy proportions, it’s an essential fat for overall health, to cushion and protect our organs and help keep our core temperature stable.

SO HOW DO WE LOSE THE BAD FAT?

“The life threatening, unhealthy ‘deep’ organ or visceral fat (such as belly fat) is lost first when you go on a diet that reduces your calories to below your daily requirement and your body starts to make energy from the fat it has stored,” Alix explains.

“SF is more challenging to lose, and in excess it may be seen as unattractive. The body keeps it in reserve in case of any emergencies, like starvation or for recovery. It’s an ancient, evolutionary tactic, but of course in our modern lives this rarely, if ever, happens.

“Good bouts of exercise and staying on a diet will eventually lead to fat loss in all areas of the body,” the nutritionist advises. “This is because the body senses the reduction in calories and moves the fat around for energy, which encourages overall weight loss.”

Alix also notes that “a general rule with weight loss is the less weight you have around your tummy, the sooner the more stubborn subcutaneous fat stores will ‘melt’ away. So seeing a reduction in that area is the first step.”

ALPHA AND BETA

“As well as types of fat storage, the body also has two fat receptors – Alpha and Beta,” the nutritionist explains. “They work in opposition to each other as Alpha receptors decrease fat burning and blood flow while Beta receptors increase the body’s ability to burn fat and increases blood flow through fat cells. The ratio of these in your body will determine how easy or hard it is for you to lose weight – meaning it’s a totally different process for everyone.

“The more Alpha receptors, the more challenging it is to burn fat and the reverse for Beta receptors,” Alix adds.

The bad news is the amount of receptors is determined at birth and research has found that people with Alpha fat receptors find it difficult to lose weight. “The only solution to this is to maintain healthy diet and exercise regularly,” the expert notes.

HOW TO EAT TO SHIFT YOUR BAD FAT

“Regardless of the location of fat, there are a few good habits to get into to keep your Beta weight-busting receptors ‘on’ and lose the bad fat your body doesn’t need,” says Alix. These are:

1. Eating whole grains and lean proteins, especially lower Glycemic Index fruits and vegetables. I may at times avoid fruit altogether to keep all sugars as low as possible (but make sure you’re getting plenty of veggies for your vitamin and mineral needs.)

2. Removing all white refined carbohydrates and replace with complex whole ‘browner’ grains.

3. Doing a 30-45 minute work out, three time per week.

4. Eating little and often. Have smaller protein-packed snacks, totalling 5-6 little, regular meals a day.

5. Doing two sessions of resistance (weight) training on your off workout days.

6. And an extreme option, when not exercising intensely is doing a detox. On these days drink lots of water and herbal teas and feast on steamed vegetables.

Healthy Byte: Weight Management After Menopause

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ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Whether you’re currently going through the big M or have already gotten past it, you may have noticed that losing weight is more difficult—and “it’s not just in your head,” says Amanda Horton, MD, an OB-GYN at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “It really is harder to lose weight [during this period].”

Indeed, women gain, on average, 1.5 pounds per year in their 50s and 60s, notes Dr. Horton. That’s because low estrogen levels during menopause can alter the balance of leptin and ghrelin levels—the hormones responsible for managing hunger—and increase appetite. Thyroid issues, stress, sleep problems, and certain medications can also contribute to weight gain.

“All the things that lead to weight gain also make it difficult to lose weight. But we do know it’s possible. It just requires continued effort,” says William Yancy, MD, program director for Duke Diet and Fitness Center.

Women who are going through menopause also tend to store more belly fat and lose muscle mass. “Despite following the same diet and exercise routines they’ve had for years, they still gain weight. If you decrease muscle mass, you burn fewer calories at rest,” Dr. Horton explains.

That said, there are things you can do to help you lose weight post-menopause and offset the symptoms of lower estrogen levels. Keep reading to learn how.

Try interval training

When it comes losing weight through exercise, cardio workouts are still the gold standard. But high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be more effective for burning fat and building muscle than low-intensity, steady-state (LISS) cardio.

Some studies suggest that HIIT can improve overall strength and increase endurance, especially in those 65 and older,” says Liana Tobin, CSCS, personal trainer coordinator for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. “For muscle mass, a combination of HIIT and strength training would likely yield the best results.”

Both Dr. Horton and Dr. Yancy recommend working out at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week—but if you’re doing intense workouts that leave you breathless, you should aim for three 20-minute sessions per week.

Healthy Byte: Perimenopause: Symptoms, Signs and Treatment

 

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ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Struggling with irregular periods, extreme bleeding, vaginal dryness, loss of libido or migraine headaches? All of these symptoms could spell the start of the perimenopause.

The precursor to the menopause, perimenopause is a time of transition for women, when the ovaries gradually start to produce less oestrogen.

While symptoms are usually less severe than the menopause, this phase can nevertheless see you suffer from very real symptoms, including irregular periods, changes in mood and hot flushes. Here’s everything you need to know:

What is perimenopause?

‘Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs,’ explains Aly Dilks, clinical director for The Women’s Health Clinic. ‘By definition, menopause is diagnosed in hindsight – the absence of periods for one year is diagnostic of menopause. But we all know our bodies don’t work like a switch – on one day and off the next.’

‘For a few years preceding menopause, our ovaries start running out of eggs, and release them on and off,’ adds Dilks. ‘Hence irregular periods are very common before menopause, and this period is known as perimenopause. There is no ‘golden age’ that perimenopause starts, as it’s more of a gradual process. The majority of women go into perimenopause less than five years before menopause.’

What are the symptoms of perimenopause?

Perimenopause symptoms can be similar to the menopause, albeit usually less frequent or severe. Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click, offers this checklist of symptoms:

  • Irregular periods: this is the most common sign of perimenopause, as your ovulation pattern starts to vary.
  • Insomnia: sleepless nights may be as a result of hot flushes, but can also be caused by emotional changes.
  • Decreased libido: lower levels of oestrogen during this time can mean you lose your appetite for sex.
  • Uncomfortable sex: this is due to a decrease in oestrogen levels, which means the vagina doesn’t lubricate well. TRY THIS!
  • Changes in mood: lower oestrogen levels means less serotonin (one of the ‘feel-good’ hormones), which can lead to your emotions being thrown off balance.
  • Increase in cholesterol: as oestrogen levels decline, HDL (good cholesterol) also experiences a decline, which can have a negative impact on cholesterol levels.
  • Hot flushes: these are not as common as they are in menopause, but they can still happen.

Can you treat perimenopause naturally?

The good news is with just a few simple lifestyle adjustments you can sail through this phase of your life. Kanani offers the following advice:

🔹 Exercise

Lower oestrogen levels can cause ‘feel-good’ hormones, such as serotonin, to drop. Fitness can have a positive impact on your mood and help to stabilise your emotions. Regular exercise can also have a positive impact on your sleep quality, as well as helping you to feel re-energised.

🔹 Eat well

Not only will eating a healthy and balanced diet help to reduce your cholesterol level and provide you with the right nutrients, but it will also help you feel good about yourself. Certain foods, such as caffeine and alcohol, can trigger hot flushes and affect your mood, so try to avoid these.

🔹 Meditation

This is often undervalued in perimenopause, but you are essentially entering into a new stage of your life where your body is experiencing changes. It’s important to recognises this, so take a few minutes each day to meditate and change your frame of mind. Coming to terms with these changes increases your chance of winning the mental battle. Being still and focusing on your breathing allows your thoughts to settle, helping you to feel calmer and in control. Meditation can also have a positive impact on your sleep.

However, if you’re attempting to ease symptoms naturally with no luck, you are not alone.

‘Exercise, staying fit and healthy, and avoiding refined sugars can help with symptoms,’ says Dilks. ‘However, if the symptoms are severe and are affecting your quality of life, lifestyle modifications are not likely to help. Many herbal medications are available over the counter, but caution should be taken before using them, as some may contain unopposed oestrogen.’

Healthy Byte: Invest in a Healthier Dad Bod Three – Four Times a Week for Only 20-Minutes!

Originally Posted HERE

Say you want to lose a little weight. Say you also want to do it fairly quickly, with minimal time commitment. That’s basically the premise behind the library of workouts created by the hugely popular Beachbody brand. With more than $1 billion in sales for their exercise DVDs, the company knows its audience — and how to get them in shape. Among its most sought-after programs: The 21 Day Fix. The premise: In just three weeks, even beginner exercisers can shed inches from his waist while building strength and adding definition to his arms, abs, and legs.

The Beachbody 21 Day Fix includes both a workout and meal plan — basically, a portion-controlled approach to eating where each meal consists of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. Overall daily calories depend on your current weight and estimated energy expenditure. For our purposes, let’s just say you should aim for about 2000 calories a day.

As for the workout, the appealing thing about the Beachbody 21 Day Fix is its super manageable time commitment. Each workout lasts between 20 and 30 minutes, meaning in the amount of time it takes to clear the dinner table and take out the trash, you’ll be done. The moves are a combo of cardio and strength, with an emphasis on getting your heart rate up in short, high-intensity segments.

The workout below is inspired by the Beachbody routine and requires no equipment (just one set of light dumbbells). It also combines upper and lower body sessions into one total body routine. Do this 20-minute workout three to four times a week, for three weeks, to get the results you’re looking for.

Warmup (3 minutes)

  • High Knees
    From standing, bend and raise your right knee in the air, clasping it with both hands and pulling it to your chest before releasing. (Stand tall on your left leg.) Repeat on left side, then right, etc. (30 seconds)
  • Overhead Reach
    Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, raise both arms overhead. Lift right hand as high to the sky as you can, dropping left shoulder to extend the stretch. Repeat on opposite side. (30 seconds)
  • Squats
    From standing, bend knees and sink hips back as if you are about to sit in a chair, bending your elbows and tucking your arms in toward your chest. Return to standing. Repeat. (30 seconds)
  • Toe Touch
    Keeping legs straight but without locking your knees, bend forward and touch your toes. Hold for 10 seconds. Stand. Repeat. (30 seconds)
  • Side Lunge
    Stand with feet wider that shoulder-width apart. Bend right knee and shift weight over to the right side. Pulse for 15 seconds. Stand straight, then shift weight to left side. Pulse 15 seconds. Repeat on both sides. (60 seconds)

Cardio 1 (5 minutes)

  • Skip rope: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Skip rope: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest

Arms (2 minutes)

  • 3 x 20 pushups, 10 seconds rest between sets

Cardio 2 (5 minutes)

  • Box jumps: 10 jumps in ~ 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Sprint drill: Sprint (or run in place) as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Rest 15 seconds. Repeat.
  • Box jumps: 10 jumps in ~ 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Burpees: 90 seconds

Legs (3 minutes)

  • Bavarian split squats
    Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand facing away from a bench, right leg bent and raised behind you with your toes resting on the bench surface. Bend your left knee until your thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Straighten. Note: Do not let your left knee extend beyond your left toe; adjust your distance from the bench to accommodate. Do 10 reps, then switch sides. 3 sets total.
  • Single legs bench sits
    Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your back to a bench. Shift weight to right side and lift your left leg in front of you. Bend right knee and sink back until your butt touches to bench. Immediately straight back up to standing. 10 reps, switch sides. 2 sets.

Abs (2 minutes)

  • 20 situps
  • 20 crunches
  • 60-seconds plank

Healthy Byte: If You Have to Own One Piece of Workout Tool …

TOTALLY check out the video demonstration via link!

Originally Posted HERE

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Kettlebell flows, the continuously moving, strung-together routines used to burn fat and build muscle with a single implement, aren’t just useful because they allow you to get a ton of work done quickly and effectively. Flows also make it much easier to target different muscle groups in your body in one go.

Flows encourage full-body work by their very nature. You’ll often have need to move the kettlebell up, down, and around yourself in order to get to the next step in the series, which winds up involving a number of muscle groups.

When Eric Leija (a.k.a. Primal Swoledier) designs a flow, you can expect that there will likely be some lower and upper body combinations at play, like this routine he ran through for the Men’s Health Kettlehell program with fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

The Power Lunge Flow uses unilateral movements, lunges, to work the lower body, then transitions to an upper body exercise, kettlebell halos. Grab your kettlebell and a partner and get ready to get moving.

Lunge Clean to Double-Halo

  • Start in an athletic stance with your kettlebell on the floor in front of you between your legs. Drop your butt and bend your knees (like a deadlift) to reach down and grab the implement with both hands.
  • Raise the kettlebell up into the goblet position, holding the weight in front of your chest. As you do this, lunge backward with one leg. Drive off the ground with your rear foot to step forward into the starting position with the weight on the ground before immediately lunging with the other leg. Return to the starting position with the kettlebell on the ground, keeping your hands on the handles and holding a squat.
  • Move your grip from the top of the kettlebell handle to grasp the sides. While maintaining the squat position, squeeze your biceps to curl the weight up to your chest. Stand straight up. Squeeze your abs and rotate the weight around your head to perform a halo, keeping it close to your body. Once you complete one orbit, change directions to go the other way.

Use the Power Lunge Flow as a finisher on a lower body or shoulder day, or schedule it as a standalone routine on a day you need to bang out a quick workout. Perform reps for 30 seconds and then rest 30 seconds. Repeat for 6 to 8 rounds.

Healthy Byte: New Year’s Resolution – Be Healthier

Originally Posted HERE

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How is it that the United States spends the most money on healthcare, and yet still has the one of the lowest life expectancies of all developed nations? (To be specific: $9,400 per capita, 79 years, and 31st.)

Maybe those of us in healthcare have been looking at it all wrong, for too long.

Healthy lifestyle and longevity

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a massive study of the impact of health habits on life expectancy, using data from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). This means that they had data on a huge number of people over a very long period of time. The NHS included over 78,000 women and followed them from 1980 to 2014. The HPFS included over 40,000 men and followed them from 1986 to 2014. This is over 120,000 participants, 34 years of data for women, and 28 years of data for men.

The researchers looked at NHS and HPFS data on diet, physical activity, body weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption that had been collected from regularly administered, validated questionnaires.

What is a healthy lifestyle, exactly?

These five areas were chosen because prior studies have shown them to have a large impact on risk of premature death. Here is how these healthy habits were defined and measured:

1.   Healthy diet, which was calculated and rated based on the reported intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, and unhealthy foods like red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.

2.  Healthy physical activity level, which was measured as at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity daily.

3.   Healthy body weight, defined as a normal body mass index (BMI), which is between 18.5 and 24.9.

4.   Smoking, well, there is no healthy amount of smoking. “Healthy” here meant never having smoked.

5.   Moderate alcohol intake, which was measured as between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men. Generally, one drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That’s 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Researchers also looked at data on age, ethnicity, and medication use, as well as comparison data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research.

Does a healthy lifestyle make a difference?

As it turns out, healthy habits make a big difference. According to this analysis, people who met criteria for all five habits enjoyed significantly, impressively longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men (if they had these habits at age 50). People who had none of these habits were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Study investigators also calculated life expectancy by how many of these five healthy habits people had. Just one healthy habit (and it didn’t matter which one) … just one… extended life expectancy by two years in men and women. Not surprisingly, the more healthy habits people had, the longer their lifespan. This is one of those situations where I wish I could reprint their graphs for you, because they’re so cool. (But if you’re very curious, the article is available online, and the graphs are on page 7. Check out Graph B, “Estimated life expectancy at age 50 according to the number of low-risk factors.”)

This is huge. And, it confirms prior similar research — a lot of prior similar research. A 2017 study using data from the Health and Retirement Study found that people 50 and older who were normal weight, had never smoked, and drank alcohol in moderation lived on average seven years longer. A 2012 mega-analysis of 15 international studies that included over 500,000 participants found that over half of premature deaths were due to unhealthy lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking. And the list of supporting research goes on.

So what’s our (big) problem?

As the authors of this study point out, in the US we tend to spend outlandishly on developing fancy drugs and other treatments for diseases, rather than on trying to prevent them. This is a big problem.

Experts have suggested that the best way to help people make healthy diet and lifestyle change is at the large-scale, population level, through public health efforts and policy changes. (Kind of like motorcycle helmets and seat belt legislation…) We have made a little progress with tobacco and trans-fat legislation.

There’s a lot of pushback from big industry on that, of course. If we have guidelines and laws helping us to live healthier, big companies aren’t going to sell as much fast food, chips, and soda. And for companies hell-bent on making money at the cost of human life, well, that makes them very angry.

Healthy Byte: Can’t Out-Gym Consistent Nutrition-Poor Choices

Originally Posted HERE

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healthy diet doesn’t require a lot of money, newfangled appliances or subsisting on any kind of scheme that sounds like a gimmick. Because it’s true what they say about what seems too good to be true: Eating well means listening to that little voice inside that knows what healthy foods generally look like – fresh and recognizable in nature – and what they don’t – prepackaged and processed.

That sensibility may not fit so well with our on-demand culture, where we want results now – be it dinner or weight loss. But if you want a program that works for the long run, you’ll need a lifestyle you can live with and like. That means a diet that’s nutritious and delicious, but one that will take a bit of planning and commitment from you.

While staying lean is a big part of good health, weight lost doesn’t always equal health gained. That new diet that took inches off your waistline could be harming your health if it locks out or severely restricts entire food groups, relies on supplements with little scientific backing or clamps down on calories to an extreme.

“People are so desperate to lose weight that it’s really weight loss at any cost,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center. And when that desperation sets in, Fernstrom says, “normal thinking goes out the window.” Who cares how wacky or unhealthy a recommendation sounds to you? Pounds are coming off. You’re happy. But your body might not be. And that approach always guarantees weight regain.

With our Best Diets 2019 rankings, you can check the nutritional completeness and safety of 41 popular diets, from Atkins to the Fertility Diet to WW (Weight Watchers), in a detailed profile crafted for each one. (The profiles also cover scientific evidence, typical meals and much more.) And U.S. News’ Best Diets for Healthy Eating rankings give each diet a “healthiness” score from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) for safety and nutrition, with safety getting double weight; while you can modify a diet to some degree to adjust for nutritional imbalances or deficiencies, mere tweaking won’t make an unsafe diet safe.

Behind these scores are ratings by a panel of diet and nutrition experts assembled by U.S. News. They assessed the diets across seven categories, including the safety and nutritional completeness categories, for a series of nine different rankings lists. The Best Diets for Healthy Eating rankings overlap significantly with Best Diets Overall. Both give especially high marks to the DASHMINDTLCMediterraneanMayo Clinic and Volumetrics diets.

“The ones that get high scores in safety and in nutritional value – they’re very similar to each other,” says Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian who serves on the U.S. News expert panel. The recurring theme across the diets that excelled in healthiness is adequate calories supplied by a heavy load of vegetables, fruits and whole grains; a modest amount of lean protein, nonfat dairy and healthy fats; and an occasional treat. Plants are the foundation, and the menu is always built around minimally processed meals made from scratch.

Because plant-based eating patterns are so healthful and growing in popularity, U.S. News also offers a Best Plant-Based Diets category. And given the rise of food intolerances and sensitivities, we’ve included profiles of diets that are said to ease digestive distress – the gluten-free and low FODMAP diets. These are not ranked, however, as they are not intended for general dietary needs.

Very few diets on the Healthy Eating list are overtly unsafe or severely deficient nutritionally. Ten plans received healthiness scores below 3; these included the PaleoRaw FoodFastDukanAtkins and Whole30 diets. They’re simply too restrictive, say our experts, who call their nutritional qualities into question. The meat-heavy Paleo diet bans grains and dairy, so getting adequate calcium and vitamin D isn’t easy. Atkins, by severely curbing carbs, blows past recommended caps for total and saturated fat. Depending on your personal approach to the Raw Food Diet, you may shortchange yourself on calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D; its restrictive cooking rules also could put you at risk for eating raw or undercooked ingredients.

If you have reservations about a diet’s nutritional content or safety, listen to your body. Fatigue, sleeplessness, dizziness, aches – they’re all red flags. Says Fernstrom: “Losing weight is for good health, so you should feel more vital – not bad.”

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.