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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

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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The Sunshine Vitamin

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Vitamin D — the “sunshine vitamin” — has long been valued for its ability to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which are vital nutrients for strong bones and teeth. A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is produced in your skin as a response to sunlight. In recent years, ongoing research has discovered vitamin D is important in a number of other health areas:
• It reduces your risk of multiple sclerosis – Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006
• It reduces your chance of developing heart disease – Circulation, 2008
• It helps protect you against the possibility of developing the flu – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010
Now new research indicates that vitamin D may be able to add protection against type 2 diabetes and heart disease, two of the most common causes of poor health and death in the United States!
The research, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis was published March 19 in the journal Cell Reports. The study not only suggests that vitamin D plays an important part in preventing the inflammation that leads to type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis, it found that the behavior of cells lacking adequate vitamin D may offer new therapeutic targets for patients with those disorders.
Researchers studied mice that were not able to process vitamin D and found that these mice made excessive glucose, became resistant to insulin and accumulated plaque in their blood vessels. Additionally, inadequate vitamin D turned immune cells into transporters of fat, which may offer a better understanding of the link between diabetes and atherosclerosis. The findings also suggested that risks of inflammation and the onset of heart disease and diabetes may be reduced by getting enough vitamin D! So how can you be sure you’re getting your daily dose?
• Sunshine is the most natural way to get vitamin D, this another great reason to add a daily walk to your fitness regimen! It doesn’t take long … just a few minutes! You don’t want your skin to turn pink and begin to burn.
• Eat your fish. Fish, meat, eggs and dairy products are the only foods that contain natural vitamin D. Oily fish is the best source.
• Mushrooms are the only non-animal-source for vitamin D in food, so if you’re veggie or vegan, mushrooms are an important food for you.
Be sure you get enough vitamin D … it’s another step toward a sunny future!
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Stepping Forward

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Warm weather marks a new season for runners, walkers, joggers and a many other sports enthusiasts … from baseball and tennis players to street hockey and skate boarders. An important part of your athletic regimen is the equipment you use, and a basic, very imporant item is your shoes. Appropriate, well-fitting shoes are not only important for comfort, they offer you great benefits.
• Arch support is important if you are taking part in a regular exercise routine. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that runners with flat feet ask a specialist for recommendations on running shoes.
• Midsole foot cushioning — cushion of the area between the ball and heel of the foot – can reduce stress placed on the heel, ankles and toes when running. This not only makes running more comfortable, it can help improve body mechanics and reduce or prevent knee, hip and back pain.
• Injury prevention – especially for specific types of injury caused by extensive running — is a vital benefit of proper footwear. Together, midsole cushioning and arch support can help prevent overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, stress fractures and joint pain — and protect against cuts and scrapes to the feet!
The American Council on Exercise has stated that using the right shoe can help you make greater gains in your athletic regimen. There are a lot of shoes out there, the first step in choosing the correct pair for you is understanding your foot type!
• If your shoes are most worn down on the inside, you have a low arch; your footprint shows almost the entire foot, and your feet roll distinctively inward. In this case, wear motion-control running shoes. They should have maximum supportive features as well as substantial cushioning in high strike areas of the heel and forefoot. These shoes are also excellent for the larger-framed runner. However, if the outside of your heel hits the ground first, and rolls inward slightly, consider stability shoes. Stability running shoes give extra support through the midsole and heel to help your feet work better. Select a shoe with a straight shape.
• If your shoes show uniform wear across the forefoot, your feet have a distinct curve along the inside of your foot, and your heel and toes are connected by a band that is slightly less than half the width of your foot, you have a normal arch. With a normal arch, the middle to slightly outward part of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls slightly inward, absorbing shock more effectively. You should use stability running shoes with a semi-curved shape.
• If your shoes show more wear on the outer sides, you have a high arch. Your footprint shows a thin outer band between your heel and toe, the outside of the heel strikes the ground first and does not roll inward, staying on the outside causing the impact to be concentrated on a smaller area of the foot. Look for cushioned shoes with a curved shape to encourage foot movement, these shoes should be more concerned with midsole cushioning that support, and provide extra shock absorption to make up for the lack of pronation that comes with high arches.
Whether you’re just beginning a running program or are an old pro at it, enjoy the beautiful weather and step forward to a healthy, fit lifestyle!
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Garmin’s Vivofit Gets You Moving

If you’re interested in keeping track of your physical fitness, you’ve no doubt heard about wearable activity bands. What started out as simple pedometers to track your steps, have become devices to monitor nearly all aspects of your physical activity, even your sleep patterns.
At Dunham’s Sports you can find a variety of wearable activity bands, including the Vivofit from Garmin.
The Vivofit is perfect for a first-time user. Anthony Hall of Garmin says this band is a great choice for the budget-conscious individual who wants to improve their health.
The Vivofit is worn like a bracelet. It has a screen to show steps taken, goal progress, distance traveled and calories burned. And with the date and time display, the bracelet doubles as a watch.
Not sure where you’d start? The Vivofit sets up goals for you. And every time you reach a goal, the device sets a new one for you. Hall says no other band on the market does that. And if you need a little help getting started, the band alerts you when you’ve been sedentary for too long. After one hour of inactivity, a red bar appears on the display and keeps growing the longer you don’t move. Just take a short walk to reset the timer.
Hall says the Vivofit’s screen is part of what makes it stand out from the other bands on the market. The display makes it easy to see your activity, without having to rely on your smartphone. And when you do want to sync it up, the Bluetooth-capability makes it easy.
“With most competitors you have to sync in order to see your activity,” Hall said. “What’s awesome about the Vivo series is their screen and the ability to track without having to constantly pair with your phone.”
Vivofit has a one-year battery life, which means you won’t have to take the band off to charge it.
The band can be used with the Garmin heart rate monitor. That means that even if your activity doesn’t take you on the move, such as yoga or spinning class, you can still get an accurate measure of how many calories you’ve burned and how much physical activity you’ve gotten.
Looking to engage in some friendly competition? Vivofit has that covered, too. You can go to and join their community for free.
“Our online community is huge,” Hall said. “You can get in competition with others, or you can build your own group of friends/coworkers and have a challenge.”
With the Garmin Vivofit band, you can get more engaged in your physical activity and set some new goals along the way!
-Fitness Fanatic
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Spring Salads

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Spring is around the corner and with it comes fresh, local salad greens. Buying local produce offers fresher vegetables, which means a crisper salad with more flavor and nutrition. There’s a wide array of lettuce to add texture, taste, and interest along with increased nutritional value to your salads.
Here are some of the most commonly available varieties of lettuce that will really add a punch to your spring salads!
Arugula comes from the mustard family and has peppery flavor. Young, fresh leaves are lightly pungent and will add spice to your salads. Arugula is low in calories and contains fiber, vitamins A and C, and calcium. It is a good source of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.
Baby bok choy has a crunchy, celery-like texture and a refreshing taste. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K and a good source of B complex vitamins
Dandelion greens add a bitter, tangy taste to salad. One cup has 100% of the daily recommendation of the antioxidant, vitamin A. It is also a good way to get the calcium your bones need.
Endive is another low-calorie, high-fiber green that is rich in potassium. It comes in many varieties from the peppery frisee to the mild escarole. Add some red radiccio to brighten up your salad with some extra color!
Spinach is nutritious and flavorful, alone or mixed with other salad greens. It is rich in antioxidants, is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.
Watercress is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. It is an excellent source of the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein along with glucosinolate, a compound which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
Not a big salad-eater? You should be, they’re great for losing or maintaining weight, while offering important nutritional benefits.
Add fiber to your diet which can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent constipation.
Increase blood levels of many powerful antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene … especially if your salad includes raw vegetables.
Enhance satiety with fewer calories! Studies show that eating a low-calorie first course of 150 calories or less reduces the total number of calories eaten during a meal.
Salads … refreshing, tasty and healthy. What a great way to greet the new season!
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