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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

How to Keep Track in the 2015 New Year

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The new year is a time to reflect on our lives, to embrace the opportunity for change a new year brings. Millions of Americans will make New Year resolutions, if you’re one of them, try these helpful pointers to help reach your goal!
• Make realistic goals. Realistic goals can help you stay on track and reach your target. Weight control experts use the term ‘false-hope syndrome’ for unrealistic expectations about how long it will take to lose extra weight. Planning realistic goals can be applied to all situations, set a target that is attainable, reaching that will spur you on to greater heights.
• Devise a plan. Be specific. Whether you’re going to be counting calories, making more time to spend with your family or quitting smoking — give yourself a plan. How you will deal with the urge to skip a workout, have potato chips instead of celery, or have just one more cigarette? This can be as simple as breathing deeply while you count to ten, calling a friend, or having a list on-hand to remind you of the positive effects of sticking to your plan.
• Create a “pro” and “con” list. Writing and seeing a list of of the positive effects of keeping your resolution and the negative effects of continuing as you are on paper strengthens your resolution. Keep the list with you to help you through the rough periods.
• Practice mindfulfulness. Alan Marlatt, director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, offers a quote from author and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl. “Between stimulus and response, there’s a space, and in that space is our power to choose our response, and in our response lies our growth and freedom.” Recognizing the triggers to actions you want to stop gives you the choice to respond positively.
• Keep track of your progress. Remember, your larger goal is at the end of a road of small successes. Breaking a large goal into smaller segments or timeframes will help guide you, give you a ‘checking mechanism’ and keep you motivated. Break a weight-loss regimen into 5 pound segments, keep a work-out diary for your fitness regimen or a phone log for those old friends and family members you reach out to.
• Treat yourself to something special. Go out to a movie or sports event, have lunch with a friend … celebrate your success by treating yourself to something you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution!
• Be forgiving. Relapse is a common part of changing behavior. If you have an occasional slip, learn from it and keep going. Make the best of each day, and take each day as it comes. It takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit, and about 6 months for it to become part of your personality. With a little patience, new habits will become second-nature in no time.
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Get Fit with iFit

Fitness band make it easier to achieve your fitness goal.
I enjoy exercising, always have. When weather and workload permit, I find great enjoyment in riding my bike, walking the neighborhood or my favorite golf course, working out with weights, etc. When the temperatures dip (October-April or so), you’re likely to find me at my town’s recreation center. I also tend to watch what I eat, so I’m in pretty good shape. Yet I always wonder if I could be in even better health. Could I be keeping better track of my caloric intake and output? Would a personal trainer ensure the exercises I do are ideally suited for my goals and would he or she push me to achieve more? To find out, I’m considering purchasing the iFit Active from my local Dunham’s Sports store.
A number of people at the gym, as well as some friends and relatives, have already beaten me to the punch. They’ve purchased the 3-in-1 activity wrist bands and are using them religiously.
“Unlike other activity trackers, our iFit Active tracks you to your goals. It allows you to put in your goal and you can see your progress toward that goal throughout the day, either on the device or on our iFit App,” said Joe Killpack, ICON Health and Fitness, iFit’s parent company.
Keeping Track
The iFit Active makes it easier to track calories. They can be entered on the wearable device in increments of 50 or via the app, where users can search for the food item or a similar item. A bar scanner feature on the app further increases convenience and accuracy.
“What’s really cool about the app is that it provides you with a wealth of information: calories, proteins, sugars, saturated fat. Once people understand their behaviors during the day, including what they’re consuming, they can then see where they’re struggling and adjust their activities for a healthier lifestyle,” Killpack added.
That healthier lifestyle can begin by ensuring we expend more calories than we take in and the iFit Active does that for you by recording your activities: steps taken, distance moved, calories burned. It shows your net calories in real time and your progress percentage toward your goals. It then prescribes customized workouts to help you reach your daily goals. The iFit Active even tracks your sleep and sleep patterns as well as sends and receives messages to keep you motivated.
The iFit app is available for Android and iOS platforms.
Your Personal Trainer
“If everyone could afford a personal trainer, I believe they would have one. If everyone had someone who walked them through what they could eat and how much, everyone would be healthier. Since most people don’t have that luxury, we are trying to become the next best thing,” Killpack said.
Via an additional membership, the program looks at your day (calories taken in and calories spent) and provides you with a personalized workout for your exercise equipment (assuming it’s iFit compatible).
The membership enables you to access your iFit profile from anywhere, track your progress and train with Jillian Michaels, formerly from TV’s Biggest Loser. The fitness program adjusts with your progress, so you’ll stay inspired and avoid the dreaded plateau.
“Through our relationship with Google Maps and National Geographic, iFit members can virtually run or bike in their hometown, past their home or through their favorite vacation spot,” he added.
Since it uses the GPS feature, the treadmill will incline or decline, based on the chosen terrain’s topography. The images are displayed on the exercise equipment’s video screen, significantly increasing the enjoyment factor.
iFit Act
Dunham’s also carries the less-expensive iFit Act. It does all of the things the iFit Active does: tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, sleep and syncs wirelessly and automatically to everything iFit.
“With its ability to seamlessly connect to all of iFit, you can easily access your information anywhere, anytime through multiple platforms,” Killpack said.
The difference between iFit Active and iFit Act is that the latter does not include an LCD digital display. Both devices can be worn as wrist bands or as clip ons. Both come in standard black bands while the iFit Active offers optional colors: white, coral and blue for an additional fee.
iFit Active and iFit Act feature Bluetooth 4.0 communication, a water-resistant design, battery life up to seven days and convenient USB charging.
Dunham’s Sports also carries the Garmin VivoFit fitness band, the Polar Loop fitness tracker and more. Be sure to check them out in person at your local Dunham’s Sports store or online at
If you are serious about getting – and staying – fit, you owe it to yourself to check out the iFit Active and iFit Act bands. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to track how many calories we consume and how many we expend. Being able to do so easily and conveniently – and having Jillian Michaels motivate us – can make a world of difference in achieving our goals.
-Fitness Fanatic
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Exercise and Happiness

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
We all know that exercise comes with great benefits that go beyond a small wast or sleek arms. The most apparent benefits are great protection against :
• Heart disease and stroke
• High blood pressure
• Type 2 diabetes
• Obesity
• Back pain
• Osteoporosis
Beyond these excellent physical benefits,eExercise also elevates mood, and induces happiness! It does that in many ways:
• Releases dopamine, an important neurotransmitter that supports fillings of happiness and pleasure.
• Relieves stress.
• Increases energy.
• Relieves anxiety.
• Wins the fight against insomnia.
Many studies have found that the happiness gained from dopamine is temporary, and recent research supports those findings. In fact, the long-term value of exercise is that it actually trains your brain to be be optimistic!
Additionally, in a recent study from the Penn State University, researchers tracked the amount and level of physical activity, the amount of sleep, and feelings of well being of 190 college-age students for eight days. The participants who were more physically active had more positive feelings than people who are less active, particularly on days when they were more physically active than usual.
How important is this in the long term? Another expansive study in held in 2007 followed more than 6,000 people between the ages of 25 and 74 for 20 years, it found happiness and a sense of hope, involvement in activities, and the ability to deal with life’s stresses with emotional balance may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
So get out and exercise for healthy and happy holidays leading into the Happy New Year!
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Christmas Health Tips

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The holidays are upon us, the hustle and bustle of the season fills us with anticipation and happiness as we prepare for days of celebration with family and friends. Dinners and parties with all the special treats and dishes that evoke joyous memories from years past and fill us with eagerness for the coming year. However, along with all the festivities there is one gift you may want to refuse … the extra pounds we are left with!
You can enjoy the festivities and get a handle on that weight gain! Just keep these suggestions in mind.
• Start your day off with a healthy breakfast! Many studies have shown that eating breakfast each day helps maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat a handful of walnuts or pecans before going out to your holiday celebrations, the protein and fiber will help manage your appetite. Dress up those walnuts with some dried cranberries, a study published in The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology found no difference in dried vs. fresh fruit when it comes to antioxidant activity, which will help keep those free radicals at bay during the busy holiday season.
• Choose your appetizers carefully and opt for the veggies and fruits.
• Studies have found that the first three food items chosen from a buffet make up 66 percent of the total meal, so start filling your plate at the end of the table with salad!
• Resist the urge to fill your plate to overflowing.
• Find someplace to stand away from your favorite treats — they’re easier to resist and enjoy in moderation from a distance!
• Even though your schedule is crowded, take the time to exercise. It will help maintain your weight and relieve holiday stress.
Enjoy your family and friends, indulge (moderately) in your favorite seasonal delicacies … and follow these simple tips to support your overall goals throughout the holidays into the new year!
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Good News for Cold Weather

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
There no mistaking recent weather changes … the beginning of winter is here. Many of us have conflicting feelings about the coldest season. Winter brings the opportunity form many favorite pastimes — skiing, sledding and skating. There is the beauty of snow hanging on tree branches, warming up in front of the fireplace, but there’s also snow shoveling, layers of clothes and winter driving!
Now, according to researchers from the University of the Kentucky School of Medicine, we’re aware of another winter plus! It has to do with body fats.
First, you may be aware that we have two main types of fat:
• Brown fat is composed of small droplets of organic compounds(also referred to as lipid droplets or adiposomes) and many iron-containing mitochondria – specialized structures in which the processes of respiration and energy production occur. The iron, and a large number of tiny blood vessels in brown fat, give it a brownish appearance. It is usually found in the front and back of the neck and upper back and is derived from muscle tissue. Brown fat generates heat and is found in newborns and hibernating animals. Adults with more brown fat tend to be younger, weigh less, and have healthy blood sugar levels. In other words, this is the good fat.
• White fat is composed of a single lipid droplet and a greatly reduced amount of mitochondria and blood vessels, giving it a white or yellow appearance. It is the most common form of fat in the body. White fat does provide our largest energy reserve. It also acts as insulation and protects our internal organs. It is a major endocrine organ with receptors for insulin, growth hormone, adrenaline, and cortisol. Excess white fat in the belly is associated with metabolic syndrome, while extra fat throughout the body raises risks for breast, colon, esophageal, gall bladder, and pancreatic cancer.
What does this have to do with the University of Kentucky School of Medicine? In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism researchers from the university compared belly fat taken from fifty-five people during the summer and and again in the winter. The belly fat taken from people in the winter had higher levels of two genetic markers for brown fat than that collected in the summer. Additionally, they examined thigh fat collected from 16 people after holding ice packs on their thighs for 30 minutes, it had higher levels of three genetic markers that are linked with brown fat.
In other words, cold temperatures may actually turn some unhealthy white fat in your thighs and belly into brown fat that burns calories for body heat!
However, you don’t have to stand out in the cold to increase your levels of brown fat! Studies presented of the American Diabetes Association demonstrated that both exercise can also impart brown fat characteristics to the white fat that slowly accumulates from sedentary behavior.
It’s important to note that the cold weather effects were lessened for obese people, and while this is a promising study, more people die from heart-disease during the winter months than at any other time.
Exercise, dress warm, and when you thighs begin to tingle think about the possible positive effects and … smile!
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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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Boost Your Metabolism!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Our bodies are amazingly efficient! They process the food we eat, and delivers important nutrients to all the body’s cells. It takes energy just to stay alive and perform basic functions like breathing, keeping your heart beating and maintaining your body’s tissues. How it does that is in a great part defined by your metabolism, a complex network of hormones and enzymes that converts food into fuel. Your metabolic rate defines how efficiently your body can create and use that fuel … how quickly we gain weight and how easily we can lose it!

Metabolism is influenced by age, slows about 5% per decade after age 40, men usually burn more calories at rest than women, and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be. Heredity also can be a factor.

We can’t control our age, gender, or heredity, but we can boost our metabolism!

• Drink Water. Your body needs water to process calories. Even slight dehydration can slow down your metabolism. A recent study found that adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. Drink a glass of water or other unsweetened beverage before every meal and snack to help stay hydrated.

• Increase Your Muscle Mass. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does and is a key factor in weight loss. A pound of muscle burns aproximately 6 calories a day, compared to the 2 calories it takes to sustain a pound of fat! Strength training is the best way to boost your metabolism and turn that fat into calorie-burning muscles!

• Give Your Workout a Boost. Physical activity is a huge factor in how many calories you burn each day, so challenge yourself! Aerobic exercise revs up your metabolism for hours after a workout and higher-intensity workouts give you bigger, longer rate increases in your resting metabolic rate than lower-intensity workouts.

• Refresh Yourself With Green Tea. Many studies have found that green tea has thermogenic properties that promote fat oxidation. A 2009 study from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy found that green tea improves the use of oxygen by muscles and the antioxidant function within muscles while increasing the rate of fat burning.

• Snack Healthy and Often. Small, healthy snacks every 3 to 4 hours during the day helps your metabolism rate hold steady throughout the day. The key word here is healthy … have an apple, or a hand full of walnuts and skip the salt and sugar!

• Go Hot! Hot peppers get their heat from capsaicin. It is found in jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne, and most other chili peppers. Studies have shown that a spicy meal can give a temporary rise in metabolism of about eight percent! Along with its slimming effects, capsaicin has been shown to work as a blood thinner, helping in the prevention of blood clots.

• Don’t Forget the Protein. You burn more calories digesting protein than fat or carbs. In fact, protein has a known thermic effect, meaning that 25 to 30 out of every 100 calories from protein get burned in the digestion process! Be sure to include lean, protein-rich food such as lean beef, turkey, fish, chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, or eggs to your daily regimen.

Finally, skip the crash diets, you may drop some pounds, but at a cost. You can lose muscle, which in turn slows your metabolism and burns fewer calories making it easier to gain weight than when you started!
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