Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category


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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Snow Shoveling Reminder

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We’re entering the end of the winter season, but there is the possibility for more snow. Remember these important pointers from the American Heart Association for snow shoveling safety!
 
• Take breaks. Frequent rest breaks during shoveling will help avoid overstressing your heart. Pay attention to how your feel.
 
• Don’t eat a heavy meal before or soon after shoveling. Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
 
• Use a smaller shovel. Lifting heavy snow can cause sharp rises in blood pressure, instead, lift smaller amounts more times and push the snow when possible.
 
• Pay attention to heart attack warning signs. Minutes matter! Fast action saves lives!
 
• Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol increases a person’s sensation feeling of warmth and can lead you to underestimate the extra strain their your body is under.
 
• Avoid hypothermia. Heart failure is the primary cause of death from hypothermia. Dress in layers of warm clothing, that will trap air between the layers and form a protective insulation. Wear a hat!
 
The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms. If you experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain, seek medical help immediately!
 
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Recharge While You Sleep

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s not surprising that eighty percent of Americans suffer from long-term lack of sleep. When faced with overwork, stress, and tight schedules, sleep is often the first victim of the time budget. Be careful, the results can be harmful to long-term health and reduce your ability to manage day-to-day tasks!
 
New research from the University of Rochester’s medical school shines a new light on the vital role sleep plays in our overall well-being. This research, recently published in the journal Science, found that sleep plays an important role in our brain’s physiological maintenance. Simply put, it cleans out the trash that has accumulated during the day.
 
Our brains do not use the lymphatic system – the body’s waste removal method. It maintains it’s own system that works with the brain’s blood circulation system and uses cerebral spinal fluid to wash away waste. Additionally, study of mice shows that the brain’s cells shrink during sleep by as much as 60 percent, allowing cerebral spinal fluid flow easily between the cells and flush away waste. This leads researchers to believe that the brain probably has two functional states – processing information while we are awake and cleaning away the material that neurons generate during their normal activity while sleeping.
 
‘Giving your brain time to clean up’ may not spur you to improve your sleep habits, but there are plenty of proven benefits to a healthy sleep routine.
 
• Sharper Memory: Lack of sleep disturbs a person’s ability to focus, learn and consolidate a memory, making it difficult for that information to be recalled at a future date.
 
• Longer Lifespan: According to an article published in the journal SLEEP, researchers studied 21,000 twins for 22 years and found that if people slept less than 7 hours a night or more than 8 hours a night, they had an increased risk of death.
 
• Lower Inflammation Risks: Researchers surveyed 525 middle-aged adults and found that those who reported six or fewer hours of sleep had higher levels of inflammatory markers. C-reactive protein levels were approximately 25 percent higher than adults who slept between six and nine hours.
 
• Improved Performance: A study from Stanford University found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
 
• Help Maintaining a Healthy Weight: The Nurses’ Health Study followed roughly 60,000 women for 16 years. At the beginning of the study, all of the women were healthy, and none were obese. After 16 years, women who slept 5 hours or less per night had a 15 percent higher risk of becoming obese and had 30 percent higher risk of gaining 30 pounds over the course of the study compared to women who slept at least 7 hours each night.
 
Let your brain get to work on it’s other job … and get a good night’s sleep!

 
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Cold Weather Workout Tips

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s been an unusually cold winter, which can wreak havoc on your workout schedule! Don’t give up. That winter weight gain isn’t all tied to eating more or lack of exercise. New research shows how important exercise is … especially in the winter. In this study, researchers from the University of Colorado followed a group of twelve women and six men in both summer and winter. They discovered that their production of ATLPL (Adipose Tissue Lipoprotein Lipase), the chemical that promotes fat storage, almost doubles during the winter and dropped during the summer. They also found that the increase of muscle enzymes gained from exercising can help to counter the increase of ATLPL, and help the battle against those extra winter pounds.
 
Winter workouts carry their own dangers, here are a few tips to protect you on the coldest days.
 
• Wear layers. Insulate yourself against the wind and cold with a layered barrier rather than a single, bulky garment. The first layer that’s directly touching your skin should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material. It will dry quickly and wick away moisture. The second layer should be wool or polyester fleece. The outermost layer — worn in the rain, snow, or wind — should be lighter weight and water-repellent to help you stay dry.
 
• Keep your head covered. It is believed that between 50 and 70 percent of body heat is lost when your head is unprotected in cold weather. Wearing a hat can help your body retain heat.
 
• Protect your feet and hands. Keeping hands and feet warm is vital. Your body concentrates on keeping your internal organs warm in cold weather. Gloves also help prevent skin damage and frostbite. To keep your feet warm, make sure your torso is properly insulated and keep feet dry with winter athletic socks that have an inner layer that moves moisture away from the skin to an outer absorbent layer.
 
• Wear a face mask or scarf in frigid temperatures. A loose layer over your nose and mouth can warm cold air before you inhale and protect your lungs.
 
• Drink Water. You don’t feel as sweaty as you do in the summer, but water is just as important in winter months. It even keeps you warm by helping the body retain heat!
 
• In extreme cold, which we’ve seen this winter, move your workout indoors to the gym. Can’t make it to the gym? Develop a workout regimen you can do at home, take the stairs at work or speed walk through the mall!
 
• Finally, consider some traditional warming foods. Ancient Chinese medicine advised adding fresh ginger, garlic and cayenne to your food as a way to boost the immune system! Eucalyptus and juniper also stimulate the circulation and help protect the immune system.
 
It may seem more difficult to exercise when the weather gets cold and days seem shorter, but it’s important to work against the natural increase in fat storage that occurs during the winter months!
 
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Starting the New Year Right!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Whatever your New Years resolutions, there are small additions to your lifestyle that will pay big dividends to your overall health and help you attain your health goals for 2014. They’re simple, easy ways to help you start off on the right foot.
 
• Add beans to your menus: Be sure you include beans in your nutritional regimen — and include black beans. Not only are they a great source of protein, recent studies suggest that the darker the bean, the more antioxidants! Interestingly, beans are considered a separate food group in Brazil, and are part of their food pyramid. The U.S. Government’s Dietary Guidelines urge adults to consume one and a half cups of cooked dry beans a week.
 
• Snack on nuts: The risk of dying of heart disease dropped 29 percent and the risk of dying of cancer fell 11 percent among those who had nuts seven or more times a week compared with people who never ate them. These positive results were seen from peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts. And for those of you with weight-loss resolutions: nut eaters were slimmer. Research has shown that snacking on nuts can curb your appetite for the whole day.
 
• Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables: Raw or fresh, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can reduce risk for heart disease, certain types of cancers, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Vegetables are also low in calories and high in fiber! According to the latest dietary guidelines a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, should eat nine servings of fruit and vegetables. That equals 4-1/2 cups a day, 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables.
 
• Use healthy oils: Get rid of the unhealthy fats in you diet, start by adding healthy fats where possible! Olive and canola oils are monounsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol levels, high blood pressure,and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Canola oil, walnut and flaxseed oils are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that is known to reduce arthritis pain and improve cholesterol levels.
 
• Read the labels: Processed food contains sugars, sodium and unhealthy fats, along with many additives that are used to maintain the appearance of freshness. Keep away from frozen entrees and microwaveable dinners.
 
Finally, exercise! Your entire body benefits from a workout. It gives a boost to memory and concentration, lowers cholesterol, and reduces blood pressure. Exercise is vital for prevention of disease. You should have a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or a minimum of 1-1/4 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity; combine them in a way works for you and build up from there. You’ll look better and feel better!
 
Happy New Year from everyone at Peter’s Principles. Thank you for your support in 2013!
 
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Pump It Up!

 
There’s no better cure for winter doldrums than a great workout.
 
The weather is turning cold, and you’ve planted yourself on the couch. A couch potato, just like a spud in the soil, increases in girth over time. By spring, you may not be able to get into your warm-weather clothes.
 
The solution is winter exercise. And what better way to exercise than in the comfort of your own home. With plenty of excellent fitness equipment available, you can achieve great workouts without leaving the house and be ready for bathing-suit season when warm weather returns.
 
Most trainers and fitness experts agree that a good exercise program should include both aerobic exercise – sometimes called cardio – and resistance training.
 
The Aerobic Workout
 
A good indoor aerobic workout will keep you moving for at least 30 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical trainer or stationery bike. If you’re working hard enough, your respiration and heart rate should increase and you’ll perspire. But working too hard can be dangerous. You should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, and your heart rate shouldn’t rise above the level recommended for your age.
 
Dunham’s offers numerous products that can help you achieve a great workout. Among these is the ProForm® 790T treadmill. Jeff Hedin of Icon Health & Fitness says, “Whether you want to lose weight, train for a marathon, or improve your overall fitness, a treadmill can help you achieve those goals.”
 
Elliptical trainers can provide a great workout as well. Dunham’s carries the ProForm® 7.0 RE. The machine offers 14 different workout applications and includes a heart-rate monitor.
 
Heart rate is important. The chart on page 28 shows the maximum heart rate for adults 20 through 85. When you first start exercising, try to maintain a heart rate that is 50 percent of maximum. After a month of workouts, try for 75 percent . As you become trim and fit, you’ll probably be able to work your way up to 85 percent of the maximum rate.
 
Exercise bikes are another great way to get that heart rate up. Dunham’s offers the ProForm® 320 SPX. With a 44-lb. flywheel and quick-stop braking, it makes workouts a breeze. Also available is the ProForm® Hybrid Trainer, combining a bike and elliptical trainer in one, it’s great for those who like a change of pace.
 
Resistance Training
 
Resistance training or weight training is the other side of the exercise equation. Putting muscles to work can increase your body’s percentage of lean mass, and additional lean mass means more calories burned. But the very mention of mass leads some couch potatoes to an excuse for doing nothing. “I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder,” they say.
 
Don’t worry. That result is not likely. While a serous and consistent weight-training program will improve muscle definition and make you look and feel better, it won’t bulk you up significantly. Building extremely large muscles requires extensive weight training and special diet. Fear not, the body-builder look.
 
Curt Reynolds, CAP Barbell vice president, agrees. “Weight training is not the same as body building,” he says. “Weight training is about improving muscle strength and muscle tone. For men, who have naturally higher levels of testosterone, weight training can mean an increase in muscle size. On the other hand, women, with lower testosterone levels, tend to increase tone without significantly increasing muscle size.”
 
Weight lifting with barbells and dumbbells is the time-tested way to increase lean mass. Most experts recommend you work with a professional trainer until you develop a routine and good habits. But having equipment at home so you can squeeze in a workout whenever it’s convenient will greatly increase your chances of success.
 
Dunham’s stocks a line of CAP Barbell products. Among them are CAP cast-iron dumbbells, available in 5-pound increments from 3 lbs. to 50 lbs. Another popular choice is the CAP 40-lb. dumbbell weight set. This plate-and-bar set allows you to adjust the weight of the dumbbells by adding or subtracting plates. It comes in a plastic case for easy storage. For those who want to learn to train with barbells, there’s the inexpensive CAP 100-lb. Vinyl Weight Set.
 
The Best of Both Worlds
 
Plyometric exercise falls somewhere in between aerobic and resistance training workouts. There are thousands of plyometric variations but generally they are exercise routines that mimic motions used in sports. They can include leg hops, jumping up and down from and to boxes and, for upper body, medicine ball workouts. A good way to get started is with a Fuel Plyometrics Box. It’s available at Dunham’s.
 
Battle rope workouts are another great way to condition muscles while maintaining the continuous movement needed for aerobic fitness. These routines call for a variety of strenuous movements using a heavy rope that must be manipulated in patterns that work different muscles. It’s a good workout, and it’s fun. You’ll find the Fuel 40-Foot Battle Rope at Dunham’s.
 
Don’t overlook the classic exercises. Pushups and sit-ups can yield great results. And Dunham’s can provide a CAP exercise mat that will make getting down and getting it done all the more comfortable.
 
NOTE: Always consult your doctor, physician or a qualified health care professional before beginning any exercise program.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Post Holiday Detox

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Even with the best intentions and the healthiest food, many of us will feel bloated and sluggish going into the new year after the holidays. Whether it’s due to rich food, too much food or the seasonal change of diet, you may want concentrate on cleaning the toxins out of your system. A few indicators that you may want to detox are:
 
• Feel tired or sluggish
• Have trouble concentrating
• Suffer from headaches or joint pain
• Have trouble sleeping
• Have gas, bloating or indigestion or other gastrointestinal irregularities
• Are depressed, irritable or have mood changes
• Have recurring respiratory problems.
 
A few easy-to-remember tips are:
 
• Read the labels. If you can’t say it, don’t eat it.
• Keep away from processed, prepared and packaged food.
• Allocate 70% of your nutritional intake to vegetables. Whether it’s a fresh, crisp salad, roasted root vegetables or your favorite steamed veggies, the fiber will keep your digestive system happy while nutrient-rich veggies will keep you energized… and they’re low in calories!
• Eat more smaller meals throughout the day. It will help stabilize blood sugar levels and give your digestive system a break.
• Drink plenty of water!
 
Eat a healthy, fiber-rich bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Alcohol depletes your potassium levels, so add some beans, leafy greens, salmon or avocados to give it a boost! Tame that over-active sweet tooth with clementines or pears! Put the cookies and candy out of sight and replace them with a bowl of nuts or fruit! Focus in on that weak spot in your day and turn it into a strength-builder!
 
Try a good, simple, nutritional detox, and get ready for the new year!
 
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