Eve's Health & Fitness

DOB: October 27 CURRENT RESIDENCE: North Eastern Oklahoma OCCUPATION: Certified Group Fitness Instructor HEIGHT:5'1"; WEIGHT:105 lbs.; BF%:14.3% bodyfat FAVORITE BODY PARTS TO TRAIN: Back, abs FAVORITE CHEAT MEAL: Mexican and any dark chocolate CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Featured as a fitness role model in Chad Tackett's Global-Health & Fitness website: http://www.global-fitness.com/ DESCRIBE MYSELF: Competitive, energetic, persistent, focused, consistent, and driven.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Here's Why Grains Are Good


Eating Whole Grains


Grain products, such as bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, and tortillas, are generally low in fat and provide fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and some phytochemicals. Most of the foods we eat are refined grains; for example: white bread, white rice, pasta, pretzels, etc. Refined grains do not contain as many nutrients as whole grains.

A whole grain is the entire edible portion of a grain. A whole grain includes three parts, each with a valuable store of nutrients:

  • Bran–contains large amounts of B vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Endosperm–houses most of the protein and carbohydrate, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals
  • Germ–contains B vitamins, minerals, and some protein

White flour, which is the base of many of our foods, is made by refining whole grains. During the refining process, most or all of the bran and germ are removed. White flour that has been enriched has certain nutrients added to it: iron and some B vitamins (including folate). However, many other nutrients are lost, these include:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamins E and B6
  • Minerals: magnesium, copper, zinc
  • Phytochemicals

Whole grains are a healthier choice because the ingredients they contain can help lower the risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Soluble fiber (found in oats and barley) can lower cholesterol levels. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, are believed to help prevent atherosclerosis and lower the risk for coronary artery disease.

Here's How to Get Your Grains:

It's easy to eat six grain servings per day. One serving is equal to:

  • 1 cup flaked cereal
  • ½ cup of cooked oatmeal, grits, or cream-of-wheat cereal
  • ¼ cup nugget or bud-type cereal
  • 3 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 pancake or waffle, 4 inch diameter
  • ½ English muffin, hamburger roll, pita, or bagel (frozen kind; those from bagel shops can be up to 4 servings)
  • 1 slice of bread or dinner roll
  • 1 tortilla, 6 inch diameter
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or barley
  • ½ cup quinoa, bulgur, millet, or other whole grain
  • ½ cup pretzels
  • 3-4 small crackers

Finding the Whole Grain

The trickiest part about eating whole grains is figuring out which grains truly are whole. To do this, check the ingredient label. The product is a whole grain if the first ingredient is whole wheat or oatmeal. Don't be fooled by brown breads, some are dyed to be that color. Also, a food label that reads "wheat bagel," "stoned wheat," or "seven grain" is not necessarily "whole grain."

The following are whole grains:

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Popcorn
  • Some cold breakfast cereals, for example:
    • Cheerios
    • Granola or muesli
    • Grape-Nuts
    • Nutri-Grain
    • Raisin bran
    • Shredded wheat
    • Total
    • Wheat germ
    • Wheaties
  • Some hot breakfast cereals, for example:
    • Oat bran
    • Oatmeal
    • Quaker Multigrain
    • Roman Meal
    • Wheatena
  • Some crackers, for example:
    • Triscuits
    • Wheat Thins

REFERENCES:

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org.

United States Department of Agriculture website. Available at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome.

Cheers,

Eve :-)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Napping: Medicine for the Weary

The Benefits of a Few Extra Zzzzz's

Whether you nap at home or work, as little as a 10- to 15-minute nap can make a positive difference in how you feel and function.

"The most talked about benefits are improved mood and performance,"says William A. Anthony, PhD, author of The Art of Napping and The Art of Napping at Work. Naps, he says, also improve concentration, alertness, creativity and reaction time.

There are long-term benefits, as well.

"[Naps] tend to reduce the chance of heart attacks, strokes, and certainly stress," explains James B. Maas, PhD, a Cornell University sleep researcher and author of Power Sleep. He cites one study that showed a 30% lower incidence of cardiovascular disease in people who napped.

"Changes in metabolism and heart, pulse and breathing rates are all the sorts of things that are modified and reduced in a period of quiescence," says Dr. Maas.

Following Your Body's Lead

How long is the ideal nap? Most experts say it's anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

"Long enough to reap the benefits and restore some of the sleep debt that we're all carrying, but short enough so you don't go into delta, or deep, sleep," says Dr. Maas.

A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, says Pierce H. Howard, PhD, author of The Owner's Manual for The Brain. Because nappers typically reach only the alpha state or light sleep stage, they tend to feel refreshed instead of sluggish when they wake.

"But if we get into deep sleep, or REM state, and then wake up before the cycle's over, we feel like a truck hit us," says Dr. Howard.

The Measure of a Nap

You're ready for a nap when you start feeling drowsy, and that commonly takes place eight hours after you get up in the morning or 12 hours after the midpoint of the previous night's sleep. For the average person, that time occurs somewhere between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., which is also the lowest biorhythm point. Technically, that means body temperature drops and metabolism begins functioning at a minimum, explains Dr. Howard. As a result, people become tired and less alert. Statistics also show that 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. is the time period in which the most industrial, traffic, and domestic accidents occur.

Making Up for Lost Sleep

"We've cut down on our sleep by 20% over the last 100 years, and the human body can't keep up with that type of change," says Dr. Maas. "The best solution is good nocturnal sleep, but as a stop-gap measure, napping is a tremendous success."

Factors in addition to circadian rhythm cycles and sleep deprivation can influence the need for a nap. Poor health and eating habits, stress, exercise (or lack of it), lack of fresh air, and working under artificial lights can also induce the craving for a nap.

Napping and Sleep Disorders

If you're healthy and do not have a sleep disorder, you should be able to take a judiciously timed nap and sleep at night without any problems, says Dr. Anthony.

For people with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, a nap may also prove beneficial.

"I recommend napping for patients with excessive daytime sleepiness caused by disorders," says Karl Doghramji, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. On the other hand, if a person can't sleep at night from insomnia, a nap during the day might add to the problem. It all depends on the person.

Workplace Napping

Because many people are at work during the afternoon when the drowsy feeling sets in, they ignore the need for a nap. Instead, they go to the water cooler, drink caffeine, or stare at their computer screen and don't do anything, says Dr. Anthony.

But it makes sense to take a quick nap at work for two reasons. During that period, workers are not highly productive and are more error prone. And if you work through that period, some negative aspect of fatigue can emerge later. For example, once you're home, you might fall asleep in front of the television, and studies show that evening naps may interfere with regular nighttime sleep.

Tips for Successful Napping

The experts offer the following tips for incorporating naps into your life:

  • Give yourself permission to nap. Don't feel guilty.
  • Remember all the performance, mood and health benefits you gain by taking a nap.
  • Avoid caffeine after your first morning cup of coffee.
  • Surround yourself with items that make you comfortable, like a favorite pillow, blanket, soothing sounds and a couch or chair.
  • Use an alarm clock or timer, so that you won't slip into a deep sleep or worry about when you'll wake up (which makes it hard to relax).
  • Nap consistently at the same time every day, even if it's just a quick rest.
REFERENCES:

Anthony WA. The Art of Napping. Larson Publishing; May 1997.

Anthony WA. The Art of Napping at Work: The No-Cost, Natural Way to Increase Productivity and Satisfaction. Larson Publishing; December 1999.

Howard PJ. The Owner's Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research. Bard Press; January 2000.

National Sleep Foundation
http://www.sleepfoundation.org

Maas JB. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. HarperCollins; January 1999.

Cheers,

Eve :-)






Monday, July 24, 2006

Exercising Caution When You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes, exercise can help keep blood sugar under control and promote good health. However, there are precautions you should know about. While exercise is beneficial because it can lower your blood sugar level, it can also be dangerous for the same reason. Exercise can lead to hypoglycemia—a quick drop in blood sugar.

The Importance of Balance

Living with type 1 diabetes requires a balance of eating, exercising, and insulin usage in order to keep blood sugar levels within a desirable range. People without diabetes rarely give blood sugar a thought. This is because the pancreas automatically produces insulin to escort sugar out of the bloodstream and into body cells for use. Insulin production is naturally matched with the amount of sugar in the blood to keep levels stable.

However, with type 1 diabetes your body does not produce insulin. Therefore, you must take over as the regulator of blood sugar. This is an important job, as both high and low blood sugar levels can have serious health consequences.

In type 2 diabetes, your body produces insulin, but it either can’t use it properly or doesn’t make enough. People who manage type 2 diabetes with meal planning and exercise usually do not have problems with hypoglycemia. But if you use insulin injections, you may be at risk for exercise-induced hypoglycemia.

What is Hypoglycemia?

During exercise, your muscles take up sugar from the bloodstream to convert into energy. Such usage can decrease blood sugar to dangerously low levels (70 mg/dL to 90 mg/dL depending on the meter used; check with your doctor). This hypoglycemia can occur quickly. Symptoms include shakiness, dizziness, sweating, headache, hunger, pale skin, sudden moodiness, clumsy movements, confusion, and tingling around the mouth. Severe hypoglycemia can result in unconsciousness or seizures.

But don’t let the risk of hypoglycemia keep you from the many benefits of exercise. With a few precautions, you can reestablish the balance of food, exercise, and insulin. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Joslin Diabetes Center recommend these guidelines for safely incorporating exercise into your lifestyle:

Talk to Your Health Care Team

Your health care team can personalize your exercise goals. If you are over age 35, have had diabetes for more than ten years, or have other cardiac disease risk factors, your doctor will do an exam and some testing to determine what type of exercise is safe for you.

Time It Right

Schedule exercise at the same time each day. The best time is one to three hours after a meal. This is when blood sugar levels are highest, and the risk of hypoglycemia is lowest.

Monitor Your Blood Sugar Closely

Check your blood sugar before, during, and after exercise, and record these numbers. You and your health care team can use these readings to determine any changes in your insulin dose; with regular exercise, your need for insulin may decrease.

Before exercise, check your blood sugar twice: 30 minutes before and a few minutes before. This way, you’ll see if your blood sugar is decreasing. If it is dropping or it is 100 mg/dL or less, have a small snack and wait for blood sugar to return to normal. People with type 2 diabetes may be advised to avoid extra snacking, because it may interfere with weight loss (ask your doctor). If your blood sugar is high—250 mg/dL or more—do not exercise. Instead, check your urine for ketones. Do not exercise until both blood sugar and ketone levels return to normal.

During exercise, check every 30 minutes. If blood sugar levels drop too much (ask your doctor what level is too low), stop exercising and have a snack. Also be aware of high levels. Ask your doctor when to check for ketones and how best to manage high blood sugar.

After exercise, check again. If your exercise session is long, check regularly for several hours after, as blood sugar may continue to drop.

Be Prepared

Always have blood testing equipment, insulin, and high-carbohydrate snacks with you. Good snacks include juice, soft drinks, glucose tablets or gel, raisins, or hard candy. If hypoglycemia is a recurring problem, ask your doctor about a glucagon injection kit to treat a severe case. Carry a water bottle and drink often.

Manage Complications

If you have eye damage (retinopathy), avoid high-impact exercise that involves straining or jarring such as racquet sports, jogging, and lifting heavy weights. Better choices include walking, swimming, riding a stationary bike, and lifting light weights. Also, you may want to exercise indoors in a well-lit gym.

To protect your feet, check for blisters or other changes after every workout. Choose low-impact activities such as swimming and cycling, rather than high-impact ones such as jogging or step exercises. Buy footwear appropriate for the sport and well fit to your feet. Wear clean, smooth-fitting socks (made with synthetic fibers, not all cotton).

Get Moving!

The many benefits of exercise, from reduced stress and decreased risk of diabetes-related complications to overall better health far outweigh the inconvenience of the precautions. So find an activity you enjoy and get moving!

REFERENCES:

A few facts about diabetes. Joslin Diabetes Center. Available at: http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/. Accessed November 20, 2003.

American Diabetes Association. Safety tips. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/ Accessed November 20, 2003.

Are low blood sugars dangerous? Joslin Diabetes Center. Available at: http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/. Accessed November 20, 2003.

Exercise for the health of it. Joslin Diabetes Center. Available at: http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/. Accessed November 14, 2003.

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Hypoglycemia. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/. Accessed November 14, 2003.

Cheers,

Eve :-)








Saturday, July 22, 2006

Supermarket Savvy

More than just purveyors of milk and eggs, supermarkets have learned how to entice consumers with smell, targeted shelf placement, and psychological subterfuge.

According to the National Grocer's Association, the average family of four spends $4300 per year on food. While this is a large chunk of the family budget, you don't have to adopt a Spartan diet to save money and buy healthful foods at the supermarket. Just knowing the layout of the market and recognizing some very subtle marketing cues can help you save up to $750 per year.

Attention Shoppers!

The layout of your local supermarket is not as arbitrary as it seems. It's designed to make you spend as much as possible on what the store wants you to buy—which is often more than what you came in for. For example, meat, poultry, and seafood are usually displayed along the entire back length of the store so that you'll see them every time you emerge from an aisle—an appropriate placement for the most profitable department in the store!

Pushing the Perimeter

Ever wonder why the dairy department is so far away from the main entrance?
Almost everybody buys milk and eggs, and the stores recognize that. To reach the dairy case, you have to walk through the entire market, tossing a few extra items into your cart along the way. Half of a store's profits come from these "perimeter" items, which include milk, cheese, meat, deli products, and produce; the more time you spend shopping along the sides and back of the supermarket, the more money the store makes. And it's no coincidence that you have to walk through the produce department just as you enter the market. Produce and flowers are the second most profitable department in the supermarket, bringing in more than 20% of the store's profits while occupying less than 10% of floor space.

Luring You into the Supermarket

Here are some even subtler techniques supermarkets use to entice you to spend:

  • Leading you around by the nose. Notice the fresh-baked smell of bread when you walk in? Consumer research has shown that bakery smells make people spend money. And watch out for "specials."
  • End of the road. You probably assume that items featured on an endcap display are on sale, but this is often not the case. Because supermarket managers know that shoppers have this (mis)perception, they stack products on endcaps to move them quickly—often without the benefit of a lowered price.
  • Arbitrary limits. Store managers know that customers tend to buy more of something when there is some imposed limit. So don't be lured into buying something you don't really need just because the sign says "limit three per customer."

Placement and Profits

Placement of packages on supermarket shelves is very carefully planned. Supermarket executives use computer-generated planograms to help them place products on shelves in a way that creates the greatest possible profit.

  • The 5 feet 4 inches rule. The most expensive items in the store are just about 5 feet 4 inches off the floor—eye level of the average adult woman. Marketing experts know that people tend to reach for what is right in front of them. This is particularly evident in the baking aisle, where heavily advertised, expensive cake and brownie mixes are right at eye level. If you want to bake from scratch, which is much less expensive, you'd have to bend down almost to the floor to grab that much less expensive bag of flour from the bottom shelf.
  • Kids stuff. The exception to the 5-feet-4-inches-off-the-floor rule? Items targeted at children. The most expensive children's cereals, for example, are at a kid's eye level, while lesser-priced generic and bagged cereals are way off to the left or higher up.
  • The good stuff's in the middle. And another little trick... The most popular items in any aisle are almost always in the middle—rather than on the end—so you're forced to walk down the entire aisle, hopefully picking up a few impulse items on the way.
  • The buddy system. To encourage impulse buying, supermarkets often place related items near each other. That's why canned cheese is next to the crackers, and jelly is next to the peanut butter. The more expensive item is almost always to the right, because most shoppers are right-handed and merchandisers know it. They go out of their way to put items they especially want you to buy to the right of a popular product you already buy.
  • Getting comfortable. The physical layout of large supermarkets is also designed to enhance your comfort level and increase the amount of time you spend in the store. The aisles are wide, because women—still the primary shoppers—don't like to be touched from behind by carriages or by other shoppers. And stores try to respect your comfort zones.

Shop Wisely

  • 1. Avoid crowds. They break your concentration and make you more likely to impulse shop. Fridays, Saturdays, and the 15th and the 30th of the month are the busiest shopping days. Shopping in the early morning or late at night helps you avoid long lines, which makes you less likely to impulse shop while you wait to check out.
  • 2. Shop alone. And don't shop when you're depressed or hungry. It's hard to concentrate on comparison-shopping when little Emily is floating in the lobster tank, or when everything in the store looks delicious.
  • 3. Watch out for downsizing. Manufacturers get more money for their products without raising prices by putting less product in the same sized container. Especially true of cereals and coffee.
  • 4. Compare unit prices. Although larger-sized products are usually the better buy, that may not hold true for peanut butter, tomato products, cottage cheese and tuna fish.

5. Differentiate between brand names, house brands, and generics:

  • Brand name products flaunt fancy labels, offer coupons as buying incentives, are nationally advertised, and are available at most supermarket chains.
  • House brands are manufactured for and carried by one particular chain of stores, usually carry the name of the store on the label, and are less expensive than their brand-name counterpart. But in many cases, they are the same product, because both brands are produced by the brand-name manufacturer. The costs are lower because the labeling and marketing costs are almost nonexistent.
  • Generic products have a typical no-frills label and are the least expensive of the three. They usually represent production overages or end runs of a production line, and quality may vary from one purchase to the next. For example, brand-name bran cereal with raisins is practically identical to the house brand. The generic brand, however, probably has fewer raisins.
As you decide which type of product to buy, determine how you plan to use it. Your family may balk at generic juices, but probably won't notice the difference between name-brand and house-brand dairy products, condiments, or canned vegetables.

RESOURCES:
Gladwell M. The science of shopping. Available at: http://www.gladwell.com/1996_11_04_a_shopping.htm.

Staten V. Can You Trust a Tomato in January? The Hidden Life of Groceries and Other Secrets of the Supermarket Revealed at Last. Simon and Schuster; 1992.

Supermarket Guru
http://www.supermarketguru.com

Underhill P. Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. Simon and Schuster; 1999.

Cheers,

Eve :-)


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Fighting Your Inner Sloth: Getting Into a Daily Exercise Routine

Experts are looking at nontraditional programs to convince people that moderate physical activity can be fit into even the busiest schedule.

Initially, even just thinking about exercise is a good sign, says Patricia Dubbert, chief psychologist at the Jackson VA Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., and a longtime exercise adherence researcher.

"You're getting ready,'' says Dubbert, who with colleagues contends that becoming an exerciser is not an overnight process, but involves many stages, including pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

Anything that inspires people to exercise is ok with James Sallis, a San Diego State University professor of psychology who also researches exercise adherence. But anyone under the influence of, say, the magnificent display of athletics during the Olympic Games should inject some realism into the fantasy. "Role models are most effective when they are most similar to you,'' Sallis says.

Learning to make exercise a habit is just as difficult as quitting smoking, says Andrea Dunn, a researcher at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas. In a study of 235 men and women ages 35 to 65, she compared two types of two-year interventions to persuade people to become more active.

During the first six months, one group was asked to work out at a gym at least three times a week for 20 or 30 minutes, working up to a traditional five-day-a-week workout goal. The nontraditional group attended weekly discussion sessions and learned how to overcome obstacles to exercise. They can work out at a gym or on their own.

Preliminary results from the study suggested that both groups improved their fitness, although the gym-based group had better results. Members of both groups had equal improvements in blood pressure and total cholesterol reduction, Dunn says, proving the nontraditional approach shows promise.

An organized program is often important for novices. "When we structure exercise classes as part of a treatment program for (overweight) women, it seems to work well when they come three times a week as part of a study,'' says Ross Andersen, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, citing results of his study of 128 women, published in the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology.

But as soon as they're "cut loose'' from the schedule, Andersen says, their exercise habits disintegrate.

Motivation to exercise is very individual, Sallis says. "For some people, it's having a group or a buddy. For some it's the pleasure of being alone with their thoughts for a while.''

Once people become regular exercisers, they share certain characteristics, such as:

  • They always have a Plan B. If they intended to go for a walk and it's raining, they head for their exercise bike.
  • They see exercise as a welcome break, not an imposition. Last year, Dubbert was in the midst of writing a research grant proposal while keeping up her usual workload. "I'd walk to get my thoughts together. Most of my best ideas have come when I am exercising," she says.
  • They reward themselves for sticking with it.
  • They expect obstacles. "The flu, blisters...something is going to set you back,'' Dubbert says. "You have to view that as a bump in the road, not an impassable barrier.'' In a study of 105 regular exercisers who kept workout diaries for two months, Dubbert and her co-researcher, Barbara Stetson of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, found subjects fell one session short of their goals each week, on average.
  • They don't overexert. Serious injury is the main reason adult exercisers drop out, Sallis says. "A long-term exerciser who hasn't dropped out probably has a level of activity that doesn't stimulate serious injuries,'' he speculates. By keeping his jogging to a moderate pace, three times a week, Sallis hasn't had an injury in 12 years.
  • They keep themselves entertained. In a study published in Physical Therapy, men who listened to music while exercising on stationary bikes pedaled 30% longer than they did while pedaling in silence; women averaged 25% longer workouts with music.
  • They often exercise in the morning. The later it gets, the more excuses most people find not to work out.
  • They've learned how to win those "internal dialogues'' about exercise between the inner sloth and the inner athlete. "The exercise part of you has to win these dialogues,'' Sallis tells his research subjects. It's not that the inner athlete must have the best argument, Sallis says. Just the last word.
Cheers,

Eve :-)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Exercise: The 13 Benefits!

During the past few years, more and more studies have shown that sensible strength training produces many health and fitness benefits -- especially for older adults. Key research studies, such as those conducted at Tufts University, the University of Maryland and the South Shore YMCA have provided a wealth of data on the positive physiological responses to basic programs of strength exercise. Based on current research, consider the following 13 reasons why every older adult should perform regular strength exercise.

Benefit One: Avoid Muscle Loss

Adults who don't strength train lose between 5-7 pounds of muscle every decade. Although endurance exercise improves our cardiovascular fitness, it does not prevent the loss of muscle tissue. Only strength exercise maintains our muscle mass and strength throughout our mid-life and senior years.

Benefit Two: Avoid Metabolic Rate Reduction

Because muscle is very active tissue, muscle loss is accompanied by a reduction in our resting metabolism. Information from Tufts University indicates that the average adult experiences a 2-5 percent reduction in metabolic rate during every decade of life. Because regular strength exercise prevents muscle loss, it also prevents the accompanying decrease in resting metabolic rate.

Benefit Three: Increase Muscle Mass

Because most adults do not perform strength exercise, they need to first replace the muscle tissue that has been lost through inactivity. Fortunately, research from the South Shore YMCA shows that a standard strength-training program can increase muscle mass by about three pounds over an eight-week training period. This is the typical training response for men and women who do 25 minutes of strength exercise two or three days per week, and represents an excellent return on a time-efficient investment.

Benefit Four: Increase Metabolic Rate

Research from Tufts University and the University of Maryland reveals that adding three pounds of muscle increases our resting metabolic rate by seven percent, and our daily calorie requirements by 15 percent.

At rest, a pound of muscle requires about 35 calories per day for tissue maintenance. During exercise, muscle energy utilization increases dramatically. Adults who replace muscle through sensible strength exercise use more calories all day long, thereby reducing the likelihood of fat accumulation.

Benefit Five: Reduce Body Fat

Campbell and his co-workers at Tufts found that strength exercise produced four pounds of fat loss after three months of training, even though the subjects were eating 15 percent more calories per day. That is, a basic strength-training program resulted in 3 pounds more lean weight, 4 pounds less fat weight and 370 more calories per day food intake.

Benefit Six: Increase Bone Mineral Density

The effects of progressive resistance exercise are similar for muscle tissue and bone tissue. The same training stimulus that increases muscle proteins also increases bone proteins and mineral content. A University of Maryland study demonstrated significant increases in the bone mineral density of the femur bone (upper leg) after four months of strength exercise.

Benefit Seven: Improve Glucose Metabolism

The University of Maryland research center has also reported a 23 percent increase in glucose utilization after four months of strength training. Because poor glucose metabolism is associated with adult onset diabetes, improved glucose metabolism is an important benefit of regular strength exercise.

Benefit Eight: Increase Gastrointestinal Transit Speed

Another study at the University of Maryland showed a 56 percent increase in gastrointestinal transit speed after three months of strength training. This is a significant finding due to the fact that delayed gastrointestinal transit time is related to a higher risk of colon cancer.

Benefit Nine: Reduce Resting Blood Pressure

Strength training alone has been shown to significantly reduce resting blood pressure. Our YMCA studies have revealed that strength plus aerobic exercise is highly effective for improving blood pressure readings. After two months of combined exercise (Nautilus and treadmill walking), the program participants dropped their systolic blood pressure by 4 mm Hg. and their diastolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg.

Benefit Ten: Improve Blood Lipid Levels

Although the effects of strength training on blood lipid levels needs further research, at least two studies from excellent universities have revealed improved blood lipid profiles after several weeks of strength exercise. It is important to note that improvements in blood lipid levels are similar for both endurance and strength exercise.

Benefit Eleven: Reduce Low Back Pain

Several years of research on strength training and back pain conducted at the University of Florida Medical School has shown that strong low-back muscles are less likely to be injured low-back muscles. A recent study by at the University of Florida found that low-back patients had significantly less back pain after 10 weeks of specific (full-range) strength exercise for the lumbar spine muscles. Because 80 percent of all Americans experience low back problems, it is advisable for all adults to properly strengthen their low back muscles.

Benefit Twelve: Reduce Arthritic Pain

According to a recent edition of the Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter, sensible strenght training eases the pain of osteo and rheumatoid arthiritis. This is good news, because most men and women who suffer from arthritic pain need strength exercise to develop stronger muscles, bones and connective tissue to improve joint function.

Benefit Thirteen: Reduce Depression

A Harvard University study found that seriously depressed seniors responded most favorably to a basic program of strength exercise. After 10 weeks of strength training, 87 percent of the program participants no longer met the criteria for clinical depression, even though they received no other treatment. Apparently, increasing muscle strength and physical functionality is highly effective for improving emotional states in previously depressed senior men and women.

Summary of Strength Training Benefits

There are 13 physiological reasons why older adults should perform regular strength exercise. On a more basic level, it is important to realize that proper strength training may help us look better, feel better and function better. Understand that our skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis and shock absorbers of our bodies. Consequently, strength training is an effective means for increasing our physical capacity, improving our athletic performance, reducing our injury risk, enhancing our personal appearance and improving our self-confidence.

References
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D. is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA and author of 15 fitness books, including Strength Training Past 50 and Strength Training for Seniors.

Cheers,

Eve :-)

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