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Entries tagged with: exercise
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It can be tough to exercise when your joints are aching from arthritis. Find out how working out in water can strengthen muscles without stressing joints.
Learn a few simple tips to take the stress off sore, achy joints.
Pain management is constant challenge for people with arthritis. But not every pain solution comes in a bottle. Here are six alternative therapies that may help.
For much of the last year, my wife's constant companion has been a work-issued pedometer. She wears it everywhere we walk--on hikes, to dinner and to events. ("Can you please take your pedometer off when you come to bed, dear?")
She has bought completely into her employer's walking-based wellness program. The pedometer tracks all her steps and uploads them via computer to a program. Those steps can be traded for incentives--from restaurant and store gift cards to $500 cash. She hit the latter level in October and turned her 2011 walking effort into Christmas gifts for the family.
Watching her strategically place the pedometer on an outfit for a nighttime wedding ("You get a lot of steps dancing.") got me wondering: Does paying people to exercise really work?
I've worked for two companies that reimbursed gym membership fees, but I've never been offered cash in exchange for achieving a certain goal. Would this kind of incentive help me exercise more and maybe lose weight?
Most people already have plenty of reason to exercise. Studies have found that people exercise to improve their health, lose weight and feel better--both physically and mentally. And many exercise regularly without financial incentive.
But those motivations aren't enough for everyone. Some need cold, hard cash. My wife, for example, works out regularly, but she's worked out more in the last 12 months than in any period since we married a decade ago.
Quite a few studies back up this example. In one 2009 study in the journal Econometrica, economists found that people who didn't often go to the gym responded well to financial incentives. In fact, those participants receiving the highest inducement (up to $200 for eight gym visits) were twice as likely to exercise as those participants who had received no incentive.
Of course, I'd go to a gym if someone paid me that much, you might be thinking. But an interesting thing happened when the financial incentive was removed: Participants kept going. How long the effect lasts is anyone's guess. The studies I looked at stopped measuring the participants' exercise habits a few weeks or months after the incentive ended. Researchers weren't able to conclude if long-term habits were affected.
The Econometrica authors say the incentive scheme must also be designed right to work. "Paying people either too little or even too much can result in worse performance than not paying at all," they wrote in a New York Times discussion.
The program designed by my wife's employer is apparently working--offering an ongoing incentive that's just right, at least for her. She keeps wearing her pedometer and getting her steps. Maybe next year she'll pay me to walk with her.
For the last few months, I've been using an smartphone app called RunKeeper. It's a great tool to keep track of runs, walks, hikes and bike rides. The app plots routes with the phone's GPS and tracks details like pace, time doing an activity and distance.
There are literally dozens of applications for the iPhone that do similar things--cycling apps, couch-to-5k apps, weight-loss diaries. They do something else, too--allow you to share details of your activities on Facebook and Twitter.
For some people, this level of sharing is a bit too much. Letting RunKeeper take over my Facebook status to announce that I just ran 3.2 miles, telling people how much I weigh today or tweeting that I just rode 80 miles on my bicycle rubs some of my social media friends the wrong way.
For them, the updates remind them of the thin woman who is always moaning about needing to lose weight or the guy who frequently mentions how much weight he can bench.
Others find exercise and dieting updates on social media sites to be inspirational when others do it--and use the same tools for accountability in their own efforts.
I have to confess, I'm stuck square in the middle. I'm excited when I hear about someone else reaching a milestone--losing weight, running a marathon or getting off the couch for the first time. And I like the feedback I receive when I mention a long ride or share a funny moment from a run.
But I'm a little annoyed with automated updates that sometimes resemble Farmville and Mafia Wars requests on Facebook and sponsored messages on Twitter.
There's no official etiquette for Facebook or Twitter, although there are conventions for both. Here are some suggestions from my social media friends that will allow you to share your milestones without drawing the ire of others:
• Post updates when you're seeking motivation, but don't brag.
• Workout updates, like game requests, shouldn't be your only contributions to social media. People aren't interested in only that part of your life.
• Turn off the automatic updates on your exercise apps; tell people in your own words what you did.
• Add a unique fact or share something funny. I use my iPhone to snap photos on my runs and bicycle rides.
• Create a Facebook group of willing friends with which to share your weight loss and exercise milestones. Then post to the wall of that group instead of using your status updates to tell everyone about what you just did. The group function is handy: You can use it to coordinate exercise activities with others or for moral support.
• On Twitter, use hash-tag conventions. For example, I tweet my exercise updates under #sweatbetes, a tag which helps other people with diabetes keep me honest about workouts.
Finally, look at the application you use to track your exercise or dieting successes. Some of them have great communities on their websites where it's appropriate -- expected -- to share exercise and diet information. RunKeeper, for example, allows you to create "Street Teamates," who see your activities when they log into their page. When I'm there, I don't mind sharing and I don't mind others telling me what they've done.
About a year ago, I hit a weight milestone. At 215 pounds, I was the heaviest I had been in more than 12 years. I knew I was there without looking at a scale. None of my dress shirts or suits fit anymore and I was getting winded walking the hills on my farm. It was time to lose weight.
As an active person, I have always been able to take off weight through exercise without really dieting. Of course, in previous attempts I was in better shape and I was younger. I began slogging unenthusiastically through three or four 30-minute jogs a week. I ran my worst personal time in a 5k and generally saw the needle on my scale remain fixed at 215.
Dissatisfied with my progress, I began considering past weight-loss attempts. What was different besides my age and general physical condition? In short, I used to devote a lot more time to exercise.
Ten years ago, I had gotten back to my high school weight by working our four days a week for an hour at a time--and frequently burned additional calories by playing sports. I was working out six or seven hours a week.
But now I was only working out two hours a week. I assumed that adding some exercise would help me lose weight. All I really did was stop the weight gain.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, most people need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity just to prevent weight gain. That's 30 minutes a day, seven days a week.
If you want to lose weight, you'll need to do a lot more--at least 250 minutes a week of activity. It doesn't all have to be done in a gym or on a track. Here are five ways to squeeze in extra activities.
With that in mind, I began focusing less on the activity and more on the amount of time doing it. For example, instead of trying to jog through a three-mile route, I started running and walking for an hour or more at a time. I also started cycling, riding up to eight hours a week. And any time I get 30 additional minutes, I try to hit the elliptical in our basement.
I've seen modest improvement. I weigh a little over 200 pounds and I'm no longer winded climbing the driveway. Plus, I can see my goal--185 pounds--approaching.
With two small kids, it's not easy to devote this much time to exercise. But losing weight and getting exercise will help insure I'm around to spend time with them.
Having trouble keeping those New Year's health resolutions? Simplify your aims with these tips, and you just might see results.
Drop the diet.
About 95 percent of dieters eventually regain lost weight. Instead of counting calories or carbs, just shoot for eating more healthfully.
Don't chase after the latest "superfoods" like acai berries. Instead, focus on broad categories-fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, legumes-that constitute a healthful diet.
Forget those buns of steel.
Changing your physique requires hours a day in a gym. But don't let that deter you from getting moderate exercise on most days, which can provide an array of benefits.
Hitting a plateau happens to even the most dedicated exercisers. Here are five ways to stay motivated:
Change your goals.
If your goals are too ambitious -- like completing a triathlon -- then aim for something more achievable.
Make it fun.
Change up your routine; adding variety to your workouts can improve results, according to studies. Take a belly dancing class or go hiking.
Work out with friends.
Studies show exercising with a friend or colleague can help you stay motivated.
Buy yourself a reward.
A trip, a new gadget, a day at the spa -- rewards can keep you moving toward a workout milestone.
Create a virtual support group.
Reach out to other people on Facebook, Twitter or message boards who are trying to achieve the same exercise goals.
Can eating a late night meal or snack cause you to gain weight? Our Healthy Skeptic weighs in.
You may never have six-pack abs, but that doesn't mean you should ignore your abdominal muscles. Exercises that target the abs can help improve posture and prevent lower back pain.
Do your New Year's resolutions include losing weight? If so, consider adding these proven strategies to your weight-loss toolkit in 2011:
Studies have shown sleep deprivation can cause you to eat more.
Be picky about whom you eat with
Women who dine with men consume fewer calories than those who eat with other women, one study found.
If you're trying to lose weight, counting calories is more important than adding up fat and carbs.
Eat salads, broth soups and fruits and vegetables
These foods are relatively high in water and fiber, and low in calories.
Get 60 minutes to 90 minutes of exercise a day
For most people, an hour of activity daily is necessary to maintain weight. You may need
more exercise to lose weight.
Happy New Year from Everwell.com!
Comedian Brian Frazer really, really likes energy drinksuntil it's time to calm down.
If you have diabetes, regular exercise can make managing your blood sugar easier. Here's how to get started.
Create active memories by adding an exercise component to your vacation. And when we say exercise we are not talking about jumping jacks or push ups. We are just talking about walking, biking or hiking instead of taking a bus, cab, mule or Segway around town.
For example, say you are going to a big city like New York or Chicago for a family vacation. Instead of sightseeing on a double-decker bus, choose a few sights to see each day and walk to them. Walking around a big city gives you a more intimate and memorable view of the city.
You get to experience the city with all of your senses. The hustle and bustle of masses coming off the subway as they approach their office is amazing. You'll hear the talented street musicians playing unusual instruments along side food vendors barking out their regional specialties.
Experiencing a city or town on foot makes it truly comes alive. You are seeing the city like the local resident does. And since you are on the ground walking along side the locals, you can ask them for favorite restaurant suggestions or hole in the wall museums that only they go to.
Sure, when you are on one of those group bus tours, you'll see more things, but the downside is that the only people you are around are other out-of-towners who don't really know the city and the bus driver who is paid to steer you to certain tourist traps.
Another great way to create active memories in a new city is to rent bikes in order to explore places that are a bit farther away and might be off the beaten path. Some nature based parks locations like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park lend themselves to wonderful scenic hikes. If you have ever hiked down the Grand Canyon, white water rafted on the Colorado River or ice skated in Central Park you and your child will never forget it.
Dr Fitness Says: I promise that if you walk or ride bikes during your next vacation that your children will thank you for it.
The Fat Guy Says: You kids will thank you when they get back to the hotel and raid the mini bar.
A few years ago I applied for a job with a fire department near our home. Like most bureaucratic jobs, there was a written test and a pre-qualifying drug screening. But there was also a brutal physical testa 10-minute obstacle course simulating common firefighting tasks.
Among the obstacles: Dragging a 165-pound dummy 70 feet around a turn. Carrying heavy equipment to and from a simulated fire truck. Forceable entry with a 10-pound sledgehammer.
Although these tasks aren't difficult, they come after the test's hardest challenge: Three minutes and 20 seconds on a stair simulator wearing 75 pounds of weights. More than 75 percent of candidates fail the stair test and never get to the other obstacles.
According to the chief of the state fire training facility, it isn't the physical part that causes most people to fail. It's the mental part.
Candidates are disqualified for falling or dismounting, and you're not allowed to grasp the railings for balance. Worse, the tester only speaks when you start the test and 10 seconds before the test is over. You have no idea how long you've been on the apparatus.
I prepped for six months for my test, spending a substantial amount of time on a Stairmaster at my local YMCA. I ran, I lifted weights, I swam, I crosstrained. I wasn't in the best shape in my life, but I was close.
Still, standing in line waiting for the test to begin, I knew I was going to fail. I was one of the oldest and portliest candidates in line. The guy immediately in front of me looked like an NFL linebackerall muscle. He lasted less than two minutes before falling off.
In fact no one made it past the stair test before I put my first step down. As the machine cranked stair after stair underneath me, doubt overwhelmed me. I was not strong enough. I was too old. My mind fought a pitched battle between what should have knownthree minutes wasn't that long considering all my trainingand what was certainI can't do this. I was losing the battle and started to step off.
"You have 10 seconds left," the tester announced.
Suddenly the argument in my head was over and I knew I could finishI could do 10 seconds on one leg. In fact, once the stair test was over I flew through the rest of the obstacles. I got the job.
Even though I didn't accept the position, I learned something valuable from the application process: Many of the physical challenges in my life are actually mental. A steep hill, an achy muscle or a cold morning can throw me off my exercise routine and keep me from achieving my goals.
But every time I come across those challenges, I ignore the argument in my head and hear, instead, "You have ten seconds left." I smile and move on.
When you meet Stephen Vinsonand I hope you doyou won't meet an advocate for fad diets or get-thin-quick schemes. Been there, done that. And though he tried out for NBC's The Biggest Loser (and a similar show coming out on ABC), he's not a fan of reality shows, boot camps or extreme weight-loss interventions.
Stephen Vinson is a fan of the processthe idea that changing your diet and exercise habits is more important and ultimately more rewarding than dieting or intense exercise alone.
Vinson would know: In the last 18 months, he's lost more than 200 pounds focusing not on specific weight goals but on the steps it takes to reach those goals. The former yo-yo dieter has struggled his entire life with weight but says his new approach is finally paying big dividends. He's not just losing weight, he's living a healthier life.
"A buddyKevin Barberiohelped me a lot," says Vinson, a small business owner and blogger in Birmingham, Ala. "He showed me how to cut back on food. Instead of doing a hardcore weight-loss regimen, he told me to eat the things I liked but to cut back portions," Vinson says. "This wasn't as restrictive as other diets. I was still eating things I enjoy."
In previous attempts to lose weight, Vinson had completely changed his diet, cutting out foods he liked and introducing foods he wasn't familiar with. He lost weight, but the diet never lasted very long. "Maybe a week," he says.
But eating the foods he likes in smaller portions and slowly adding new foods, became stepping stones to healthier eating and weight loss. "Now I enjoy eating vegetables and fruit. I used to hate tomatoes. Now I can't eat enough of them."
He also doesn't set firm short-term goals for weight loss, a trick he learned from registered dietitian Sonthe Burge. Instead, he sets firm goals for how many calories he'll eat and how many miles he'll walk.
"It's too much pressure. It's more important that I accomplish goals for eating and exercise than losing 5 pounds. Doing those things is what makes it possible to lose 5 pounds."
Studies show that unrealistic goal-setting in weight loss has a tendency to backfire. They also show that having the support of others helps. When he began his most recent weight-loss adventure, Vinson launched WhoAteMyBlog.com to chronicle his efforts. Coupled with outreach on Twitter and Facebook, the blog has put Vinson in touch with others trying to lose weightand created a fan base from which he draws support.
"I totally did not expect that when I started the blog," Vinson says. "It's really helped me to be more around peopleto know that people are supportive. For a while I had gotten to be afraid being around people. People used to make fun of me."
The support and the focus on the process of losing weight is helping Vinson reach his long-term goals: Dropping another 200 pounds, and, more importantly, living a healthy lifestyle.
Want to keep from gaining weight as you age? You may need to get as much as 60 minutes of exercise every day. Here's how to sneak it in.
By the middle of the summer, a lot of exercisers who normally avoid the gym are standing in line for treadmills or trying to find their inner Michael Phelps. That's no surprise--it's hot outside.
Even if you like the heat, it can be dangerous to exercise in triple-digit temperatures even if you're healthy. If you have a chronic illness like heart disease, diabetes or asthma, it can be deadly.
That doesn't mean you can't run or walk outside when summer temperatures send the mercury skyward. You just have to be careful. Here are some ways I'm keeping cool in the heat:
Work out when the sun is low. The summer running adage is run early or run late. Temperatures are already in the high-70s or low-80s by 7 a.m., but that's a lot better than temperatures in the mid-90s.
Wear sunscreen and protective clothing. I hate how sunscreen leaches into my eyes when I'm sweating -- and lately, I've been sweating a lot. But going without sunscreen isn't an option. For light-skinned people like me, the sun can cause a burn in less than 15 minutes. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you're going to run outside, slather on sunscreen and avoid peak sunburn hours.
As for clothing, I was surprised to find out that a simple white t-shirt lets most of the sun's harmful rays through to your skin. So I bought a shirt at a running store designed to reduce my exposure to ultraviolet rays. And I'm wearing a ball cap with a bandana underneath to cover my neck and ears. Here's more info on what clothing will best protect you from the sun.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The more you sweat, the more you need to drink. This is especially true if you have a chronic illness like I do. Drink when you're thirsty but also keep an eye out for signs of dehydration: less-frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth and increased heart rate and breathing.
If you're going to exercise or work in the sun, fill up with cool water. Water is the best way to rehydrate your body, although many sports drinks are fine, if a more expensive, substitute. If I don't pack water when I exercise outside, I plan my routes to take me past public water fountains or convenience stores.
Avoid sodas and energy drinks, which can contain dehydrating caffeine. And don't drink alcohol or take salt tablets. Both can make dehydration worse.How does hot weather affect runners? One jogger/journalists becomes a guinea pig.
What you don't know about sunscreen may surprise you. Here's the facts about sun tan lotion
Doing the occasional Sun Salutation doesn’t guarantee you’ll stay thin as you age. But researchers think yoga practitioners may have an extra weapon against fat. Here’s why.
Why doesn’t exercise wear out your heart? See if this question can stump Dr. Charlotte Grayson.