Friday, February 23, 2018

The Pros of Slow #1

In this series, I'm highlighting research on slowing down your workout. I'll focus on slow strength-training, slow cardio workouts and slow foam rolling for recovery. Check back each week to learn about the benefits of taking it slow.

Slow strength training is not a new concept. It's been around - and researched - for more than three decades. It's been gaining popularity, in part, thanks to many ex-boot campers and Cross-Fitters looking for an alternative that is gentler on the body.

The benefits of super slow toning are pretty remarkable. A 10 week study compared a group lifting weights at a regular speed to a group lifting super slow. The slo-mo lifters had improvements in strength 50% greater than the traditional lifters had. Astounding results!

What makes this training work so well? By slowing the process, you increase the amount of time there is tension on the muscle and you don't use any momentum to help you lift and lower, which makes the exercise more effective. As I always tell my clients and classes, "Slower is Harder!"

Try it! Next time you strength train, try the 5-5-5 system. Contract the muscle for a count of 5 and release for a count of 5. Use a weight with which you can only do 5 reps.

Twice weekly heavy strength training is just about right. Include recovery days in between your strength training days. Research shows it takes your body three days to recover between strength sessions. The recovery day is when your muscles repair and build so you are stronger and more defined. Adding in more heavy strength sessions will only break you down, not tone you up.

Slow down for bigger strength gains,

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, February 16, 2018

Work Well

Your office space can impact your health in more ways than you know. Use these tips to work smarter and feel better at the end of the day.

Compact Fluorescent Lighting is greener but it can damage your skin. One study found that tiny cracks in CFL coatings allow the bulbs to emit UVC rays, which can damage epidermal cells at close range. In other words. overhead fluorescents are OK, but rethink your desk lamp. Choose LED for your personal space.

Lack of Privacy
Open floor plans are meant to encourage collaboration but they also generate a steady hum of chatter, pings and clacks that can be a significant distraction. Every time you're disturbed you must not only let go of the distraction but then reconnect with the original subject of your attention. This process adds extra stress to your day. See if you can expense some noise-cancelling headphones. In-ear design can drown out the din without making you seem unapproachable.

The Kitchen
Researchers found that a sick employee with likely contaminate the fridge door, microwave and coffeepot within two hours at work. Ugh! Hand sanitizers are OK but they are not as effective as soap and water. When you wash, take 20 - 30 solid seconds to jar all those germs loose.

We know that incorrect ergonomic posture at your desk can cause back, shoulder and neck pain. But slouching also slows digestion and circulation. Even your mental state can be compromised. A recent study found that those who slouch at their desks had more negative thoughts than those who sat up straight. Check yourself at work - is your butt at the back of the chair? Feet on the floor? Can you type without changing your posture? Try a lumbar support pillow or footstool if you need to make adjustments.

Take some time today to evaluate your office environment. 
Small changes can yield big dividends for your health.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, February 9, 2018

Evening Eaters Beware

We've heard the weight loss advice before: eat nothing but water after 6pm. Previous studies have found that if you restrict the time a person eats to just the daytime hours, it really does help reduce weight. New research demonstrates that melatonin, a hormone involved in the cycles of sleeping and waking, is an important factor in the reasons why.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published a study by nine sleep-medicine researchers working with college-aged participants. They found that the closer you eat to your melatonin onset, the more likely you are to have a higher percent body fat. The study showed that it did not matter what a person ate, how much they ate or how much they exercised when it came to predicting their body composition. All that mattered was the timing of the calories relative to melatonin onset. 

Determining the precise timing of melatonin onset can only be done in a laboratory setting but scientists think the the sleep hormone typically begins to rise about 2 hours prior to habitual bedtime. The best rule of thumb is to limit the number of calories you eat during that 2 hours, as they may "count" for more than just a calorie. 

Shifting eating time should take little effort to implement, and could pay off in very real, measurable success. If you normally head to bed at 10pm, for example, you should avoid eating anything after 8pm. Referencing my blog on controlling blood sugar, make sure to do some light movement after dinner and before winding down for the evening. Some clients have found it helpful to brush their teeth immediately after dinner to prevent indiscriminate snacking after their evening meal. Avoid eating anything in front of the TV.

This easy, evidence-based tip can help you "eat yourself lean" in 2018.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, February 2, 2018

Six Surpising Benefits of Strength Training #2

Last week, I shared three advantages of strength training and why it's an essential component of all-around good health. I share three more this week.

4. Strength training keeps you lean.

People think of strength training as a muscle-building activity: lift weights, pack on muscle. But research is finding that it's an effective fat burner as well. Muscle tissue is the engine that drives fat loss. You want to retain as much muscle mass as possible if you're trying to get leaner. The anaerobic effects of strength training contributes to fat burning through excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This increased oxygen use elevates the metabolism, burning more calories. Additionally, the muscle remains slightly contracted after your workout, which requires a higher calorie burn. The body burns fuel to repair muscles after lifting weights, as well.

5. Strength training tones your gray matter.

Research is showing that strength workouts can prevent, slow or even reverse the progress of many cognitive ailments. Many studies have shown that weight-lifting regimens have been life-changing for those with depression. A study of identical twins showed that leg strength was the best predictor of cognitive function in middle-age adults. In other words, stronger legs made for stronger brains. Another study showed that older women develop fewer brain lesions, often an indicator of dementia, when they performed basic, twice-weekly strength training.

Scientists don't understand why and how these changes occur. It's possible that lifting weights releases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a protein that promotes neural growth. Another theory suggests that systemic changes in the metabolic and cardiovascular systems create a healthy environment where the brain thrives. In other words, the exercise benefits the brain by reducing chronic conditions that negatively impact the brain.

6, Strength training can inspire you.

People explore the limits of their abilities and have an opportunity to express intensity when they strength train. Some sessions are personal triumphs: you lift a weight you've never lifted before or you pull off a move you've never done. Personal transformations can lead to new assertiveness in the workplace or confidence in inter-personal relationships. When you try something difficult and you prevail, you have a palpable experience that translates into your life.  

Sure, strength training makes you strong, but these six additional benefits create a convincing  case for making weightlifting a central element in your fitness routine.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food