Archive for May, 2011

Overcoming Obesity in Today’s Society


Any way you look at it the statistics regarding obesity are unbelievable:

• In the U.S., 55% of adults are overweight, nearly 25% are obese.

• Each year there are approximately 280,000 deaths in the U.S. that can be attributed to obesity.

There is no longer any doubt that the most widespread and the largest threat to our health is being overweight or obese.

And while these statistics are shocking to most, there are still as many as 80 million people in the United States dealing with obesity.

According to Mayoclinic.com obesity can be defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. And it is more than just a cosmetic concern; it increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Doctors use a formula called the body mass index which is based on your height and weight to determine if you are actually obese.

If your BMI is below 18.5 you are underweight
18.5 – 24.9 is normal
25.0 – 29.9 is overweight
30.0 and higher is obese
40.0 and higher is extremely obese

The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity.

Experts are trying to get across to these millions of people who are dealing daily with obesity is that it is not going to cure itself overnight. There is not a magic pill that someone can take that will reverse the toll we have taken on our bodies over the years.

Losing weight and keeping that weight off is a commitment – a lifelong commitment – and something that won’t come easy to many people. Weight loss is not a short term goal. It is a long term lifestyle change that you must be ready to take on before you start any type of diet or fitness regimen.

However, even just getting started will get you on the right track, and quickly.
Keep in mind there are plenty of support groups out there that will help you get you where you need to be as far as diet and fitness goals and most importantly, don’t give up and just get started!

Research Shows: Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease with Exercise


According to Mayoclinic.com a recent report for the Alzheimer’s Association predicts that 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. alone. This staggering number translates to about one out of every eight baby boomer.

While new treatments are constantly being studied and analyzed many believe that a cure will not be readily available during this lifetime. However, studies keep point to the fact that physical activity or exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease. Beyond a healthy heart and regulated body weight, studies suggest that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk for Alzheimer’s. In fact, it looks as though exercise inhibits Alzheimer’s-like brain changes in mice which decelerate the development of a major component of the disease.

Researchers have found that women age 65 and older who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in mental function than inactive women. Another study was conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago in which mice, after having been bred to develop Alzheimer’s type plaque in the brain were allowed to exercise while others were not. The brains in the physically active mice had 50 to 80 percent less plaque than the brains of the sedentary mice and the exercising mice produced significantly more of an enzyme in the brain that prevents plaque.

Another study completed at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System also tested the effects of aerobic training on 33 women and men diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which is often considered a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Oregonlive.com 23 of the volunteers, selected randomly, began an intense program of aerobic exercise, consisting of 45 to 60 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike four days a week. The remaining 10, the study’s control group, spent the same amount of time performing non-aerobic stretching and balance exercises.

After six months, the aerobic exercisers showed significant gains in mental agility, while the non-aerobic group showed continuing decline in tests of thinking speed, fluency with words and ability to multi-task.

Even though it still remains unknown whether exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s, many scientists believe that lifestyle factors including exercise, mental stimulation and strong social connections are more likely to help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease than any existing pharmaceuticals or supplements.

It’s Pool Time: Stay Fit While Afloat


Whether we like it or not, the warm weather marks the beginning of swimming pool season. The opening of public as well as home pools will soon have people breaking out their bathing suits for another season of swimming.

Swimming can be a good way to wind down after a long day or as another means of exercise. It is an excellent way to lose weight and strength train while enjoying the beautiful outdoors. It’s also an activity that can be continued for a lifetime. It’s an exercise that keeps your heart rate up but takes a lot of the stress off of your body and joints.

According to swimming.about.com, exercise experts recommend swimming as a form of exercise because of the great cardiovascular workout you get from swimming. It is considered a great aerobic exercise because by definition it is an action that maintains an elevated heartbeat for a minimum of 20 minutes. Swimming burns calories at a rate of about 3 calories a mile per pound of body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs. and it takes you 30 minutes to swim one mile (1,760 yards or 1,609 meters), then you will be using about 900 calories in one hour.

In addition to burning calories, swimming also builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. It can also serve as a cross-training element to regular workouts. You can use the pool for a warm-up session before hitting the gym if you like. You can also swim after an intense work out to help cool-down and help your muscles recover while gliding through the water. Or you may want to add swimming to your pre-existing aerobic workout to help switch things up and keep your workouts fresh. Alternate days that you decide to use swimming as your cardio for that day, so you don’t get bored with any one workout.

Instead of staying indoors and using the treadmill or elliptical for a day, get outdoors and swim laps in the pool for the cardio portion of your workout and you will find that exercising comes much easier when you aren’t sticking to the same routine day in and day out.

Like any exercise, you should also start any swimming workout routine by stretching first. You may not realize the affect swimming has on your entire body until it is too late, so be sure to stretch appropriately before you begin. Then start off slow by swimming strides and gradually increasing your speed in the pool. This will help to elevate your heart rate at a safe pace and help you to last longer during your workout.

Experts suggest starting out swimming laps for approximately 20 minutes for women and 30 minutes for men. You can begin to increase your time as necessary and as you continue your workout over the course of weeks or months. Again, this will prevent you from getting too tired, too sore, wore out or disappointed in your swimming workout.

Try out different strokes when you are swimming, too. Do some laps using the breaststroke, then switch up and do the backstroke, or even the doggy paddle. Each swimming stroke using a different variety of muscles and therefore will give you the best overall workout.

Playing games in the pool is also a good way to get some exercise in the spring and summer. You can play water polo, water basketball, chicken fights, diving games, or even just do some aerobics in the water. You will get your workout in without even realizing it!

Be sure to wear your sun block (preferably a waterproof kind to avoid unnecessary reapplications) to fight the harmful UV rays of the sun while you are in the pool.

And lastly, keep it safe and have fun. Before you know it, the warm seasons will be over and we’ll be looking for ways to exercise indoors again. Enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts!