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Category: Personal exercise routine

9 Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

9 Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

Chiropractic & Exercise: Perfect Fibromyalgia Treatment

Chiropractic & Exercise: Perfect Fibromyalgia Treatment

Anyone with a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia knows it can be difficult to adhere to a complex set of treatment instructions: physical therapy, medications, creams, journals, the list goes on. We get busy or forget and sometimes don’t comply completely with the treatment, but sooner or later the pain creeps back in.  It turns out that regular chiropractic visits can actually help fibromyalgia patients adhere to long-term physical-therapy programs, thereby ensuring that patients receive the full benefits of exercise.

In a 2009 study, 55 women with fibromyalgia ages 21-59 years old were divided into two groups: some completed resistance training and the others received chiropractic adjustments in addition to doing resistance training.  Both groups improved significantly with increased upper and lower body strength, decreased pain and tender points, and an improved ability to perform everyday tasks. But the patients who received chiropractic care were more likely to follow the exercise program consistently. They also had more significant improvements in functionality, balance, flexibility, and endurance.

This study confirmed the power of exercise and resistance training to ease the pain of fibromyalgia. At the same time, it demonstrates that combining chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy may enhance the benefits of both treatments.

Panton LB, Figueroa A, Kingsley JD, et al. “Effects of resistance training and chiropractic treatment in women with fibromyalgia.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15.3 (2009): 321-328.

“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?

“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?

If you are like most people, working out just for the sake of working out does not really appeal (although there are many dedicated gym buffs who couldn’t live without their daily workouts!). We all know that it’s important to exercise regularly if we want to live a long and healthy life. However, if you find the idea of trotting along on a treadmill for 15 minutes and then spending half an hour of working out on Nautilus machines to be about as exciting as a trip to the dentist, then this article is for you!

Experts recommend that we get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to stay in shape. But many people find taking this much exercise at once (or in three 50-minute stretches) too daunting. The good news is that a recent study conducted by researchers at Boston University that was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that bouts of exercise lasting less than 10 minutes a couple of times daily, such as the kind you get when cleaning the house, were sufficient to meet your weekly exercise needs.

Over 2,000 participants were included in the study, more than half of whom were overweight. Motion detectors were attached to each of the subjects for eight days, and an average of half the participants met their weekly exercise quota of 150 minutes. The average participant met his or her quota with exercise that lasted less than 10 minutes at a time. The types of exercise ranged from moderate (heavy cleaning, walking briskly and sports such as golf and badminton) to vigorous (running, hiking, shoveling and farm work).

As long as the participants met their 150-minute per week quota, no matter the length of their exercise, they had lower body mass index, smaller waists, lower triglycerides and better cholesterol levels than those who did not meet the quota. Assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine, Nicole Glazer, says “But this study really speaks to the idea that some activity is better than nothing. Parking a little bit farther away, getting off the bus one stop early—all of these little things can add up and are related to a healthier profile.”

For years, researchers have studied the effects of exercise from practicing sports or visiting the gym. However, according to Glazer, “This idea of lifestyle activity is one that is under-measured in research studies.” Activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a push mower instead of a riding mower, etc. can add up to a significant amount of energy expenditure. Experts still stress that it’s important to also get in some traditional forms of exercise and not merely replace it with lifestyle activity. Still, any exercise is useful.

“The levels of sedentary behavior in this country are alarming. So the concern that someone’s going to stop exercising and instead just get off the bus a stop earlier, that’s not my concern,” Glazer says. “The real concern is, is this a stepping-stone? Is this the way we can get inactive people to do any sort of activity? People will come up with any excuse to not exercise. I don’t need to worry about my giving them one. They’ll be able to think of something.”

Remember Dr. Oblander’s adage: If you don’t use it, you will lose it! Make sure that you figure out a way to move and remain active…no matter what your age is or your athletic ability!

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Most Effective “Low Impact” Cardio Exercises

Most Effective “Low Impact” Cardio Exercises

Why “low impact” cardio exercises? Imagine reaching your “golden years” with a buff beach body only to be told that you can’t jog or run anymore because your knee cartilage has been worn thin or you have damaged vertebrae. The last thing you want to do is ruin your body while trying to stay in shape. Here we present some good low impact cardio exercises that can help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular system without causing damage to your musculoskeletal system.

Walking—This simple exercise places far less stress on the knees than jogging, running or pounding the stairs. If this sounds too boring, try changing your route. Explore different streets or roads. Also, you might take this to the next level and include hiking on trails or through the woods. Be sure to follow experts’ recommendations about hiking dos and don’ts. Add extra energy to your routine by swinging or rotating your arms to the sides. Involving your upper body as you walk can get your heart beating more vigorously.

Speed Walking—It’s impossible to do speed walking without involving the upper body. This is low-impact movement on rocket thrusters. The most efficient position is to keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and be sure they remain close to your body. Be sure to stick to flat, smooth surfaces to reduce the chances of injury.

Cycling—For even less impact, take your bicycle out for a spin. If your bicycle is properly adjusted to your size, there should be no strain on your knees. You can cover far more territory, do more sightseeing and get lots of cardiovascular benefit.

Stairs—Walking up stairs is a powerful way to work your body. Don’t become impatient, though. You don’t want the walking to become jogging. That would turn your low impact routine into high impact. Make certain you softly plant each foot in turn on the next step and use the strength in your legs to push you upward.

Swimming—If you’re just starting an exercise program or returning after years of relative inactivity, swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise option. Taking to the pool can build up vast reservoirs of cardiovascular health because swimming can work the entire body, depending on the strokes you use.

Dancing—Take a dance class. Whether you’re into ballroom, tap, ballet or modern dance, you can get a low impact workout while having fun with others.

If you already suffer from thin cartilage, don’t let that stop you from exercising. One study did MRIs on 50–80 year olds, all healthy men. The results showed that more exercise led to thicker knee cartilage. The consensus was that exercise helped to repair cartilage deficiencies. Everything else being equal, the body is amazing in its ability to repair itself. And these low impact exercises can work wonders for your long-term cardiovascular health.

Remember that one of the best things you can do for your health is to also get adjusted regularly!

 

Being a Great Fitness Buddy

Being a Great Fitness Buddy

Studies have shown that one of the best ways to stick to your fitness regime is to have a reliable fitness partner. Being a fitness buddy means that someone else is counting on you to make them accountable for their workout, keep them inspired and ensure that they are not alone in their quest for fitness. To be a great fitness buddy you just need to keep a few basic guidelines in mind:

You should both have similar goals ­– If you are training for a place on the Olympic team and your fitness buddy just wants the occasional weekend workout, neither of you is likely to meet your goal. This does not mean that you have to share the same goal, but they should be relatively comparable. That way, you can encourage your partner to meet their goal while not losing sight of your own.

Find someone at a similar fitness level – Your fitness partner does not want to feel like they are being left behind if you are at a much higher level than they are. Similarly, choosing someone at a higher level may make them feel like they have to hold back. Having the same starting point is more motivating for you both.

Be reliable – Always show up when you say you are going to. Your fitness buddy will be more motivated knowing that he or she can count on you to be there for a scheduled workout. You should ideally have similar schedules so that your partner does not have to work around your previous commitments.

Don’t hesitate to push your partner – It’s natural to want to do as little work as possible to reach our goals. But encouraging your fitness buddy to push themselves a little farther than they might on their own can help them to reach their goals a little faster. Never push them beyond what they can safely do, but there is no harm in encouraging your partner to push beyond what they perceive are their limits, and they will be pleasantly surprised at how much they can accomplish that they never thought they could.

Keep focused – Help your partner to keep focused on his or her workout by ensuring that your mind does not wander off or become distracted by the cute guy or girl walking by in the gym.

Provide useful criticism ­– Do not hesitate to correct your workout partner if you feel he or she is using bad form or doing something unsafe. Part of the responsibility of being a great fitness buddy is ensuring that your fitness partner does not become injured during their workout and that they perform to the best of their ability.

 

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Staying Healthy at the Office

Staying Healthy at the Office

Staying Healthy at the Office
Staying Healthy at the Office

When you work in an office job—even one that’s otherwise rewarding—it’s easy to feel trapped in a day-to-day pattern that doesn’t seem to leave much room for physical exercise or healthy eating. And this is true even though more and more Americans are becoming aware that sitting for long periods of time, often without a break, is hazardous to your health.

The simple truth is that they’re right to be concerned. One study conducted in 2010 indicated that “men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported fewer than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity.” And yet the nature of office work is essentially sedentary. So what can you do to change that fact and improve your health? This article lists a number of suggestions that may help.

  • Eat breakfast. Studies have shown that workers who eat breakfast have better concentration than those who only drink coffee in the mornings. In addition, those who eat breakfast tend to eat less during the day than those who do not, and thus more easily avoid gaining weight.
  • Bike or walk to work. If you live close to work, biking or walking can provide much of the exercise you need each week, and you can arrive at work feeling more energized after spending some time in the fresh air. If you take public transportation to work, consider getting off one or two stops earlier and walking the rest of the way.
  • Take frequent short breaks. Even if you take a longer break for lunch or to go to the gym, sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of time can still be hazardous. Studies have shown that taking micro-breaks (getting up from your desk and moving around every 15 minutes or so) can be more valuable than taking a longer break only once a day.
  • Use the stairs. Why ride in a stuffy metal box with 10 other people when you could get a little healthful exercise?
  • Drink lots of water. Experts recommend you drink 4 to 6 glasses a day to keep yourself hydrated and healthy. If you have to get up to refill your glass from the drinking fountain or the refrigerator, that’ll also provide an opportunity for another micro-break.
  • Don’t forget about fresh air. Offices can often be stuffy and under-ventilated.  If possible, open a window near your desk. If not, be sure to take occasional breaks outside the building, even if only for short periods of time.
  • Bring a healthy lunch and snacks from home. Rather than eating in the cafeteria, make a healthy lunch at home and sit outside when eating it. Instead of eating sugary snacks from vending machines, bring fruit and nuts and snack on them.
  • Think ergonomically. Adjust your chair to fit your body and sit with your feet flat on the floor. Position your computer monitor at eye level and your keyboard at elbow level, so that your wrists are straight when you type. Move your whole arm when you use the mouse, not just your wrist.
  • Stretch at your desk. You may not be able to jog or do push-ups at your desk, but you can certainly stretch and release tension from your arms, neck, shoulders, and fingers.
  • Exercise before you go home. After a long day at work, many people get home and just want to sit down on the couch and relax. If you are a member of a gym or jog regularly, doing this directly after work will improve the likelihood that you’ll actually exercise.
Tips and Precautions for Winter Exercise

Tips and Precautions for Winter Exercise

cold-weather-jogging-200-300For many people, colder temperatures outside—whether at home or while traveling over the winter holidays—can mean big changes in exercise routines. Some will move their workouts indoors or hibernate during the winter months. Others, though, will decide to work with the seasons and find ways to be active outside. If you’re one of those people, this article is for you.

While there’s certainly no rule against venturing out into the cold for a little bit of exercise, it’s important to be smart about how you do it. Remember to protect yourself from frostbite, hypothermia, and injuries that can come with freezing temperatures. To help you do that, we’ve put together a short checklist that you can use to exercise outdoors safely this winter.

Remember that Cold Weather is Often Dry Weather. Winter weather is often associated with precipitation. However, as the temperatures drop to dangerous lows—close to freezing and below—the opposite is often true regarding humidity. The air will get drier, and even if you don’t sweat as much, you can still lose valuable moisture. When exercising in the cold weather, remember to drink plenty of water, even if you don’t really feel thirsty or sweaty.

Understand the Real Temperature Where You Plan to Exercise. Look up the weather on a website or app before you head out into the cold, but understand the numbers you are looking at. The general weather conditions can differ greatly from place to place locally, even in the same region. Pay especially close attention to wind chill numbers, since the combination of wind and your own movement may lead you to experience lower temperatures. The thermometer may say it’s 35 degrees out, but the wind chill may mean it feels closer to 20 degrees in certain areas.

Dress Appropriately. It may be tempting to bundle up when going out in the cold to work out, but this comes at a cost. Thick, warm clothes will make you sweat more easily, and that sweat can leach heat from your body and allow your temperature to drop to unhealthy levels. The key, as cold weather experts know well, is to dress in layers, starting with a thin synthetic layer of wicking material, then a fleece and finally a thinner waterproof coat. The added benefit to this clothing strategy is that it’s flexible. You can always take off layers if you get too hot.

Warm Up the Extremities. When exercising in the cold weather, pay particular attention to your extremities, which are more vulnerable to frostbite. It’s especially important to cover your fingers and head. If the air is very frigid, cover up your nose and mouth, too: That cold air can damage your lungs and freeze your nose.

Fuel Up. A source of energy is vital to keeping up your metabolism and keeping you warm when out in the cold. Eat a healthy amount of complex carbs and proteins before you go out, and if you’re going to be out for a few hours, then bring a snack along, too. Stay away from sugars and other less dependable sources of energy, if possible.

Start Slow. Stretching and warming up will both make injury less likely and help your metabolism pick up until you are ready for more strenuous work. Always warm up before going out into the winter weather, particularly if you are planning on an intense session with lots of running or heavy exertion. Otherwise, joint and muscle injuries could result.

Know the Danger Signs. Hypothermia and frostbite can creep up on you if you’re not careful. You can defend against the cold better if you recognize the signs. Frostbite occurs on exposed skin like your cheeks, nose, ears, and hands, especially below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia occurs when shivering cannot keep up your core body temperature and your heart and brain begin to shut down. Watch for intense shivering, sudden weariness, slurred words, and trouble with coordination.

Billings and our surrounding areas have had lots of severe cold and snow thus far this winter; be sure to be smart about going outside and take care of your health!

Standing More Often: A Prescription for Better Health?

Standing More Often: A Prescription for Better Health?

man-standing-next-to-wall
man-standing-next-to-wall

It seems that almost every day we see new research coming out about the perils of inactivity and sitting too much. We’re becoming a sedentary nation, and it’s taking its toll on us, causing or contributing to epidemic levels of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cardiovascular problems. So it’s interesting to look at some of the research that’s being done on the “opposite of sitting”. And no, that’s not necessarily exercising—it’s standing. Some studies are indicating that simply standing for a few more hours per day may be even better for your health than joining a gym.

While this type of conclusion may be startling at first, it’s much less shocking when you stop to consider the number of hours that we actually spend sitting each day. One recent study found that most Americans spend up to 12 hours a day sitting. If you add in the hours we spend sleeping, that means that most of us spend up to 20 hours a day being sedentary. One sad result of all this physical inactivity: Those who sit all day long live an average of two years less than those who are more active. Even regular exercise doesn’t seem to completely offset the effects of sitting all day.

So how could standing more help? Well, for one thing you burn about twice as many calories while standing as you do while sitting. For another, standing improves your circulation and tends to prevent the numerous vascular disorders linked to sitting for prolonged periods of time.

The first scientific studies linking standing more often to improved health were done in the 1950s in Britain, comparing bus drivers (who sit) with bus conductors (who stand). The resulting study, published in The Lancet, indicated that the conductors had about half the risk of developing heart disease as the drivers.

More recently, a large research project conducted in Australia as part of The 45 and Up Study examined 194,545 participants and asked them to self-evaluate their overall health and quality of life using a 5-point scale. The amount of exercise the participants got was rated using a standard scale, while the number of hours spent sitting were self-assessed. The results, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that prolonged sitting reduced muscle contractions and shut off the activity of lipoprotein lipase, which helps to turn fat into energy. As a result, there was more obesity in the inactive group, and they died earlier than their counterparts who sat fewer hours per day. Women in the study who spent more than 11 hours per day sitting had a 12% increase in all-cause premature mortality, and the sedentary group also had increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Men in the study who spent more than five hours a day outside of work sitting were 34% more likely to develop heart failure than those who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.

So the facts seem to be in. Standing more often seems to be good for you. How to achieve this is a more difficult question, because so many offices are designed around the idea of sitting at a desk most of the day. But many forward-thinking companies are either installing “standing desks” for those who ask for them or, like Google, instituting required “stand up and walk around” breaks every hour. No matter how you choose to do it (even if it’s resting your laptop on an ironing board so you can stand while you work), try to avoid sitting as much as possible for greater health and longevity.

 

Exercise as Medicine: Spotlight on Walking

Exercise as Medicine: Spotlight on Walking

Family walking a dirtroadDo you want to become healthier and stay healthy longer? Take a walk. That is the message of two important new studies.

In the first, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, researchers found that a simple aerobic program based on walking was as effective in alleviating lower back pain as muscle-strengthening programs that required specialized rehabilitation equipment. The researchers recruited 52 patients with chronic lower back pain, and assigned half of them to complete a six-week, clinic-based muscle-strengthening program, exercising under supervision two to three times a week. The other half of the patients spent the six weeks of the study walking for 20-40 minutes two to three times a week.

According to study leader Dr. Michal Katz-Leurer, in research published in the journal Circulation, the walking program was “as effective as treatment that could have been received in the clinic.” He explained that when people walk, their abdominal and back muscles are forced to work in a similar way as when they complete rehabilitation exercises targeting those areas. And unlike rehabilitation, which requires specialized equipment and expert supervision, walking is an activity that can be performed alone, and easily fit into a person’s schedule.

In the second study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed data collected on the activity and sitting habits of 36,000 older men, over a period of 24 years. The researchers determined how much time the men spent sitting, performing other activities, and walking, and whether they walked at an easy, average, or brisk pace. What they found was that even a little walking each week significantly lowered the risk of hip fractures in men over 50.

Over the period of the study, which was published in in the American Journal of Public Health,  546 hip fractures occurred, 85% of which were from “low trauma” events such as slipping, tripping, or falling from a chair. The study data indicates that the more the men walked, and the more vigorously they walked, the lower their risk of hip fracture was as they aged. Walking over four hours per week was identified as the point at which the most significant benefits occurred, providing a 43% lower hip fracture risk than in men who walked only one hour a week.

Study author Diane Feskanich says about her findings, “It’s well known that physical activity helps to prevent hip fractures, that it helps to build bone and muscle tone. It can help with balance, too. One thing we’re pointing out here is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous activity. A lot of studies have focused on the benefits of strenuous activity, but we found walking alone helped to prevent hip fractures, and when you come down to it, older people are often more comfortable with walking.”

 

Want Your Kids to Be Active? Here Is Why YOU Should Be their Lifestyle Role Model

Want Your Kids to Be Active? Here Is Why YOU Should Be their Lifestyle Role Model

family-bicycling
family-bicycling

It’s not news—obesity is a growing national epidemic among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that obesity in children has doubled in the last 30 years and quadrupled in adolescents. Nearly 20% of children 6-11 years old are obese as are almost 23% of teenagers. This places them at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Finally—and even more concerning—studies have shown that people who are obese as children tend to be obese as adults.

What’s happening here?  In large part, it comes down to our lifestyle choices. Record numbers of both adults and children are succumbing to the temptations of TV, computers, and video games, and many of us simply don’t get the exercise our bodies need to stay healthy.

Naturally, parents who read statistics like these may be—and should be—concerned about their kids. More and more often, they ask themselves questions like “What can we do to help our kids be more active and physically fit?” One answer to this question is pretty simple: To get your kids to be more active, engage in more active pursuits with them. One of the keys to getting children to exercise more is to have them see their parents exercise more. That’s the finding from a new study published in the journal Pediatrics

In the study, researchers at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in England fitted 554 mother-child pairs with equipment to measure how much exercise they were getting when they were together as well as when they were apart. Accelerometers tracked their exercise levels, and GPS devices measured how close they were to each other. Over the course of seven days, the findings were clear – the more physical activity the mother was engaged in while with the child, the more active the child was during the rest of the day. In fact, for every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity the mother got, the child was likely to get ten percent more of the same activity. Conversely, for every minute the mother was sedentary, the child was 0.18 minutes more sedentary. Both of these effects were more pronounced in girls than in boys.

These findings seem to indicate that parents can be effective role models for their children by getting more active exercise themselves. But specialists emphasize that parents don’t have to drop their other priorities to do this. Physical therapist Teresa Beckman suggests, “Incorporate small changes into your daily life. For example, rather than playing a board game together, go outside and play hopscotch. Or if you’re planning a trip to your local playground, try walking instead of driving.”

Other suggestions for becoming more active with your children include playing more sports with them, walking more with them (if you take the bus, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way), riding bikes together, and even playing Frisbee. Dancing is good exercise, so you can encourage your kids to take lessons in various forms of dance and then set a good example for them by attending the classes yourself. You can join exercise classes together, schedule regular pre-dinner walks or runs, or just play family games of basketball or soccer.

You are your child’s most important role model when it comes to teaching them about the importance of exercise. And exercising together is just as good for you as it is for them. So switch off that TV or computer and go out to play! You’ll both be doing something good for your health and having fun at the same time!