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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category


Vital Skin Care News

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The United States Surgeon General announced the need for immediate action against skin cancer, calling it a major public health problem. The American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is now diagnosed more often than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer cases combined each year. Close to five million people are treated for skin cancer annually — and according to the National Cancer Institute –melanoma is the most common form of cancer in adults ages 25 to 29 and second most common for young adults aged 15 to 29. Much of it is preventable.
 
Sunscreen is a vital weapon against skin cancer. Be sure to choose a product that offers the best protection. The sun has two types of invisible rays: ultraviolet A (UVA), and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays are longer and their penetration into the skin is deeper than the UVB rays. They play a large role in tanning, premature aging, loss of elasticity, and wrinkling of the skin. UVB rays main risk is in damage to the superficial layers of the skin — reddening of the skin and sunburns. Both types of rays are associated with skin cancer. Keeping this in mind, remember that sunscreens list their level of sun protective factor (SPF). An SPF of 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.
 
Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays, these products will say “broad spectrum protection” or “UVA and UVB protection” on the label. You’ll get a lot of protection for the few minutes application costs you! You’ll not only decrease your risk of skin cancer, you’ll prevent those facial brown spots and slow down the premature aging of your skin.
 
While preventing sun’s damage with sunscreen, take some positive steps to support healthy skin!
 
Eat protein to repair skin cells. Good sources are turkey, fish, boneless skinless chicken, egg whites, sprouts, seeds, grains, and nuts.
 
Eat fatty fish to boost the condition of cell membranes, the building blocks of healthy skin.
 
Almonds, olive oil and rapeseed oil are high in antioxidant-rich monounsaturated fat and aid in rejuvenating skin cells.
 
Keep your skin hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.
 
The vitamin C in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli and cabbage provides collagen to heal your skin.
Vitamin E promotes healing and prevents dry skin and the formation of age spots.
 
Relax and and enjoy some carefree fun in the sun – but remember to block the rays and ruduce your risk of skin cancer!
 
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Hot Weather Tips

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We all embrace the warm weather after a long, hard winter, but we also need to keep in mind that changes in temperatures call for changes in our workout regimens. An average of 618 heat-related deaths occur each year in the United States. It’s a grim statistic, but with a little planning, you can avoid dangerous hot weather health issues!
 
Start by making adjustments to your fitness workout routine to prevent heat-related problems while keeping active. Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind:
 
• Drink Water. We sweat more when the temperature’s hot, especially when working or exercising in the heat. You also burn more calories working out in hot weather due to the extra cardiovascular effort required to cool the body when blood is pumped to the skin — this results in increased perspiration. It’s important to drink water to replenish the fluids lost by any excessive sweating.
 
• Work out during the milder times of day. The combination of hot temperatures and dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses, so don’t try to maximize your regimen when temperatures and humidity are high! Try to fit the most demanding parts of your regimen in early morning or evening hours.
 
• Wear sunscreen. It reduces the risk of long-term damage to your skin, and protects the ability of the epidermis to do its job — regulate temperature.
 
• Eat regularly. Your appetite may be reduced on hot days, so try eating 5-6 small meals throughout day. Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, they’re in season and nutritious.
 
There may be days when it’s just too hot and humid for you. Heat combined with humidity increases the risk of a heat-related illness, so consider other exercise options when temperatures spike:
 
Try speed-walking and stair-climbing at a local mall with air conditioning. Join your local exercise club.
 
Have a cool room at home? Pull out your workout DVDs you’ve been looking at, open up the strength training or Pilates book that has been sitting on the shelf!
 
What could be more refreshing than swimming on a hot day! Look for water aerobic classes at your local public pool or include a water routine in your current regimen.
 
Find a gym that works for you. Local gyms come in all shapes and it’s easier now than ever to find one that fits your budget… with or without a contract!
 
Whatever option you decide to embrace, pace yourself and enjoy your workout. A hot summer day can give you a new appreciation for the value of sweat equity!
 
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Going for Quality Workouts

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Expanding the variety while focusing on the quality of your fitness regimen is more important than adding on extra hours in the gym according to new research recently published in the The Journal of Applied Physiology. The study was authored by Paul J. Arciero DPE, the director of the Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory at Skidmore College.
 
The sixteen-week study included fifty-seven participants, 36 women and 21 men, between the ages of 35 and 57 years old. The participants were obese or overweight and exercised less than 60 minutes each week. Participants were then randomly separated into three groups. One group was sedentary throughout the study, one group did intense resistance training four times per week, while the third group’s training sessions included resistance, interval sprints, stretching, and endurance exercises. All included the same amount of whey protein in their nutrition regimens.
 
At the end of the study all participants demonstrated a decrease in body fat, which is attributed to the addition of the whey protein to their diets. However, the group that followed the varied, multidimensional regimen had significantly more health improvements than the other two groups — the largest reduction in body weight, total fat and abdominal fat mass, smaller waist circumference, healthier blood glucose levels, and the largest increase in lean body mass.
 
This study indicates why you round out your fitness routine with:
 
• Resistance exercise or strength training to increase the strength and mass of muscles, bone strength and metabolism.
 
• Sprint interval workouts help build endurance, increase your anaerobic threshold and burn more calories and fat both during and after your workout.
 
• Stretching exercises increase flexibility and improve the range of motion of joints.
 
• Endurance, or aerobic, exercise increases your breathing and heart rate, keeping your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy while improving overall fitness.
 
A well-rounded exercise regimen can help you maintain interest in your fitness program while preventing injuries that can occur from overuse of the same muscles. Combine the four basic types of exercise in your fitness regimen; you’ll notice the difference … and feel it!
 
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The Big D

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Seventy-five percent of teens and adults in the United States have deficiencies of vitamin D, known as the “Sunshine Vitamin.” This is a stunning increase in the rates of vitamin D deficiency from forty-five percent between 1988 and 1994. At the same time, new research indicates that these deficiencies in vitamin D raise the risks for a broad spectrum of disease – including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
 
Vitamin D is known to promote calcium absorption, is required for bone growth, prevents rickets in children and — with calcium — helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Insufficient vitamin D causes bones to become thin, brittle, or misshapen. It also modulates cell growth, neuromuscular and immune functions, and reduces inflammation.
 
The new research, which appeared in the journal BMJ, is authored by a team of scientists from Harvard, Oxford and other universities found that adults with low levels of vitamin D have a 35 percent higher risk of death from heart disease, and a 14 percent greater likelihood of death from cancer. The scientists also found that approximately 13 percent of all deaths in the United States, and 9 percent in Europe, are linked to to low vitamin D levels. In another new study, researchers at Stanford and several universities also concluded there is evidence that high vitamin D levels protect against diabetes, stroke, hypertension and many illnesses.
 
Vitamin D is known as the the sunshine nutrient because is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, be sure to maintain a moderate amount of sun exposure to avoid the risk of skin aging and skin cancer. Vitamin D can also be be included in the diet with a small array of foods.
 
Add vitamin D to your nutritional regimen with:
 
• Cod liver oil: 1 tablespoon gives 1,360 IU of you daily needs
• Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
• Canned tuna or sardines
• Mushrooms
• Egg yolks
• Fortified dairy products
• Swiss Cheese
 
Keep in mind, blood levels of vitamin D are lowered by smoking, obesity and inflammation. Moderate sun, vitamin D-rich foods and a healthy lifestyle are your best bet!
 
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Heat Up Those Creative Juices

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We’ve often stressed that exercise and walking improve cognitive skills, both immediately and in the longer term. We already know that; we take a long walks to ‘get rid of the cobwebs’ after long work sessions, when we’re emotionally worn down or have a difficult problems to solve. Many studies support the idea that walking boosts brain health … now we know that boost includes the creative thought functions too!
 
New research demonstrates a clear correlation between walking and creative thinking. In a series of experiments, researchers from Stanford University in California compared levels of creativity in people while they were walking and while they were sitting. The study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, found another great reason for walking as part of a well-rounded fitness regimen. It boosts your creativity!
 
Researchers from Stanford University conducted a series of four experiments that included 176 participants. The group was comprised of college students and other adults who walked or sat in outdoor and indoor environments. Participants were also asked to complete their walking and sitting sessions using a specific mix of walking and sitting. During the sessions, participants were engaged in tasks that are used to measure the creative thought process. The tasks all focused on divergent thinking creativity — coming up with ideas by thinking of multiple possible solutions – in three experiments. Answers were rated by originality and usefulness. The walkers ranked higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting! In one indoor experiment, the participants walked on a treadmill and scored an average of 60% higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting!
 
A fourth experiment tested a more complex type of creativity in which participants respond to simple cues with complex analogies. The study found that 100% of the participants walking outdoors came up with at least one high-quality complex analogy, compared with thinking of 50% high-quality complex analogies when they were sitting indoors!
 
Researchers are not sure exactly why a casual walk has such a strong effect on the creative thinking process, but you can add this to your list of reasons to take a walk.
 
Take a walk, you’ll be healthier, happier and more creative!
 
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Fitness Pays Off!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s spring and many of us are striving for our personal peak in physical fitness. Whether we want to look better, to feel better, or to fulfill a personal goal, the fact is, exercise effects a lot more than our waistlines!
 
Boosts Immunity. It is believed that physical activity may help clear the the lungs of bacteria and remove cancer-causing cells by increasing waste output. In also increases the activity rate of the antibodies and white blood cells as they travel throughout the body. Finally, the temporary rise of body temperature may actually prevent the growth of bacteria, allowing you to fight infections more efficiently.
 
Reduces Stress. Recently scientists from Princeton were trying to understand how exercise reduces anxiety while at the same time creating ‘excitable neurons’ in the hippocampus, the part of the brain helps direct thinking and emotional responses. They conducted a study that divided mice into two groups, one group was placed in a sedentary environment while the other group were given the opportunity to run on a wheel and be physically active. After six weeks, the running mice were more confident and willing to explore new areas. At the end of the study, all the mice were restricted from physical activity, then were placed in a stressful situation to which they all responded with distress. However, the mice that had ample physical activity quickly calmed down and were markedly less anxious than the mice that had been sedentary for six weeks, supporting the idea that exercise offers both short- and long-term benefits!
 
Promotes Healthy Sleep Patterns. Sleep does more than keep you feeling refreshed! A number of studies indicate that lack of sleep increases your risk of developing serious physical problems, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease! Exercise can help there, too. A four-month long study from Northwestern University of sedentary adults suffering from insomnia found that participants slept better at the end of the four month period where moderate exercise was introduced into their lifestyles. In another study, people who exercised regularly for 10 weeks found that they slept better.
 
Improves Thought Process. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh followed more than 600 people, aged 70 years and older. During the study, participants logged their daily physical, mental and social activities for three years. Scientist then ran image scans of the brain. They found that the subjects who engaged in the most physical exercise demonstrated less shrinkage or damage to the brain’s white matter — which is comprised of nerve fibers that form the connections between the nerve cells and the fatty substance myelin which protects protects those fibers. Research from New Zealand indicated that that exercise improves the general brain processes of planning, memory and reasoning for everyone — young or old!
 
Many studies show that exercise improves your body image and lifts your general sense of well being … if that’s not enough to get you going … you will look better in those shorts!
 
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Spring: A Season for Renewal

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s been a long, hard winter but finally spring has arrived! Soon we’ll be shedding our heavy winter clothes and embracing the lush, green growth of trees and gardens , and the warming air that greets us each morning. Neighbors we haven’t seen all winter will be out working in their yards, walking or jogging, and soon fresh spring produce will arrive at the grocer’s. It’s a great time of year to renew your health resolutions or make a new commitment to a healthy life!
 
After long months spent indoors, it can be a big challenge to adopt a major fitness program, especially if you have a busy schedule. Ease into it!
 
• Choose an activity you will enjoy!
 
• If your schedule makes it difficult to set aside a 30 minute block of time, try three 10-minute workouts or walks.
 
• Walk or bike to work or to the local store.
Wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take and and set a goal to increase the amount you walk. A Harvard study found that taking six thousand steps a day is correlated with a lower death rate in men.
 
• Park your car a distance from your destination and walk.
 
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
 
• Take a walk at lunch with coworkers.
 
• Join an office or community sports league.
 
If you’re hungry when you get home from your fitness outing, try a handful of nuts! A study from Loma Linda University found that participants eating a diet that has majority of fat coming from almonds resulted in significantly higher loss of body and abdominal fat in 24 weeks than participants who ate the same amount of calories with more carbs and less fat. Other nuts to add to your diet include Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts.
 
You’ll probably be thirsty too! Drink plenty of water; researchers in Germany found that drinking two cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30 percent! If you have a taste for something different try green tea, its primary ingredient – epigallocatechin gallate – reduces the effect of the enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine. That keeps the metabolic rate up, and you burn more calories throughout the day. Black tea also aids fat loss. A study conducted by University College in London found that drinking black tea regularly can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages fat storage around the midsection.
 
Make physical activity a regular part of your day and you’ll begin to notice some positive changes, whether it’s weight loss, a smaller waist or a new, fuller sense of well-being.
 
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Brain Power

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We know that exercise makes us feel better and ‘clears the mind’ and recent studies have pointed out the benefits of exercise on mental stresses and work. Now, new research shows not only does obesity harm the brain, exercise may actually reverse those negative effects!
 
Extensive research has indicated that sedentary, obese animals have lower memory and learning skills when compared to active, normal-weight animals. Recently, scientists have been trying to find out how excess weight affects the brain. Until recently, we thought that the brain was protected from excess weight … after all, it contains no fat cells. But the research shows that obesity actually weakens the protection of the brain, allowing substances manufactured by fat cells to enter the brain.
 
Additional research published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that as lab mice gained excess weight, larger doses interleukin 1, a substance know to cause inflammation, was found in their brains. Additionally, the mice had very low levels of a biochemical that helps support healthy synapse function. Researchers felt the results strongly indicated that fat cells were the main cause of the mice’s cognitive decline in the study. The good news from new research is that simply introducing exercise into the mice’s regimen gives substantial protection the bad effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the brain!
 
This research adds on to what we already know:
 
• Those extra pounds may weaken the brain’s sensitivity to the pleasure we get from sugary and fatty foods, leading people to eat more for the same amount of pleasure. Research on animals found that eating foods with high fat and sugar content reduced responses to dopamine, known as the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter.
 
• The orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain tasked with impulse control, appears shrunken in obese children compared to those of children with normal weight. More research needs to be done, but some researchers believe this may be a response to changes in the immune system caused by obesity.
 
• A study published in the Annals of Neurology found that the belly fat that shows up as you enter middle age is actually associated with a decrease in total brain volume! Researchers believe that belly fat, or visceral fat may contribute to a reduction of brain size.
 
• A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that may impair memory. The study included 8,745 women ages 65 to 79 and found that each 1 point increase in an woman’s body mass index (BMI) was corresponded to a 1 point decrease on a 100 point memory test.
 
Strong findings that should spur us all to get off the couch.. get started now! Why wait for spring to be a lean, mean, thinking machine!
 
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More News on Memory and Exercise

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Numerous studies have been conducted in the past 10 years focusing on exercise and memory, creating a consensus about the positive effect of exercise on brain functions. Still, details have been missing, and many questions remain. When is the best time to exercise? Is a more strenuous workout more beneficial? How long do the gains last? Three studies in particular demonstrate the benefits of exercise to learning and retaining that ability throughout your life.
 
The latest study, published this week by PLOS One, included eighty-one healthy, German-speaking women, who were randomly divided into three groups. Members of all groups listened to lists of German words with their Polish equivalents through headphones for 30 minutes, with instructions to memorize the Polish word. One group listened after sitting for 30 minutes, the second group rode a stationary bicycle at a mild rate for 30 minutes before sitting down to listen to the German/Polish words, while the third group also rode a bicycle at a low intensity for 30 minutes, but listened to the word lists while riding the bike.
 
The participants were tested two days after hearing the lists. While all women could recall some words, the women who had ridden bicycles while listening to the German/Polish words performed best while the women who exercised before the tasks did slightly better than the women who had not exercised at all before listening to the list.
 
Another study asked 11 female students to read difficult chapters from a textbook on different days. One day while sitting quietly and, on the other day, during strenuous workout on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes. The students were tested on the material they’d just read immediately after reading it, and retested the next day.
 
These test scores were actually worse on the memory tests taken right after reading during a high-intensity workout than the test scores taken after they’d been sitting quietly and studying. Interestingly, when retested the following day, there were no differences in their scores, whether they exercised or sat quietly when reading the chapter.
 
Researchers concluded that exercising during learning was significantly more effective than exercising beforehand or not at all. However, that beneficial impact seems to depend on the intensity of the workout with light-intensity exercise leading to significant benefits. It’s believed that higher-intensity exercise may use more of the brain’s resources during the workout, leaving fewer resources to recall functions, which could explain lower testing immediately after strenuous exercise.
 
In a third study, a group of people 50 to 85 years old with and without memory deficits viewed pleasant images followed by a six-minute workout at 70% of their maximum capacity on a stationary bicycle. Another group viewed the pictures but did not ride the bike afterwards. One hour later, all participants were given a recall test on the images they viewed. Results showed a striking enhancement of memory in the group that exercised compared with subjects who did not ride the bike.
 
Much more research is being done on this important subject, but one thing is sure … an active body supports an active brain!
 
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