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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category


Protection Against Viruses

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
A group of viruses called ‘entovirus’ has been the focus of attention lately, and for good reason! It is a serious virus and many children in the United states have been hospitalized a form of it.
 
Many health professionals cite strict hygienic practices, including thorough hand-washing and avoiding contaminated surfaces, are often cited as the best ways to prevent spread of these infections. Those are tried and true methods! However, employing them can be very difficult when everyday life includes work, school, shopping and a wide assortment of social activities. It’s important to remember: you don’t get sick just because you’ve been exposed to germs. That’s a good thing, because it’s nearly impossible to avoid all germs!
 
New research published in the PLOS journal found that when 17 healthy people were exposed to a flu virus, only half of them got sick. Your immune system’s response to the flu virus is also an important factor in whether or not you get sick and the depth of that illness!
 
So get those immune systems into peak shape for winter and protect yourself and your loved ones with these four rules.
 
• Add Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Your Menus: A diet rich diet in antioxidants prevent free radical damage and optimizes the immune system. Add a broad range of fruits and vegetables to the menu to create the greatest benefits for the immune health. Remember, the three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which are found in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues.
 
• Get Enough Vitamin D: Seventy percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which helps activate the immune system! New research shows that when the body is exposed to a pathogen, T cells ‘search’ for vitamin D, if the T cells do not find enough vitamin D, they cannot activate the immune system! Get vitamin D from safe exposure to the sun, salmon, tuna and fortified foods.
 
• Get Fit: Regular physical activity enhances antibody and natural T cell response. Multiple studies have shown that people who exercise are half as likely to catch a cold as those who do not!
 
• Sleep: Sleep is an important factor in maintaining a healthy immune system. Much research has indicated that health risks rise significantly when individuals sleep less than seven hours a night. Part of this is due to the reduced levels of melatonin, a hormone necessary for a healthy immune system which is produced while we sleep. A lack of sleep also reduces T cells and impacts levels of proteins called cytokines, which act as mediators between cells.
 
Call you doctor for help with any serious respiratory illness.
 
But follow these important rules and there is a good chance your immune system will keep you healthy all fall and winter!
 
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Strength Training

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Strength training is an important part of any fitness program. It helps you reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories! The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults should add moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week in addition to a daily aerobic regimen. Unfortunately, a 2013 study of 450,000 adults by the Center for Diesease Control found that while 52 percent of surveyed adults met the aerobic activity guidelines and 29 percent met the strength-training guidelines, less that 21 percent of adults in the United States meet the total combined guidelines! Incorporating those two days of strength training add a host of benefits!
 
• Stronger Bones. Strength training is known to increase bone mass. A recent study from Ontario’s McMaster University found that a year-long strength training program increased the spinal bone mass of postmenopausal women by nine percent. Additionally, weight-bearing activities put stress on your bones which builds bone density.
 
• Sharper Memory. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that for robust brain health, it is best to incorporate both aerobic and strength training. Each type of activity targets different aspects of cognition by initiating the release of different proteins. In an earlier study the same researchers found that older women who strength-trained twice a week for six months had better memory, better attention spans and improved executive brain functions compared to those engaged in a strictly cardio fitness regimen.
 
• Weight Control. According to the Center for Disease Control, strength training offers an increase of up to 15% in the metabolic rate, an important aid for weight control. Researchers from Southern Illinois University found that participants burned 100 extra calories a day for three days after a fifteen minute resistance routine. And don’t forget: each pound of muscle burns 7 to 10 calories compared to 2 or 3 calories for a pound of fat.
 
• Improve Balance and Posture. For a study published in Age, people over the age of 90 participated inof strength training two days a week 12 weeks. The study found an increase in walking speed, an improvement in balance, and a significant reduction in the incidence of falls.
 
• Disease Prevention. Strength training can be an important aid against arthritis pain, reduces the risk of bone fractures can help improve glucose control for sufferers of type 2 diabetes.
 
• Mood Elevator. A 2005 study published in The Harvard Mental Health Letter compared exercise with antidepressant drugs or a combination of the exercise and antidepressant drugs in patients suffering from major depression. They found that after 16 weeks, 60 to 70 percent of participants in all three groups had recovered from the depression, but the positive effects of exercise last longer. After ten months participants who worked out had lower rates of depression than those who took only medication.
 
Strength training … stronger muscles and a lot more!
 
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Fall Fitness

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
As summer turns to fall changes naturally occur to your diet and activities. Take control of those changes and make some positive additions to your lifestyle. Autumn is also a season of practicality and structure after the freedom of summer so take advantage of this period to create regimen that you can stick to!
 
Exercise and nutrition, of course, are the keys to positive health outcomes. Try these tips to get started.
 
• Start — or restart — an aerobic regimen. Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, helps you lose or maintain weight and is great for the heart. Healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week, that averages out to between 11 and 22 minutes a day, depending on intensity. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobic classes, hiking, and stair climbing, among other things. Work up a sweat and get your heart pumping!
 
• Add some resistance training to your fitness program! Regular resistance training maximizes fat loss, boosts bone density, improves posture, develops muscle tone, and even slows down the aging process.
 
• Be more active throughout the day. Walk a few extra blocks, take the stairs, try dancing while you vacuum! The calories you burn will really make a difference!
 
• Drink at least eight glasses of water every day! The weather may be cooler, but your body still needs to be hydrated! Your body doesn’t function at its optimal level when dehydrated.
 
• Eat small meals throughout the day. Your appetite increases in cooler weather; eating smaller meals or snacks every two to three hours during the day will help suppress hunger and will help control your appetite and maintain a balanced blood sugar level throughout the day.
 
• Eat healthy! Consume five helpings of vegetables and three fruit servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient rich with high water content and low fat and calories overhead. Fill up with fruits and vegetables and you won’t have room for the junk food!
 
• Keep a daily fitness journal. Taking note of the food you eat and your workouts will help you make better fitness and nutrition choices.
 
Finally, commit yourself to completing daily tasks that will help reach your long-term personal goal. Your long term goal may be to lose 20 pounds, your daily goals could be to exercise for 20 minutes, drink 8 glasses of water and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. If you don’t meet all the goals one day, don’t give up … those daily goals go a long way towards achieving your final goal!
 
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Upping the Ante

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Having trouble with those few extra pounds? You’re not alone.
 
Recent research on worldwide obesity was published in The Lancet. The study found that the proportion of men who were overweight or obese rose from 28.8% in 1980 to 36.9% in 2013, while the proportion of women who are obese or overweight increased from 29.8% to 38%! That translates to 2.1 billion obese or overweight people around the globe in 2013!
 
Public health experts point out that the cumulative effect of even a few extra pounds is serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that the excess weight increases the risk of life-threatening conditions, including coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer. A 2010 study, also published in The Lancet, estimated that 3.4 million deaths worldwide were caused by being overweight or obese in that year alone! It seems to be getting harder and harder to keep in shape! If you’re having a problem, take a good look at your fitness regimen.
 
Increasing the intensity of your workout routine will help. New research from the Scripps Research Institute found that intense exercise changes the body and muscles at a molecular level in ways that less vigorous exercise doesn’t. The study adds to the growing evidence that to reap the greatest benefits from our workouts, we need to challenge ourselves and that exercising at the proper intensity helps you get the most out of your workouts.
 
According to the Department of Health and Human Services we should fit both aerobic and strength training in our fitness regimens.
 
• Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity — brisk walking, swimming or mowing the lawn — or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — running or aerobic dance routines, or a combination of both per week.
 
• Strength training. Add twice a week strength training sessions. Include free weights, weight machines or activities that use your own body weight — such as climbing or heavy gardening.
 
Gain the most from your workouts by keeping your exercise intensity at a moderate or vigorous level. You can gauge the intensity of your workout by your heartbeat, by the way you feel or a mixture of both methods. For the heartbeat method you need to be able to pinpoint your maximum heart rate! To do that, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 50 years old, subtract 50 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 170. That is the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute while you’re exercising.
 
Some basic guidelines for a healthy person to gauge exercise intensity are:
 
Moderate intensity exercise is somewhat hard.
 
• Your breathing quickens, but you’re not out of breath.
• You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.
• You can carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing.
• Your heart rate is 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate-.
 
Vigorous intensity exercise is challenging.
 
• Your breathing is deep and rapid.
• You develop a sweat after a few minutes of activity.
• You can’t say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
• Heart rate is 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
 
Exercise intensity is different for everyone. It’s up to you to decide if your intensity is too low, or if you need to slow down. Your current state of health, different medications and level of your current workout program all effect what the proper intensity level is for you!
 
Extra weight has been definitely linked to some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. Weight loss is beneficial to your health, up your intensity and maximize your results!
 
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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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