Are You Thriving?

Do you know what it takes to thrive and find happiness? A new study could shed light on what it takes to make the most out of your life.

Dr. Daniel Brown, a sport and exercise scientist at the University of Portsmouth, has pulled together all the research on what makes people thrive, from studies of babies and teenagers, to studies of artists, sportspeople, employees and the elderly, and has come up with the first definitive catch-all.  His research is published in European Psychologist.

He wrote, “It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something, and succeeding at mastering something…In the simplest terms, what underpins it is feeling good about life and yourself and being good at something.”

According to Science News, “The study outlines the ‘shopping list’ underlying Dr. Brown’s simple definition. To thrive doesn’t need all the components, but suggests a combination of some from each of the two following lists may help:”

A: Is:

  • optimistic,
  • spiritual or religious,
  • motivated,
  • proactive,
  • someone who enjoys learning,
  • flexible,
  • adaptable,
  • socially competent,
  • believes in self/has self-esteem.

B: Has:

  • opportunity,
  • employer/family/other support,
  • challenges and difficulties are at manageable level,
  • environment is calm,
  • is given a high degree of autonomy,
  • is trusted as competent.

Do you want to thrive and reach your full potential? Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals and unique schedule. Want to lose weight or maintain weight management for adults or kids?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential – whether you need before work, during lunchtime or after work workout schedules.  Call us at 301-231-7138 for program details.

Want to Live Longer? Try Eating More Foods with Fats

The chances are that you have a loved one whose in his 80’s or even 90’s. Have you ever asked him about his secrets to aging?

A recent mouse study at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrates that a high fat, or ketogenic, diet not only increases longevity but also improves physical strength.

“The results surprised me a little,” said nutritionist Jon Ramsey, senior author of the paper that appears in the September issue of Cell Metabolism. “We expected some differences, but I was impressed by the magnitude we observed — a 13 percent increase in median life span for the mice on a high fat vs high carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 years. But equally important, those mice retained quality of health in later life.”

Adhering to a ketogenic diet (when carbohydrate intake is so low that the body shifts from using glucose as the main fuel source to fat burning and producing ketones for energy) not only significantly extended the mice’s lifespan, it also increased their memory and their motor function – strength and coordination. Additionally, the diet prevented an increase in age-related inflammation and lowered the risk of tumors.

“In this case, many of the things we’re looking at aren’t much different from humans,” Ramsey said. “At a fundamental level, humans follow similar changes and experience a decrease in overall function of organs during aging. This study indicates that a ketogenic diet can have a major impact on life and health span without major weight loss or restriction of intake. It also opens a new avenue for possible dietary interventions that have an impact on aging.”

Are you in need of fitness assistance to improve your strength and coordination?  Fitness for Health can help you create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun and sustaining 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.

What’s In Your Lunchbox?

Happy first day of school to students in Maryland and happy second week of school to most of the families in the D.C. area!

Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity to speak to your children about healthy food choices and kids’ health.

Buying lunch at school may be the first time that kids get to call the shots on which foods they’ll eat. Luckily, there’s been a nationwide effort to improve the taste and nutrition levels in school lunches.  But, some food options served at school are still exceeding recommendations for fat and leading to the childhood obesity epidemic. In the typical school cafeteria, kids can still choose an unhealthy mix of foods, especially the less nutritious fare often available a la carte or in the vending machine.

If your child will choose an item from the lunch line, encourage him or her to make good choices by incorporating fruits and veggies and trying a variety of foods.  (Chicken nuggets may be tasty, but eating them each day won’t give your child an opportunity to try new foods that he/she may love.)

If your child will brown bag it, enlist your child’s help to make lunch!  Treat this bonding moment as a chance to instill healthy food choices in your child while having fun making creative fare.  Does your child love “Toy Story”?  Make cucumber slices that look like aliens.  Does your daughter like flowers?  Make a PB & J sandwich on wheat bread that is shaped like a daisy. Is your son excited by military planes? Create a plane-shaped sandwich using a cookie cutter and add organic raspberries and blueberries to a handful of marshmallows to make a patriotic red, white and blue lunch!

Your imaginations your only limits! Begin the school year by reminding children that food can be fun while being nutritious and can stave off childhood obesity. And, the best part? You’re creating lifelong memories and laying the foundation of your child’s future, healthy, active lifestyle.

Are you looking for your child and/or teen to get off the couch and prepare for the new school year?  No matter what your child’s level—beginner to varsity athlete—Fitness for Health will create a custom children’s fitness program just for him or her. Our gym is a safe yet super-fun environment where kids are inspired and motivated to push themselves harder.  Learn more about our programs and services at our next open house on Sunday, October 1, at 5pm.

Have a happy and safe new school year!

Managing Back-to-School Stress

The stress of a new school year can make you forget some of the benefits of being a parent. It’s an adjustment time for you and your child. Keeping your child safe, healthy and happy during the school year becomes your number one priority. Here are some back-to-school tips to make the transition a little easier and a lot healthier.

Preparation is always the key to diminishing stress. Whether it is purchasing the correct tools, getting tasks done ahead of time or instilling healthy habits in your children, preparation will help you breathe easier.

Here are a few tips:

  • Arm yourself with school supplies before the first day. Grab an extra school supply list. Most of the time, they are at various stores. Parents can just pick them up as they enter. Hold off buying anything until after you meet the teacher. Show the list to her and ask if there is any addition or elimination, and change it accordingly.
  • Make a trial run this week. Take a trial run on getting up early at least five days before school. This helps with solidifying the new schedule and is proven to help prevent cranky kids.
  • Have a family meeting. If you are planning changes with anything at all, have a family meeting at least one week before school. This is the perfect time to implement a new school plan for the new year. For example, new homework rules, activities (not too many, I hope), as well as when and what to eat before school and afterwards. This is especially true if your child goes to an after-school program where snacks are provided.

Does your child need a little extra confidence going into the new school year? Fitness for Health can help! At Fitness for Health, we design our kids’ health and fitness for kids programs to help children develop the skills—and the self-confidence—they need for real life. We do it through our unique Success Builds Success approach, which encourages children learn to take new risks through small, achievable—and wildly fun—challenges.

Our programs are designed to help children shape the skills that other fitness for kids programs tend to ignore, including mental processing, motor planning, visual information processing and proprioception (the ability to innately sense your body’s position, movement and spatial orientation) in addition to offering athletic training for kids.

Have a happy and safe new school year!

Back-to-School Fitness for Moms

The importance of improving fitness skills cannot be underestimated.  Many adults with low levels of interest in physical activity are often found to have decreased self-confidence.  The American Heart Association has shown that physically active people show improvements in a wide variety of measures of psychological well-being – including self-esteem.

A great way to “freshen up” your workout routine is to include yoga.  Yoga can be practiced year round, inside or outside, as long as you have a mat.  Enjoy the beautiful summer weather!  Take your routine outdoors so that you can absorb the fresh air and sunshine while you work your muscles.

This is the ideal exercise for busy women on the go who can’t tolerate high impact exercise such as running. Not only will your self-esteem improve – because you will see results – your overall mindset will improve too. Your mental health will benefit as you learn to breathe and relax – which is especially important during the chaos of preparing your children to head back to school.  Less stress means you are better able to handle life’s everyday little crises and it will help you to take a little time to focus on yourself and your personal needs.

Moms, do you want to reach your full, physical potential this school year?  Fitness for Health offers adult, fitness and weight management, athletic training and development, physical therapy and bone and joint health programs using bioDensity™ and Power Plate® technology.

Do your kids need a little extra confidence going into the new school year? We can help! At Fitness for Health, we design our kids’ health and fitness for kids programs to help children develop the skills—and the self-confidence—they need for real life. We do it through our unique Success Builds Success approach, which encourages children learn to take new risks through small, achievable—and wildly fun—challenges.

Our programs are designed to help children shape the skills that other fitness for kids programs tend to ignore, including mental processing, motor planning, visual information processing and proprioception (the ability to innately sense your body’s position, movement and spatial orientation) in addition to offering weight management for kids.

Have a happy and safe new school year! Namaste!

The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together

As highlighted on BBC News, along with eating a healthy diet, controlling your stress through quiet reflection and getting adequate sleep, exercise is probably the most important aspect of your daily health.  And yet, most people struggle with creating a lasting fitness routine.

Remember what it was like to go outside as a child? I do, because I watch kids make fitness fun every day. They run around the therapeutic, fitness center that I own pretending they’re professional athletes, navigating the laser maze like international spies and trying to reach the stars on our 30-foot trampoline.

Kids don’t care about what they “should” do … all they want to do is have fun.  So, they play.

In the current world of rising obesity and dwindling outdoor play, it’s important to encourage lifelong healthy, active lifestyles including weight management while reiterating that fitness for kids – and adults – can be fun!

Are you one those people who think that exercise or athletic training can’t be fun? Do you think fitness has to include sit-ups, running uphill and/or boot camps? Exercise can be any physical activity that you enjoy – whether it’s dancing, playing on the playground with your kids, raking leaves or simply taking a brisk walk with your dog.

If you have met me at Fitness for Health, my therapeutic exercise and training center in Rockville, MD, or read my blog, you know that I’m a huge advocate of making fitness fun and involving the whole family in “playtime.”

  • Create and schedule weekly “family playtime.” Make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family!  The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime.”  Families need to work – and play – together to enhance physical fitness while building stronger relationships.  With an integrated approach, parents, grandparents and children can create fun, recreational games that also increase self-esteem – and help families bond – while improving your bone and joint health, getting older family members thinking about fitness for seniors and encouraging younger family members to participate in varied activities to improve kids’ health.
  • Act like a kid again. Remember when physical activity used to be fun? When athletic training meant a pick-up game of Horse and not 30 minutes on the treadmill? Think back to your childhood to reminisce about the activities that you enjoyed. Did you love ballet class as a child? Going to the pool with your family? Ice skating with friends? What’s stopping you from participating in these activities as an adult and involving your children?

To learn about fun, fitness programs designed specifically to improve kids health, increase adult bone and joint health and fitness for seniors, join us on Sunday, October 1, from 5pm – 6pm for a free tour of Fitness for Health’s therapeutic and training facility during our Open House.

Looking for a fun activity for the whole family? Make fitness fun and join Fitness for Health every Friday night (beginning again in September) from 7pm – 9pm for Open Gym – where YOU rule the gym! Pretend you are on your own impossible mission and try to navigate our laser maze without breaking a laser beam! Chase lights and make them disappear on our Light Floor and Wall! Climb a rock wall or two! Jump to your heart’s content on our 30′ long trampoline and so much more!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Do you think that you are more, less or equally physically active as your peers?  Your answer might be linked to your risk of premature death decades from now — no matter how physically active you actually are, according to research by Stanford scholars Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum.

The research, which appeared in the July 20th edition of Health Psychology, finds that people who think they are less active than others in a similar age bracket die younger than those who believe they are more active — even if their actual activity levels are similar.

“Our findings fall in line with a growing body of research suggesting that our mindsets — in this case, beliefs about how much exercise we are getting relative to others — can play a crucial role in our health,” Crum said.

“So much effort, notably in public health campaigns, is geared toward motivating people to change their behavior: eat healthier, exercise more and stress less,” Crum said. “But an important variable is being left out of the equation: people’s mindsets about those healthy behaviors.”

As outlined in Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity by Ed Diener of the University of Illinois and the Gallop Organization  and Micaela Y. Chan of the University of Texas at Dallas, life satisfaction, absence of negative emotions, optimism and positive emotions cause better health and longevity.

In a related study of more than 4,000 people 50 and older published last year in the Journal of Gerontology, Becca Levy and Avni Bavishi at the Yale School of Public Health demonstrated that having a positive view of aging can have a beneficial influence on health outcomes and longevity. Psychologically, a positive view can enhance belief in one’s abilities, decrease perceived stress and foster healthful behaviors. Physiologically, people with positive views of aging had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of stress-related inflammation associated with heart disease and other illnesses, even after accounting for possible influences like age, health status, sex, race and education than those with a negative outlook. They also lived significantly longer.

So, having the attitude of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” can help you not only better enjoy your life, but also live longer.

Do you want help to better enjoy your workout? Fitness for Health can help you create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun and maintaining 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 and boxing 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 (beginning again in September) so families can become active together.

Exercise in Youth is “Remembered” By Your Bones

According to researchers from the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, your bones retain a “memory” of exercise’s effects long after the exercise session has ended, and this bone memory continues to change the way the body metabolizes a high-fat diet.

Dr. Justin O’Sullivan, a molecular geneticist and co-researcher of the project, explains, “The bone marrow carried a ‘memory’ of the effects of exercise. This is the first demonstration of a long-lasting effect of exercise past puberty. The rats still got fat, but that early extra exercise basically set them up so that even though they put on weight they didn’t have the same profile of negative effects that is common with a high fat diet.”

As published in Frontiers in Physiology, Dr. O’Sullivan says this may help scientists understand why, even though obesity and diabetes are often linked, some people with obesity do not develop diabetes. “It also strongly emphasizes the health benefits of exercise for children.”

With rising rates of childhood obesity and teens who are overweight, it is important to understand the effects of these conditions on bone and joint health, says Professor Vickers, an obesity specialist and co-researcher. “Obesity is governed by many genes. This work highlights the utility of small animal models in teasing out gene-environment interactions in health and disease.”

Professor Firth, who studies bone development and also contributed to this research, explains that childhood and adolescence are periods of rapid bone growth. “If you reach optimal bone mass early in life, you’re less likely to suffer from broken bones or other bone-related problems as an adult. Load-bearing from exercise and higher bodyweight is good for growing bones, but this and other evidence shows that if the extra weight comes from higher body fat mass, bone development may be subnormal,” he says. “Bone metabolism strongly influences energy metabolism in the body, and metabolism — what you do with energy from diet — is the central crux of why some children and adults become obese.”

As a Certified Athletic Trainer and the founder of Fitness for Health, a state-of-the-art fitness facility located in Rockville, MD, that helps children, adults, senior citizens and professional athletes reach their full, physical potential, I am often asked how parents can encourage their children to be physically fit from the time they’re born.  In my opinion, make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family!

The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime” so children will learn to emulate their parents.  Families need to work – and play – together to enhance physical fitness while building stronger relationships.  With an integrated approach, parents, grandparents and children can create fun, recreational games that also increase self-esteem – and help families bond – while increasing kids’ physical activity.

Is your family in need of fitness assistance?  Fitness for Health can help your family create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun.  We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your exact needs and help you reach your unique health goals. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes (beginning again after Labor Day) so families can become active together.

Are you an adult concerned about your bone health? Fitness for Health provides a revolutionary, 12-week Bone and Joint Health Program for adults and seniors that capitalizes on weight-bearing, fitness activities.  This groundbreaking program helps to improve posture and increase bone density, strength and balance while counteracting the effects of osteoporosis, osteopenia and aging.

The Bone and Joint Health Program elicits results faster and more effectively than traditional exercise (fitness for seniors) or pharmaceuticals through two state-of-the-art fitness technologies:

  • bioDensity™ – Weight-bearing exercises are the key to stimulating bone growth, and the greater the weight applied, the better the results. The osteogenic loading that patients receive is multiples of bodyweight, and beyond what is typically seen in exercise.  Research has shown, bone density gains that averaged 7% in the hip and 7.7% in the spine over one year using bioDensity (Jaquish, 2013). These results are multiples of what the current interventions can do for bone density.
  • Power Plate™ – Power Plate is a whole body vibration platform that allows for reflexive engagement of the neuromuscular system at rapid and repeatable oscillation. This intervention has been clinically shown to increase balance and stability in both healthy and aging-frail populations.

When used once a week, research has shown the bioDensity system alone has significantly increased bone mass density, stability and functional movement with multiple ages, health conditions and for both genders.

Learn more about how we can help you create a customized fitness for seniors program that counteracts the signs of aging while helping to maintain weight management and increase bone and joint health.

How My Clients with Special Needs Remind Me to Be a Better Person

I am lucky. I have a beautiful wife and two amazing kids. I am also the founder and owner of a hi-tech, therapeutic fitness facility in the Washington, DC, area that specializes in helping people with special needs reach their full potential.

As a person with ADD, I understand how difficult it can be for kids – and their families – to navigate therapies, research medical advisors and utilize social skills to make new friends.  I don’t sympathize.  I empathize.  This is why I created Fitness for Health. I wanted families to know that I understand their struggles from firsthand, personal experience.  I want to make fitness fun for the whole family while showing children and teens with special needs that they are amazing, unique people who should be proud of their individuality.

The kids and families with whom I work never cease to amaze me.  I look forward to the time each day when I am able to coach, play and learn from my clients.  Sometimes, I think that I have more fun practicing balance on the trampoline or improving bicep strength on the rock climbing wall than the kids.  They remind me to never give up in the face of adversity and to celebrate the small successes because those tiny improvements add up to significant change.

I want to thank my clients with special needs for allowing me to be myself and trusting me to become a part of your lives. Thank you. I hope that you learn half as much from me as I learn from you.

About Fitness for Health:

A finalist for About.com’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Special Needs Resource in the D.C. Region and voted Washington Family Magazine’s 2016 and 2017 Best Special Needs Camp and Best Special Needs Program in the DC area, Fitness for Health specializes in creating personalized, therapeutic programs for children with a broad range of special needs:

  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Gross motor delays
  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • Down Syndrome
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • ADD/ADHD/LD
  • Developmental and physical disabilities
  • Confidence and self-esteem issues
  • Emotional disturbances and anxiety disorders

At Fitness for Health, you get a complete team—including pediatric fitness specialists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists—working together to create a full-service plan of care that’s expertly tailored to your child’s developmental, skill and comfort levels while providing fitness for kids. As a parent, you’re involved every step of the way.  Learn more about our therapeutic exercise, occupational therapy services, and physical therapy services today.

Why You Need to Drink Water

Summer is in full swing, and many people are taking advantage of the nice weather by taking their workouts outdoors.

As the weather continues to warm, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of hydration – when working out and even when you’re not.

Everyone has heard that the human body is comprised of roughly 60% water, but did you know that, by the time you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated?

Try as I may to drink as much water as I can throughout the day, I too am guilty – as are most people – of not drinking enough to keep my body performing at peak condition.

So, why is keeping hydrated important?

  • Water helps you perform better. Proper hydration contributes to increased athletic performance. Water composes 75% of our muscle tissue.  Dehydration can lead to weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalance when working out.
  • You will lose weight if you stay hydrated. If your belly feels full, you won’t be as hungry and won’t overeat.
  • You will have less joint pain. Your joints are fluid filled and you have to drink enough water in order for them to work properly. This is especially true of the discs between your vertebrae. If you suffer from low back pain, drinking water can help. This is also true for your knees. Water is vital to your joints and keeps them moving freely. Drinking water can reduce pain in your joints by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated. This is actually how glucosamine helps reduce joint pain, by aiding in cartilage’s absorption of water.
  • Hydration makes you happier. Because the brain is made up of mostly water, scientists have shown that proper water consumption helps you think more clearly and helps to lighten your mood.
  • Lower your risk of heart attack. According to the National Institutes of Health, coronary heart disease, when your arteries clog up with plaque, is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. A worsening of coronary heart disease can lead to a heart attack. The best way to prevent it? Drink more water.
  • Water helps to prevent cancer. The U.S. National Library of Science and the National Institutes of Health states that staying hydrated can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and possibly reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Water is the building block of life and helps with critical functions such as maintaining body temperature, cushioning and protecting vital organs and aiding in digestion.  Therefore, it is vital that you try to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water (if you weigh 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces of water) each day.  Your body will thank you!

Fitness for Health can help you build a healthier body by creating a customized, exercise regimen that addresses your unique concerns.  Whether you want to improve weight management, tone, build muscle, increase flexibility or improve your athleticism, we can help you reach your goals!  Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn how we can help you.