Showing posts with label exercise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exercise. Show all posts

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Inactivity – It's a Killer

New Research Names lack of exercise as Mortality Risk Raiser For Older Women.

The verdict, according to recent research: Get moving or risk coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death.

As reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the new study, focused on older women, showed that a sedentary lifestyle – spending too much of the day lying down or sitting – increased the risk of heart disease and death.

Researchers studied the five-year lifestyle and mortality statistics of more than 92,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years of age, data that included an assessment of how many sedentary hours each woman spent daily.

Some of the key findings from the study:
  • Of the women researched, the average amount of daily inactivity was 8.5 hours.
  • Researchers concluded that women who remain sedentary for a cumulative 11 hours a day or more were at the greatest risk.
  • The highest amount of sedentary time was reported by women who were White, smoked, have a college degree, and have a higher body mass index, or BMI: a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
  • Women who were more sedentary were more likely to have reported falling within the past year.
  • Not surprisingly, the women who reported higher degrees of daily inactivity also tended to have higher rates of fair to poor health.
Researchers were quick to point out that these statistics, though gathered from older women, apply to people of both sexes and all ages. What surely is no surprise to most or all adults in this day and age is the fact that exercise is good for us and that inactivity is not good for us.  But these new statistics should serve as a warning siren to the risks of inadequate physical activity.  If you have any doubt, take note of this supporting data:
  • The US Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General reported scientific evidence in 1996 that linked regular physical activity to improved cardiovascular health.
  • According to the online journal BMJ, sitting too long (three or more hours/day) results in a reduction in life expectancy.
  • As reported in this article by Frank Claps, M. ED., CSCS, those who exercise regularly have a decreased risk of having hypertension and a lowered mortality potential.
  • Statistics from the American Heart Association indicate that a quarter million deaths each year in the United States can be attributed to a lack of regular physical activity.
  • A 2014 report from UT Southwestern Medical Center confirms that that sedentary behavior can lower cardiorespiratory fitness levels.
To reduce health risks and increase your chances for a long and healthy life, health professionals assert that any regular improvement in levels of exercise can show benefits.  Here are super-easy tips to help you start making positive health improvements through modest physical activity:
  • If you work at a desk, set an egg timer to ding every half hour or so, and use that ding as a reminder to stand up, even briefly, and take a short walk through your workplace hallways.
  • Likewise, if you are at home watching TV, keep an egg timer by your chair, set to remind you to get up and move about every half hour or hour.
  • Make a shared commitment with one or two friends to meet a couple of times a week to go for walks together. Start slow – perhaps just around the block – and eventually increase your distance or the amount of time you plan to walk together.
  • Try to incorporate moderate weightlifting into your day. This can be as simple as keeping handy a couple of one-gallon water jugs, which you can start working with at just a quarter full, eventually increasing the volume of water. Doing simple arm curls or lifting from the shoulders can help you retain muscle mass while burning calories.
  • If you work on the second or third floor at your office, consider regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
One note: Even though the American Heart Association states that about nine out of 10 heart attacks occur while in a resting state – not during physical activity as many assume to be the case – there can be risks inherent to any increase in exercise, depending on your current health. So, before undertaking any new exercise program, first get the thumbs-up from your physician.

Have you made positive changes in reducing the amount of inactive time you spend daily? How did you make those changes? Please share your tips and success stories using our comments field below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Get Physical!

And yes, you can do it to an Olivia Newton John song! But more importantly, you can get physical in your life. Winter is finally past – the weather is turning balmy. No more hibernating!

The time has come to get out there and move your body. And before you doubt whether or not you have the time or money to invest, I have awesome news: exercise requires much less time than you think, and it doesn’t need to break your budget.

It’s natural to become less active in winter: between the cold and the lack of sun, we often hide out. But as spring brings us fragrant showers and extended daylight, the desire to get out and move increases. So take advantage of this energy, and let’s talk about movement!

Too tired to exercise? If you are feeling low on energy, investigate some meditative practices, like yoga or Tai Chi. Exercise isn’t only about getting your heart rate up. It’s about moving your body, stretching your limbs, and feeling lighter in spirit. There are many different kinds of yoga, countless brands of meditation, so consider what might work best for you. And if the price seems prohibitive, check out your local YMCA, recreational center, and even your local yoga loft. Many of them offer discounts; some offer free or low-fee classes with new teachers. Online options abound, so you can enjoy your practice at home for a fraction of the cost.

Ready to get muscled up? The new craze in fitness is Crossfit. While it’s a company name, Crossfit is also a culture of people looking to get strong while enjoying a social environment. It’s not for those who don’t want to work hard: every workout will push you harder than anything you’ve ever experienced before.  But workouts are done in a group, with a leader. And the end results are amazing. Crossfit gyms are located all over the United States, and you might be surprised to find one very close to you. They are not traditional gyms, so I suggest visiting one before signing up. Crossfit-like gyms are popping up as well, and they have similar workouts, but are often less expensive.

Prefer to tighten, tone, and have fun doing it? Group fitness may be the ticket! If you like to dance, there’s Zumba. If self-defense has been your passion, check out kickboxing. If you like to try something new every week, investigate the many classes that are on the schedule at your local gym. And if getting out to the gym isn’t a possibility for you right now, videos are available online for a small fee. And if the quality of the video isn’t a big deal, YouTube has many free videos that you can browse.

Wanna go it old-school? Bodyweight exercises, walking, and running are great ways to move the body. Walking can be just as valuable as running for your heart health and body movement. And using only your bodyweight to train your muscles can be surprisingly effective. Skip the gym – you can keep your body in top shape at home! Check out Zuzka Light and You Are Your Own Gym author Mark Lauren for ideas on what might work best for you.

Belonging to a gym is not a requirement for health, but moving your body and maintaining your flexibility is. You don’t have to spend hours every day working out – short, effective routines can be just as valuable. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s fun! When we enjoy exercise, we’re more likely to do it. So try some different classes, discover what works best for you, and come back and let us know what you love!

Contributing Writer

Friday, October 4, 2013

Workout Woes

The first two weeks or so of a new workout routine are amazing. You discover things you didn’t know you could do, adapt to a new pattern, and start to feel healthier. You may even adjust your diet and start eyeballing clothing fashions that a month ago would have caused you to shudder.

Soon, however, novelty turns to habit, and habits get boring. How do you keep going? How can you keep up a routine in the face of all the pressures in life that pull you in different directions? Or worse, what happens when your schedule changes at work, you get a new job, or *insert other life changing event here* and your workout time gets railroaded into a different time slot…how do you keep up the momentum?

People working out at the gym

There are all sorts of ways to create positive reinforcements around your new, healthier habits. The first thing: adjust your mindset. If you’ve seen previous attempts at working out as an exercise in failure, that is not going to help your forward momentum. Each step in the right direction counts, so if you have to drop your workout days from four days to two, then do so. Remember that two days doing some form of movement is better than none. If you’ve had an injury that is forcing you to slow down, embrace the time of rest, get in what movement you can, and keep the mindset that you’ll be returning to your habit as soon as you are able.

Create exciting incentives based on working out. Things like Gympact (which I previously discussed here), which pays you to work out, and Fitbit, which offers consistent praise and affirmation when you exercise, can act as anchors to your new schedule. One of my favorite tricks has been to create a favorite playlist on Rhapsody or iTunes that I only listen to when I’m working out. If you have an iPhone or Android, apps like Pandora, Spotify or Songza offer specialized stations based on your preferences. If you like to read, how about listening to a book while you sweat? Audible offers some sweet deals on audio books that you can download to your smartphone or mp3 player and take with you. Nothing will keep you committed like a good cliffhanger! You can also check out your local library, where many offer a digital subscription service for audio books.

Give it a team effort. For some of us, exercise is more fun when it’s social. So check out sites like Meetup and discover other locals who would be glad to join you on your hike into the woods. Organizations like the Road Runners Club of America offer group runs where anyone at any level can join. There are plenty of virtual groups like Wello that offer workouts and group support. And of course, don’t forget to check out gyms like Curves or Crossfit, where the group environment is nurtured and encouraged.

Go for some accountability. If you feel as though you need a bit more on the line to keep your commitment, consider investing in the services of a health coach or personal trainer. Professionals can help you keep your head in the game and encourage you when you feel like giving up.

Do it for a cause. Many non-profit organizations focus on feats of athleticism in the name of donations. Consider the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or any of the many other options out there that will encourage you to get your groove on and help others at the same time.

Man playing basketball

Keep it interesting. If you are tired of doing the same movements over and over again, try spicing it up with websites that offer a new workout for you every week – you can have a new one everyday! Zuska Light,, and iFit are great places to grab a fresh workout and keep your muscles guessing.

Most of all, do things you love. Whether it’s taking a pole-dancing class at the local Y, joining a Yoga group that meets virtually, or adopting a dog as a running partner, discover what movements you enjoy the most. Let us know what you decided on, and what gets you excited to move!

Ally Bishop
Contributing Writer