Sunday, 14 December 2014

A 15-Minute Plyometrics Workout For Cardio And Power

A good workout doesn't require tons of equipment, or even tons of time. Plyometric movements, which focus on speed, agility and explosive power, can give you major bang for you buck when you've only got a few minutes to spare. The secret? Targeting your whole body (legs, chest, back, arms and core), while boosting your heart rate with gravity-defying moves. Plus, when you're giving all-out effort with high-intensity intervals, you'll burn more calories than with steady state cardio (like a long-distance run).
"There is nothing as effective or energizing as plyometrics," says DailyBurn trainer Anja Garcia, who turns to the fat-blasting protocol when she needs maximum results in a short amount of time. But it's not just trending in fitness studios: Athletes have used plyometrics, or jump training, for years to increase speed and power, since jumping exercises require agility and control.
When you can't make it to the gym, keep it simple with Garcia's go-to 15-minute workout. Jog in place for one minute to warm up your muscles and then hop to it! Complete exercises one through five for 30 seconds each, and rest for 30 seconds at the end of each round. See if you can hang for five rounds total -- that's just 15 minutes of work!
1. Tuck Jumps
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Explode off the balls of your feet and bring your knees up to meet your hands out in front of you, heels to your butt. Land with control before launching right back up into your next jump.
2. Plyo Pushups
How to: Get into a plank position, with your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders. Lower down like you're doing a pushup. At the bottom, use your power to push back up so your upper body shoots up explosively, and your hands leave the ground. When you land, maintain control in your arms and immediately begin lowering into your next pushup. Want to take it to the next level? Try clapping your hands while you're airborne.
3. Power Knee Drives
How to: Start in a front lunge position, with your front knee bent at 90-degrees and your opposite arm bent in front of your chest, like a sprinter. Drive the back knee up and explode off the standing leg, using your arms to help propel you up off the floor. Return to the starting position and continue for 15 seconds on one side, and then switch legs.
4. Skaters
How to: Start by standing upright and balancing on your right foot. Jump laterally to the left, landing on your left foot with the left knee bent. From here, you should be in speed skater position, crouched down and balancing on the left leg with the right leg extended diagonally behind you. Quickly leap back to the right, landing on your right foot, and continue back and forth, keeping up a quick rhythm.
5. Burpees
How to: From standing, jump up and reach as high as you can with your hands. When you land, immediately squat down, place your hands on the floor, and quickly jump your feet back so you are in a plank position. Touch your chest to the floor and then hop your feet under you to start it all over again!

By Alex Orlov for Life by DailyBurn

Sunday, 16 November 2014

8 tips for a healthier Thanksgiving this year

Once a year, some of us take that extra serving of stuffing and end up stuffing ourselves a little too full. The average American consumes about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving—that’s about three times the calories than our bodies need.
This Thanksgiving, you don't have to be so quick to throw out your healthy eating habits. There are simple, healthy ways to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving flavors without having to unbutton your pants at the table.
Tip #1: Stay away from pre-dinner snacking. Those calories from those chips, crackers, nuts, and cheese add up fast. Cutting out these snacks can save you about 400 calories.
Tip #2: Look up the nutritional value of your favorite foods prior to your meal. Jesica Leon, a undergraduate student at Roosevelt University, said her favorite food for Thanksgiving is a dessert called buñuelo, which has about 6 g of protein per serving. Foods with protein can make you feel fuller and eat less. Knowing what's in your food may help you decide how much of it should be on your plate.
Tip #3: Modify traditional recipes to reduce calories and add nutritional value.
RU undergraduate student Tiffani Everett's must-have on Thanksgiving is stuffing. Stuffing can be modified to be healthier by subbing out bread and replacing it with whole-grain rice or quinoa.
Tip #4: Think about how you'll feel tomorrow. Eating unhealthy can make us feeling bloated, tired and regretting our food choices the next day. Treat your body nicely and nourish it properly.
Tip #5: Don't go for seconds (or thirds, or fourths, etc.). The food might taste delicious, but a “taste” of each dish is really all you need. Box up the leftovers and save it for the rest of the week—you could have a turkey sandwich for lunch on Monday.
Tip #6: Have bread or dessert but not both. Think about it: do you want 160 calories from a dinner roll, or a small piece of pumpkin pie?
Tip #7: Drink water. Water is calorie-free and can make you feel fuller, faster. By choosing to drink water instead of juice, beer, wine, or other beverages, you lower your calorie intake and help your body flush out toxins. Most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are packed with sodium, which can dehydrate your body. Drinking water will help keep your body hydrated.
Tip #8: Don’t feel the need to eat everything on your plate. If you’re not hungry anymore, stop eating. There’s no need to stuff your body if you’ve already had enough to eat. In order to prevent you from over-serving yourself, try placing your food on the plate so that nothing touches--doing this will make you have to take smaller portions.
Thanksgiving is for giving thanks and blessings, and if part of that thanks for you is having a "cheat day" from eating healthy—then go for it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Exercise in air quality research finds gyms are not a breath of fresh air

The gym is surely the healthy outlet for a little heavy breathing. But while we work out to enhance our health, the air we inhale may not be helping us.
A new study of the air quality in gyms has found concerning levels of indoor air pollutants.
Researchers from the University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands placed air-quality monitors in the weight room of 11 gyms, as well as several of the gyms' exercise and yoga studios.
The monitors measured the levels of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), dust particles and chemicals like formaldehyde (CH2O).
The gyms showed high levels of airborne dust, formaldehyde and carbon dioxide, which can lead to asthma and other respiratory problems. 
"We consider that the gymnasiums meet the criteria for a poor indoor quality," said Carla Ramos, the lead author of the paper, due to be published in in the journal Building and Environment.  
"The pollutants CO2, VOC and CH2O presented high concentrations exceeding the national limit values."
The pollutants were particularly high during peak exercise times when dust and other particles were stirred up and all the gym-goers were huffing and puffing and producing more carbon dioxide.
Indoor air pollution has been consistently ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health but Australia has no specific laws for indoor air quality and gyms are not monitored. 
The study raises questions but shouldn't scare you away from your workout, says Professor Guy Marks, a respiratory specialist from the University of Sydney's Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.
"The health consequences to short-term exposure to these pollutants is not really well-defined," he says.
"Long-term seems to have adverse affects on breathing and cardiac function . . . it is hard to quantify whether [gym air poses] a significant problem, but they are certainly interesting findings."
Marks explains that the source of the pollutants measured may be generated from the gym equipment, explaining that foam materials and cleaning products can produce formaldehyde.
Pollutants can also come in from the outdoors, Marks says, pointing out that people are exposed to similar pollutants every day at home, too.
"During exercise, people are more susceptible to whatever is in the air because they are breathing deeper and stressing cardio and respiratory systems."
Despite this, going to the gym still beats not going.
It is worth choosing a gym that has good ventilation and doesn't smell of chemicals.
Ramos, who still goes to her gym to exercise, also suggests asking gym staff about the type of cleaning products they use and whether they mop the floors, which is more effective than sweeping for removing dust.
Marks points out that swimming pools tend to present more of a problem in terms of the chemicals people breathe in, than gyms.
"The advice is that it's a good idea to have good ventilation."

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Ultimate Half Marathon Workout

By: Lindsey Benoit, Women's Health Director of Communications and Special Projects
Training for my first half marathon has been exciting and challenging. Because I hadn't run much more than four miles leading up to my training, adding miles also starting taking a toll on my body. Muscles began hurting that never did before. With preexisting lower back issues, I knew that I needed to be careful when embarking on the runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon I will be running this November.

I turned to one of my favorite trainers, Rebecca Heiberg, a New York-based personal trainer and athlete who has worked prepared clients for races. Her goal is to help me get strong before issues begin flaring up and providing a workout program to keep me safe and get ready to run that 13.1 miles in Disney!

Pre-Run Warm-Ups are Essential:
"When your body is going to be in motion then you need to warm it up in motion -- your muscles need to be prepared for what you are about to do," says Heiberg. "Your stretching routine should consist of "dynamic" stretches which are stretches performed on the move that mimic movement patterns similar to the sport or activity you are about to engage in." The top five include:
  1. Walking Knee Tugs: Bring one knee up to your chest as high as it can go then with both hands, pull your knee into your chest. Alternate legs while slowly walking forward.
  2. Frankenstein Walks: Step forward and kick one leg up to waist height or as far as you can. Be sure to keep your hips level and have no bend in the knee. Repeat this as you walk forward. Be sure to stand up tall to maintain a neutral spine and only raise the leg as much as you can without hunching over and rounding your back. Do 15-20 reps on each side.
  3. Lateral Band Walks: Put a latex band (they vary with resistances) around both ankles. Start with the your feet hip-width distance apart and maintain tension on the band at all times. Keep knees slightly bent, chest up and hips back. Step out to the side with your heel slightly leading the way. Bring the other leg back to the start position. Repeat 8-10 reps on each side. If your tushy is burning then you are doing it right!
  4. Kick Butt Walking Lunges: Step one foot forward into a lunge. Bend the knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor and the knee is in line with the ankle. Push back upward and lift the back leg off the floor and drive your heel into your butt. Take that foot and step into a lunge to continue on to the opposite side. Do 10-15 reps on each side.
  5. High Heel Walks: Take small steps forward on your tippy toes as if you were wearing a pair of high heels. Continue to walk like this until you have taken 15-20 steps on each leg. (That's right boys, feel our pain!)

Don't Forget that Post-Run Cool Down:
"Static stretching, which is done while the body is at rest and the lengthened muscle is held for at least 30 seconds, is the key to help those muscles recover," adds Heiberg. Remember, never stretch an injury and be sure to hold for at least 30 seconds but no longer than two minutes. Don't forget to breathe during these stretches! Rebecca's five post-run stretches include:
  1. Standing Calf Stretch: Calves can be stretched in a number of different ways but I find this one to be easy and very efficient. Place the foot on a small step. Let the heel fall towards the floor. Keeping your back flat, lean forward over the front leg for a deeper stretch. Remember to hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat up to three times per leg.
  2. Single Leg Hami Stretch: Lay face up on the floor. Lift one leg without bending the knee. Keep the foot of the elevated leg relaxed and keep the toes of the leg on the floor pointing up to the sky. Grab behind the quad of the elevated leg with both hands and pull the leg gently towards your head. Hold here for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
  3. Standing Quad Stretch: Standing up with feet shoulder width apart, lift the right foot up toward your right glute. Pull your foot gently toward the glute with the right hand. For a deeper stretch, push the foot into the hand. This will activate the quad and give a deeper more intense stretch. Feel free to use a wall or a stationary object to hold on to for balance. Hold for 30 secs and repeat three times on each leg.
  4. Thread the Needle: This one is my favorites. It really targets the glutes and loosens them up after a long run. Lay down on your back. Place your right ankle directly above your left knee. Your right knee is now bent and forms a space between your legs. Place your right hand through the hole and your left hand to the outside of the left leg. Now, grabbing behind the left leg with both hands, pull the left leg off the floor and toward your chest. Hold 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat 2-3 times per leg.
  5. Butterfly Stretch: Sit on the floor and place the bottom of your feet together. Sit up nice and tall. Grab your ankles and press your elbows on the inside of your thighs. Push the knees down with the elbows and lean forward maintaining a flat back. Be sure not to bounce but apply steady pressure. Hold 30 seconds to two minutes. Repeat 2-3 times.
Pay Attention To Your Legs:
You will be logging a lot of miles when training and common issues are in your calf muscles and shins. I personally have issues with both. Try Rebecca's moves to work on these areas:
Strengthening Your Calf Muscles: The calf muscle is made up of two different muscles -- gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. There are two different types of exercises that will target each muscle. The standing calf raise will target the soleus muscle and the seated calf raise which will target both the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles. Perform both exercises to properly strengthen the calf.
  • Standing Calf Raises: Find a stair and place both feet approximately hip width distance apart. An easy way to check your form is to make sure that your knees and hips are stacked over your ankles. Bring your toes to the edge of the stair and let the heels come off and lower to the floor. Press down in to the balls of your feet and raise your body up towards the sky. Lower back to the start position and repeat 15-20 reps, 2-3 times. A progression to this exercise is a single leg calf raise. Follow the same rules above but use only one leg at a time. Do not overdue it. Listen to your body and choose the number of reps accordingly. Feel free to add weight for an additional progression.
  • Seated Calf Raises: Find a chair and have a seat. (or use a machine at the gym) Place both feet on the ground with your knees stacked above your ankles to ensure proper alignment. Sit up nice and tall and engage your core. Raise your heels off the floor coming on to the balls of your feet and return back to the floor. To make it more intense you can add additional weight on top of your thighs. Repeat 15-20 reps, 2-3 times.
Shin Splints: "If you are experiencing shin splints, ice and rest are best," says Heiberg. "Training through the pain is not a smart idea and can lead to further and more severe injuries." To keep those shins strong, try the below to help strengthen:
  • Toe Crunches: Sit in a chair with feet on the floor. Use a dishtowel or any cloth and place on the ground in front of foot. Keep your heel on the ground and use your toes to grab the towel and pull in toward the foot. Flex the toes point the toes over and over until the towel begins to move and scrunch up toward the foot.
  • Flex and Extend With Resistance: Sit down on the floor with legs extended in front of your body. Place a towel or resistance band around the bottom of one foot and pull lightly toward your body. Now point your toe away from the resistance. Repeat 15-20 reps, 1-2 times on each leg.
  • Foot Pull-Ups: Usually there is a few inches of open space at the bottom of a couch. You'll need a space just like this for this exercise. While standing, take one foot and place just your toes underneath the couch. Pull your toes up toward the sky (flexing the foot) and hold for two seconds before releasing back to the start position. Do 10 reps, 2-3 times on each leg.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Fitness myths uncovered


All fat is “bad fat”

Pick the bacon over toast at breakfast, for a delicious meal while stimulating your metabolism to utilize fat for energy throughout the day.  It’s critical to preface the encouragement of fat consumption with the importance of a low/no carbohydrate diet accompanying it.  
If both macro nutrients are consumed in significant quantities, as most American diets often are, will result in an environment ripe for fat storage and the means to do it.   

That said, adequate carbohydrate restriction and sufficient fat consumption will encourage optimal hormone balance in the body, improve metabolic efficiency and manage blood sugar levels.  

This shift in calories from carbohydrates to fat and protein will dramatically improve one’s capacity for weight management and overall health in the long term.

Lifting light weights for high reps is best for toning

When you place sufficient stress on your body through exercise the body’s response is to develop muscle.  Although varying the type of stress (angles, weight load, intensity, circuit training, etc.) is ideal to optimize the rate of progress, it does not determine the development of “toned muscle” vs. “bulky muscle”, you simply develop muscle.   

The aesthetic or visual display of that muscle will rely largely on body composition, driven by proper nutrition and the aerobic intensity of your program.  The latter can be accomplished simply by increasing the pace of your current workout, utilizing a circuit training style with minimal rest if fat loss is your goal.   

To be clear, this type of training is aimed at improving body composition or reducing body fat, not necessarily to develop “toned” muscle.   

If your goal is to achieve more “definition” then you should emphasize a nutrition regiment that is appropriate for the degree of fat-loss you seek.

Additionally, lifting as heavy as possible to achieve the desired rep count in your program, this can range from 4 – 25 reps, using a combination of rep ranges within one 4 week program to capture maximum results, regardless of your fitness goals.  

Never should you be using light enough weight that allows you to achieve the prescribed rep count with ease.  Everything we do in the gym is about forcing adaptation, placing your body under stress it cannot currently perform under, thus forcing it to change.

Crunches alone will give you 6-pack abs

Regardless of all the marketing slogans suggesting otherwise, developing a 6-pack requires more work outside the gym than in it.  Implementing a combination of abdominal exercises into your current program is smart for almost anybody and although it will impact core strength and the development your abdominal muscles it will do little to display the shredded 6-packs and flat stomachs we see in these cliché infomercials.   

The placement of our abs on the body (behind large fat stores) make them particularly hard to see unless a sufficiently lean body composition is achieved.  As such, a six pack is truly uncovered in the kitchen.

Lifting heavy weights will bulk women up

Because of the hormonal make up of women it makes it nearly impossible for most women to develop significant muscle naturally, regardless of the type of lifting they engage in.  That being the case, many women see even more benefit from lifting heavy and intense because it’s the most effective way to elicit physiologic response, eventually achieving the defined physiques we see on fitness covers.  

Many of our bikini competitors and fitness models lift weights in the same manner I do, in conjunction with a lean diet results in the impressive physiques you see in fitness magazines.

Eating “whole wheat” pasta and/or bread is healthy

Too often the “whole wheat” products marketed to us will trick you into thinking you’re consuming a healthier alternative to it’s white/starchy counterpart.  When a quick flip to the ingredients listed on back you’ll find that you’re still consuming essentially just starch.  

Starchy carbohydrates will effect blood sugar in the same way that table sugar does, in fact more.  When our bodies consume carbohydrates in this form we experience a dramatic rise in blood sugar/glucose, in response to this signal our pancreas begins releasing insulin in an effort to reduce or stabilize blood glucose levels by pulling nutrients out of the blood stream and into various energy stores throughout the body.   

Anything left over will be converted to triglycerides in adipose tissue (FAT).  Chronically high insulin levels will result in excessive weight gain in addition to numerous metabolic deficiencies.   

By dramatically reducing carbohydrate consumption it allows us to minimize the pervasive energy storage environment created by insulin.  

Equally important is the physiologic response to these low blood glucose levels, in much the same way our bodies signal to the pancreas to release insulin to lower blood sugar, our body begins releasing Glucagon in order to raise blood sugar.   The release of glucagon actually promotes the breakdown of energy stores (FAT) for the production of energy.

Long story short, when you’ve been consistent on your low carbohydrate diet for several days, you’ve sufficiently depleted the energy stores in liver and muscle, consequently utilizing adipose tissue or FAT as the primary source.
Read More Here:

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Asthma and Exercise

Most people with Asthma can exercise and become fit. But the type, and intensity of exercise Asthmatics can do varies greatly from person to person. Here's a video that outlines the rules of thumb.

Asthmatic or not, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. It causes bronchial passages to become inflamed and arrowed in response to triggers like cold, exercise, and stress, and allergens like dust mites, dander and smoke.

Breathing becomes labored and difficult, and in extreme cases, Asthma attacks can be fatal. Asthma is on the rise. Asthma affects about 25 million people in the U.S. according to the National Institutes of health.

The cause has been debated for decades. The hygiene hypothesis: it was thought that living in a too clean environment, like suburban America, and smaller family size decreased a child's exposure to bacteria and viruses, thus preventing the immune system from developing normally and allowing it to instead set its sights on allergic triggers like dust.

More recent studies in less clean urban areas suggest Asthma causes are more complex and no one explanation has come to the forefront.

There are many types and degrees of Asthma. There is no cure, but modern medicine has provided options that help keep most Asthma symptoms under control most of the time. They include, drugs, swallowed, inhaled and injected, and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Yes, people with Asthma can exercise.

The most common symptoms are wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.
But exercising with Asthma is a two edged sword. Exercise is an irritant trigger.

It can induce Asthma. In fact, there is a whole category of asthmatics for which exercise induced Asthma, EIA for short, is the main issue. However this can be overcome. Studies show that exercising for fitness, particularly aerobic exercise, strengthens and builds the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems to the same extent as it does in non-asthmatics.

Asthmatics can become very fit. Many Olympic and professional athletes, have exercise-induced Asthma.

So what kinds of exercise can and should asthmatics do and, what precautions should they take.

Pick an exercise that gets your heart rate up without putting too much pressure on your breathing.

Generally, low intensity activities like walking, biking, moderate aerobics and swimming outdoors where fumes from pool chemicals are less of an irritant, are more easily tolerated. Activities like high intensity aerobics or calisthenics can be more problematic and should be approached gradually.

Exercise limitations; vary greatly from person to person. Some asthmatics have trouble with even low intensity exercise, while others can do almost anything most of the time.

First and foremost consult your doctor before you begin.

Rules of thumb:

· Depending on your particular condition, you may need to take medication, or take a puff or two from your inhaler before you begin.
· If you use a peak flow meter, test yourself and don't exercise unless you're in normal range.
· Keep your emergency inhaler handy during exercise just in case.
· Avoid triggers whenever possible.
· If it's too cold or the pollen count is high outside, exercise indoors.
· Exercise outside when the air is clear and humidity is higher.
· If you exercise in the cold, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to warm and moisten the air as you breathe.
· Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
· Take time to warm up with slow dynamic movements like marching in place or gentle stretching.
· Start slowly and monitor how the exercise is affecting you.
· Avoid sudden bouts of intense exercise.
· Breath through your nose if possible in a relaxed controlled pattern
· Try using pursed lip breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth with lips pursed as though whistling. It helps avoid hyperventilation and manages shortness of breath. It helps your airways relax and dilate so you can expel carbon dioxide and take in oxygen.
· If exercise induces your Asthma more severely, with your doctors approval, you may want to try easing in with gentle movements while seated in a chair.

The bottom line is exercising with Asthma is a very individual undertaking. One size does not fit all. Some people can do almost anything, while others have trouble with even light exercise.

Talk to your doctor, listen to your body, Start gently and build up. Stay in your comfort zone. Take precautions, get fit and live well.

Drivers Benefit From Exercise

Doug Crocker knows a thing or two about driving. The 74-year-old former Hartford police officer and his wife have navigated the continental U.S. three times in their motor home.

Even experienced drivers feel the effects of aging when behind the wheel. "It's harder to turn around now to look for blind spots," he said. "Backing up is a real issue too," especially when he drives the Jeep they tow along for in-town use.

Age-related decline in mobility, flexibility and reaction time can seriously impact driving and safety. Some simple, targeted exercises may ease normal age-related physical changes and help keep Crocker – and many of the 700,000 older Connecticut drivers -- safely on the road.

study by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the M.I.T. Age Lab looked at the effects of exercise on older drivers' strength, flexibility, coordination and range of motion. Participants used a specially designed exercise program and an X-Box. Drivers who exercised for 15-20 minutes daily reported greater ease in turning their heads to look in blind spots when changing lanes or backing up, compared with a similar group that did not exercise.

The exercise group could also rotate their bodies further to scan the road when making right hand turns compared with non-exercisers. "When you think about the risks in intersections, that's a very positive outcome," said Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center, part of The Hartford Insurance Company. The group was also able to get in and out of their cars more quickly, which translates to improved flexibility, something "so essential to be able to respond to all of the various actions that are required for driving," she said.

The study was important in establishing a connection between exercise and a specific fitness program and driving ability, added Olshevski.

"We wanted to look at the impact of physical fitness on driving skills of older drivers before they have really significant health issues," she said.

There were over 2.4 million licensed drivers in Connecticut in 2012, according to the latest figures available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicle data show that one in five drivers is age 65 or older. In Connecticut, 50 of the 332 fatal traffic crashes involved older drivers in 2012, according to the NHTSA.

Frank Pagerino, AARP's State Coordinator for Driver Safety, said, "Most older driver don't complain about their physical ailments, but when we start talking about it, they admit they can't walk, or it's hard to bend down, or turn their necks.'' That affects their ability to conduct maneuvers like lane changes, which require turning the torso and neck to make sure there's no oncoming traffic, he said. AARP is a partner with The Hartford Insurance Company, offering car insurance to mature drivers.

Older adults have a higher crash rate per mile driven and are frailer. So when they crash, their chances of injury or death is greater compared with a younger driver in that same crash, according to Yale doctoral student Nancy Knechel.

Knechel conducted a separate analysis on the effects of various interventions on improving skills of older drivers. She found that exercise was the best approach to maintaining driving ability in older adults compared with other activities like cognitive training.

Driving is more than getting from point A to B, she said. Seniors who don't drive have less social interaction, more depression, and worse overall health. "Even though it seems like a quick Band-Aid to take them off the road, it probably creates bigger problems," Knechel said.

In a 2013 national telephone survey of 1,107 drivers age 50 and older, turning their heads to look at blind spots, getting in and out of a vehicle, and reaching and adjusting the seat belt ranked as the top three physical challenges.

"The real question is what can people do to try to extend their ability to stay safe on the road as long as possible. That's why we wanted to look at the role of exercise as an empowerment model, rather than a reactive 'oh you've got to get off of the road' model," Olshevski said.

Many newer cars have built-in technology that addresses age-related challenges, like blind spot warnings, light-sensitive headlights and backup cameras. Fifty-one percent of consumers surveyed by the Hartford Center said they would feel safer with at least one of these technologies in their car.

AARP's Pagerino cautioned that technology is also a distraction, because "you're taking your eyes off the road to look at a screen and your concentration gets blurred. I'm a bit leery, but that's what's coming down the pike."

Read more here:,0,4592209.story

How Regular Exercise Can Make You Look and Feel Younger

There are several daily habits that can keep you looking and feeling young, and exercise is one of them. Studies have shown that exercising can even turn back the clock on aging, reversing some of the effects of time, and restoring your youth, inside and out.

Youthful Skin

A recent study performed by McMasters University in Ontario found that the skin of people who exercised regularly was structurally much younger than those who don’t. Even people over 50 had a dermis and epidermis resembling someone in the 20-40 age range when they exercised vigorously at least twice a week.

Improved Posture

One of the sure signs of aging is a tired, stooped posture. Maintaining core strength through exercise gives you the posture of a much younger person. If your posture is already suffering from age, it can be improved through exercise. Yoga and pilates are particularly effective with improving posture.

An Underage Attitude

One of the top aging factors in our lives is stress. It hastens the signs of aging both physically and mentally. Exercising reduces stress, along with our risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It also increases your energy levels, so you can live a high quality, youthful lifestyle. Those who exercise have a greater sense of self-confidence as well.

Increased Sex Drive

One of the greatest fears people have about aging is that they or their partner will lose interest in sex because of hormonal changes. Exercising has been shown to boost libido in a couple of ways. For one, it evens out hormone levels, leaving you feeling in the mood more often. The second thing exercise does for you in this area is to make you feel more attractive and comfortable in your own skin, which will make you feel more open to birthday suit time. Regular exercise is often the key to maintaining a youthful sex life.

Start Living the Younger You Today!


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Wine and Exercise: A Promising Combination

The European Society of Cardiology is currently convened in Barcelona for its annual congress, where an abundance of promising heart-disease research has been unveiled. Envious American eyes are on a study of regular wine consumption and its apparent health benefits.

Many studies in the past have found that wine drinkers have healthier hearts than abstainers, but the current trial—called In Vino Veritas (In Wine, Truth)—is one of the first studies to actually introduce wine into people’s lives and track its effects on their bodies.

Lead researcher Miloš Táborský, head of cardiology at the Palacký University Hospital in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, revealed the study's results in a presentation over the weekend, saying, “We found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised. Red and white wine produced the same results.”

For one year, subjects drank “moderate” amounts of wine five days per week. For men, that meant 0.3 to 0.4 liters daily, about two to two-and-a-half glasses. For women it meant 0.2 to 0.3 liters, about one to two glasses. (A more common definition is one glass for women and two glasses for men.) Half of the 146 subjects drank pinot noir, and half drank a white “chardonnay-pinot.” The participants logged any and all alcohol consumption in journals, where they also kept track of their diets and physical activity.


By itself, drinking wine did not appreciably affect cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides, or levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. It also did not appreciably damage people’s livers during the year, at least, based on liver-function tests.

But then Táborský and company ran a more specific analysis that looked at people who exercised. Among those who worked out twice per week and drank wine, there was significant improvement in cholesterol levels (increased HDL and decreased LDL) after a year of wine—red or white, no matter.

"Our current study shows that the combination of moderate wine drinking plus regular exercise improves markers of atherosclerosis," said Táborský, "suggesting that this combination is protective against cardiovascular disease."

Can Exercise Cause A.L.S.?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been all over the news lately because of the ubiquitous A.L.S. ice bucket challenge. That attention has also reinvigorated a long-simmering scientific debate about whether participating in contact sports or even vigorous exercise might somehow contribute to the development of the fatal neurodegenerative disease, an issue that two important new studies attempt to answer.
Ever since the great Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig died of A.L.S. in 1941 at age 37, many Americans have vaguely connected A.L.S. with athletes and sports. In Europe, the possible linkage has been more overtly discussed. In the past decade, several widely publicized studies indicated that professional Italian soccer players were disproportionately prone to A.L.S., with about a sixfold higher incidence than would have been expected numerically. Players were often diagnosed while in their 30s; the normal onset is after 60.
These findings prompted some small, follow-up epidemiological studies of A.L.S. patients in Europe. To the surprise and likely consternation of the researchers, they found weak but measurable associations between playing contact sports and a heightened risk for A.L.S. The data even showed links between being physically active — meaning exercising regularly — and contracting the disease, raising concerns among scientists that exercise might somehow be inducing A.L.S. in susceptible people, perhaps by affecting brain neurons or increasing bodily stress.
But these studies were extremely small and had methodological problems. So to better determine what role sports and exercise might play in the risk for A.L.S., researchers from across Europe recently combined their efforts into two major new studies.
The more impressive of these, which was published in May in Annals of Neurology, involved almost two dozen researchers from five nations, who developed a deceptively simple but scientifically rigorous research approach. They asked 652 A.L.S. patients if they’d be willing to talk about their lives and activities and did the same with 1,166 people of matching ages, genders and nationalities. They conducted extensive in-person interviews with each volunteer, asking them how active they had been in professional or amateur sports, at their jobs and during leisure time. They also asked about past histories of injuries and accidents, including concussions and other head trauma but also other injuries.
They then compared answers from the people with A.L.S. to those of healthier people.
The results should reassure those of us who exercise. The numbers showed that physical activity — whether at work, in sports or during exercise — did not increase people’s risk of developing A.L.S. Instead, exercise actually appeared to offer some protection against the disease. Even pro athletes showed no heightened risk, although they represented such a tiny subset of the patients with A.L.S. that firm conclusions cannot be drawn, the researchers say.
One aspect of people’s lives did significantly increase their risk of developing A.L.S.: a history of multiple hits to the head. Men and women who had sustained at least two concussions or other serious head injuries were much more likely than other people, including never-concussed athletes, to develop A.L.S.
These results coincide closely with those of the other new study, a review article published in July in the European Journal of Epidemiology, which gathered data from 50 years’ worth of epidemiological studies related to A.L.S. risk (including the other new study) and teased out the effects of physical activity. Most of the studies were limited in scope, but they amplified one another’s validity when combined, the researchers thought.
And their main finding was that “in the general population, physical activity is not a risk factor for A.L.S.,” said Dr. Benoit Marin, a neuroepidemiologist at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris who oversaw the new review.
But as Dr. Marin also pointed out, the studies involved were all associational, meaning that they cannot establish cause and effect. Exercise and a reduced risk for A.L.S. might be linked to other lifestyle factors, such as a healthy diet, and not to each other.
The new studies also cannot dispel the lingering and troubling questions about the effects of head injuries from contact sports.
“I would not consider this issue settled,” said Ettore Beghi, a neuroscientist at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan and senior author of the study published in May in Annals of Neurology.
In the United States, a few researchers have begun to look at football and A.L.S. risk, a plausible research concern, Dr. Beghi said, given evidence that head trauma sustained playing football might contribute to neurodegenerative diseases. But to date, the football data has been inconclusive.
For now, he and other scientists are continuing to study Italian soccer players, as well as athletes in other sports, including rugby, which, for some reason, confers no increased risk of A.L.S., although it involves considerable contact. Such research may ultimately “shed some light on the underlying mechanisms of the disease, which are still poorly understood,” Dr. Beghi said.
The greatest obstacle to advancing the research, he added, is “the lack of funding,” a situation that could be ameliorated, somewhat, with all of that ice dousing.

Low Carb Diet Comes Back Around Yet Again

A new study has caused the infamous low carb diet to come back around in the press yet again despite mountains of scientific evidence that in the long term, calories in vs. calories out–not carbs or fat–is what matter most in weight loss. The study was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and it included 148 men and women. Half of the participants ate a low-fat diet while the other half ate a low carb diet, cutting out breads, pastas, potatoes, high sugar fruits, baked goods and other carb-laden foods.
At the end of the study, the low carb group lost eight pounds more than the low fat group, leading press headlines to once again shout the benefits of a low carb diet from the rooftops. Low carb dieting began as far back as the 1800s, but it became incredibly popular in the 1970s, when Dr. Atkins was at the height of his career. His eating plan became so entrenched in the American mindset that it became known as “the Atkins Diet,” or as some people enjoyed calling it, “the Atkins.”
Atkins’ philosophy was that by cutting out carbs, a person’s body would be pushed into what is called ketosis. That is when the body is forced to burn fat as fuel, but it is also a condition suffered by diabetic people as well as those with kidney disorders. Few doctors think that ketosis is a healthy state in which to be, and it is hard on the kidneys and other organs. The Atkins diet starts people out on a phase called “induction” in which they eat almost no carbs, then moves them into the weight loss phase, where they can eat limited carbs in the form of vegetables. Maintenance allows some fruit and alcohol as well.
It is true that people lose weight on the Atkins diet or most any low-carb eating plan, but some experts say that the weight loss is due mostly to the drastic calorie reduction that occurs when carb-rich foods are cut from a person’s daily intake. Indeed, as USA Today reports, larger studies have shown no significant difference in weight loss between low fat and low carb diets.
Perhaps the most research has been done on the effect of calorie restriction as it pertains to weight loss. What the body of research over time shows is that calories are the main factor in determining weight loss. When someone burns more calories than they ingest, they will lose weight barring any underlying medical condition. This has been proven again and again in numerous meta-analyses over at least 50 years.
Nearly all diets rely on one basic factor for success: calorie restriction. Whether that restriction occurs due to cutting out food groups, counting points, measuring portions, eliminating sweets, adding exercise or replacing meals with shakes and bars, all the diets have one thing in common and that is a net reduction of calories.
Low carb diets have come back around yet again, but like the current gluten-free hysteria, low carb is a trend; a fad that keeps waxing and waning over time. To lose weight for the majority of healthy people, calories must be reduced somehow, and no amount of marketing for any specific diet will change this proven fact.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Exercise important to help kids build strong bones

It's never too early to save for a rainy day. That's goes for saving money and it definitely applies to your bones. You want to build strong bones early in life.

Dr. Ed Laskowski, an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic, says bone is very much alive, growing and remaking itself.

“And it remodels itself according to the stress placed on it,” he explained. “That's why we tell people who are at risk of osteoporosis to do weight bearing exercises, so that the bones remodel to the stress and gets stronger."

Dr. Laskowski believes it’s important for parents to encourage their kids to get involved in weight bearing activities. This will cause the bone to build itself up and get stronger.

"We're kind of filling the tank early in life for later in life. If we can build the most bone early in our life, by doing these weight bearing activities, we'll go into later life with a better stock and a better store of bone mass,” he said.

And that's important because it's harder to rebuild bone as we get older.

You don't have to life weights to strengthen your bones – hiking, walking briskly, yoga, dancing, and racquet sports (like tennis and squash) are all weight bearing exercises.