Category Archives: Harvard HEALTHbeat

Strength Training Benefits More Than Muscles – Harvard

While eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog, I hasten to add that strength training should be an integral part of that move more aspect. Harvard HEALTHbeat has come out with a new publication on strength and power training.

Here’s what Harvard has to say on the subject: “Most of us know that strength training (with free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands) can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength. What many of us don’t know is that strong muscles lead to strong bones. And strong bones can help minimize the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis.

b-bonedraw

“A combination of age-related changes, inactivity, and poor nutrition conspire to steal bone mass at the rate of 1% per year after age 40. As bones grow more fragile and susceptible to fracture, they are more likely to break after even a minor fall or a far less obvious stress, such as bending over to tie a shoelace.

“Osteoporosis should be a concern for all of us. Eight million women and two million men in the United States have osteoporosis. It is now responsible for more than two million fractures a year, and experts expect that number will rise. Hip fractures are usually the most serious. Six out of 10 people who break a hip never fully regain their former level of independence. Even walking across a room without help may be impossible.”

I have written several posts on osteoporosis. You can read further on the subject here: What Can I do to Prevent Osteoporosis? An Early Sign of Osteoporosis? Are Men Vulnerable to Osteoporosis as Well as Women? Continue reading

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Weight Control Tips from Harvard

The original focus of this blog was simply to lose weight. However, in the past nearly six years it has expanded to living a long healthy life without micromanaging the weight situation and finishing up with a fully functioning brain. Here is a good reminder from Harvard HealthBEAT no less that weight control covers a multitude of sins. Spoiler alert: You need to read to the very end for the full benefit of these tips.

“The tips below can help you shed pounds and keep them off:

“Move more. Exercise is one obvious way to burn off calories. But another approach is to increase your everyday activity wherever you can — walking, fidgeting, pacing while on the phone, taking stairs instead of the elevator.

skinny-and-oveweight-and-health Continue reading

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Why You Need to do Strength Training – Harvard

Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. Part of moving more includes weight-bearing exercise. Turns out our bones need to be worked, too. Not just our muscles.

Harvard Healthbeat says, “Regular physical activity promotes general good health, reduces the risk of developing many diseases, and helps you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, “exercise” means walking, jogging, treadmill work, or other activities that get the heart pumping.

cardio-vs-weight-training-1“But often overlooked is the value of strength-building exercises. Once you reach your 50s and beyond, strength (or resistance) training is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living — and to maintain an active and independent lifestyle. Continue reading

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Six Strength Training Tips from Harvard

While I am a bike rider – purely aerobic exercise – I fully appreciate the need for strengtrh training, too. I have included a list of other posts on the subject at the bottom of this post.

Harvard HEALTHbeat had the following to say about it: “Strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders. Like aerobic exercise, it’s important for everybody, and it should be a part of any comprehensive exercise program. Of course, if you’ve never trained with weights before, it can seem a little daunting. But as long as you ease into it gradually and take the proper precautions, strength training is safe for most people.

Ronald_Bench

“Use the six tips below to help you get the most from your strength workouts.

1. Focus on form, not weight. Good form means aligning your body correctly and moving smoothly through an exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. “I often start people with very light weights because I want them to get their alignment and form right,” says master trainer Josie Gardiner. Concentrate on performing slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents whenever you learn a new exercise. You can always add weight to challenge your muscles once you know how to move with good form.

2. Tempo, tempo. Control is very important. Tempo helps you stay in control rather than undercut gains through momentum. Sometimes switching speed — for example, taking three counts to lower a weight and one count to lift it, instead of lifting for two and lowering for two — is a useful technique for enhancing power.

3. Breathe. Blood pressure rises if you hold your breath while performing strength exercises. Exhale as you work against gravity by lifting, pushing, or pulling the weight; inhale as you release.

4. Keep challenging muscles. The “right” weight differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, challenge your muscles again by adding weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs); adding a set to your workout (up to three sets per exercise); or working out additional days per week (as long as you rest each muscle group for 48 hours before exercising it again).

5. Practice regularly. Performing a complete upper- and lower-body strength workout two or three times a week is ideal.

6. Give muscles time off. Strenuous exercise, like strength training, causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. Muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always allow at least 48 hours between sessions for muscles to recover. For example, if you’re doing split strength workouts, you might do upper body on Monday, lower body on Tuesday, upper body on Wednesday, lower body on Thursday, etc.

For additional advice and tips to help you get the most from your workouts, purchase the Workout Workbook, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Here are posts I have created on weight work:

Strength Training Coupled with Aerobics Boosts Weight Loss

Practice Strength Training for Bones as well as Muscles – Harvard

Weight Training Techniques for Seniors

You are Never Too Old to Start Weight Training – ACSM

Tony

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4 Simple Ways to Boost Your Energy – Harvard

If you sometimes feel too pooped to participate, these tips from Harvard might be just the thing to get you going again. As a retired guy, I know I certainly get hit in the late afternoon by a fit of fatigue from time to time.

lack-of-energy

Harvard HEALTHbeat says, “Fatigue afflicts everyone at one time or another. Assuming your doctor has ruled out serious medical causes, there are a few basic steps you can take to “recharge your batteries.”

“1. Pace yourself. If you’re a go-getter, you probably like to keep going — but don’t risk overtaxing yourself. You can pace yourself and still get things done. For example, instead of burning through all your “battery life” in two hours, spread it out among morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities — with rest and meals in between.

“2. Take a walk or a nap. There’s nothing more satisfying than a short power nap when you’re pooped out. However, if you have trouble sleeping at night, know that napping can make insomnia worse. If that’s the case for you, get moving instead. Get up and walk around the block, or just get up and move around. If you are not an insomniac, though, enjoy that 20- to 30-minute power nap.

“3. Skip most supplements. You may have heard about energy-boosting or “anti-aging” supplements. There is no evidence they work.

•    DHEA. There is no evidence that DHEA offers any real benefits, and the side effects remain a question mark. You especially shouldn’t be buying it from ads in the back of a magazine, because you don’t know what’s in it.

•    Iron. Iron only improves energy if you are clearly deficient, which a doctor can check with a blood test. Unless you are low in iron, you don’t need to take it — and getting too much iron can be harmful.

•    B vitamins. It is true that B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12) help the body convert food into the form of energy that cells can burn, but taking more B vitamins doesn’t supercharge your cells. That’s a myth.

“4. Fuel up wisely. A sugary roll from the bakery delivers plenty of calories, but your body tends to metabolize them faster, and then you can end up with sinking blood sugar and fatigue. You’ll maintain a steadier energy level by eating lean protein and unrefined carbohydrates. Try low-fat yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts, raisins, and honey. Your body will take in the carb-fiber-protein mix more gradually. Don’t skip meals, either. Your body needs a certain number of calories to get through the day’s work. It’s better to space your meals out so your body gets the nourishment it needs all through the day.”

Two observations on the Fuel up wisely item: That sugary roll from the bakery can also be a key reason you are having trouble with your weight. Don’t compound your low energy problem by adding to your weight problem. I would just like to add that keeping nuts and raisins around the house is a sure way of having them when you need  a quick pick-me-up. This is easier than white-knuckling it regarding sweets. Check out my page Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for more info.

“To find out how you can craft a high-energy lifestyle with the latest advice on diet, exercise, rest, and stress management, buy Boosting Your Energy, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, HEALTHbeat concluded.

Tony

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