Calorie Needs

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Understanding your personal caloric needs and the effect of physical activity on those needs is important, it can also be unnecessarily confusing. Basically, the number of calories you need to eat each day is derived from many factors including your age, weight, height, gender, lifestyle, and overall health and fitness. It is common sense that a physically active 6 feet tall, 20 year-old man or woman needs more calories than a less active, 5-foot, 75 year-old man or woman … but how does a person find out how many calories they need based on their lifestyle and metabolism? It’s really not that hard.
You’ve probably heard of BMR or basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the minimum number of calories you would need to perform all bodily functions while sleeping for an entire day. Those functions include keeping the heart beating, respiration, digestion, creation of new blood cells, temperature maintenance and metabolic processes. It does not include physical activities, still these basic functions can require as much as 70 percent of the total calories burned in a single day for some individuals. The first step for any individual who has a fitness goal to lose, maintain or gain weight is to determine the total number of calories that their body uses for basic functioning – their BMR- and daily activities per day.
A common method for measuring daily calorie usage is the Harris-Benedict equation. It estimates your basal metabolic rate, which is then multiplied by your level of activity. The result is your recommended daily calorie intake.
The method is simple. First calculate your basal metabolism rate using the formula below
• For adult women: 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ) = BMR
• For adult men: 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year ) =BMR
As an example, if you are a 25 year-old adult woman who weighs 130 pounds, is 5’4? tall, and your fitness regimen includes moderate exercise three to five days per week, the steps to calcluate your BMR and calorie requirement calculations would be:
First, use your weight, height and age to find the basal metabolic rate.
655 + (4.35 x 130) + (4.7 x 64) – (6.8 x 25)
or 655 + 565.6 +300.8150 =1371.4
Then calculate your estimated daily caloric requirements by multiplying the basal metabolic rate (in this example, 1,371.4) by the appropriate physical activity item in the list below.
• Sedentary lifestyle: little or no physical activity – BMR x 1.2
• Slightly active lifestyle: light exercise between once and three times per week – BMR x 1.375
• Moderately active lifestyle: moderate exercise three to five days per week – BMR x 1.55
• Active lifestyle: intense exercise six to seven times per week – BMR x 1.725
• Very active lifestyle: heavy/intense exercise twice a day – BMR x 1.9
Using this method, a 25 year-old adult woman who weighs 130 pounds and is 5’4? tall who maintains a moderate exercise regimen three to five days per week has an estimated basic calorie requirements of 1646.1 x 1.55 or 2,126 calories per day.
Unfortunately, the Harris Benedict equation does not take body mass or density into consideration, so remember, muscle burns more energy than fat, so you may need to tweak your intake needs.
This is a great tool to help you design your fitness and nutrition needs throughout our adult life!
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Nutrition, Exercise and Depression

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Nearly fifteen million adults in the U.S. suffer from depression, and the number is increasing every year and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimates that one in 20 children and adolescents are depressed! Sadly, more than 80% of the people who show symptoms of clinical depression receive no treatment.
Recently, the links between nutrition, exercise and depression have become more understood and accepted; both can play key roles in helping to prevent the onset and severity of depression. One of the most comprehensive studies that link diet, inflammation and depression was published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, women who consume a high amount of foods that trigger inflammation –sugar, refined grains, red meat, and soft drinks — have up to a 41% greater risk of being diagnosed with depression than people who eat a less inflammatory diet.
While a diet that specifically addresses the issue of depression hasn’t been developed yet, we do know that including certain healthy foods in your daily dietary regimen will help protect against depression. Here are a few of them:
• Antioxidants. Beta-carotene and vitamins C and E combat the effects of free radicals and reduce the damage they cause. Studies have shown that the brain is especially vulnerable to free radical damage. You can get your beta-carotene from apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, pumpkin, spinach and sweet potatoes; your vitamin C from blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, strawberries, and tomato and your vitamin E from nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ.
• Healthy Carbohydrates. Carbohydrate craving may be related to decreased levels of the mood-elevating serotonin, so be smart about your carb intake! Drop the sugars and go for whole grains and with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and legumes for your healthy carbs and fiber.
• Protein. Protein-rich foods, such as fish, beans, turkey, and chicken, are rich in an amino acid called tyrosine which may help boost levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. This boost helps you feel alert and makes it easier to concentrate.
• Folate and Vitamin B12. A Spanish study found that rates of depression increased in men and women as folate intake lessened, particularly if they were smokers! Legumes, nuts, and dark green vegetables are excellent sources of folate.
• Vitamin D. Research has found a higher risk of depression for people with vitamin D deficiency. A study from the University of Toronto found that people who suffer from depression – especially seasonal affective disorder – improve as their levels of vitamin D increased over the course of a year. Supplement your sunlight-derived vitamin D with fatty fish.
Different studies have also mentioned selenium and omega-3 fatty acids as important dietary additions to prevent depression, but more research is needed!
Research has shown that exercise is also an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Exercise prompts the body to release endorphins, chemicals that interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling.
Additionally, regular exercise has been proven to:
• Reduce anxiety
• Lessen stress
• Boost self-esteem
• Improve sleep
It’s an important equation to remember … a healthy diet and fitness regimen equals a longer, happier life!
Please, see your health professional if symptoms of depression persist.
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Winter Workout Checklist

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Cold temperatures and heavy snow can raise the challenge of your outdoor fitness routines, but the payoff is worth it! New research shows how important that exercise is … especially in the winter. Increasing your exposure to sunlight helps reduce seasonal affective disorder, the depression linked to the change in seasons that commonly occurs in the last two months of winter. Notably, a recent study from the University of Tampere in Finland found that working out in nature leads to greater emotional well-being and better sleep than exercising indoors.
Additionally, when you’re cold, your body has to work harder to keep your core temperature up and when you shiver, you burn five times the number of calories compare to when you are at rest. Cold also activates the brown fat which burns energy, rather than stores it.
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 clothing instead of 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. Between 50 and 70 percent of body heat may be lost when your head is unprotected in cold weather. Wearing a hat helps your whole 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. Keep your feet warm by being sure your torso is properly insulated and your feet dry. Wear winter athletic socks with an inner layer that moves moisture away from the skin to an outer absorbent layer. If you run or engage in ice or snow-related activities, select an athletic shoe with a thick tread on the bottom or footwear designed specifically for icy conditions. Thick socks, or multiple layers of socks, can add a to your winter workout shoes, be sure you’re comfortable!
• 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 move your workout indoors to the gym or develop a workout regimen you can do at home, take the stairs at work or speed walk through the mall! Try 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.
Winter workouts have a different set of challenges than summer exercise, but but they offer some special benefits too!
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Sitting – A Dangerous Inactivity

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
We sit too much. On the average, we log in 9.3 hours a day sitting each day, more than we sleep! We sit in front of our computers, in front of the television and if we have a desk job we sit at work most of the day. According to a new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary, resulting in higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death, whether or not we regularly exercise. Sitting also adds to your belly fat!
The study also found that the negative effects of sitting time on health is greater for those who do little or no exercise compared to those who exercise regularly. The findings stress that reducing sitting time and getting regular exercise are vital for improving health. The authors suggestions? Reduce your sitting time from 1 to three hours a day in a 12-hour period.
Monitor your sitting times and set up achievable goals.
Whether you’re at work or at home, stand up and move for one or three minutes every half hour.
If your watching television, stand up and exercise during commercials.
There are many everyday activities that you can incorporate into your daily routines that will help cut your sitting time and keep moving!
• Walk! When you go out to the supermarket, post office, or even out to eat, park far away because all of those extra steps really add up!
• Make the most of your “down time.” Do leg lifts or bends while talking on the phone or put a stationary bike in front of the television. Jog in place while waiting for that pot of water to boil for dinner.
• Do a little bit of housework. Vacuuming, sweeping, and raking all work your arm and leg muscles. Just 10 minutes of each can burn almost 200 calories. You just added a half hour of exercise to your day — and your house will look great!
Get moving! Your life depends on it.
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