Friday, June 15, 2018

Exercising in the Summer

Now that it is June, what are some tips for exercising in the summer weather?

A warm summer day is a great motivator to get outside and be active.  Below are some tips to exercise effectively this summer.

  1. Prioritize exercise - During the winter, you could not wait for the weather to improve.  Now that we have good weather, make getting outside a top priority.
  2. Acclimatization - National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) guidelines say it can take 10 to 14 days to adjust to warmer and more humid weather.  As such, exercise intensity should increase as acclimatization occurs.
  3. Time of day – Be aware of the hottest part of the day (between 10 am and 4 pm.)
  4. Apparel -
    1. Clothing should be loose and light for better air circulation over your skin.
    2. Light in color to reflect the sun.
    3. Dri-Fit type materials help move sweat away from the body.
  5. Sun Block - Protect your skin and reapply sun block every two hours.
  6. Hydration -
    1. Stay hydrated throughout the day.
    2. Pre and post exercise will require additional hydration in warm/humid weather.
  7. Check Forecast – If there is a heat advisory, poor air quality, or wet weather in the forecast, adjust your workouts accordingly.
  8. Recognize your body’s warning signals -  Stop if you feel faint, weak, or nauseous.

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Dos and Don'ts of Naps

Do naps have health benefits for adults?  What are the dos and don’ts of naps?

More than a third of American adults are not getting the recommend seven or more hours of sleep per night on a regular basis.  Naps are not a substitute for a good night sleep, but they do provide some health benefits:

         Enhances performance and reduces mistakes.  A NASA study found sleepy pilots improved performance by 30% post a 40 minute nap.
         Increases alertness and may extend alertness later into the day.  The same NASA study found the sleepy pilots improved alertness by 100% post nap.
         Reduces stress and can improve mood.

What are the do and don’ts of a nap?
         Naps should not replace a night of sleep.
         If you are not tired, don’t force yourself to nap.
         Naps should be “power naps” and only last 20 to 30 minutes.
         Should occur in a restful environment (quiet and dark).
         Should not occur too early in the morning as your body needs to transition away from the night sleep state.
         Generally, should not occur after 3pm to avoid impacting your night sleeping pattern.

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Friday, April 20, 2018

May is National Egg Month

May is National Egg Month.  Are eggs good or bad for you?  What are some practical approaches for incorporating eggs into my diet?

Eggs were a common American diet staple up until the 1940’s due to their health benefits, accessibility (higher farm population), and economic value.  The consumption of eggs waned from the 1940’s forward due to studies linking eggs to heart disease, strokes, and high cholesterol due to their high fat and cholesterol content.

However, recent research has concluded:
         The amount of cholesterol the liver produces to be inversely related to the amount of cholesterol consumed (liver produces less cholesterol when consuming more cholesterol; and visa versa). As a result, cholesterol levels tend to stay the same or increase only slightly.
         Saturated fats have a large role in raising cholesterol levels and risk for diseases. 

The end result is the link between cholesterol from eggs and blood cholesterol is inconclusive.  Hence, the U.S. Dietary Guideline recommendations on eggs and daily cholesterol intake were updated.

Eggs have many health benefits.  They are a good source of protein, contain many vitamins, and several trace minerals and nutrients.  Here are some practical approaches for incorporating eggs into your diet:

         Consuming a whole egg a day is generally OK (yolks and whites)
         Exceptions do exist.  Limit or avoid egg consumption, consume egg substitutes, or consume the whites if:
        Your diet is already high in saturated fat or calories
        Your dealing with heart disease, have a higher risk for heart disease or stroke, or have high blood pressure
         Prepare the egg in a healthy manner
        Poach, boiled
        Avoid oil or butter when frying
        Avoid the extras (bacon, sausage, cheese, salt, etc.)

The following websites were used in answering the question:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Strength Training and Low Back Pain

The Fitness First staff encourages me to strength train my low back even when I have acute low back pain.  How does strength training help with low back pain?

Low back pain is categorized as follows:
•Acute - a few days to ~6 weeks
•Subacute - ~6 to ~12 weeks
•Chronic - greater than 12 weeks

About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime.  50% of people in the United States experience chronic low back pain and it is the most common cause of job-related disability and missed workdays.

How does strength training provide relief for low back pain and improve my low back health?

1.  When a low back injury occurs, strength training promotes oxygen / nutrient rich blood flow to the area to speed injury repair

2.  Helps alleviates stiffness and improves the spine’s range of motion

3.  Leads to gains in strength and muscle mass.  Gains in strength and muscle mass help stabilize the spine and reduces pain associated with poor posture

4.  Improves bone density to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the pain associated with osteoporosis

5.  A strong stable spine reduces the likelihood of future injury or re-injury

6.  Promotes Endorphin release.  Endorphins elevate mood and lower the perception of pain

7.  Strength training and stretching the hamstrings helps provides relief for back pain

Regardless of the low back pain type, research has shown that strength training is an effective way to reduce pain, perceived pain, the level of disability, and improve quality of life.

The following websites and were used in answering the question:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sleep Awareness Week

March 11 to March 17, 2018 is the National Sleep Foundation's annual Sleep Awareness Week. It is a reminder of the impact of proper sleep on your health. It is also important to understand how strength training impacts your sleep and how proper sleep impacts your strength training results.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Dehydration and Strength Training

I know hydration is important, but how does dehydration negatively impact my strength training session?

The importance of proper hydration is well known.  Proper hydration supports all bodily function.  Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly.  Therefore it is not surprising that dehydration can negatively impact performance in endurance sports (running), team sports (football), sports taking place in hot temperatures, or sports requiring heavy gear.

However, there is very little research on the impact of dehydration on strength / resistance training.

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology evaluated the effects of dehydration on resistance training performance. Ten trained males completed two resistance training protocols under the following conditions:

         dehydration (3% of body mass) followed by rehydration preceding a full body workout
         dehydration (3% of body mass) without rehydration preceding a full body workout

The full body resistance training protocol was comprised of three sets to failure across six activities.  Resistance was based on the subject’s 12 repetition maximum, and two minutes of rest was given between each set.  Total repetitions were counted for all sets and compared between conditions.

The results showed that the males performed significantly more total repetitions when they were hydrated (average of 169 reps) versus when they were dehydrated (average of 144 reps).  On average, the males performed one to two reps less per set than when they were hydrated.  Conclusion: as little as 3% dehydration was enough to impair resistance exercise performance.

The following website was used in answering the question:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Can Processed Foods Be Part Of A Healthy Diet?

Q:  Can processed foods be part of a healthy diet?


Most foods have some level of processing.  Even natural or organic foods may be processed.  The spectrum ranges from minimally processed (bagged beans, roasted nuts, frozen fruits / vegetables) to highly processed (snack foods, ready-to-eat meals, precooked meats).

In fact, some processed foods can be healthy when the processing is on the minimal end of the spectrum, provides access to healthy food not readily available,  prevents spoilage or increases food safety (pasteurized milk, canned fruits / vegetable, vacuum sealed products).

However, most diets are getting too much highly processed foods.  A 2016 study found that highly processed foods contribute 60% of calories and 90% of added sugars to American diets.  Similarly, Americans get 70% of their sodium from processed and restaurant foods.

How to limit highly processed foods?
•Read food labels
•Eat at home
•Avoid the salty six (bread, deli meat, sandwiches/burgers, pizza, soup, chicken)
•Eat fresh or on the minimally processed end of the spectrum
•Avoid sauces, gravies, salad dressings, condiments, and syrups

The following website was used in answering the question: