Category Archives: aerobics

Exercise linked to improved mental health – The Lancet

More exercise was not always better, and the study found that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits.

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Riding a bike scored really high in the study

The study included all types of physical activity, ranging from childcare, housework, lawn-mowing and fishing to cycling, going to the gym, running and skiing.

Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality from all causes, but its association with mental health remains unclear.

Previous research into the effect of exercise on mental health has conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that exercise may improve mental health, the relationship could go both ways – for example inactivity could be a symptom of and contributor to poor mental health, and being active could be a sign of or contribute to resilience. The authors note that their study cannot confirm cause and effect.

 

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Cardio exercise strengthens both body and brain

With Thanksgiving looming, this is a great time to reaffirm our resolve to exercise regularly. OR, it is the ideal time to resolve to exercise regularly in the coming year and maybe begin to address physical and weight problems that we have neglected.

Regular readers know that I have posted numerous times on the value of exercise not only for our bodies, but also for our brains. On the top of this page is IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT YOUR BRAIN.

If you click on that link you can find a page full of blog posts on the subject.

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food.

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food. No walking down a supermarket aisle for them.

And now, the New York Times joins in the fray with Gretchen Reynolds’s article Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain.
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10 Ways to Love Your Brain – Alzheimer’s Association

As regular readers know, I am very sensitive to cognitive impairment, having lost three close family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia. So I was very happy to come across this list of recommendations for building up our mental muscles and reducing our chances of contracting Alzheimer’s from the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Research on cognitive decline is still evolving,” said Theresa Hocker, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter. “But there are actions people can take. Certain healthy behaviors known to combat cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes also may reduce the risk of cognitive decline. These include staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a heart-healthy diet that benefits your body and your brain.”

1. Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.

2. Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.

3. Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.

4. Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.

5. Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.

6. Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.

7. Catch some Zzz’s. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

8. Take care of your mental health. Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.

9. Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

10. Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

“While the adoption of all of these habits is important in influencing brain health, if it seems overwhelming, start with one or two changes and build on them,” Hocker said. “Some changes may be challenging, while others can be fun. Try to choose activities and foods you enjoy.”

I was particularly gratified to see that their first recommendation had to do with getting regular cardiovascular exercise. If you want to read further on this, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

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Weight Training Appears Key to Controlling Belly Fat

“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”

I have posted extensively on exercise and weight control. To read further check out:
Doctors Prescribing Exercise as Medicine – Wall Street Journal The Best Body-Weight Exercises, Combination of Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Training Best for Obese Youths, Exercise May Help Counter Health Risks of Sedentary Lifestyle, Is Exercise Optional for Losing Weight? How Cardiovascular Exercise Helps Our Brains.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Healthy men who did twenty minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers and colleagues. Combining weight training and aerobic activity led to the most optimal results. Aerobic exercise by itself was associated with less weight gain compared with weight training.

The study appears online in Obesity.

“Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging,” said lead author Rania Mekary, a researcher in HSPH’s Department of Nutrition and assistant professor of social and administrative sciences at the School of Pharmacy of MCPHS University. “Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance…

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Combination of Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Training Best for Obese Youths

“Obesity is an epidemic among youth,” says Dr. Ron Sigal of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Public Health and Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. “Adolescents who are overweight are typically advised to exercise more, but there is limited evidence on what type of exercise is best in order to lose fat.”

This is interesting. I experienced a similar result when I Lost 50 pounds in 52 weeks. Also, at that point in my life, I had little understanding about cardio vs resistance exercise.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

What exercise program can best fight the “epidemic” of teen obesity? According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, by combining aerobic exercise with resistance training.

The Healthy Eating Aerobic and Resistance Training in Youth (HEARTY) study, led by researchers at the University of Calgary and University of Ottawa, involved 304 overweight teens in the Ottawa/Gatineau area between the ages of 14 to 18. All were given the same four weeks of diet counseling to promote healthy eating and weight loss before being randomly placed into four groups. The first group performed resistance training involving weight machines and some free weights; the second performed only aerobic exercise on treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes; the third underwent combined aerobic and resistance training; and the last group did no exercise training.

What’s the best exercise to lose fat?

“Obesity is an epidemic among youth,”…

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An Hour of Moderate Exercise A Day May Decrease Heart Failure Risk

“You do not need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of physical activity — even quite low levels of activity can give you positive effects,” said Kasper Andersen, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and researcher at the Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. “Physical activity lowers many heart disease risk factors, which in turn lowers the risk of developing heart failure as well as other heart diseases.”

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Exercising each day can help keep the doctor away.

In a new study reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, researchers say more than an hour of moderate or half an hour of vigorous exercise per day may lower your risk of heart failure by 46 percent.

Heart failure is a common, disabling disease that accounts for about 2 percent of total healthcare costs in industrialized countries. Risk of death within five years of diagnosis is 30 percent to 50 percent, researchers said.

Swedish researchers studied 39,805 people 20-90 years old who didn’t have heart failure when the study began in 1997. Researchers assessed their total- and leisure time activity at the beginning of the study and followed them to see how this was related to their subsequent risk of developing heart failure. They found that the more active a person, the lower their risk for heart…

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5 Health Lessons We Can Learn From The Greeks

To ensure a long, healthy life we all need to eat mindfully and to become aware of the food w eat. We also need to take note of how the food we are eating affects the way we feel. Eat for the purpose of nourishing, and eat clean ingredients free of chemicals and pesticides — just like they did in ancient Greece.

Our Better Health

BY MARIA BENARDIS   NOVEMBER 12, 2013

The word “diet” comes from the ancient Greek “diaita,” which means “the way of life.” In Ancient Greece, a diet was about good health, not radical weight loss or getting into a certain outfit.

My book, Cooking & Eating Wisdom for Better Health, empowers people with the tools of how to cook intuitively using healing ingredients that harmonize your body and mind. Cooking and eating will become a time to celebrate, a time to deeply connect with yourself, a time to awaken to new experiences and to heal. I encourage people to explore and rediscover how to use nature for personal healing instead of solely relying on medicine.

Below are five health tips culled from the wisdom of the ancient Greeks:

1. Adopt a Mediterranean diet.

As was inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, “Nothing in excess.” The Mediterranean diet is…

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What Are Some Benefits of Exercise?

Eat less: Move More – Words to Live by.

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The only element left off this was: Better Brain. Please check out my page: Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise).
Tony

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Coconut Oil Featured in Wall Street Journal

As regular readers know, I am a big fan of coconut oil. Just look at the top of this page to see Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I turned to the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal and saw this headline: Unlikely Source of Healthy Fat: Coconuts, by Laura Johannes.
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The piece leads off with, “Coconut oil, which is high in saturated fats, is increasingly being heralded as a healthy oil. Its advocates, including companies that sell it, say it’s nutritious, good for the heart and a fast source of energy. The oil may possibly protect against Alzheimer’s disease, they say.”

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5 Reasons Stair Climbing is Good For You – Part One

Regular readers know that I have been an avid bicycle rider for years. I logged over 7000 miles in the year just ended. And, I have not stopped riding. I have, however, begun a new exercise, for me – climbing stairs.

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Although this person is walking down the stairs, I don’t recommend it. You can develop knee problems among others.

How come? Well, the only drawback to cycling I know of is that it is not weight-bearing. So, while the aerobic activity benefits my cardiovascular system greatly, I get no benefits for my skeletal system. I need both and I just can’t get into weight workouts.

An additional benefit of  stair climbing over bike riding is that you can do it indoors so the weather conditions do not present a problem. Having just suffered through historic cold weather with much of the country, this is particularly relevant now. While current temps here in Chicago range in the mid 30’s, there is still a lot of snow, ice and slush around that makes for dangerous biking conditions.

So, what about climbing stairs? It burns more calories than running and doesn’t beat up your legs as much as running does. RunSociety says, “When you stair climb for exercise, you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run and three times more than walking. An intense stair-climbing exercise session will produce more aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time than running or walking. One hour of stair climbing will burn approximately 1000 calories.”

Nonetheless, you can climb at your own pace and still get a good workout.

A New York Times article by Dr. Harvey Simon on the heath sciences technology faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding editor of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, wrote, “What’s so special about climbing stairs? Researchers in Canada answered the question by monitoring 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 while they walked on the level, lifted weights or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level and 50 percent harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. And peak exertion was attained much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why nearly everyone huffs and puffs going up stairs, at least until their “second wind” kicks in after a few flights.”
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Filed under aerobics, biking, Harvard, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, men's health, stair climbing, Weight, weight-bearing exercise

What About When You Can’t Exercise?

I had periodontal surgery yesterday. The procedure took just short of an hour and I left the office with stitches inside my mouth and packing over them. I also exited with a full page print out of “Post Operative Care Following Periodontal Surgery.” The operation was over, but the experience will extend for at least a week. The number two instruction on the sheet read, “Avoid strenuous activity, including aerobic exercise for the first few days…”

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I know that a lot of people don’t exercise on a daily or even a weekly basis, but exercise in the form of riding my bicycle is a part of my daily life. I am sitting here, granted I am low on energy, but I just looked out my window and watched my fellow cyclists riding on the bike path below. I could feel a void in my day.

When I saw the restriction on aerobic activity, I thought it would be a good day to catch up on my yoga, but that seems to qualify as strenuous activity, so that is out, too.

While bike riding is aerobic exercise, that is not the reason I ride every day. I look forward to my daily rides because they are fun. I love to ride. There is a sensuous thrill to the wind blowing over my face and the sensation of rolling across the pavement driven by the strength of my legs. I have included the picture of Albert Einstein riding his bike because it is one of my favorite posters. It hangs in my living room and demonstrates exactly how I feel when I ride my bike.

It’s not just that I can’t exercise today. I can’t enjoy the fun of riding today … and maybe tomorrow, too.

Besides writing this post, I have some housekeeping projects I can tackle and there is always an errand I can run not to mention several books I have been meaning to dive in to over the past month. If I walk at a reasonable pace on the errands, I can enjoy that without breaking the stricture on aerobic exercise. Indeed, I consider walking to be the ugly stepsister of the exercise world, so all is not lost. You can read my post on Why you should walk more.

The old ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ adage pops into mind. I will certainly fully enjoy the feeling of mounting my bike and taking off over the smooth pavement when I am free to ride again, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Until then I will make do with the possibility of a walk later and other projects.

Count your blessings. Eat less; move more.

Tony

Post Post Script: After a light breakfast with my girlfriend, I walked the dog and wrote this post. Then I lay down and slept for two hours. I think the Post Operative Case sheet could have said, “Try and do aerobics or something strenuous …” because there is no way I had the energy for either.

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How to Measure Fitness Progress – NIH

Eat less; move more. Those are my words to live by. Now supposing you have chosen to try them out and you are actually moving more – maybe walking instead of cabbing it, or you have started exercising instead of couch-potatoing it. Now what? You want to know how you are doing and what is the next step. Is it time to exercise a little longer, or find an activity slightly more challenging?

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The National Institutes of Health has some worthwhile suggestions.

“These simple monthly tests are good ways to see if you are continuing to progress and need to update your goals. Each month, you will likely see an improvement.

*Endurance. Pick a fixed course and see how long it takes to walk that distance. As your endurance improves, it should take less time.

* Upper-body Strength.
Count the number of arm curls* you can do safely in 2 minutes.

* Lower-body Strength.
Count the number of chair stands* you can do safely in 2 minutes.

* Balance.
Time yourself as you stand on one foot, without support, for as long as possible. Stand near something sturdy to hold on to, in case you lose your balance. Repeat on the other foot.

* Flexibility. For this test, sit toward the front of a sturdy chair, and stretch one leg straight out in front of you with your heel on the floor and your toes pointing up. Bend the other leg and place your foot flat on the floor. Slowly bend from your hips and reach as far as you can toward the toes of your outstretched foot. How far can you reach before you feel a stretch?”

You are off to a good start. These NIH suggestions can help you on your way.

Tony

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Test Your Fast Food Smarts – Web MD Quiz

I really enjoy the information available from WebMD. They offer articles, studies and quizzes on healthy subjects.

I want to tell you about this recent one – Test Your Fast Food Smarts.
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I have been writing this blog for the best part of four years. As a result of this project, I have taken off 15 pounds from what I had thought was my ideal weight 165 pounds. In addition I have a resting heart rate below 50 beats per minute and my body fat remains under 17 per cent. Before I took the quiz I thought I had a really good fix on fast food even though I don’t eat very much of it. However, of the 16 questions in the quiz I got less than half of them right.

Here are a couple of examples of questions in the quiz. I hope they will whet your appetite for more info on the subject.

How many Americans eat fast food every day?

How many of us guzzle sugary drinks daily?

To burn off an order of medium fries, a 155 pound adult needs to? Ride a stationary bike hard for 30 minutes or do high impact aerobics for 30 minutes or strength train for 60 minutes?

On average a teen will grab a fast food meal that has how many calories? 500 to 800; 800 to 1100; 1100 to 1500 calories?

No, I am not going to spoil your fun by giving you any of the answers. I hope you will take the test and derive the full benefit from it. At the risk of using a cliche – You’ll thank me for it.

Tony

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Is Exercise Optional for Losing Weight?

To answer the question in several words – Not when you consider the big picture. Please don’t stop reading yet. There are some important misconceptions I want to talk about regarding exercise.

I have posted several items recently on food myths that I think can hamper your efforts to lose weight. The first was Should we cut carbohydrates to lose weight? and the second Does eating late make you gain weight? If you find yourself even partially believing either one, please click on its link and get the facts.

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Regarding regular exercise, a friend of mine said she ran across a fitness article saying that it is not necessary to exercise to lose weight. She said it was a myth that you needed to exercise to lose weight.

Wow. What a stunning example of ‘a little knowledge is dangerous!’ Factually, the statement is correct. As a calorie counter, I can attest to the fact you simply need to cut 3500 calories from your intake to lose a pound. So eating 500 calories less each day will cut about a pound a week from your weight. You can do that without exercising. Continue reading

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What are the Mental Benefits of Exercise? – Oleda Baker – Guest Post

Click anywhere to see these full size
Click anywhere to see these full size

As you can see from her photos, Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker is aging magnificently. I interviewed Oleda last December. She is a treasure trove of information on everything this blog stands for, namely weight control, healthy living and healthy aging, so I asked her if she would share some of her ideas with us. She has written 10 books on beauty and health. Her latest, written at the age of 75, Breaking the Age Barrier – Great Looks and Health at Every Age – was released in November 2010 and is available from Amazon or from her website www.oleda.com where she also sells her own line of health and beauty aids.

You might think the most important deterrent to brain cell deterioration is engaging in mind-bending games or doing the daily crossword puzzle. Taxing the brain and learning new skills are excellent activities, but they usually don’t get your heart rate up and pump blood to your brain cells.

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Perhaps the most striking brain research discovery of the last decade is that physical exercise can forestall mental decline. It may even restore memory. Animal studies have shown that aerobic exercise increases capillary development in the brain, increasing blood supply, which carries more oxygen to the brain.

It doesn’t have to be formal exercise at the gym. You can play tennis a couple times a week, ride a bike, or walk a mile each day. A combined program of aerobics and weight training will produce the best results.

Fit people have sharper brains; and people who are out of shape, but then get into shape, sharpen their brains along with their bodies.

It was once thought that brain cells do not regenerate as do other cells of the body, but more modern science learned that neurons do continue to form in the brain, even into old age.

Memory does begin a decline when we reach our 40’s, but the progression is not as steep as originally feared. Indeed, forgetfulness may be due less to brain cell loss than other influences, such as taking care of the kids, the job, paying the bills, doing chores, everyday living all competing for cognitive time.

To keep your brain young you need to give it lots of varied stimulation and challenges. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, to “strain the brain,” so to speak. Repeating the same mental functions over and over, such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles or watching television, doesn’t help slow cognitive deterioration. Mental stimulation is as important for your brain as physical exercise is for your body.

Oleda

As so often happens with Oleda’s ideas, they coincide exactly with my own. The only difference is that Oleda has lived longer and more successfully than I have. To read further about the value of exercise to the brain, check out my page Important Facts About Your Brain and Exercise.

Tony

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Filed under aerobics, aging, cognitive decline, dementia, Exercise, Oleda Baker, Weight

What is the Most Balanced Exercise Program?

The more I read and write about exercise, the more the element of balance becomes important. Exercise if crucial to our well being, but it is easy to overdo it, or use bad technique and set ourselves back with an injury. Heaven knows I have had biking injuries galore.  So what is the most balanced exercise program, let me count the options.

Among the possibilities, are walking, running, weight lifting, bicycling, yoga, tennis, kick-boxing to name a few.

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WebMD says that walking, weight lifting and yoga constitute the most balanced plan because there are “three different types of exercise: aerobic/cardio (walking), strength training (weight lifting), and flexibility training (yoga).

“All three are important. Aerobic or “cardio” (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball) boosts the strength of your heart and lungs; strength or “resistance” training (weight lifting, resistance band exercises, etc.) help to keep your muscles and bones strong, and help with balance and coordination; and flexibility exercises (yoga, stretching, tai chi) can improve your range of motion and reduce your risk for injury.”

You can take the WebMD test on Fitness Do’s and Dont’s at the link.

I really like their breakdown because I consider walking to be the Cinderella sister of exercises. Everyone does it to some extent, but very few people appreciate the benefits.

Here are some of my posts on walking.

Benefits of Walking and Cycling

Walking, not Sudoku for Seniors

National Walking Day – American Heart Association

Mall-Walking

Tony

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Filed under aerobics, aging, Exercise, stretching, tai chi, target zone, walking, warming up, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training, yoga