Celebrate Your Heart This Valentine’s Day

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Are you ready to exercise?

I have heart-healthy tips for you!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  Does the love of your life make your heart beat a little faster and your body temperature rise? So does exercise and athletic training!

By exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30% – 40% and your risk of having a stroke by 25%.  Medical research even shows that for every minute of walking, you may increase your life expectancy by seven minutes!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some heart-healthy exercise tips from the American Heart Association’s website:

Make the time!

  • Start slowly. Gradually build up to at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days of the week (or whatever your doctor recommends).
  • Exercise at the same time of day so it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle. For example, you might walk every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 12:30 p.m.
  • Find a convenient time and place to do activities or fitness for seniors. Try to make it a habit, but be flexible. If you miss an exercise opportunity, work activity into your day another way.

Keep reasonable expectations of yourself.

  • If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, are overweight or need to maintain weight management, have a high risk of coronary heart disease or some other chronic health problem, see your doctor for a medical evaluation before beginning a physical activity program.
  • Look for chances to be more active during the day. Walk the mall before shopping, take the stairs instead of the escalator or take 10–15 minute breaks while watching TV or sitting for walking or some other activity.

Make it fun!

  • Choose activities that are fun, not exhausting. Add variety. Develop a repertoire of several activities that you can enjoy. That way, fitness will never seem boring or routine.
  • Ask family and friends to join you. You’ll be more likely to stick with it if you have company. Join an exercise group or fitness facility. There are even programs specifically for tween and teens to have fun and make new friends while combatting childhood obesity and maintaining weight management.
  • Use variety to keep your interest up. Walk one day, swim the next, then go for a bike ride on the weekend.
  • Use music to keep you entertained.

Track and celebrate your success!

  • Note your activities on a calendar or in a logbook. Write down the distance or length of time of your activity and how you feel after each session.
  • Keep a record of your activities. Reward yourself at special milestones. Nothing motivates like success!
  • Visit the American Heart Association’s website – StartWalkingNow.org – to find all the resources you need to get moving and stay motivated.

Valentine’s Day comes just once a year, but your heart needs daily attention.  Celebrate tomorrow by beginning a heart-healthy exercise regimen – not only for your health, but also for the sake of your loved ones.

Learn how Fitness for Health can help you create a heart-healthy and fun, exercise program to reach your personal goals. Whether you prefer EDGE – our athletic training system, exergaming – a weight management program for tweens and teens, or fitness for seniors, we can create a customized exercise program to fit your unique needs.

Kids and Lung Health as Adults

Do you need another reason for your child to get off the couch? Fitter kids have better lung health as adults.

According to a new study published in the February 1st edition of the European Respiratory Journal, researchers found that fitter children had better lung function. Also, the more their fitness improved during childhood, the greater their lung capacity in adulthood. The findings were stronger in males than females.

“We need to keep studying these people to find out whether the association between fitness and lung function continues into later adulthood. If it does, improving and maintaining fitness could translate into important reductions in chronic lung disease,” Bob Hancox, lead researcher, said.

So, ensure children are getting enough exercise now while they are young. By encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle in their youth, parents and educators can help kids and teenagers fight childhood obesity while supporting improved health in their adult years.

Children’s level of fitness NOW affects their overall health well into their future.

Do want your kids to get off the couch?  Concerned about their weight management?  Searching for a physical activity where your children will have fun and want to keep coming back?  Fitness for Health’s fitness programs are just the ticket.  Your kids will have a blast while breaking a sweat with our heart-pumping, exergaming program.  Using our state-of-the-art equipment, kids will get fit, feel good and get healthy.

Join the fight against childhood obesity and learn more today!

Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Chances are that you created at least one New Year’s resolution.  Did you vow to maintain weight management/lose weight, get fit, eat a healthier diet or improve your athletic training?  We are a month into the new year.  Have you adhered to your resolution(s)?  Or, has your promise already slipped to the wayside?

Creating resolutions is the easy part.  Sticking to your resolutions is difficult.

Don’t fret.  Here are a few suggestions to help you persevere.

  • Start making healthier food choices. Consulting a dietitian for nutrition advice may help. Healthy eating is an essential part of a good fitness or bone and joint health program. A person who works out a lot but does not nourish the body properly could be sabotaging or hiding the fruits of his labor.  Dee Sandquist, MSRD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, advises having a general plan, and investing some time in advance to make it happen. “Taking five minutes on the weekend to plan your food for the week can pay huge dividends,” she says. “Look at your schedule for the upcoming week, and find out how many meals you’ll be eating in and how many meals you’ll be eating out. Make a list, and then go to the grocery store.”  Planning works regardless of your dietary goal. Some people may prefer to work on reducing fat in their diet, adding fruits and vegetables, watching portions, eating at a slower pace, or curbing junk food.
  • Exercise in the right way. Unless you are starring in a Gatorade commercial, you don’t need to bench press double your weight nor run a mile in under 6 minutes each morning. For the average person, a good athletic training program consists of exercises that work out the whole body – including your bones and joints. A cardio workout improves the function and health of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Weight-bearing exercises improve your bone and joint health while enhancing the function of your muscles and connective tissues. Because bodies are living, breathing matter, they need to be stimulated in order to become more fit. This means exercise is ideally done just outside your comfort zone in order to improve.
  • Exercise does not have to be boring either. Unfortunately, as people grow up, they lose the connection between fun and movement – “playtime.” Think about the kind of person you are and what you like to do. Some people may love going to the gym while others prefer to play club/team sports. Still others like walking the dog around the neighborhood or playing tag with their kids at the playground. Getting your children involved benefits not only you by adding fun to your fitness and athletic training routine, but it also teaches your kids the importance of exercise!

If you’ve totally run out of steam when it comes to keeping your resolution by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! Getting fit is a marathon, not a sprint. No one expects you to change your habits overnight – and you shouldn’t expect yourself to either.

I wish you a continuous healthy and happy new year!

To learn more about Fitness for Health’s exercise programs or how we can help you – and your whole family – accomplish your fitness goals in 2018, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.

Stand Up for Your Health

Sit up, stand up and repeat often. Sedentary people can put their prolonged chair-sitting days behind them with a few simple, strategic behavioral changes, says a new study by researchers at Western University in London, Canada.

“Even if we exercise regularly, most of us sit or recline for an average of 11 hours a day,” said Wuyou (Yoah) Sui, a PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology at Western. “Our bodies just aren’t designed to function well with such low levels of activity — we all have to move more often than we do, or endure a variety of chronic health issues.”

Research shows that the cumulative impact of sitting all day for years is associated with a range of health problems, from obesity to diabetes to cancer. Because the average office worker spends 5 hours and 41 minutes sitting each day at his or her desk, some describe the problem with a pithy new phrase that’s undeniably catchy: “Sitting is the new smoking.”

“Sit-stand desks are an easy way to get a boost in energy expenditure that fits into America’s current office culture. By combining the act of standing for part of the day with other casual activities — say, opting to walk to the printer farthest away from your work area or choosing to use the restroom that’s located a couple of flights of stairs away — you can achieve a meaningful amount of extra energy expenditure while at work that could aid in weight control,” said Bethany Barone Gibbs, Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Activity within Pitt’s School of Education. “It is important that we understand standing at work isn’t going to burn as many calories as going for a brisk walk or a long run. However, our findings add to a growing field of research that shows the benefits of sit-stand desks, including increases in productivity and energy, and lower pain, blood sugar, and potentially blood pressure.”

Are sit-stand desks the cure for modern obesity? No. Although, in my opinion, any reason to get out of your chair and get your blood moving is a step in the right direction.  (Read my previous blog, Sitting is Dangerous to Your Health, to learn more tips to get you out of your chair.)

Not interested in buying a sit-stand desk? There are additional easy ways to get moving throughout the workday.  For instance, stand during phone calls, make a few short trips to the water fountain instead of one lingering visit or replace departmental email conversations with walk-and-talks.

Are you in need of fitness assistance?  Fitness for Health can help you create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun and sustain weight management.  We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your and your children’s exact needs while helping you reach your unique health goals. From first-time gym-goers to NFL professional athletes  looking for athletic training, Fitness for Health has fitness programs to help people of all ages and abilities reach their fullest potential. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes so families can become active together.

Your 4-Legged Friend Can Improve Your Health

As the saying goes, “The dog is man’s best friend.”  And, now we have proof.  Pets, especially dogs, can help you live a longer life. Various studies by the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association and universities confirm that dog ownership can help you live a longer, healthier and more productive life.

According to a recent study, canine companions may reduce our risk of premature death by up to a third.  From an analysis of more than 3.4 million adults, researchers found that people who owned dogs — particularly those in single-person households — were at lower risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality over a 12-year period, compared with people who didn’t have dogs.

The study was conducted by researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, and the findings were recently reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Do you have a 4-legged family member? Having a furry companion improves your health in many ways.

Heart Health

According to Cuteness.com, “Dog owners get more exercise just by taking their dog out for a walk. The American Heart Association says that 54 percent of dog owners are likely to get the recommended amount of exercise for good health. All this exercise lowers cardiovascular risks and cholesterol levels, making pet owners healthier and more likely to live longer lives.”

Blood Pressure

Petting your dog feels good and it can lower your blood pressure, helps your body release a relaxation hormone, and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone. It also soothes your pet, says Alan Beck, ScD, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University.

Socialization

While it may seem a bit counterintuitive, owning a dog actually increases a person’s opportunities to socialize.  A 1999 Canadian study found that pet owners were more “socially engaged” than non–pet owners.  Additionally, an Austrian study found that pet ownership led to an increase in social contact, more socialization within neighborhoods [such as neighbors chatting as they walk their dogs], and even a greater perception to observers that the neighborhood seems “friendly.”

Allergy Prevention

Pets can dramatically improve immunity and prevent allergies. “A study found that children ages 5 to 7 from pet-owning households attend school three weeks more per year than those who don’t have pets,” says Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America and author of the book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. He also says that the more pets you have earlier in life, the fewer allergies you will develop. “Kids who grow up on farms and around animals don’t have allergies,” he says. “That dander on that hair, that’s natural immunotherapy.” But, he notes that this effect is not reversible. Getting a pet as an adult will not minimize allergies; it only helps prevent certain allergies from developing in children.

Child Development

Children who grow up in households with pets benefit in myriad ways, especially in their emotional development. When a child is attached to a dog or cat, they learn to express themselves in more ways and they learn to relate better.  Pets are also very beneficial to children with special needs such as autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For children with ADHD, taking care of a pet can encourage them to focus on responsibilities through a predictable routine. While the sensory experience of holding and petting an animal can be soothing for children with autism.

 

Are you looking to add a furry friend to your household? Please adopt, don’t shop. Many wonderful animals are hoping to be adopted into loving families and your local animal shelter is literally full of beautiful animals who would love to be your new 4-legged baby. The pet you save today may actually save your health – or your life – tomorrow.

Learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your mind-body connection utilizing state-of-the-art, fitness technology.

10 Minutes of Exercise Improves Brain Power

Do you often say that you don’t have time to exercise?

A new study shows that just 10 minutes of exercise can improve your brain’s ability to problem solve and focus – at least temporarily.

“Some people can’t commit to a long-term exercise regime because of time or physical capacity,” said Kinesiology Prof. Matthew Heath, who is also a supervisor in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and, with master’s student Ashna Samani, conducted the study. “This shows that people can cycle or walk briskly for a short duration, even once, and find immediate benefits.”

“I always tell my students before they write a test or an exam or go into an interview — or do anything that is cognitively demanding — they should get some exercise first,” Heath said. “Our study shows the brain’s networks like it. They perform better.”

Who can’t spare 10 minutes a day to improve cognitive ability?

Whether you are young or young-at-heart, regular exercise is more important than ever to your body and mind.  And, fitness for seniors – and those of us who are baby boomers – can be fun!

Not only is exercise is good for your heart, it’s also good for your brain. Exercising when young and fitness for seniors benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active, which can prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Any exercise that gets the heart pumping may reduce the risk of dementia and slow the condition’s progression once it starts, reports a Mayo Clinic study published in October 2011 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

So, I want to see you in the gym! Or, at least, walking a few quick laps around your office hallways.

About Fitness for Health:

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Do you want to lose weight, focus on weight management as an adult or combat childhood obesity?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.

Is Exercise Medication for Your Memory?

An updated guideline for mild cognitive impairment published in the December 27 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, recommends twice-weekly exercise to people with mild cognitive impairment to improve memory and thinking.

“Regular physical exercise has long been shown to have heart health benefits, and now we can say exercise also may help improve memory for people with mild cognitive impairment,” says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., lead author, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Mayo Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. “What’s good for your heart can be good for your brain.” Dr. Petersen is the Cora Kanow Professor of Alzheimer’s Disease Research.

Does this mean that people should begin jogging or swimming endless laps in the indoor pool to improve their memory? No.

As a Certified Athletic Trainer for more than 30 years and the owner of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic fitness facility for children through senior citizens, I remind families that exercise doesn’t have to be drudgery.  People need 150 minutes of exercise a week — 30 minutes for five times a week or 50 minutes for three times a week. Exercise can be dancing in your living room, playing with your grandkids at the playground or merely talking a brisk walk around the neighborhood or mall.  Fitness can be fun!  And, it can be any activity that you enjoy that raises your heartrate.

Did you know that 6% of people in their 60s have mild cognitive impairment across the globe, and the condition becomes more common with age, according to the American Academy of Neurology?  More than 37% of people 85 and older have it.

“With such prevalence, finding lifestyle factors that may slow down the rate of cognitive impairment can make a big difference to individuals and society, Dr. Petersen wrote.  “We need not look at aging as a passive process; we can do something about the course of our aging,” he says. “So if I’m destined to become cognitively impaired at age 72, I can exercise and push that back to 75 or 78. That’s a big deal.”

Now that you know the importance of exercise for the young – and the young-at-heart, I hope to see you in the gym!

As you age, staying active mentally is just as important as staying active physically. At Fitness for Health, we can help you achieve both. Our unique approach to senior wellness focuses on helping you strengthen and maintain the skills that other workouts often overlook. Learn how our Fitness for Seniors program can help you maintain weight management, increase bone and joint health and improve your cognitive abilities.

Eat Less = Lose Weight? Not Always

We’re nearing the end of the most celebrated food holidays of the year – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve – which means there’s a high probability that you’ve overeaten and feel guilty.

Keeping a svelte physique should be easy, right? Eat less fatty foods. Eat more veggies. Lose weight and continue weight management.

As we all know, losing weight and keeping it off isn’t easy.

“On a very simple level, your weight depends on the number of calories you consume, how many of those calories you store, and how many you burn up,” explains a publication from Harvard Medical School. “But each of these factors is influenced by a combination of genes and environment.”

In other words, the most basic equation to understand weight gain is that people gain weight when they consume more calories than they burn — those extra calories get stored as fat. But scientists have found many connections between someone’s risk of weight gain and a wide variety of other factors, including his or her genetic makeup, diet in infancy and childhood, sleep habits, stress levels and gut bacteria. The same factors that also affect adult and childhood obesity.

In the past decade, there has been an onslaught of studies suggesting that the calories-in/calories-out theory of weight gain is an oversimplification.

Although eating more vegetables and fruit combined with lessening your intake of mayonnaise and heavy, oily foods is a great start to eating a healthier diet, it isn’t enough for a majority of people.

  • Before you hit the New Year’s Eve buffet, fill up on nuts. This will help curb your appetite and you’ll be less tempted by the bowls of potato chips or fried hors d’oeuvres.
  • Also, opt for grilled or baked salmon instead of prime rib as your main course.
  • Don’t deny yourself dessert! Christmas and Hanukkah come just once a year. Sample the leftover Holiday cookies, but try not to eat a whole dozen of gingerbread men.

Were you busy this Holiday season shopping, wrapping and cooking? Absolutely.  Does this give you a reprieve from working out? No. If you want to maintain your energy level, receive a good night’s rest and stave off coughs and colds, you need to make time for fitness – for your health and your kids’ health.

Now is probably not the best time to start a diet.  Instead, try to maintain your current weight and make a promise to lose any extra pounds after the Holidays by visiting your personal trainer or taking athletic training classes.  Or, if you know a child or young adult with special needs who needs fitness motivation, suggest our ZamDance class on Friday nights from 5pm – 6pm.  Our Friday night ZamDance class allows participants to express themselves through dance in a way that builds confidence, creates empowerment and unites a community that accepts them as they are – while in a glow-in-the-dark environment.

Happy holiday eating!

Curb Holiday Overeating

The holiday season means feasts, festivities and lots of food. And, if you’re naughty, Santa might bring you an extra five pounds around your waistline.

Now that the Holidays are here, how can families ensure that they don’t overeat and can maintain weight management?

  • Exercise more in the days before the Holidays. This will help you burn extra calories that you may eat during holidays or periods of stress.
  • Eat breakfast. This will help control your hunger throughout the day and help you avoid over-indulging.
  • Lighten up the recipes. Try using fat free or sugar free ingredients in your favorite recipes to cut down on the calories.
  • Watch your portion sizes. Skip the temptation of a second helping and enjoy a desert instead. There will be leftovers for tomorrow to enjoy again!
  • Slowly saver your food. Eating slowly will help you to feel full and satisfied without over-indulging.

Everyone overeats sometimes.

If you eat too much, wait until you are hungry again to eat. Rather than continuing to eat out of guilt or by the clock, listen to your body. It probably won’t need food as soon so you may not be hungry for your usual snack or even your next meal. This is key for weight management!

When you get hungry again, ask yourself, “What do I want?” and “What do I need?”  Don’t punish yourself or try to compensate for overeating by restricting yourself. If you try to make yourself eat foods you don’t really want, you’ll feel deprived and fuel your eat-repent-repeat cycle. Trust and respect what your body tells you because it’s likely that it will naturally seek balance, variety, and moderation. You might notice that you’re hungry for something small or something light – maybe a bowl of soup or cereal, a piece of fruit or a salad.

Lastly, don’t use exercise to punish yourself for overeating. Fitness is a fun way to maintain weight management year-round while adding muscle, increasing self-esteem and improving bone and joint health. Be active all the time and use the fuel you consume to live a full and satisfying life that teaches the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle to your children and improves your kids’ health.

Now is probably not the best time to start a diet.  Instead, try to maintain your current weight and make a promise to lose any extra pounds after the Holidays by visiting your personal trainer or taking athletic training classes.  Or, if you know a child or young adult with special needs who needs fitness motivation, suggest our ZamDance class on Friday nights from 5pm – 6pm.  Our Friday night ZamDance class allows participants to express themselves through dance in a way that builds confidence, creates empowerment and unites a community that accepts them as they are – while in a glow-in-the-dark environment.

Happy holiday eating!

“12 Days of Christmas” Holiday Workout

Happy Holidays!

It’s easy to let your workout routine slide during the holiday season. It’s more fun to spend time eating at the buffet and drinking egg nog with friends and family than it is to make time for athletic training.  But, fitness is a yearlong endeavor and New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner.

Have you heard of the “12 Days of Christmas” Workout?  Although challenging, it is a fun way to infuse holiday spirit into an exercise routine for adults – or at a lessened level for a fitness for kids’ activity.

Here’s how it works.  It’s a little different from the song.  For this workout, you’ll be going in reverse order from the song.  Normally, you’d start at the first day, the small number, and go to the last day, the big number.  For this workout, you’ll start with the 12th day and go down from there.

For example, you’ll start with 12 repetitions of the first exercise.  Then, you’ll go for 12 of the first exercise again, 11 of the second, etc.  Start over with 12 reps of the first exercise, 11 of the second, and 10 of the third.  Keep repeating just like that until you’ve done all 12 exercises.  When you’re done, you will have completed 650 total reps.

Here are my thoughts for a “12 Days of Christmas” Workout routine along with a link to a video explaining how to properly complete each exercise:

12 squats

11 butt kicks (1 minute)

10 oblique V-sit ups

9 Everest climbers

8 frog jumps

7 side lunges

6 chair dips (You will need a chair or ledge.)

5 laying down bicycles (5 intervals of 20 seconds)

4 Supermans

3 V-sit (30 seconds)

2 dive bomber push-ups

1 minute plank

Have a fun – and fit – holiday season!

Fitness for Health can help you build a healthier body by creating a customized, exercise regimen that addresses your – and your kids’ – unique concerns this holiday season.  Whether you want to work on weight management, tone, build muscle, increase flexibility or improve your athletic training, we can help you reach your goals!  Learn how we can help your family lose weight and combat childhood obesity today!