Exercise Shown to Increase Bone Remodeling

Exercise has been touted to build bone mass, but exactly how it actually accomplishes this is a matter of debate. Now, researchers show that an exercise-induced hormone activates cells that are critical for bone remodeling in mice.

A study appearing in the journal Cell on December 13, 2018, identifies a receptor for irisin, an exercise hormone, and shows that irisin impacts sclerostin in mice, a major cellular regulator of bone structure in humans. The work may inform future treatments for osteoporosis, which causes more than 8.9 million fractures worldwide annually.

“These results are potential game changers in the fields of metabolism, muscle-bone biology, and exercise,” says co-author Bruce Spiegelman, a cancer biologist at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “We show that irisin works directly on osteocytes, the most abundant cell type in bone.”

The article states, “Irisin, secreted by skeletal muscle in response to endurance exercise in mice and humans, has been linked to bone strengthening, calorie burning, and improved cognition. But its very existence was once controversial, and the mechanism underlying its effect on bone proved elusive.”

I concur with Dr. Spiegelman.  As the founder of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic, exercise facility working with children through senior citizens in the Washington, DC, area, I have seen firsthand the power of weight-bearing exercise to improve bone and joint health in the middle age population and the importance of fitness for seniors. In fact, we are proud to have created a bone and joint health program for men and women as they age.

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.

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.

Made Your New Year’s Resolution Yet?

Are you thinking about reinventing yourself in 2019? Or, using the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad nutritional habits or improve your athletic training to maintain weight management? You’re not alone. 

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, in 2017, 41% of people made New Year’s resolutions.  Can you guess which resolution was most popular? If you guessed losing weight or weight management, you are correct!  (“Self-improvement” came in #2 and “work out more often” came in #7.)

Don’t set yourself up for failure in 2019 by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead, follow a few suggestions for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to – for the long haul.

  • Focus on one aspect.  If you want to change your life or your lifestyle, don’t try to change everything at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin. Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change, you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of 2019 and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.
  • Pick a start date.  You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day.  Pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people who can help you stay on track.
  • Put your heart into it.  Go for it 100% beginning on your chosen start day.  Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet, keep in your gym bag or display by your bed and/or on your bathroom mirror. For example, your mantra could be “I will exercise to improve my bone and joint health” or “I will go to the gym for athletic training twice a week.”  Choose a place that you view the card often in order to give yourself positive reinforcement.
  • Remember that nobody is perfect.  Don’t become discouraged if you don’t immediately achieve your New Year’s resolutions or if you have a setback in your quest to maintain weight management. Losing weight is a journey; not a sprint. Weight loss won’t be permanently achieved overnight. (Wouldn’t it be great if you could eat a hot fudge sundae before bed and, by morning, lose 5 pounds?) The most important aspect of a resolution is that you keep trying.

Whatever your plans and goals are for 2019, I wish you luck!  But, remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.  Decide what you want to accomplish in 2019, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on!

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight or maintain weight management for adults or kids in 2019?  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 – and your New Year’s resolutions – this year. Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn more.


Now that the Holidays are upon us, everywhere you go, you see happy families spending time together.  So, in honor of Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas and their celebration of family togetherness, the focus of my blog today is the importance of family.

Family is the most important aspect of society.  Family is not only the basic societal building block, it also provides invaluable life skills and forms the people we will become as adults.  It teaches us child-raising, patience, basic communication skills and how to love – while being the all-around fun and friendship unit.

In our families, we love, serve, teach and learn from each other. We share our joys and our sorrows. Family ties may bring us difficult challenges, but family also gives us strength and some of our greatest happiness.

While we cannot choose the conditions of our birth, we can choose each day to make our families stronger and happier by spending quality time together having fun and playing.

Families need to work – and play – together to enhance and build stronger relationships.  With an integrated, team-building approach, parents, grandparents and children can have fun playing games that also increase self-esteem – and help families bond.

So, take this holiday and school break as an opportunity to play as a family.  Set aside one night to play Scrabble, go ice skating or take a walk around the neighborhood to view the holiday lights.  If you feel more adventurous, create your own family games – while also creating new family traditions and memories.  Your only limit is your imagination.

I wish you and your family a happy holiday!

For more ideas about family games and “family playtime,” read my previous blogs.  For additional information about Fitness for Health’s programs for children and families, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.

Does Eating Less Over the Holidays Mean Weight Loss? No

We’re nearing the end of the most celebrated food holidays of the year – 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.

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.

Happy holiday eating!

“12 Days of Christmas” 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!

If Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep – He May Have Other Unhealthy Habits

Did you know that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age sleep 9-12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health?  And, teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8-10 hours?

Recently published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a new study conducted among more than 177,000 students suggests that insufficient sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.

The study states, “Results show that insufficient sleep duration was associated with unhealthy dietary habits such as skipping breakfast (adjusted odds ratio 1.30), fast-food consumption (OR 1.35) and consuming sweets regularly (OR 1.32). Insufficient sleep duration also was associated with increased screen time (OR 1.26) and being overweight/obese (OR 1.21).”

“Approximately 40 percent of schoolchildren in the study slept less than recommended,” said senior author Labros Sidossis, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “Insufficient sleeping levels were associated with poor dietary habits, increased screen time and obesity in both genders.”

“The most surprising finding was that aerobic fitness was associated with sleep habits,” said Sidossis. “In other words, better sleep habits were associated with better levels of aerobic fitness. We can speculate that adequate sleep results in higher energy levels during the day. Therefore, children who sleep well are maybe more physically active during the day and hence have higher aerobic capacity.”

So, how can a parent encourage good sleep habits in their children?

  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat a heavy meal before bedtime.  Snacks should be eaten at least 30 minutes before bedtime to ensure he or she has time to burn off calories and extra sugar.  And, remember, no caffeine or sugary snacks!
  • Regulate.  I know that you’ve heard this a million times, but keep your child’s sleep routine consistent.  Establish a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine that lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and ends in your child’s bedroom.  Avoid scary stories or TV shows. It’s better to read a favorite book every night than a new one because it’s familiar.
  • Teach your child calming techniques so the worries of the day – or about tomorrow’s test – don’t interfere with his sleeping.  If your child has a tendency to worry, ensure homework is done at least one hour before bedtime and that he has a chance to ask you to proofread it.  The earlier homework is completed, the more opportunity he has to ask you for help and the less worried he will be during the night.  Create a nightly study routine and stick to it!

I wish you good luck and sweet dreams tonight!

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a child’s individual fitness goals.  Want to combat childhood obesity? Aspiring to improve your child’s athletic edge?  No problem!  Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.

Eat Heart Healthy This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is only two days away and it’s time to start thinking about our holiday eating habits.

The holiday temptation of cookies, cake, pie and sweets begins at Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after the new year when many people vow to lose weight as part of their New Year’s Resolutions.

A study published in Journal of the American Medical Association gives us yet another reason to eat healthy and avoid adult and childhood obesity this holiday season.

People with an irregular heart rhythm could see an improvement in symptoms if they lose weight in addition to managing their other heart risks, says the study.  Researchers found that people who steadily lost more than 30 pounds and kept their other health conditions in check saw greater improvements in atrial fibrillation symptoms than those who just managed their other health conditions without trying to lose weight.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of rhythm disorder affecting the heart’s upper chambers.  It can be caused by a number of issues – including heart attacks, infections and heart valve problems.  Adult and childhood obesity is a risk factor for AF, as are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Is it possible to eat “heart healthy” at Thanksgiving dinner and eat well?  Yes!

  • Control your portion size. How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories, fat and cholesterol than you should.
  • Understand serving sizes. A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces, or pieces—and a healthy serving size may be a lot smaller than you’re used to. Remember this at the buffet – the recommended serving size for pasta is ½ cup, while a serving of meat, fish, or chicken is 2 to 3 ounces (57-85 grams).
  • Eat more fruits and veggies. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods at the holiday party.
  • Limit unhealthy fats. The best way to reduce trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you consume. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming the fat off your holiday steak.
  • Change your holiday habits. The best way to avoid saturated fats is to change your lifestyle practices. Instead of chips, snack on fruit or vegetables as hors d’oeuvres.

As the holidays approach, be realistic. 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 advantage of Fitness for Health’s exergaming programs.

Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevents weight gain.  A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.

Most importantly, enjoy the holidays with your family and friends and make healthy eating choices without denying yourself your favorite foods in the buffets!

To learn how Fitness for Health can help you make time for exercise this season, please visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.

Men – Do You Want Healthy Kids in the Future? Exercise Now

Most parents know that the diet and exercise habits of a pregnant woman impacts the health of her baby, but little is known about how a father’s health choices are passed to his children. A new study finds that lifestyle practices of fathers prior to conception may have a major impact on the lifelong health of their children.

As detailed in the journal, Diabetes, in a new study led by Kristin Stanford, a physiology and cell biology researcher with The Ohio State University College of Medicine at the Wexner Medical Center, and Laurie Goodyear of the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, paternal exercise had a significant impact on the metabolic health of offspring well into their adulthood.

“Here’s what’s really interesting; offspring from the dads fed a high-fat diet fared worse, so they were more glucose intolerant. But exercise negated that effect,” Stanford said. “When the dad exercised, even on a high-fat diet, we saw improved metabolic health in their adult offspring.”

Stanford’s team also found that exercise caused changes in the genetic expression of the father’s sperm that suppress poor dietary effects and transfer to the offspring.

“Based on both studies, we’re now determining if both parents exercising has even greater effects to improve metabolism and overall health of offspring. If translated to humans, this would be hugely important for the health of the next generation,” Goodyear said.

The researchers believe the results support the hypothesis that small RNAs could help transmit parental environmental information to the next generation.

“There’s potential for this to translate to humans. We know that in adult men obesity impairs testosterone levels, sperm number and motility, and it decreases the number of live births,” Stanford said. “If we ask someone who’s getting ready to have a child to exercise moderately, even for a month before conception, that could have a strong effect on the health of their sperm and the long-term metabolic health of their children.”

Are you worried about the health of your future children? Make fitness fun NOW – before your kids are born – and they’ll grow up learning that playing is a form of fitness.

I have worked with families and young children for more than 30 years as the founder and owner of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic fitness facility utilizing cutting-edge technology to help children and adults reach their full, physical potential.  I know firsthand that the power of play cannot be underestimated.

Fitness should be fun.  Would you rather run on a treadmill or play a pick-up game of basketball with your buddies at the park? Would you prefer to do chin-ups or admire the beautiful autumn leaves by taking a hike with your loved one?

Make fitness fun! Your future kids will thank you for spending valuable time with them making lifelong memories and your kids’ health – and your health – will improve while combating obesity. It’s a win-win for your future family!

Are you in need of fitness assistance?  Fitness for Health can help you 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 so families can become active together.  Attend our free, Open House for Prospective Families on Sunday, December 2, from 5pm – 6pm to learn about our athletic training, therapeutic exercise, occupational therapy and physical therapy offerings. Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn about our programs or call us at 301-231-7138.

Stopping Bullying in the Special Needs Community

In honor of this week’s celebration of Anti-Bullying Week, let’s highlight bullying in the special needs community.  Whether face-to-face, nasty notes, harassing cell phone voicemails or cyber stalking, bullying has become an epidemic.

There are numerous statistics about childhood bullying and its growth in the computer age.  We know with certainty that bullying of children with disabilities is significant but, unfortunately, there has been very little research to document the harassment of this population segment.

Only 10 U.S. studies have been conducted on the connection between bullying and developmental disabilities, but all of these studies found that children with special needs were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers.  According to PACER’S National Bullying Prevention Center, one study has shown that 60 percent of students with disabilities report being bullied regularly compared with 25 percent of total students.

This should be disheartening to each of us and should act as a wake-up call to government legislators, educators and parents.

Because bullying involves an imbalance of physical or psychological power, students with special needs are especially vulnerable and frequently targeted.  For example, in the fall of 2009, responses to a Massachusetts Advocates for Children online survey asked about the extent of bullying against children on the autism spectrum.  Nearly 90 percent of parents responded that their children had been bullied. These findings are applicable to most students with disabilities.

All children deserve to feel safe in school.  The Federation for Children with Special Needs lists a few ways parents can support a child with special needs who is being bullied:

  • Tell your child that this is not his or her fault, and that your child did nothing wrong.
  • Gently emphasize that above all, your child should not retaliate or attempt to fight or hit the bully.
  • Role-play ignoring the bully or walking away.
  • With your child, make a list of adults in school he or she can go to for help, such as counselors or administrators.
  • Arrange for him or her to see friends on the weekends, and plan fun activities with the family.

Children and young adults with learning disabilities and special needs are undoubtedly at increased risk of being bullied.  And, unfortunately, a person’s disability can make it difficult to identify the type of bullying that is occurring. It is important for both teachers and parents to take the time to clearly define and describe bullying behaviors for children with special needs, so they can identify bullying and notify adults if they experience or witness bullying.

We, as a society, have somehow moved away from teaching our children about empathy and compassion. We, as parents and educators, have moved far away from teaching kids that, just because someone is different, it does not mean that they are a target to bully and tease.

As a person with A.D.D. and the founder of  Fitness for Health, a therapeutic, exercise facility for children and adults with special needs in the Washington, DC, Region , I believe that we need to relearn and re-emphasize respect and human decency for everyone. It is every parent and educator’s responsibility to speak to our kids about why some people are different and answer any questions that they have openly and honestly.  Only then, we may have the opportunity to create happier and healthier kids at school and less bullying.

Fitness for Health is proud to offer fitness programs created specifically for the special needs community that help improve self-esteem, weight management and kids’ health while helping children reach their full potential.

Areas of improvement may include:

  • Functional movement / play skills
  • Gross motor function and coordination
  • Crossing the midline
  • Mental processing
  • Motor planning and motor sequencing
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Locomotor skills
  • Visual motor/perceptual motor skills
  • Proprioception and balance
  • Age-appropriate social skills
  • And more