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Resistance Training: Why You Should Be Doing It and What You Need To Know

The thought of starting a new exercise program that involves weights, resistance bands, calisthenics or exercise machines can be daunting at first. I know that I was a bit nervous the first time I walked into a gym. It can be intimidating. But after seeing the benefits that come from this practice, and looking back on the whole process to find the easiest (and least-intimidating) way to get started, I thought it would be a useful piece of information to share.

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Why Resistance Training?

            There are many great reasons to include resistance training in your life. Among the plethora of physical and mental health benefits are:

-An increase in both muscle strength and tone, which leads to greater protection from joint injuries.

-Flexibility and balance come from participating properly in a resistance program.

-Achieving greater independence as we age, and maintained mobility.

-An improved muscle-to-fat ratio, and lean muscle increases the calories burned through maintenance.

-Added protection from cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

- It boosts your mood by releasing endorphins (the “feel good” chemicals in your body).

-Stamina increases with muscular strength, as tasks get easier.

-Improved protection from chronic conditions such as: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and obesity.

-As your resistance training progresses it will help to improve posture, decrease injury risk, and increase bone density and strength. This helps to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

-Improved sleep, self-confidence, and enhanced self-efficacy are three other benefits from this type of training.

-Everything from carrying your groceries, to getting the car out of the snow gets easier.

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What Do We Need To Know?

            To begin with, there are several terms that are used when it comes to resistance training:

-Program: Your overall fitness program that might include your aerobic, flexibility, and resistance training.

-Weight: The resistance used to exercise with. For example, 5 lb dumbbells would be a weight, but it could also refer to body weight when doing body-weight exercises.

-Exercise: The movement that is used to train a certain part of the body. For example, calf raises would train your calf muscles.

-Repetitions or Reps: The number of times an exercise is repeated without rest.

-Rest: A break that is taken between sets that is necessary when exercising properly, and will vary depending on the intensity of the exercise.

-Sets: A group of reps that is separated by either a rest period or a different exercise.

-Form: A specific way of performing an exercise that decreases the risk of injury and ensures the proper muscles are targeted.

-Recovery: Muscles need time to repair. A good recovery period is 48 hours, this gives the muscles enough time to be ready to work again. If your muscles are sore, they still need more time to recover.

            ***It’s important to connect with your exercise professional or healthcare provider to make sure that starting a new resistance training program is something that’s right for you at the time***

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What Does a Proper Resistance Training Program Include?

            Well, first of all, it starts off small. You don’t jump into resistance training like you might going for a run. It takes little steps to build your way up without causing an injury. A good place to start is 1 to 2 days per week of a full body program (this means it hits each major muscle group: back, shoulders, legs, and chest).

For example, if you were doing a bodyweight program it might look like this:

            -Proper Warmup

            -20 Bodyweight Squats

            -10 Push-ups

            -20 Walking Lunges

            -10 Dumbbell Rows

            -30 Jumping Jacks

            Repeat 2-3 times and then cool down!

If this sounds easy to you, give it a couple of tries before you move on. Remember, your initial program is something that you can build on and upgrade. You don’t want to start ahead of your current ability.

Warmup:      

A quality resistance program also includes a good warmup and cool down. For your warmup, around 10 minutes on a stationary bike, elliptical machine, or even just walking around and getting mobile (depending on your fitness level). After that it’s good to do some dynamic (mobile) stretching, to get your joints ready.

Cool Down:  

After the workout is finished, I like to do about 5-10 minutes of light exercise and do about 10 minutes of stretching, making sure I stretch each muscle I’ve worked, to make sure I’m not too tight the next day. If you can get into a steam room or sauna for a few minutes it can help with muscle soreness as well.

            It’s a good idea to find a training partner that’s at your level and has a similar schedule to you. This way, you can use each other for motivation and accountability.

            The great thing about resistance training, is that it doesn’t have to take forever to get a great workout. 30-45 minutes, 2 times per week is more than enough when you’re starting out. If you have any questions, you can always contact me here by email at kyle@goget.fit I enjoy resistance training, whether it’s talking about it or taking part in it, and I hope you do as well!

***Ensure you work with a certified exercise professional when starting out. This will limit injuries from poor form. As always, consult a healthcare professional prior to making any changes in your exercise routine***

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Investing In More Than Just Your Immediate Future

Many of us look toward the future, and we wonder about financial well-being, educational learning, or towards having secure housing. But, how often do we think about our future health? If we don’t take our future health into consideration, we may not be lucky enough to enjoy the other things we look forward to. Quality of life as we move forward relies heavily on how we take care of ourselves.

What’s The Big Deal?

            Do you ever think or worry about your future health? Are there health-related issues that leave you concerned or worried? Unsurprisingly, you can greatly influence your later-life health outcomes with small actions you take now. For example, investing in the lowering of stressors in your life now, can lead to lessened long-term weight-gain [1], decreased cellular aging [3], and lowered rates of depression [2]. (For the how to lower stressors, we’ll look deeper into that when we get to the stress section.) But this is just in regards to a single contributing factor. What could our lives look like if we took into account the vast assortment of long-term health contributors that there are?

For a simplified version of how each health contributor interacts with the others, look to the graphic below:

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Long-Term Health Outcomes

            Imagine your life at 60 years old. You’ve just come out of your doctor’s office. They’ve given you a glowing review. “You’ve got the health of a person 10 years younger!” your doctor remarks. It may sound like a fairy tale, but it’s completely possible if you can adopt the few simple ideas described here!

            Let’s take a look at each level in the health pyramid to see what small things you can do to improve your long-term health outcomes. (Most are straightforward):

Sleep

            Longer sleep – Equals – Longer life (and a healthier mind throughout that life).  Sleep is the first subject to ensuring you’re living your healthiest possible life. Sleep quality and length is the most reliable predictor of longevity in humans [10]. After just one night’s sleep loss, there is a negative effect on metabolism that leads to increased fat storage in the body [8]. Prolonged sleep deprivation has an effect on everything, including increasing levels of hunger hormones in the body, decreasing physical strength, decreasing cardiorespiratory fitness, and a marked decrease in memory and neurological function [11]. It has such an enormous effect on our health, that we really can’t afford to be taking our sleep for granted any more.

Here are a few take-home healthy sleep practices (Take them to bed 😊)

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Nutrition

            Only in recent history have humans had constant access to food. Our bodies have not adapted to the constant caloric intake and ease of access to food that we now experience. There are many benefits to your longevity that come from two ways of treating food wisely: Healthy feeding and fasting periods. This prevents overconsuming on snacky calories. The benefit of this is that it helps to prevent a constant influx of insulin that can lead to insulin resistance over time [1] (THAT’S THE FIRST STEP TO OBESITY, DIABETES, AND WORSENING HEALTH)

            A few quick points to consider:

1.       Eat More Fiber: increasing life expectancy can be found by increasing dietary fiber consumption.

2.      Eat Unprocessed Foods: maintaining a healthy microbiome by eating a diverse assortment of unprocessed foods.

3.      Fast For A Number Of Hours Daily: Attempt to keep your eating period to within a 10-12 hour window.

It is that simple! 1-2-3!!

            Finally, avoiding added sugars, lowering our regular consumption of alcoholic beverages, and having deliberate eating habits (2-3 meals a day… No Snacking!) can contribute to longevity as well [1]. As long as you practice conscious eating, restrict the amount of added sugars, and eat a diverse diet inside of a reasonable time window each day, your health and lifespan win.

Fitness

            Let’s take a look at our current lifestyles when it comes to exercise. Are we getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic movement per week? Are we including at least 1 strength-training session per week? We should be!

             The National Cancer Institute, in a study of 650,000 adults found that meeting this level of activity extended life-expectancy by an average of 4.5 years [5].  That’s not the entire benefit either. Exercise improves later-life physiologic and psychologic function [6], reducing neurodegenerative disease [9] and maintaining proper bodily function. The strength training ensures recovery from falls, maintenance of balance, and actually is a good indicator of longevity in humans. This is important to remaining independent, as well as being aware of your surroundings, with the ability to interact with them.

             One study identifies that if we go beyond the 150 minutes per week, we see that elite cardiovascular athletes have an 80-percent reduced mortality risk when compared to lower performers [7]. This study goes on to state that there doesn’t seem to be a limit to the benefit from aerobic fitness. Small steps from the 150 minutes a week is all it takes to reach this next healthy fitness level.

A summary of our get-active targets:

Longevity Physical Activity.png

Stress Management

            Yes, stress management is another major component of a healthy life. When you have chronic stress your body responds by releasing a larger than normal level or cortisol. While cortisol can be important in certain situations, inappropriately-high levels in the immediate short term can lead to things like: weight gain, irritability, severe fatigue, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and headaches [13]. So, it stands to reason that we would want to avoid elevated cortisol in the long run as well.

            Long-term effects of stress exposure lead to all sorts of issues with almost every body system. Elevated risk of heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression are just a few of these [13]. Everyone has high cortisol levels from time to time, but we’d like to lessen it’s effects by keeping healthy stress-mitigation practices. 

Some of these stress-mitigation practices are:

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Cognition

            This one may sound like a surprise addition at the end, but cognitive decline is heavily associated with survival time in the elderly population [14]. So, it is clearly important that to live a long life, and to do so healthfully and independently, that we make our brain’s function an important part of our lives. How can we maintain our healthy brain function? We’ve included some of the recommended practices below:

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Conclusion

            With all of the above taken into consideration, it really isn’t that hard to give yourself the best shot at making your elder years enjoyable and functional. If you’re planning for your later life from a financial perspective can you really afford to leave out your health when you invest in your future?                     

 

 

References:

1.       Fung J, Noakes T. The obesity code. Vancouver, Canada: Greystone Books; 2016

2.      Healthline. The effects of stress on your body. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#1 Published June, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2019.

3.      Psychology today. Emotional distress can speed up cellular aging. Psychology today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201404/emotional-distress-can-speed-cellular-aging

Published April, 2014. Accessed March 7, 2019.

4.      Cleveland clinic. Men’s health: lifestyle tips for men over age 50. Cleveland clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16422-mens-health-lifestyle-tips-for-men-over-age-50 Published January, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2019

5.      National cancer institute. NIH study finds leisure time physical activity extends life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years. National cancer institute. https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/press-releases/2012/PhysicalActivityLifeExpectancy Published November, 2012. Accessed March 8, 2019.

6.      Science daily. Better cardiorespiratory fitness leads to longer life. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181019120711.htm Published October, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2019.

7.       Science daily. How sleep loss may contribute to adverse weight gain. Science daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180823095946.htm Published August, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2019.

8.      Science daily. Keeping active in middle age may be tied to lower risk of dementia. Science daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190225145650.htm Published February, 2019. Accessed March 8, 2019.

9.      Dement, W C, Vaughan, C. The promise of sleep: A pioneer in sleep medicine explores the vital connection between health, happiness, and a good night's sleep. New York, US: Dell Publishing Co.; 1999

10.   Walker, M. Why We Sleep. New York, US: Scribner; 2017

11.    Fontana, L. Partridge, L. Promoting health and longevity through diet.  Cell. 2015; 161(1): 106-118. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.020  

12.   Healthline. High cortisol symptoms: what do they mean? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cortisol-symptoms Published August, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2019. 

13.   Deeg D J H et al. The association between change in cognitive function and longevity in dutch elderly. American journal of epidemiology. 1990; 132(5): 973-982. Doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a115740

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Supported Workout Minutes

Every technology-based pursuit needs proof of its use before it can move beyond the testing platform. For most things this proof is mostly physical. Think airplanes, cell phones and cars. I guess, in a way, ours is fairly physical as well. When our users get out there to be physically active, that’s a physical result, and we love it!

        How much proof is needed? Well, that’s a fairly subjective question. Obviously, we don’t need quite the proof record that the airplane needed because, let’s just say there were some safety concerns with that one. But even though we may not need that much proof, we want it. We want so much proof that it’s overwhelming, and that there’s no doubt that we’re having a positive effect on our users.

        We’re well on our way there too! Over the last 5 years we’ve built our way to a platform that can help trusted professionals support workouts and be the helping hand for those first steps forward (as well as the steps that come after) that are the hardest ones on the journey to being physically active and physically healthy.

        How successful has this endeavor been? We’ve supported you through       43,872 workouts averaging 40 minutes per workout! That’s 29,887 hours or 1,793,263 minutes of working out that would otherwise have been unsupported!

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        We’re not satisfied yet, and to reach our next milestone we need your help. We want to log 2-million minutes of supported physical activity. But this goal can’t be reached without you, the user, and the help of our pros who support you.

How can you help? Keep doing what you’re doing, get out there and be active! Ask a friend who might be struggling with their activity scheduling, and needs support in getting active, to sign up. Ask your pro to take them on! It’s right there, so close, we just need to keep up with our healthy-lifestyle habits, and keep logging, to reach our collective goal. Let’s do it together!


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Posture: It's More Than How We Stand

Our posture has an effect on everything… From how we’re perceived by those around us, to how our bodies function in our day to day lives. I’m not just talking about the way that you stand, it encompasses the different ways that you sit, walk, run, and move. Your posture can even have an effect on chronic pain, cognitive function, and your emotions! If you’re thinking to yourself, “why have I never heard any of this before?” I had the same thoughts when I was reading through this information. I’m guessing your interest is just as piqued as mine was, so let’s dig right in.

What Is Proper Posture?

            Is it the way we stand? Sit? Lie down? It’s actually the position your body is in through a multitude of different positions. Attaining good posture comes through training your body to retain a position where it puts the least amount of strain on muscles and ligaments during movement or weight bearing activities.

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            Having proper posture is also important for:

~Aligning bones and joints so they can be used properly

~Helping to prevent the wear on joint surfaces, staving off potential arthritis

~Limiting the stress on ligaments holding spinal joints together

~Helping prevent abnormal spinal positions from becoming locked in

~Allowing the body to use less energy by ensuring that the muscles for balance are used efficiently

~Preventing strain and issues stemming from overuse

~Preventing back aches, neck aches, and muscle pain

~Contributing to how confident, strong, and healthy you look [5]

 

What’s The Big Deal About Poor Posture?

             We know that having good posture has many positive benefits, but what’s the problem with letting it go, and having poor posture? Other than the obvious downsides of chronic muscle and joint pain, exaggerated poor posture, muscle imbalances, and looking unhealthy, there are several major negative implications and effects that can be drawn from having poor posture.

            Firstly, there is a direct correlation between how older, healthy adults perform on memory and cognition tests, and how good their posture is. As their posture and mobility decline, so do their overall quality of life and their cognitive function. [2]   Being active does have a positive effect on cognition, so it could be due to the lessened mobility, or even lessened blood flow to the brain due to poor posture, but the fact of the matter is that there is a cognitive decline that seems to go hand in hand with poor posture.

            Secondly, there is the problem that if you have bad posture in one portion of the body it seems to correlate to developing bad posture in others as well. For example, if someone has the posture in their upper spine that has their head sitting farther forward (Forward Head Position where the ears are not on a vertical line with the shoulders, hips, and feet) they seem to lose the ability to properly position their cervical region (hips). This leads to overloading certain stabilizer muscles over time, and to the weakening of other muscles in the same region.  [3].

            On top of this, there is the issue of poor posture affecting our ability to breathe effectively. Those of us with poor cervical and thoracic posture will have a less smooth respiratory function. [4] What does this mean? When we breathe, we rely on a complex system of muscles that extend to our accessory respiratory muscles. When our posture is out of position, the system of muscles that rely on postural stability aren’t able to function as well as they should be. This negatively affects our ability to breathe as well as we could (lessened breath force and capacity).

 

What Causes Poor Posture?

            There is a vast multitude of contributing factors that may lead to poor posture. Everything from the modern work environment, of which many jobs require long days seated at a desk while hunched over a computer, to our choice in footwear (high heels and shoes without sufficient support are not good for posture).

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            Things such as genetics and diseases can cause problems with peoples’ posture, but fortunately these are relatively rare compared to the majority of cases. A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the development of bad posture. Weak core muscles and extended periods in a slouched or hunched-over position can lead to the shortening of musculature on the front of the body along with the elongation of musculature in the back.

            Surprisingly, a recent study found that, in some cases, as high as 50% of school-aged children had postural issues in rural schools in Europe. This was due to many different factors ranging from lack of physical activity to improper central nervous system functioning [5]. While this seems far away, it does showcase the need for proper physical activity and healthy postural training in school-aged children.

           

What Can We Do About It?

          It seems like a daunting problem, but fortunately, once it’s been realized that a postural issue is present, it can be fixed through several different methods. The first of these is very important, and that is the awareness of healthy postural habits, and unhealthy ones that are present in our own lives. If we’re aware of them we can improve them.

            Next, there is physical activity. Implementing an active lifestyle is very important to improving posture, as it activates the muscles used for stability and engages the core. It also gives us a better awareness of our own body position and functionality. At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, including at least 2 30-minute strength sessions is a good place to start.

              If you work at a desk, it’s important that you utilize good sitting posture, and take frequent short breaks to get up and move [1]. Maybe suggest the pomodoro method to your employer, which is usually 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break (your break can be productive as well, just so long as you mix up the position you’re in) [8].

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            There is also talk about the importance of implementing a postural training program in school systems, as part of their gym classes. When school-aged adolescents are involved in a 4-month resistance training and stretching training program designed towards improving postural defects, they exhibited posture improvements, especially in the head and shoulder position areas [9]. Let’s expand this study to implementing a program into our daily lives in the long term. Would we see any improvements? I think so.

            Imagine if everyone was physically active, including a stretching regimen with their activity. Maybe we could eliminate issues stemming from negative postural practices and change the way that people live their lives. Along with the multitude of benefits that stem from an active lifestyle, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t join in and get our activity that our bodies need. It doesn’t take much to start, all that it takes is a commitment… and maybe a helping hand from GoGet.Fit

 

 

References:

1.       Markham Heid. Easy ways to actually improve your posture. Time. http://time.com/5226701/how-to-improve-posture/?utm_source=time.com&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=time-health&utm_content=2019020520pm&eminfo=%7b%22EMAIL%22:%22mZPLnplma0PUfR+o4KhC5AsTP4+fiUil%22,%22BRAND%22:%22TD%22,%22CONTENT%22:%22Newsletter%22,%22UID%22:%22TD_HTE_5DD2989C-2319-45CE-9F1B-125F09605B8A%22,%22SUBID%22:%22117539942%22,%22JOBID%22:%22938922%22,%22NEWSLETTER%22:%22TIME_FOR_HEALTH_TUESDAY%22,%22ZIP%22:%22%22,%22COUNTRY%22:%22CAN%22%7d Published April, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019.

 

2.      Cohen R, et al. Mobility and upright posture are associated with different aspects of cognition in older adults. Frontiers in aging neuroscience. 2016; 8:257. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2016.00257

 

3.      Yong MS, et al. Correlation between head posture and proprioceptive function in the cervical region. Journal of physical therapy science. 2016; 28(3): 857-860. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.857

 

4.       Han J, et al. Effect of forward head posture on forced vital capacity and respiratory muscle activity. Journal of physical therapy science. 2016; 28(1): 128-131. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.128

 

5.      Radzeviciene L, Kazlauskas A. Posture disorders and their causes in rural schools pupils. Social welfare and disability studies. 2016; N/A: doi:10.21277/sw.v1i6.241

 6.      The Cleveland Clinic. Back health posture. Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4485-back-health--posture Published December, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2019

 7.       Anne Asher, CPT. What causes poor posture. Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/posture-fixes-what-are-you-up-against-297037 Published November, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2018

8.      Wikipedia. Pomodoro technique. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique Published February, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2019.

9.      Ruivo R, et al. Effects of a resistance and stretching training program on forward head and protracted shoulder posture in adolescents. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics. 2017; 40(1): 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.10.005

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Why Add Strength Training to Your Aerobic Program?

Across history many different cultures have seen the value in combining both aerobic and strength training. It’s well known that the Ancient Greeks had a broad fascination with the capability of the human body, or the Egyptians who depicted strength training with bags of sand and rocks in their art; it’s clear that, even in historic cultures, both strength and aerobic training were highly valued.

            If you’re wondering about the benefits that stem from introducing a strength program to your aerobic fitness you don’t have to look very far to see them. Over the last couple of decades there have been several studies reviewing these improvements.

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A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine in 2009 reviewed the benefits of adding 2 resistance training sessions per week to the programs of swimmers. It wasn’t surprising when the expected increase in the strength of their strokes when swimming appeared. What was surprising though, was that they found a significant improvement to the swimmers’ medium-distance races, as opposed to their shorter races, which didn’t show much of a change. At 400 meters the swimmers knocked an average of almost 4 seconds off their previous best times. They also significantly improved their overall strength, and their in-water stroke force, making their ability to maintain a pace in the water easier over a longer time. [2] What this means is that they could work for longer at a higher intensity, thereby burning more calories and getting a better cardiovascular workout.

            The above test being applied to swimmers may have you thinking “What does this have to do with me?”. Don’t worry, it turns out that many different groups of people can find benefits from the addition of resistance training to their already established aerobic training program.

            For example, in 2017, a study published in the online edition of Pub Med looked at the effects on an elderly hypertensive (high blood pressure) population. They found that when you add a strength training program that includes 3 sessions per week, you see a larger decrease in the amount of stored fat in the body (when compared to a group just doing aerobic training). This is in addition to the benefits that come from aerobic exercise that include: reduced blood pressure, body mass index, and waist and abdominal circumference. [3] Hence hitting the weight room had a greater impact on getting rid of fat when combined with aerobic activity than if you didn’t include resistance training in your weekly workouts.

            How else can strength training benefit you when added to your aerobic exercise? It helps with increasing your balance, which is especially important year-round. Whether it’s the danger of slipping on ice, or recovering from a trip over an obstacle, balance is important for avoiding    a fall; and the possible following injury.

            If you’re thinking to yourself “how can lifting weights possibly help with my balance?” that’s alright, it’s surprising; but strength training helps to improve the strength of many of the small stabilizer muscles in your body along with your core muscles (see the graphic below) that are heavily involved in movement and balance by simply activating them. This is especially true when using compound movements (movements involving two or more joints) such as dead lifts and squats. These exercises activate your core muscle groups, as well as major muscles in the lower body that are important for mobility. [4]

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Your strength training doesn’t have to include classic weight lifting like bench press and deadlifts to be effective. Practices such as Yoga and Tai-Chi address the issues of balance and stability by strengthening core muscles. Even straight-forward body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and sit-ups are great for maintaining and improving muscle mass, as well as repairing muscle imbalances, when done properly.

            With all the information at our disposal, it’s hard to argue against the suggestion of including a strength training program in our lives. It doesn’t have to be incredibly in-depth either. 2 days a week at around 30 minutes per day should be more than enough time to maintain muscle mass, improve BMI, and promote overall well-being. I think that it’s fair to say that if we value our autonomy as human beings, then we’ll take part in a strength training program as well as our regular aerobic activity to maintain our balance, mobility, and independence.

 

References:

1.       Health Benefits of Combining Strength and Aerobic Training

https://fitness.org.au/articles/exercise-research-reviews/run-and-lift-the-beneficial-health-effects-of-combining-aerobic-and-strength-training-for-obese-individuals/8/653/19

 

2.       Strength Training Applied to Swimming

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763280/

 

3.       Strength and Aerobic Training in Older Hypertensive Adults

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5463253/

 

4.       Strength Training and Fall Prevention

https://www.fivestarseniorliving.com/blog/health-wellness/strength-training-and-fall-prevention

 

5.       Core Muscle Group Info

https://www.sharecare.com/health/parts-muscular-system/what-are-core-muscles

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Feeling Overwhelmed?

The world has sure gotten busy hasn’t it? Almost weekly, if not multiple times a week, most of us are experiencing that overwhelmed feeling with our “to do” lists. Trying to fit three days worth of “to do’s” in one day? When you have days like this, what are the first things to be sacrificed from your list?

~Exercise?
~Sleep?
~Eating well?

How can we circumvent this issue and still have enough hours in the day (and sanity in our minds) left over? Consider starting each day with a 2 minute planning session:

1- Ask yourself how you want to feel at the end of the day?
2-
What are the steps you need to take to accomplish this?
3-
Is what you’ve planned or listed for the day realistic and achievable?

The last thing that you want to do is roll your eyes and say “I don’t have time”. Give this a try, and see if it makes your life easier. The idea behind this is not to over stuff your day, it’s so you’re able to focus on the things you really want/need to do. If you’re wanting to finish your day with having been able to say that you ate well, got a workout in and spent time with your family; then what things can be taken off of your to do list (maybe even delegated to someone else), so you can finish your day feeling accomplished and are able to get a good night’s sleep without worrying about all the other things you still have on that list.

Exercise, eating well and getting a good night sleep are key components to leading a healthy life. When we take care of ourselves, we are more successful in almost every other aspect of our lives. Over-stuffing your day isn’t going to make you feel more accomplished or good at the end of the day. It’s going to leave you feeling spent and frustrated.

You’ll be surprised by the improvements to everyday life you can reach when you make even a small amount of exercise a priority. A recent study in Denmark involving 2700 members of the workforce from different employment backgrounds practicing 1 hour per week of intelligent physical exercise training (exercise that is customized to work exposure, health status, and physical capacity)  found:

~Significant improvements in health outcomes (improvements to mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing)
~Neck pain was reduced among office workers, dentists, lab technicians, healthcare workers and fighter pilots
~Cardio-respiratory fitness was improved in all involved
(A major indicator of cardiovascular and metabolic disease risk)
~Productivity increased as muscle mass increased and BMI decreased [2]

I know that busy lives happen, especially when you have people in your life that depend on you. If you’re a parent, maybe your kids have their own activities they’re involved in. Or you’ve been dreaming of upgrading your bathroom and you’re excited to DIY (do it yourself). Then it’s time for you to sit down and a have a strategy meeting with yourself or with your spouse. When you share your goals with others and put them on paper (making them real), you typically gain their support or at the very least, they have an idea of what’s going on and what you want to achieve.

When you have that day or that week where it’s a mad scramble from dawn to dusk, hopefully self care won’t be the first thing that gets taken off the list...maybe it’ll be the dusting or the vacuuming. Being overwhelmed is a part of life, but it shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence. Remembering that you and your health are most important and are the priority, helps to put the “other stuff” lower on the list.

References:

  1. 5 reminders for making the right choices in life

  2. Gisela Sjogaard et al, 2016, ‘Exercise Is More Than Medicine: The Working Age Population’s Well-Being and Productivity’, Journal of Sport and Health Science, vol. 5, no. 2, pp.159-165.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254616300096


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What's in a word?

How often do you feel the dread when you think about “having to exercise?” The word “exercise” holds a great deal of power. So much power that it can hold you back.

 If I may provide an all too well-known situation that happens in sport to illustrate the power of perception. Consider the team that continually loses to the same opponent, season in, and season out, despite being better in some seasons, even, being athletically comparable or better, but they continue to lose to that team.

“They got your number,” are the words describing this situation.

Similarly, perceptions attached to words like “exercise” or “physical activity” commonly has some people’s number. The baggage attached, maybe, strings of previous attempts to become active, the popular press illustrating “exercise” with trim and athletic bodies, gymnasiums, facilities populated with precision movements, leaving the perception of exercise as not for me—never for me?? The choice of how we reference activity, our journey, has consequences. For me, I refer to my journey as “being active,” “getting in my activity.” It works for my getting active journey.

The impact of the terminology you use to reference your journey— there is power in how we frame it. Think of all the things you do that are active.

  • Did you clean your house over the weekend?

  • How many times did you climb the stairs while you were doing the laundry?

  • Did you walk your dog or take your children (grandchildren) to the park to play?

These are all positive activities and they count in the active journey.

 Cheers!

 Kerri

 

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Dietary Improvement: What Do We Need In Our Diets?

Over the last couple weeks we’ve covered why not everyone fits the same diet due to genetic variability and lifestyle differences, and why exclusion diets seem to exhibit health increases in mainstream media. Hopefully we can keep in mind the fact that nutrition is something that is going to differ on a person to person basis, and that just because someone else is doing well with certain eating habits, does not mean that everyone will do well under the same circumstances.

            What we have yet to go over are the nutrients necessary for our every day functions. Although there can be differences in the amounts of nutrients needed for each person that will vary with physical activity and genetic variability, the government makes their dietary recommendations to ensure that you don’t run into deficiencies.

What Are The Nutrient Groups?

Macronutrients

·         Carbohydrates

Also known as “carbs”, are a staple of the standard North American diet. Healthy examples consist of whole grain products, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.  

·         Fats

The building blocks of hormones in the body, getting fats from healthy sources is an important part of every nutritional plan. Healthy examples are avocados, cheese, grass-fed butter, dark chocolate (85% cacao content or higher), whole eggs, fatty fish, and nuts

·         Proteins

Important components of every cell, protein is mainly used to repair tissue and is an important component of bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood. Healthy examples are meat (from healthy sources), free-range eggs, legumes, and seafood.

 

            There is a new Canadian food guide as of this year. It suggests that you eat lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods, and protein. Choose plant-based sources of protein more often than not, and choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fats. Prepare your snacks and meals with foods that have no added sugar, sodium, or saturated fat, and cut the consumption of highly processed foods.  Try to avoid eating out, but when you do aim for the healthiest portions of the menu, and don’t be afraid to ask what the meal is prepared with. Be wary of food marketing and how it affects your choices, and educate yourself by reading the labels on the food you buy. Cut out sugary drinks, and make water your beverage of choice.

 

Micronutrients

 

·         Vitamins

 

Vitamins are a group of organic compounds which are essential for the day to day functions in the body, and are needed in small amounts in the daily diet, as they cannot be synthesized by the body.

 

-Water-Soluble Vitamins (absorbed by water):

 

B-Vitamins:

1.        Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Required by the body to properly use carbohydrates.

2.       Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Needed for growth and good health, and is used to properly break down nutrients in food.

3.       Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Helps with functions in the digestive system, skin, and nervous system.

4.       Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): An important component in energy production from fats and carbohydrates.

5.       Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Needed to maintain healthy nerves, skin, and red blood cells.

6.       Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Keeps nails, skin, and hair healthy.

7.       Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Used to make red blood cells

8.      Choline: Used in many different functions, from neurotransmitter synthesis to cell membrane signalling.

9.       Folic Acid: Important for pregnant women, and for producing and maintaining new cells.

B-Vitamins are commonly found in whole grains, potatoes, legumes, bananas, chilli peppers and yeast, and have an important range of functions.

 

Vitamin C: the last water-soluble vitamin, but still incredibly important. It’s commonly used in the strengthening of blood vessels, as an antioxidant, and in skin elasticity. Common sources are citrus fruits, bell peppers, guava, and brussels sprouts.

 

-Fat-Soluble Vitamins (absorbed by fat):

 

Vitamin A: Good for the eyes, general growth, and development, and is found in carrots and other orange foods containing carotene.

 

Vitamin D: Used to make strong and healthy bones, and is found in eggs, fatty fish, mushrooms, and can be produced by the body in most cases from UV light exposure.

Vitamin E: Helpful for blood circulation and protection from free radicals, and can be found in nuts (mainly almonds), tomatoes, and sunflower seeds.

 

Vitamin K: Is a key component in blood clotting to help heal wounds, and is commonly found in kale, spinach, and broccoli.

 

           

·         Minerals

 

Minerals are any elements found in food that are necessary for our bodies to develop and function. There are many of them, but the main ones that humans need to focus on are:

 

Phosphorus: Works with calcium to build strong bones, and can be found in milk, meat, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.

 

Iodine: Is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, and is high in dairy, seafood, eggs, and prunes.

 

Sodium: Is important for maintaining blood volume and pressure. Most people consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, but it is high in foods that are smoked or preserved with salt, cold cut meats, and anything with added salt.

 

Most of these are fairly plentiful and easy to get, but there are a few that the majority of people do not get enough of. These are shown in the graphic below:

Essential+Minerals.jpg

·         Essential Fatty Acids

 

Linoleic Acid (Omega-6): Helpful for regulating proper cholesterol levels, and reducing cancer risk. It is found in seeds, nuts, and acai berries.

 

Linolenic Acid (Omega-3): Improves cardiovascular health, and helps protect against neurodegenerative disease. It can commonly be found in fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.

 

·         Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids that can’t be synthesized in the body, and must be obtained through your diet. There are 9 of these, and they are:

 

Histidine: Used to produce histamine, which is necessary to many diverse functions in the body.

 

Isoleucine: Heavily concentrated in muscle tissue, it is important in the metabolism of the muscles.

 

Leucine: Helps regulate blood sugar levels, and is important in the wound healing process.

 

Lysine: Helps with protein synthesis, hormone production, and the absorption of calcium.

 

Methionine: Is essential for tissue growth and the absorption of minerals.

 

Phenylalanine: Is a precursor to several neurotransmitters

 

Threonine: Important in fat metabolism and immune function.

 

Tryptophan: Is a precursor to serotonin, which is important for many different functions in the body.

 

Valine: Helps stimulate muscle growth and is essential to energy production.

 

            Fortunately, essential amino acids are not something that those with a diverse and healthy diet have to worry about. They are found in large numbers in: meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Some people on exclusion diets may have trouble getting all of the essential amino acids they need, and may feel the need to supplement.

 

·         Water

 

Yes, water is a necessity. I know that’s not exactly breaking news, but the vast majority of us don’t get anywhere near the 2 liters of water a day that we should be drinking.

 

            Dietary requirements can seem daunting at first. Fortunately we have a health industry that cares for us greatly and is willing to give suggestions that make meeting our nutritional requirements much easier. If we eat a diverse diet, prepare the majority of our meals at home, avoid fast food, and do our best to follow Canada’s dietary recommendations and combine this with an active lifestyle, we should all be able to live long and fulfilling lives.

 

 

 

 

References:

1.       Nutrition Requirements

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/canteen-mgr-tr1~nutrients

2.      Essential Nutrients for Humans

http://www.magnesiumeducation.com/essential-nutrients-for-humans

3.      Vitamins & Minerals Humans Need

https://www.goodnet.org/articles/11-essential-vitamins-minerals-your-body-needs

4.      Roles of Vitamins In The Human Body

http://www.sharecare.com/health  

5.      Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-omega-3-rich-foods#section13

6.      Essential Amino Acid Sources and Functions:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/essential-amino-acids

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Dietary Improvement: Why Do Strict Diets Report Health Improvement?

How many strict diets exist out there? It seems as though every couple of years a new one comes through the woodwork with all of the same claims. These claims start out with the creators of said diets, but eventually move on to the people who take up and follow these nutritional changes with sometimes ideological levels of following. With this multi-week investigation on dietary improvement that I’m currently pursuing I figured this was the next logical step in my research.

            Now, why are there often benefits for people when they start following these new diets? I found that there are actually a couple of reasons that I could see, so let’s dig right in to them.

The Exclusion Effect

(Just to be clear, we don’t suggest taking part in any of these diets, and doing so should be a decision you make for yourself after educating yourself on the matter.)

            Picture the average North American diet. What does it consist of? Do you see hamburgers, pizza, fries, pasta, and breakfast pastries? Do you see a daily dose of sugar in the forms of pop, flavored waters, ice cream, and confectioneries? Well, if you do, you’re actually not far from the truth. As a population we consume an average of 57 pounds of added sugar per person per year [4]!  This makes sense when you note the ever-growing obesity epidemic, alongside the almost 1 in 3 people that now suffer from a metabolic disease related to sugar consumption.

10 Top Foods America.png

            Now, what if you were on a diet that excluded added sugar or carbohydrates like the carnivore or ketogenic diets? Instantly that flood of sugar is gone. Within a few weeks your joints feel better with less inflammation, less oxidative stress in your body, and no more rollercoasters of energy highs followed by an early afternoon sugar crash. With sugar gone that also means alcohol is out as well, preventing that hangover, poor sleep quality, and removing a portion of empty calories from your diet.

            Next, imagine yourself on a diet that restricts the intake of processed meats such as the vegetarian or vegan diets. There go the poor saturated fat choices that the majority of people make when reaching for hot dogs, hamburgers, or salted and smoked meats. Over night this reduces the amount of artery clogging saturated and trans fats coming into your system. Many vegans also remove processed white sugar from their diets as well, getting a two-for-one deal on exclusion in their diet.

            But, in our opinion the above are not the healthiest way to go about making a lifestyle change. Although you’re excluding negative health contributors, you’re also excluding essential nutrients with these exclusion diets or at least making it harder to get these without supplementation. You can get similar benefits by removing the things that detract from your overall well-being, while still taking in the nutrients that contribute to your health. It just takes a little bit of effort and investment in your health.

Dietary Tribalism

            How often do you hear people self-identifying as a vegan, or as a ketogenic follower, or even as a carnivore? It seems that more and more these days people are touting their dietary choices as passionately as religion. But how much of their elation is due to this ideological following as opposed to purely benefits to their health? Sure, these exclusion diets each have their positives, but can it be argued truthfully that one is better than the other with broad sweeping strokes? Especially when the diverse genetic variability that exists in the world is taken into account, where people have food allergies, microbiomes that differ from person to person, and a multitude of contrasting lifestyle pursuits that require certain nutritional intakes. Then why is there a constant conversion effort by the masses following these diets and why are arguments breaking out about strangers’ dietary choices?

            In part this can be explained by the phenomenon of the echo chamber. If you haven’t heard the term before, it refers to a group of people reaffirming their own pre-existing convictions by stating them to people that they know hold those same ideas. By doing this they get the positive emotion that goes along with feeling as though you’re correct, and hold the high ground in a dietary argument. The problem with these echo chambers is that the ideas that these groups hold can never be challenged. This slowly builds into an ideology that’s held with religious fervour, and you eventually get the veganism, carnivore, and ketogenic movements that, by their own followers’ convictions, are infallible and above questioning.

            Another reason for this dietary tribalism is the feeling that people get from belonging to a group. Many in our society are lonely, and searching for something to belong to. Some of them find what they’re looking for in these dietary followings. They have social groups online that they can belong to, and with the added excitement of conflicts between rival tribes driving this bond they feel to their faction, this is exactly what many are looking for.

            The problem with the above is that once something is beyond questioning, it becomes a very close-minded viewpoint. If we aren’t open to information that can be brought to our attention then it’s very easy to approach situations of controversy with a confrontational demeanor. Another problem with this is if we are unwilling to accept new information then we stand with the belief that we already know everything, and how boring would that be if we already had everything figured out?

What’s The Goal?

            In essence, the masses don’t seek out these dietary followings to be confrontational. The majority of people in these groups are seeking health. They see claims online of cured chronic illness, disease and auto-immune disorders. It’s hard not to notice the positive changes that those following these diets exhibit. But they’re not the best way to go. There’s too much diversity in our human population for one broad sweep diet to be the ‘one’ for everyone, and arguing the opposite is just irresponsible. Our human diversity is a good thing. It means we don’t need these exclusion diets to see health benefits. We just need to make the conscious decision to educate ourselves and listen to what our bodies are telling us to the best of our abilities. That’s how we’ll find health as a group.

 

 

 

           

References:

 

1.       Common Foods Diets Exclude

https://thehealthyfish.com/common-foods-diets-exclude-eat-instead/

 

2.      Australian Exclusion Diets

http://theconversation.com/the-exclusive-on-exclusion-diets-12214

 

3.      Fat Loss and the Carnivore Diet

https://www.kevinstock.io/health/fat-loss-and-the-carnivore-diet/

 

4.      How Much Sugar is Too Much?

http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overconsumption.html#.XEVQ3FxKjIU

 

5.      Diabetes in North America and the Caribbean

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24321468

 

6.      Dietary Tribalism

https://grist.org/sustainable-food/lets-put-an-end-to-dietary-tribalism/

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