Monday, August 7, 2017

Sunscreen Application

With summer upon us, I have started to apply sunscreen.  What does the SPF rating mean (e.g. SPF 30)?

Not only are we well into summer, but May was also Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  So, it is a great time to understand the sunscreen ratings.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  It refers to the theoretical amount of time one can be in the sun without getting sunburn.  The number that follows the SPF acronym indicates how much longer one can stay in the sun without getting sunburn.

If you normally start to get sunburn in 10 minutes, applying a sunscreen of SPF 30 would allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer or a total of 300 minutes (10 minutes x 30 = 300 minutes or five hours).

However, SPF is a theoretical amount of time.  If you are outside working, exercising, or just sweating, the actual amount of time the sunscreen will block the sun is much less.  For this reason, it is recommended that sunscreen be applied every two hours.

Which SPF is best (15, 30, 50, or 100)?  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30.  The higher the SPF the more sunrays that are blocked and the longer you can stay in the sun.  However, due to theoretical versus actual time discrepancy and the fact that higher SPF has more chemicals, some dermatologists recommend a SPF of 30 or 50 with liberal application every two hours.

The final sunscreen advice to keep in mind:  No SPF sunscreen can replace the sun blocking ability of sun protecting clothing, umbrellas, or shelters.

The following website was used in answering the question:

Friday, July 28, 2017


Too much sodium in your diet is bad.  Can you have too little sodium in your diet?  What are the side effects?

A low blood sodium level is called Hyponatremia.

Common reasons for Hyponatremia:
         Excess water in the body which dilutes the normal sodium concentration
        From consuming large amounts of water during strenuous exercise
        From chronic diseases like kidney failure or heart failure that lead to water retention
         Prolonged sodium loss due to sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea
         Medical conditions such as Cirrhosis or Addison's disease
         Or medications such as diuretics

Side effects of prolonged/chronic Hyponatremia:
         Muscle cramps
         Diminish mental acuteness

Notice that a regular diet low in sodium is not a common reason for Hyponatremia.  As a matter of fact, the CDC has concluded that 90% of children and 89% of adults in the United States consume more than the recommended limits for sodium.  The main culprits are eating out, processed food, and pre-packaged foods.  Too little sodium from nutritional habits is usually not an issue.

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ten Reasons to Strength Train

Research increasingly suggests and supports that strength training is a significant component of a comprehensive fitness program.  When appropriately prescribed and supervised, strength training has many favorable effects on overall health.  Here is a list of ten reasons why strength training should be included in your fitness program.  Fitness first can develop a customized exercise prescription that helps improve these areas.

1.  Builds healthy bones and reduces risk for Osteoporosis

2.  Increases energy throughout the day and improves sleep at night

3.  Helps produce long-term results by adding lean muscle tissue to your body

4.  Helps improve confidence and self-esteem

5.  Increases lean muscle tissue to improve body composition

6.  Increases metabolism

7.  Reduces low back and arthritic pain by strengthening the supporting musculature

8.  Reduces blood pressure and improves glucose metabolism

9.  Increases muscle strength improving athletic performance and reducing injuries

10.  Helps prevent age associated muscle loss

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Defining Physical Activity and Exercise

            How do you spend a typical 24-hour day?  How many hours do you spend sleeping or sitting?  How many hours during a typical day do you spend being physically active?  Now think of how many hours you spend being active and think more specifically about what type of activity you are doing.  The World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as an independent risk factor for chronic disease development.  That alone should be a trigger to become more active throughout the day.  Research suggests that the amount of time we spend sitting or being inactive could be just as important as the time we spend exercising.  This brings up an important question regarding the difference between physical activity and exercise.
            There exists an important distinction between physical activity and exercise.  Physical activity is movement that is performed by the skeletal muscles that requires energy.  In essence, any movement performed by the body is considered physical activity.  However, exercise describes planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to have a positive impact on physical fitness.  While research provides evidence that all physical activity positively contributes to overall health, exercise is essential for improving the components of physical fitness.  These components include: cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.  In order to be considered exercise, an activity must address these factors of physical fitness. 
            Total-body strength training is a great example of an activity that meets the definition of exercise.  Strength training positively impacts muscular strength and endurance.  It can positively impact cardiorespiratory fitness if performed at an appropriate intensity.  Utilizing a full-range of motion during strength training can provide improvements in flexibility fitness, and adding lean muscle tissue to your body will positively impact body composition. 
            Adding both elements, physical activity and exercise, to you daily routine is beneficial for improving physical fitness and overall health.  It is important to understand the similarities and differences between the two terms, especially when time it a factor.  Understanding the difference also becomes important when constructing realistic goals.  If you have significant fitness or health goals, consider implementing intentional total-body strength training as a tool to help you achieve those goals.

The following website was used as a reference for the creation of this article:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cooked vs. Raw Vegetables

Are some vegetables healthier when they are cooked vs. when they are raw?

Depending on the vegetable and cooking method, cooked vegetables can result in enhanced nutritional benefits that are not found in the raw state.

Benefits of cooked vegetables
         Cooking vegetables breaks down fibrous cell walls which makes it easier to absorb and digest certain nutrients.
         Cooked carrots have more beta carotene (antioxidant that can be converted to vitamin A and improves bone, eye, and reproductive health) compared to raw carrots.
         Cooked tomatoes have more lycopene (carotenoid that has been associated with reduced incidence of heart disease and cancer) compared to raw tomatoes.
         Cooked spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers have more antioxidants compared to their raw counterparts.

Cooking Method
Although cooked vegetables have some enhanced nutritional benefits, cooking does reduces others (vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and other minerals).  A quick cooking process is best to preserve some of the raw nutritional benefits and receive the enhanced benefits from cooking.  Cooking in a microwaving or steaming is best, followed by boiling and pan frying.  Deep frying is the least preferred method.

Because there are benefits and disadvantages, you should try to eat raw and cooked vegetables, but also prepare them in a manner that will lead you to eat more vegetables.

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

2017 Goal Setting

It is 2017!  People are setting fitness/health resolutions and the new fitness/health trends are all the rage.  Below is a list of things to focus on when setting goals and some fitness/health trends to ignore.

When setting goals:
         Focus on activity goals:  Most people set weight goals: “I want to lose 15 lbs.”  Instead focus on realistic activity goals:  “I want to strength train twice a week,” or “I want to walk twice a week.”

         Focus on sustainable and long term goals:  Rome was not built in a day.  Once you have realistic goals, focus on sustaining them.  Life has hurdles (sickness, vacation, work, etc), focus on landing on the other side and moving forward.

         Less is more:  Realize the power of elimination.  If an activity (exercise or non-exercise) is not adding value, remove it.

Fitness/health trends to ignore:
         Super foods:  You hear a lot about certain super foods and their recently discovered health benefits.  Ignore the hype.  Most non-processed, non-preserved, and low fat fruits, vegetable, proteins, and grains will provide health benefits.  Focus on eating a wide variety of these foods.

         More is more:  More is not more and too much can lead to overuse injuries, fatigue, and burnout.  Intense workouts are important, but proper recovery is just as important.

         More technology:  Tracking steps/activity is good, but some research has found individuals that track steps/activity actually move less.  More research is needed, but focus your efforts on being more active rather than trying to track every activity.

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sport Specialization

There is pressure to have our elementary age children specialize (focus) on a single sport.  Is there research on this topic?

Over the last 25 years, specializing in a single sport at a young age has become more and more common.  The reasons for specializing vary but the most common reason cited is the fear of a child falling behind kids that are participating in a structured single sport program.

Early research on this topic provided inconclusive answers.  Recent research has found many negative effects on children specializing in a single sport.  These include:

  1. Children specializing in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries
  2. Early specialization leads to burnout and inactivity as an adult
  3. Early specialization is a predictor of future injury. A Loyola University study found specialized athletes are 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports
  4. Early specialization results in higher stress levels and lack of enjoyment

Beyond the negatives, the following benefits arise from early multi-sport participation:
  1. Better decision making, pattern recognition, and increased creativity
  2. Better overall motor/athletic development and sport skill transfer
  3. Increased motivation, ownership of the sports experience, and confidence

A final topic to note:  Research also found that unstructured “free play” is important.  As “free play” provides a high level of enjoyment, increases motor skills, emotional ability, creativity; and results in greater sport engagement.

The following website and article were used in answering the question: