Category Archives: exercise

Ten Suprising Benefits of Exercise

The word “exercise” has many negative connotations for many people. My preference is to stop using the dreaded “E” word and Woman Exercising Too Hardreplace it with “fun, sweaty activity.” Getting over our emotional hangups related to exercise can be the first step toward creating a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. If we learn to look forward to movement instead of dreading it, we are much more likely to continue having fun, sweaty activity.

We also need to give up our rigid ideas about what types of activities can be considered “exercise.” In the simplest sense, any form of movement is exercise. We should all engage in some form of movement on a daily basis, with an effort to engage in higher levels of fun, sweaty activity at least three times a week. If going to the gym bores you, but you feel alive when you dance, then dance! Activities such as gardening, chasing our children or grandchildren, playing fetch with the dog, dancing, shopping (at a rapid pace), riding a motorcycle, having sex, and more can all be considered valid forms of exercise. (I’m sure you’ll agree some of those are a lot more fun than others!)

We all know we need to exercise, yet many of us have a hard time committing fitting exercise into our daily routine.

My advice for starting and sticking to scheduled exercise is to:

  1. Find something you enjoy doing.
  2. Schedule exercise in your calendar just as you do other commitments.
  3. Exercise with a friend to increase the fun and hold you accountable.

Surprising Benefits of Exercise

We are all aware of the basic benefits of exercise. There are other benefits which deserve attention but are rarely mentioned. The following list includes ten measurable benefits of exercise which often get ignored:

  • Insulin Sensitivity:  Exercise is an effective way to make the body’s cells more receptive to insulin. Even ten minutes of exercise can improve insulin sensitivity for eight hours or more. Insulin resistance, also known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X, is a leading cause of obesity in the US and other developed countries. Getting even a small amount of exercise is the first step toward improving your body’s metabolic health. For more information about this topic, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin or Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance.
  • “Feel Good” Hormones:  Have you heard of a “runner’s high?” It occurs because physical activity increases levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Those chemicals are mood boosters that greatly improve mental outlook. In other words, they are “feel good” chemicals. The natural rush of feel good hormones that occurs during exercise is a benefit of exercise that is often overlooked. It is also a great motivator. Exercise is a wonderful way of improving the health of body, mind and spirit. Scientists at Harvard University found regular exercise to be more effective than antidepressant medications for the treatment of depression in some people. (Some forms of depression are due to imbalances which require medication. Please work with a physician to find the best combination of therapies for your personal situation.)
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia:  Even tiny amounts of non-strenuous exercise and movement have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One more reason to start scheduling weekly times of movement!
  • Bone Density:  Weight-bearing and muscle-building exercise has an effect on bone density and is known to strengthen bones. Whether you run on a treadmill or wear two-pound wrist weights for a few hours, those activities are known to improve bone density.
  • Memory:  Regular exercise is known to improve neurotransmitter function in the brain and to improve memory. It is a simple truth that those who exercise have a better memory than those who do not.
  • Maintaining Heathy Skin:  Exercise improves blood flow to the skin’s surface, which has been shown to improve the skin’s overall health and appearance. Exercise’s detoxifying effects also benefit the skin.
  • Digestion:  Many people do not realize that a few minutes of exercise can improve digestion for several days. It does so by building abdominal muscles and increasing the quantities of digestive enzymes secreted while eating. Good digestion requires strong contractions of the muscles surrounding the stomach. Strengthening those muscles directly improves digestion by making the contractions more efficient and more effective. For some people, engaging in regular movement also reduces constipation. 
  • Increase Metabolism:  Your body’s metabolic rate is dependent upon your muscle mass. Doing muscle-building exercise increases the body’s resting metabolic rate, which increases your metabolism. People who have a high amount of muscle mass also have a high metabolic rate. This means they burn more calories while lying still than other people do. Doing small amounts of muscle building activities each week can greatly improve your body’s metabolic rate.
  • Hormones:  For both men and women, regular movement and exercise has a balancing effect on hormones. Men who regularly exercise tend to have fewer symptoms of “Low T,” and women who exercise usually have fewer symptoms of PMS and pass through menopause with fewer negative side effects.

Are you feeling more motivated to start engaging in fun, sweaty activity? Go for it! 

If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.

 

How to Prepare to Make Positive Health Changes

It’s never too early or too late to begin planning ways you can implement simple changes to improve your health and wellness in Planning for Success graphicthe new year. I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I am a believer in careful planning. (For more information on making successful resolutions, see Ten Reasons Resolutions Fail and Ways to Succeed.) The following tips can be applied any time of year, but seem particularly appropriate right now. I also want to thank multiple members of one of my networking groups who suggested and requested this post. 

Following are my tips for creating a plan for positive change: 

  1. Figure out your priorities: What do you want to accomplish by making positive changes? I often hear people say they want to “eat healthier.” If I ask them WHY they want to create healthier eating habits, they can’t come up with an answer. Attaching a specific outcome to a change we wish to create will greatly increase the likelihood of success.
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    Take time to sit down and make a list of specific health improvements you wish to create. Don’t think about what you’re writing down, just brainstorm. Your list may have a few items or may cover several pages. After you create the list, look at it very carefully and ask yourself why you wish to accomplish these changes. Dig down deep and make sure the changes you wish to see are your personal desires and are not intended to impress other people or cater to someone else’s wishes. Eliminate any items you wrote down that are more for others than for you. After that, prioritize your list. Write each item down on another piece of paper (or move the items around if you made your list electronically) in order of most important to least important. 
    When creating goals, focus on your top three priorities. If your top three priorities are huge, you may want to focus on one at a time.

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  2. Ease Your Way Into Each Change:  If your goal is to run 25 miles a week but you rarely leave the couch right now, it is very unlikely you will accomplish that goal without causing yourself serious harm. Whether the goal you’re focusing on involves changing your eating style, changing your thought patterns, or moving more, start very gradually. Set a specific goal each week and then increase the goal for the following week. Break large goals into ‘stages.” For example:  If your goal is to lose 100 pounds, set a goal of losing five pounds each month. That is a very “do-able” goal that is not overwhelming. Breaking your goals into bite-size chunks help prevent becoming overwhelmed and also helps you regularly celebrate successes. (Celebrating success and rewarding yourself with non-food rewards is important. Don’t skip that part!)
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    Depending on the magnitude of the changes you make, easing into things also helps your body gradually adjust to the changes. The changes we make affect our body chemistry. Making drastic changes too rapidly can overwhelm our body’s ability to adapt and may cause negative health results. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember that every change you make counts. Changes you consider “tiny” eventually add up to large rewards.
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  3. Be Specific:  It’s easy to become overwhelmed when trying to create a list of healthy changes. Many of the lists i see include items such as “eat healthier, lose 100 pounds, run 50 miles a week, drink more water, stop smoking, and only think positive thoughts.”  Although those may be valid goals, each of them is far too large and very non-specific. After identifying your priorities in Step 1, create very specific, measurable changes (goals) to associate with them. For example, instead of making your goal to “workout,” create a goal that says you will “walk ten minutes two days a week and do a light hand-weight routine for ten minutes two days each week.” That goal is very specific, eases you into things, and is very measurable.
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    Instead of listing a goal of “eating healthier,” consider making it your goal to “eat one serving of vegetables with every meal and two daily servings of fruit as snacks or dessert.” Again, this goal is very specific, very measurable, and relatively easy. If eating five servings of fruits and veggies each day is overwhelming, start with something as simple as, “eat one salad everyday.” You know yourself and know what’s realistic for you. Create goals that are realistic and achievable, not ones that will require superhuman effort.
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  4. Jump start your success with a detoxification program:  A great way of preparing your body for positive change is by doing a 3-10 day detoxification program. A gentle detox program serves to rejuvenate the body and helps eliminate toxins which may impede  your success in reaching goals. Most people who do a detoxification program lose 10 pounds during the following year even if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. Detoxification program typically require a bit of added discipline, which is a great way to start the process of creating positive change.
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    Your detox program could be as simply as giving up coffee and alcohol for ten days, or could be much broader. Click here for more information about my upcoming Detoxification and Cleansing Program, or here to purchase Detoxification and Cleansing Kits.
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  5. Find an accountability partner:  Making changes by yourself can be tough. Making them with a friend is easier. You can encourage each other and hold each other accountable along the way. Find someone you like and by whom you’re comfortable being held accountable. Share your goals with each other, work together to set goals and create plans to meet them, and then meet weekly or chat on the phone frequently to share your successes and discuss your challenges. Before you begin, pick specific non-food ways to celebrate your successes and attach dates to those celebrations. Rewarding success is an important part of accountability that is overlooked far too often.
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  6. Track your progress:  As you begin making changes, it’s important to track the changes you make, your successes and challenges, and the results you see from the changes. I recommend starting a journal. On the first page, list your goals and any measurements associated with those goals. Potential measurements to list include weight, cholesterol, blood sugar or A1C, measurements of specific body parts, blood pressure, muscle mass, etc. Pick measurements that make sense to you and which you hope your changes will positively impact.
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    On a daily basis, log information pertinent to your goal. You may wish to log what you eat, how long you work out, the positive affirmation you chose for the day, etc. In the midst of tracking specifics related to the day’s activities, also list items such as how you felt that day, what your emotional status was, any challenges you faced, etc. Make a point of sharing your journal entries with your accountability partner and reading his or hers.
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  7. Stay positive:  You’re human. Accept it. One of the fun things about making changes is that you get to learn a lot about yourself and about successful ways to achieve success in spite of challenges. If you have a day (or ten) when you completely blow it and don’t follow your plan, that’s ok. Learn from it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but don’t give yourself permission to continue. Record your challenge in your journal, noting what you learned about yourself and how you deal with challenges of that type. Use that knowledge and experience to achieve success next time. 
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  8. Use meal planning, but keep it real:  Most health changes involve changing our eating style. Planning menus and meals can be a huge help in sticking to a new eating style. Basic meal planning includes selecting meals for the week, creating a shopping list based on those meals, and then sticking to it. Some people view meal planning as pure drudgery, so I recommend using the following guidelines:
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    • Stay flexible:  If you planned to make lamb chops but the store is out of them, be flexible. This also applies if you notice something not on your meal plan for the week is on sale at a deep discount. Stay flexible and be willing to use other meals based on what the store has on sale and in stock. Keep a list of ten “go to” meals you can easily substitute if you’re unable to make something you planned for the week.
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    • Don’t be rigid about scheduling:  Some people schedule specific meals for specific days, while others pick 5-7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week and fit them in as their schedule allows. Do what works best for you, but be flexible and be willing to change your plan if your schedule changes.
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    • Make enough to create leftovers:  Cooking more than can be eaten at one meal is fine. Leftovers can be used for lunches, frozen in individual servings for nights when things are crazy, or even eaten as breakfast.
    • Stick to real food:  Meal plans should include whole, real foods, not processed food that comes in a box. It doesn’t take significantly more time to cook simple meals from scratch – I promise – and the health benefits are huge.

Being flexible and not overly rigid in scheduling can also easily be applied to exercise planning.

What changes are you planning ot make in 2015? 

Mathematical Workout Formulas You Need

Working out has gone from being a chore to being something I love and look forward to. Those close to me recognize Bright red and yellow calculatorwhat a water-into-wine miracle that is! Being the science geek I am, when I committed to get serious about my workouts, I did extensive research about various forms of workouts and exercise methods. From that research, I selected the niche workouts that are best for my lifestyle, body type and attitude. In the midst of that, I also came across a variety of mathematical formulas that can be used to monitor progress, create workout goals, and/or help you focus on your greatest strengths or improve areas of lesser strength.

The most important aspect of working out is that you do it. Not how you do it (as long as you’re being safe), not whether or not you use a “method,” and not how or if you’re tracking your progress. The fact you’re moving more is all that matters. Don’t let anyone talk you out of enjoying your favorite workout by saying it’s ineffective or won’t deliver the return on investment that person thinks it should. Exercise always provides benefits. Don’t get overly hung up on following someone else’s guidelines. Just do it.

Please don’t consider any of these formulas to be an absolute that must be adhered to religiously. These formulas are general guidelines, not “rules.” Use them as sideline helps, not as rigid requirements. Working out should be fun. Forcing workouts to fit within rigid guidelines based on a random formula won’t work and will quickly suck all the fun out of it. These formulas are tools to improve your workout, not laws to put you in bondage.

As always, please use common sense and listen to the signals your body is sending. Don’t start any exercise regimen without consulting your physician, and never push yourself beyond your personal limits. It is not good to be in pain after working out, nor is it beneficial to be exhausted. Fatigue after a workout should be temporary and should not last several days. The “no pain, no gain” mantra is a lie straight from the pits of Hell. Don’t believe it and don’t push yourself so hard you wind up being sore for days. Pain is a sign of distress and means your body is trying to tell you to slow down. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, an extreme headache or chest pain during a workout, ask someone to call 911. 

When you first start working out, commit to gently working out 10 minutes a day, three days a week. Increase the duration and intensity of your workouts and muscle-building activities very slowly and gradually from there. You are not competing, you are improving. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t try to go from being a couch potato to being an American Ninja Warrior overnight.

Here are my favorite workout formulas. I hope they help and encourage you:

Heart Rate Formulas

I’m not a fan of heart rate formulas, because the truth is that everyone has their own personal “ideal” heart rate. Each person’s ideal maximum and target heart rate is influenced by what type of workout they’re doing, their current weight, their age, their body fat percentage and muscle mass, their bone density, their pre-existing conditions, their intracellular and Heartextracellular water levels, etc., etc. As you can see from that long list of influencers, there’s really no such thing as an ideal heart rate. I’m sharing the following formula because it provides a guideline that can help you recognize whether or not your cardio routine is too intense. 

For those who use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), your heart rate will be significantly higher than that of people doing longer, less intense cardio regimens. The key is to be able to slow your heart rate down by at least 20% within two minutes. If you cannot sufficiently slow your heart rate down during a two-minute “cool down,” it may be wise to ease up a bit during the high intensity portions of your workout.

Note:  Being dehydrated will raise your heart rate significantly. If you find your heart rate is extremely high, stop working out, drink at least 16 ounces of water and wait 20 minutes before resuming your workout. If your heart rate continues to be extremely high, please stop working out and call your doctor.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR):  This number represents the highest your rate should get during a workout. For people doing HIIT, your heart rate during the high intensity intervals should be 80-90% of your MHR.

220 – Age = MHR

Example:  Jane is 34, so her MHR = 220-34 = 186

When Jane does HIIT workouts, her maximum heart rate during the high intensity phases should stay between 149-167.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body would burn if you did absolutely nothing but lie in bed for 24 hours. It is helpful to know your BMR in order to gauge how many calories per day are necessary. As you increase your body’s muscle mass, your BMR will increase. People who are obese are at an “advantage,” as their  BMR will be higher than other people’s. That will change as they lose weight.

BMR for Males = 66.47 + (6.24 x weight in pounds) + (12.71 x height in inches) – (6.76 x age in years )

BMR for Females = 655.1 + (4.34 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.68 x age in years)

Example:  John is 50 year old male who weighs 300 pounds and is 6’2″, or 74 inches tall. He does not work out.

John’s BMR = 66.47 + (6.24 x 300) + (12,71 x 74) – (6.76 x 50) = 66.47 + 1872 + 940.54 – 338 = 2541.01

If the person works out 2-5 times per week, you can multiply their BMR times 1.5.

One Rep Max (1RM)

The One Rep Max (1RM) is the ultimate ego booster. It calculates the maximum weight you could lift/push in a single rep. 1RM is calculated using the weight you’ve been lifting/pressing and the number of reps you’ve been doing. Although it can be a huge boost to do the calculation and figure out what your muscles are potentially capable of, your 1RM is NOT an indicator of the maximum weight you can safely lift or push. For example, my current 1RM on leg presses is 475. I’m happy with that, but wouldn’t dream of trying to press that weight, as i know that would put extreme stress on my muscles and ligaments and could result in injury. In weight lifting, it’s imperative to maintain proper form to prevent injury. Lifting or pushing a weight that exceeds your comfort level could cause you to break form and injure itself. It is not safe.

In general, 75% of the 1RM is a good number to use to continue building strength. For example, if you’re doing bicep curls and know your 1RM is 50 pounds, you can multiply 50 x .75 to determine that doing reps of 37.5 pounds would be a good way of building muscle and boosting your 1RM. (If you can’t find dumbbells at that weight, use 30-35 pounders.) If you discover that weight is a bit much, switch to 50% of your 1RM (25 pounds, in this case) and do an increased number of reps to build strength. Work up very gradually and don’t extend yourself beyond what’s comfortable.

One Rep Max (!RM)

1RM = (Weight lifted x Number of Reps x 0.033) + Weight Lifted

Example:  John hit a new record yesterday by doing 12 reps of leg presses of 250 pounds. He is focused on increasing his strength quickly, so he wants to know what his 1RM is for leg presses. His 1RM would be:

(250 x 12 x 0.033) + 250 = 349

Using his 1RM, John decides to increase his current leg press weight to 260 (349 x 75%) and to build his strength slowly but surely.

blueline

Do you use formulas when you work out? Which are your favorite?