Monday, March 27, 2017

Office Stretching Program

Recently, the scientific community has identified a new disease called the “Sitting Disease.” The average American spends 55% of waking time (7.7hrs) sitting. Sitting for long periods of time has been linked with increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even death. Other research found that women who sat more than six hours per day were 94% more likely to die than those who sat less than three hours per day. In men, the longer sitters were 48% more likely to die.

In addition to this, the “desk posture” we adopt leads to certain musculoskeletal adaptations. By sitting and using our arms in front of us (at a keyboard), we tend to develop tightness in the chest. This leads to weaker muscles in the upper back. Over time, this can cause a forward shoulders hunched posture. In the hips, sitting leads to tight hips flexors and weak glutes. The weakened glutes force the hamstrings and low back to become overactive to compensate for the inactivity of the glutes. Over time, these musculoskeletal changes can lead to low back pain, upper back pain, etc.

Can exercise counteract prolonged sitting?
Research has come to two different conclusions when it comes to whether or not exercise can counteract prolonged sitting. One conclusion is that no amount of exercise can counteract prolonged sitting. The other conclusion is that exercise can improve health outcomes, even with prolonged sitting. I tend to agree with the 2nd conclusion. Expecting exercise to “counteract” another habit is unrealistic. Everything we do is cumulative, and thus, while we cannot counteract prolonged sitting, we can improve health outcomes by exercising before or after prolonged sitting at work.

In addition to exercising before or after work, taking some time for more activity in the office can also be a very effective way to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. Activity trackers nowadays have reminders that will remind you to get up and move at certain time intervals. I would also recommend adopting an office stretching habit 1-2 times per day. Stretching will increase performance in physical activities, decrease your risk of injuries, help joints move through their full range of motion, and enable muscles to work most effectively. Print out and try to implement this office stretching handout. I’m here to help if you have difficulty understanding any of the stretches.

Standing a little more each day tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, ramps up metabolism, and burns extra calories.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Take more steps to ward off sickness

Good news for regular exercisers: The more active you are, the less likely you are to get sick. At least that's according to data compiled by Jawbone, a manufacturer of wearable tracking devices.

The company wanted to determine a person's likelihood of becoming sick, so it compiled a variety of self-reported data from the Jawbone UP app. Based on that information, data analysts developed a sickness likelihood score. Here's what they learned:
  • People are more likely to fall ill during winter months
  • Individuals with higher BMIs tend to become sick more often
  • Men aged 25-45 who take an average of 14000 steps daily are four times less likely to become sick than those taking fewer than 4000 steps daily
  • When sick, most people see a decrease in steps of 5%-12% and an increase in sleep time of 5%-7%
Have you noticed a similar effect from exercise yourself? Regular exercise boosts immunity, so that may be the contributing factor to why fewer active people are getting sick.

Please let me know if you'd like help making regular exercise a part of your life!

Some kind words

One of my clients just sent me a very kind write up of her personal training experience:

I am a 62 year old female. I just completed 4 months of personal training with Viktoria and Fit Athletic Club/Carmel Mountain Ranch.
I have tried so many, many times to get fit-- joined clubs, had personal trainers, done it all, but this is the first time I have ever stayed committed to the process. I have seen in four short months, my body fat mass drop, my balance improve considerably, and I am definitely stronger and overall I feel good.

Viktoria is very knowledgeable, made it "fun", listened to my concerns (I have chronic back pain) and at the same time pushes me forward. I definitely believe by starting out with her as a trainer and getting understanding of the equipment and type of exercises I should be doing has made all the difference in my being able to stay committed.

Viktoria is a very good rep for your gym/company and a very valuable member of your team.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Combating Prediabetes in Healthy Weight Adults

Recent research from the University of Florida reports that one-third of normal-weight adults over age 45 have prediabetes, a high-risk state for developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers compared data from 1988-1994 with data gathered in 2012. The results showed that the prevalence of prediabetes among healthy-weight adults aged 20 and older increased from 10.2% to 18.5%. Among people aged 45 and older, the prevalence of prediabetes increased from 22% to 33.1%. The report raises concerns about current practices used to detect the disease.
Current recommendations for prediabetes screening focus nearly exclusively on adults who are overweight or obese. These guidelines make it less likely that individuals with healthy BMI will be screened, despite the increasing prevalence of prediabetes among this group.

Fortunately, there may be a solution. Another study, this one from Duke Health, examined the effect of different exercise intensities on glucose homeostasis. Good news: it doesn't have to be "go big or go home" for people to benefit.
The 6 month intervention study separated 150 adults with prediabetes aged 45 to 75 into the groups below. I've indicated their improvements in glucose tolerance with the---->
  1. low amount/moderate intensity (walking 7.5mi/week)---->5% improvement
  2. low amount/moderate intensity (walking 7.5mi/week) plus caloric restriction and reduction in fat intake---->9% improvement
  3. high amount/moderate intensity (walking 11.5mi/week)---->7% improvement
  4. high amount/vigorous intensity (jogging 11.5mi/week)---->2% improvement
Results showed that the diet-plus-exercise group led the pack with the greatest glucose tolerance improvement. This emphasizes the importance of combining a healthy diet and exercise. The exercise intensity did not have to be very vigorous, as seen in groups 1, 2, and 3. This indicates that the time duration of the exercise may also be an important factor to consider; the same volume of exercise performed at a higher intensity will take less time.

Bottom line: Exercise and healthy diet is important to everyone regardless of weight in order to decrease risk of prediabetes.

Healthy Weight Adults at Risk for Prediabetes

Regular Moderate Exercise Best for Glucose Control

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Protein: When and How Much

Protein is always a hot topic. Carbs and fat have both been on the chopping block in our diets at different times. Protein, however, has been connected to everything from weight loss to muscle gains. Perhaps there is something to this. Researchers have been investigating protein's role in aging and satiety across the lifespan. They have found that we're eating too much protein at the wrong times and not enough at the right times. We need more high-quality protein at breakfast and less protein at dinner.

How Much Protein?
Nutritional recommendations have long recommended that 10-15% of our daily calories be from protein. However, recent research suggests that the minimum should be boosted to 25%, given the positive benefits of higher protein intake on satiety (fullness) and other physiologic functions. If you've been logging your food, you'll remember how I recommended the macronutrient percentage adjustment of 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.

Protein Intake and Timing
Most Western diets skew protein consumption toward the evening meal. Breakfast is typically carbohydrate-rich and protein-poor, while the evening meal is often much higher in protein and calories. Also of importance is that only 40% of Americans even eat breakfast. Thus, not only are many Americans consuming low-protein breakfasts, but the majority are not consuming any protein at all. There is increasing evidence of a causal link between breakfast skipping and obesity. Research shows that it is best to distribute protein intake throughout the day. This will promote muscle growth and repair, as well as satiety and reduced calorie intake throughout the day.

Boosting the Protein in 8 Basic Breakfasts
Bowl of cereal with milk: choose a high protein cereal
Egg and cheese on a roll: choose a (small) breakfast burrito with beans
Butter and jelly on toast: swap butter for peanut or almond butter
Yogurt: choose a higher protein Greek yogurt and sprinkle fruit and a high protein cereal on top
Oatmeal with water: swap water for milk and sprinkle on some chopped nuts
Smoothie with milk or yogurt: swap the milk or yogurt for kefir, a cultured probiotic
Homemade muffin: try baking a high protein muffin and spread some peanut butter on top
Banana: add a side of cottage cheese to feel full until lunchtime

Read the Full Articles:
Tapping the Power of Protein
High Protein Breakfast Ideas

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Real Reason you Should Warm Up

Too often, you may find yourself pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so you skip the warm-up figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway.
Is a warm-up really necessary? What constitutes a "good" warm-up?

Enhanced Performance
A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury. Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental.
Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.
Along with more blood flow comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.
An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.

Injury Prevention
Scientific studies on linking warming up with injury prevention are difficult to administer. Few athletes want to go through a muscle stress test to see what it takes to tear a muscle.
Old studies on animal subjects determined that injuring a muscle that has gone through a warm-up process required more force and more muscle length than a muscle with no warm-up. This study is in line with the anecdotal data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.

Mental Preparation
Part of a warm-up process includes getting your head ready for the upcoming activity. Mentally preparing for the upcoming workout, or event, is thought to improve technique, skill and coordination.
This mental warm-up also prepares you for the discomfort of a tough workout or race. If the mind is ready to endure discomfort, the body can produce a better performance. If the mind is unwilling to endure discomfort, physical performance will certainly be limited.

How Much Should I Warm Up?
There is no hard evidence as to how much warm-up is needed before a workout or a race. Most recommendations are in the 10- to 20-minute range.
A general recommendation for warming up is that it should be specific to the activity you're about to perform. This is easy for running, swimming, or biking; simply start at a lower intensity and gradually increase intensity as you progress through the warm up period.
For more complex exercise, like strength training, a dynamic warm-up of gradually increasing intensity and complexity of exercises is best. You'll be taking your muscles through the range of motion to come in the workout as well as preventing injuries by stretching muscles that are usually too tight, and activating muscles that are usually underused.

In order to perform at your best and minimise the risk of hurting yourself, take time for an adequate warm-up. Below is my Dynamic Warm-Up, which is best to do before a strength training workout.
Dynamic Warm Up
Walking down and back 10 yds
Knee pull to chest
Walking lunges with rotation, then Backwards with an Overhead reach
Side Step
Cross-over side step
Side Lunge
Single leg reach In place
Prone Hip opener/chest opener

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mental Health and Exercise

Want to alleviate stress or cope with depression? Exercise may help. Increasingly, there is evidence from researchers that certain levels of physical activity can positively affect mental health. Let's take a look at what research has discovered about the connection between exercise and mental health.

A growing body of research over the last 10 years shows that physical activity and exercise also improve psychological well-being. Published data show that people with higher levels of fitness are capable of managing stress more effectively than those who are less fit. It appears that cardiovascular exercise is the method that most benefits stress reduction. The research indicates that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, performed three times a week (sessions lasting over 20 minutes) for up to 12 weeks, has the most influence on stress management.

The antidepressant action is one of the most commonly accepted psychological benefits of exercise. Patients diagnosed with depression have credited exercise as being an important element in comprehensive treatment programs for depression. Cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective in producing antidepressive effects. It also appears that both a one-time exercise session and chronic exercise training programs have a positive effect on people with clinical depression. The effects of exercise on depression seem the same for men and women.

The results of over 30 published papers show a link between acute and chronic exercise and the reduction of anxiety. There appears to be much debate about whether low-intensity, moderate-intensity or high-intensity aerobic exercise is most beneficial. (If you’re not sure at what intensity you should exercise, consult with a personal trainer.) It appears that even short bursts of 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercise stimulate anti-anxiety effects. The research also indicates that people who train for periods of 10–15 weeks receive the greatest beneficial effects.

Get in a Better Mood
It appears that cardiovascular and resistance exercise can positively affect various mood states, including tension, fatigue, anger and vigor (a psychological variable defining vitality or energy) in normal and clinical populations. Plus, it has been shown that even a single session of 25–60 minutes of aerobic exercise (at low, moderate or high intensities) increases positive mood feelings while also decreasing negative mood feelings. Researchers need to further research resistance training to learn more about the connection between it and mood state.

Full Article and References