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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Spreading Holiday Health!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Are you taking a dish to a holiday a holiday potluck? Having friends over? Share the gift of healthy food for your friends and loved ones! Whether making your traditional seasonal treats or experimenting with new and adventurous dishes, you can create a great, even indulgent holiday spread while protecting against growing waistlines and rising cholesterol levels.
Try some new ideas for the healthiest holiday foods to add to your table!
• Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts have come roaring in from the culinary cold! Sweet and piquant, brussel sprouts are as tasty roasted as they are simple to prepare with an added nutty flavor. Simply toss with olive oil, a touch of garlic and salt, then roast until crisp on the outside. Easy to prepare, tasty and packed with nutrients, roasted Brussels sprouts are an extremely healthy dietary choice.
• Collard Greens: Collards offer exceptional nutritional value with low caloric overhead and are a popular dish on any dinner tabl. Sadly, the traditional method of cooking greens with fat-back or bacon overwhelms the benefits of this great veggie. If you crave the flavor of traditional collards without the cholesterol-causing bacon or fatback, try using smoked turkey wings and a drizzle of olive oil!
• Green Beans: One of America’s favorite vegetables, green beans are one of the healthiest holiday foods. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K (important for bone health) and manganese. They’re generous in vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Unfortunately, that yummy green bean casserole served with traditional holiday meal is high in calories due to the butter, cream of mushroom soup and cheese. Try tossing with sauteed fresh garlic and top with toasted almond slivers. It’s your next, healthy holiday favorite!
• Pecans: Sprinkle pecans over salads with dried cranberries or cherries, or gently roast for a pre-meal snack. Pecans are a great source of vitamin E and magnesium. They’re also packed with fiber, protein, and the same “good” fats that are found in olive oil.
• Winter Squash: If winter squash isn’t a staple in your winter nutritional regimen, it should be! Try an apple and squash casserole as a tasty and healthy replacement for mashed potatoes. Pumpkin empanadas with whole wheat crust are a great appetizer that will disappear off your buffet table as fast as you get them there!
It’s the rich desserts and cookies that will really catch you, but there’s plenty of ways to make those holiday favorites healthier while retaining the flavor.
• Use whole grains like oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts in holiday cookies and breads.
• Make a low-fat ricotta cheesecake!
• When baking gingerbread and deep-hued cakes and cookies, replace half the flour with whole-wheat flour to increase the fiber, they will fill you up quicker and make you feel full longer.
• Try using an egg substitute to cut cholesterol.
• Add the simple elegance of baked, poached or roasted fall fruits to the dessert menu. Making tarts? Reduce the amount of sugar and let the fruit flavor shine! Decorate with some fresh mint leaves and cranberries for that seasonal touch!
Let you creativity shine through! You’ll not only share a loving feast made with the well-being of your guests in mind … you may create a new holiday tradition to share for years and years!
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Cardio Crossover

As long as there is fitness, there will be a constant flow of fads that people will latch onto. From aerobics in the ’80s to Pilates in the ’90s to Tae Bo in the early 2000s, there will always be a “latest and greatest” form of exercise that will guarantee results.
Now, the mid-2010s have brought us CrossFit, a brand of exercise so popular and followed that it’s generated its own Olympics-like event each year. A combination of strength training, plyometrics and cardiovascular exercise, CrossFit is a fantastic alternative for those who want to achieve both results and health while keeping the routine mixed up.
CrossFit-Cardio Comparison
With all of the various exercises CrossFit offers, not to mention the expensive per-month costs for classes, is it a better alternative than your typical cardio exercise? According to fitness guru Peter Nielsen, they’re both great options—as long as everyone has a game plan of what they want to accomplish in the long run.
“Cardio training is taking the most important muscle, the heart. Cardio exercise also helps with bone density and can burn excess body fat,” Nielsen explains. “Walking, riding bike or elliptical, you’re in control. You’re the CEO of your body.”
Nielsen also suggests finding the right piece of equipment for you; find something you enjoy and are able to use. Also, if you’re also integrating a strength training plan, a good tip is to do the cardio exercise after lifting weights to burn glycogen storage, which then taps into the body fat.
CrossFit, however, is a great way to mix it up, especially if you’re not crazy about going to the gym. It’s a way to keep from getting bored, get through the winter or take fitness to the next level.
“People like CrossFit because most people don’t like to exercise. It breaks up the monotony,” said Nielsen. “A lot of people get injured when they get into it and they think it’s an answer to everything.”
The Answer Lies Within
“People need to have a vision and a game plan of what to accomplish,” said Nielsen. “To maintain, build strength, lose weight, CrossFit is a good option. For toning and focus on body parts, get body fat to lowest, cardio is a more methodical approach.”
Nielsen reiterated that the real decision people need to make about starting any exercise program, including cardio and CrossFit, comes from within.
“People need to find something they enjoy and find reason why they want to do this,” Nielsen stressed. “Everyone asks, ‘How do you lose weight and gain muscle?’ You could Google it and be three clicks away. You have to ask yourself ‘Why?’ Dig deep and find the right reasons.”
The Price of Fitness
A big consideration that those debating CrossFit over a regular cardio routine need to factor is cost. CrossFit classes can cost around $125 a month, and gym memberships can be pricey as well. An alternative to shelling out the monthly fee for classes or a personal trainer would be picking up a piece of equipment. For those who have a better idea as to what works for them, picking up a weight set, elliptical or treadmill can save money over the long haul.
As someone who’s operated several health clubs, Nielsen suggests starting your own program, some of which are totally free and can be very effective.
“You could do a walking program, ride a bicycle, snowshoe, cross-country ski. It’s wonderful when knowledge is power and you don’t have to spend a lot of money,” Nielsen explained.
“Intensity is King”
The key to keeping your heart healthy and burning fat is the intensity of your workout. According to Nielsen, “Intensity is king.” The amount of intensity, be it with CrossFit, cardio or a strength workout, is the determining factor in how much it works.
The example he used is if someone walks a mile and another person runs it, the person who runs will burn more calories and spend less time working out. It also burns more than someone who’s lifting weights, takes a break, takes a drink, talks to their friend and gets back to lifting. Intensity is the key.
“I’ve seen the best of the best get sick because the intensity was too much, and they were professional athletes in great shape,” told Nielsen. “Intensity is king when it comes to getting in shape.”
There are countless pros and cons to both cardio and CrossFit exercises. While cardio can be more customized to someone’s physical ability and overall goal, for some people, it could become monotonous. CrossFit, conversely, will constantly keep it changing, which is good for people who might not necessarily like going to the gym and using the elliptical for an hour each day.
But to make the right choice, a person really needs to look deep within themselves to find out what their long-term vision and goals are. Cardio or CrossFit, you ask? You tell me.
-Fitness Fanatic
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Tips to Good Health This Winter

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
It’s been unusually cold the last two winters, 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 facemask 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 the last two winters, 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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[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Bicycling is a popular activity — especially in the summer — and it’s gaining popularity. It’s a great, low-impact, aerobic exercise that can be just as effective as running, without the knee pain. A 135-pound woman who bikes 6 miles a half hour burns 242 calories in a half hour, add another mile to that and you’ll burn 311 calories in a half hour!
Cycling works the hamstrings, back of the thighs, and quadriceps.The core muscles help with control and balance, while they power your turns. Calf muscles help you pedal. Stand up and cycle for some intervals, it will add some intensity and extra work for your glutes! Try riding up steep hills while pulling up on the handlebars to really activate those glutes and biceps! As always, there’s more!
• Think Clearer. A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that people scored higher on memory, reasoning, and planning tests after 30 minutes of spinning on a stationary bike than they did before they rode … and they finished the tests faster!
• Get Energized. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent by triggering the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
• Prevent Heart Disease. The American Heart Association suggests a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week. In a recent study, 32 women cycled three times a week for a minimum of a half hour at moderate to high intensity. The study found that the women had lowered their blood pressure, their LDL cholesterol and increased their aerobic fitness.
• Sleep Better. A study out of Stanford University School of Medicine had sedentary insomnia sufferers cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. As a result, participants found the time it took for them to fall asleep was reduced by half, and they slept for an hour more!
New bike lanes on thoroughfares make it easier for cyclists to commute to work and beautiful bike paths in parks offer a calming and enjoyable outdoor environment for your fitness routine. Give it a try … you’ll be stronger, fitter and happier!
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Controlling Your Body Temperature

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Working out in the heat creates additional challenges for our ability to maintain fitness regimens. After a cold winter of longing for summer, we can find ourselves overwhelmed when summer really kicks into high gear. That’s because of how we normally regulate our temperature. Knowing how your body regulates its temperature can help you make better choices for your summer workouts.
When your body is cool, vasoconstriction — the narrowing of blood vessels to skin capillaries — keeps blood away from the surface of the skin, reducing the loss of heat from the skin. If your body is too warm, blood vessels leading to the skin capillaries dilate, allowing blood to flow near the surface. Heat is then released through the skin by radiation. To further reduce body temperature, sweat is produced by the sweat glands and evaporates, cooling the skin. The importance of your body’s ability to regulate temperature becomes even more important when your muscles produce more heat during exercise and the environment becomes hotter, causing radiation to become less effective in reducing body heat.
Any time we exercise, the working muscles call for more energy through an increase of blood supply and oxygen. The heart works harder to accomplish that. Additionally, the working muscles also create heat by using the oxygen in your blood’s hemoglobin to convert the glucose in your bloodstream into usable energy. This increase in core body temperature can put the the functions of the your central nervous system and muscle cells at risk, especially when heat loss is challenged by warmer environmental temperatures that make it difficult for the skin to cool.
At this point, our bodies direct more blood to the skin for cooling at the same time it is needed for the increase in the muscular workload when you’re working out. Skin and working muscles compete for the limited blood flow (think oxygen) that the heart produces, raising the risk of heat stroke or muscle fatigue. The good news is, we can acclimate to the weather and improve our overall performance at the same time.
Professional and high-level athletes often exercise in warm conditions to improve performance and prepare different climate factors. For people engage in light or medium-level exercise or have increased risk of heat-related illness, avoid exercising in peak heat. Instead, develop a gradual and incremental workout that increases your cardiovascular and thermoregulatory tolerance.
Take precautions to reduce the likelihood of heat illness.
• The time of day is important. Avoid exercising from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s the hottest part of day. If the weather is particularly hot, the best time of day is early morning.
• Wear loose, light-colored clothing. Lighter colors help reflect heat. Cotton material helps sweat evaporate. Try some running shirts and shorts that are designed specifically for working out.
• Protect your skin. Use sunscreen with SPF of 45 or 50.
• Cool off with water sports. Swim some laps a couple days a week instead of running. The variety will refresh you in more ways than one!
• Stay hydrated. Before you go out, drink a glass or two of water. Carry a bottle of water. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you’re not thirsty and When you’re done with your workout, have a few more glasses of water.
• Check the weather forecast before you start your workout. If there’s a heat, pollution or high ozone advisory, protect your lungs and think of working out indoors.
Listen to your body. Stop immediately if you’re feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous. Take precautions and have a great workout!
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Feeling The Heat!

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Temperatures are rising and it is important to remember that exercising in hot weather can put additional stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you can endanger your long-term health.
You may want to tweak your workout to prevent heat-related problems such as heat stroke or heat cramps 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.
• Acclimate. Give yourself time to adapt to the heat and take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over the course of one to two weeks, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
• 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.
• Watch the humidity. 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.
• Avoid the midday sun. Plan your outdoor sessions before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
• Know your medical risks. Some medications or medical conditions may increase the risk of a heat-related illness. Talk to your medical adviser about precautions!
However, there is new, very interesting research being done on heat and fitness. A recent study from the University of Oregon followed the performance of twelve extremely high-level cyclists over a 10-day training period in 100-degree heat. The participants included 10 men and 2 woman and had a 2-day break during the program. A control group followed the same exercise regimen in 55-degree room. Both groups worked in the same humidity — 30 percent humidity.
The findings? The cyclists who worked through the heat saw a 7% improvement in their performance, while the control group showed no improvement. Additionally, the group that worked out in the 100-degree heat not only acclimated to the heat, they also improved their performance in cooler weather.
It’s a fine line, pace yourself, be mindful of your environment, and have fun with it!
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Healthy Liver

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Our liver is our body’s main toxin filter. It also helps fight off infection, manufactures proteins and hormones, controls blood sugar and helps blood clotting. Overeating, consuming processed or fried foods, exposure to environmental pollutants and stress can all impede liver functions but there are foods that can help keep you maintain a healthy high-functioning liver!
• Garlic can help activate liver enzymes that assist in flushing out toxins and is an excellent source of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing. A study published in the Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness found that fresh garlic extract actually reversed the oxidative stress that causes liver toxicity in mice who were given excessive doses of acetomenaphen.
• A large Japanese study that was published in the 2009 issue of Cancer Causes and Control found that men who drank five or more cups per day of green tea had 37 percent less risk of liver cancers than those who drank one or no cups per day, while women reduced their risk by 50 percent. It’s important that this only refers to those drinking tea and that some people have reported liver problems when using green tea supplements.
• Leafy green vegetables are a powerful tool for cleansing the liver. They are an excellent source of chlorophylls and flush environmental toxins from the blood stream.
• Avocados help the body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione which is needed by the liver to filter out harmful substances and protect liver cells from damage.
• Cruciferous vegetables increase the amount of glucosinolate in your system, which adds to enzyme production in the liver, strengthening the liver’s ability to flush carcinogens and other toxins out of your system
• Walnuts contain high amounts of arginine which can aid the liver in detoxifying ammonia and waste processing. They are also good sources of both glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support normal liver cleansing actions.
• Turmeric helps boost liver functions by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens.
As always, add some exercise to your diet for best results!
Take care of your liver and it will take care of you!
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Sun Safety

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The first day of summer is June 21st and we are already enjoying the warm, bright days that come with the season. Protecting ourselves from damaging ultraviolet rays is even more important now, the sun is brighter, we’re more active in outdoor activities, and summer styles expose more skin to the elements. The sun is the primary source ultraviolet rays, and too much exposure can be dangerous. So how do we enjoy the season while protecting ourselves? It is important to to avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long, especially between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when UV light is strongest. Remember, if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are at their height… protect yourself. Fortunately, there are some some simple steps that offer protection from ultraviolet rays.
Stay in the Shade
Wear a broad-brimmed hat. Faces, particularly noses and ears, are especially susceptible to melanoma.
Do you enjoy sitting outside on the patio? Use an umbrella!
Shady trees with dense foliage are our natural protection against the sun’s damaging rays.
Protect your skin with clothing
Wear clothing to cover as much skin as possible. Shorts and tank tops are favorite summer styles so this is a hard one.
Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors.
Tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven, sheer or gauzy clothing.
Synthetic fibers such as polyester, lycra, nylon, and acrylic are more protective than cottons.
Shiny or satin semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon or tercel reflect more UV than linen.
Use Sunscreen
Sunscreens list their level of sun protective factor by 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.
Read the label, follow application directions and reapply a minimum of every two hours.
Wear Sunglasses that Block Ultraviolet Rays
Sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The label on the sunglasses should say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” — which means they block at least 99% of ultraviolet rays. Glasses labelled “cosmetic” only block approximately 70% of the rays.
Darkness of the sunglasses is not a factor. UV ray glasses are protected with an invisible chemical in or applied to the lenses.
Try large-framed or wraparound sunglasses that will protect eyes from light coming in from different directions.
Children Need Extra Attention
If your child burns easily, take extra precautions. Cover up, limit exposure, and apply sunscreen.
Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Use hats and protective clothing.
Our bodies make vitamin D — which is vital to good health — when our skin is exposed to the sun. The sun brings us essential benefits … but cover up before you burn!
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Seasonal Allergies

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Pollen is in the air and many of us are preparing for the onslaught of itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses that come with seasonal allergies. According to the Center for Disease Control, seasonal allergies, also known as hayfever or allergic rhinitis, was diagnosed in 17.6 million people in the United States last year. Seasonal allergies are a short-term inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nasal passages which is caused by airborne pollens from trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds. Allergy season in the U.S. can start as early as February in southern states and May in the midwest.
As mentioned above, seasonal allergies have a host of debilitating symptoms, and demand attention and care so you can enjoy this beautiful time of year. can be worrying, especially for people who are otherwise healthy and unused to experiencing sudden debilitating symptoms. If left unchecked, seasonal allergies can often turn an otherwise enjoyable time of year for many into misery.There are many ‘standard procedures’ for controlling the symptoms and recently natural remedies have proved themselves invaluable for many people.
• Avoid triggers. When possible, stay inside when pollen counts are at their highest. Pollen count usually is at its highest the morning hours and remains high during the afternoon.Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes!
• Minimize indoor risks. If possible, keep windows closed during high pollen count periods. If you use an air conditioner, be sure to use a high quality filter. Vacuuming and dusting will help eliminate any pollen that has entered the home, when dusting, use a damp cloth that will capture the pollen.
• Probiotics. In allergies, the immune system may react too strongly to a stimuli — such as pollen. New research has indicated that the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with may reduce risks for allergies.
• Nettle is a folk remedy for the sneezing, itching, and swelling associated with allergies. It contains quercetin, which inhibits the release of histamine. One study found that the herb was at least moderately effective in reducing allergy symptoms for more than half of those who took nettle.
• Butterbur. In a study published by the British Medical Journal, a group of Swiss researchers found that just tablet of butterbur — an herbal shrub that grows in wet, marshy ground –taken four times daily is as effective as a popular antihistamine drug to control symptoms of hay fever.
Hayfever sufferers all have individual allergic responses, some people will be able to cope handle their allergies with over-the-counter medication, natural remedies, and limiting their exposure to allergens. Others may need the care of a health care professional. If you do have concerns or your methods of dealing with hayfever is not enough, see your a health care provider for assistance.
May and June are beautiful months. We all deserve to enjoy them.
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