The Ins and Outs of Stretching

As a youngster, I never felt the need to stretch but unfortunately, as we grow older, the range of motion in all of our joints will shorten unless we do something to keep that from happening.

Over the years, the recommendations regarding stretching have evolved. Whether I was a student athlete playing softball or a young adult playing volleyball, I certainly remember hearing that everyone should stretch before exercising or playing a sport.  I also remember seeing people bounce up and down trying to touch their toes in order to stretch their back. The sight of that would make me cringe today.

First of all, research has found that stretching cold muscles will do more harm than good and may cause injury. Your muscles need to be warm in order to be stretched safely and effectively without tearing.  Think of your muscles just as you would taffy, when they are warm, they are soft and pliable, if they are cold, they will snap and break.  You can warm up your muscles many different ways, a quick 5 to 6 minute ride on an exercise bike or doing a few minutes of jumping jacks are just a couple of examples.  Your warm up doesn’t necessarily have to be a cardio activity, all you need is something to warm you up and make your muscles warm, soft and pliable.  A nice, hot shower will do the trick.  It is part of my daily routine to stretch every day after my shower.

Stretching should not be painful. According to the ACSM guidelines, you should stretch your WARM muscles to the point of slight discomfort, not pain.  A muscle should be gently stretched (no bouncing!) until you feel a slight pull and then held for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat each stretch 3 to 5 times at least 2 days per week.

Stretching on a regular basis helps to coerce your muscles to stay lengthened which will keep your joints’ range of motion at their max.

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This post was written by Patti on January 24, 2013

7 Reasons Why Everyone (Especially Women!) Should Lift Weights

1:  To boost your metabolism

  • Beginning as early as in our 30’s, everyone (both men and women) will lose an average of 5 to 8 lbs. of muscle mass per decade. This loss of lean muscle tissue causes your metabolism to plummet.
  • The more lean muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories it will burn long after your workout is over.
  • Participating in a strength/weight training program 2 to 3 times per week will help counteract the aging process to keep lean muscle mass on your body and keep your metabolism revved up.

2. To burn fat

  • Lean muscle tissue is much more “active” than fat (1 pound of muscle burns 3X more calories per hour that one pound of fat). The more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body will burn, even while sleeping!

3: To eliminate those extra inches from your body

  • Lean muscle tissue is much denser and takes up a lot less space than fat.
  • Using popcorn as an example, compare 1 lb. of uncooked popcorn kernels (lean muscle) and 1 lb. of popped popcorn kernels (fat).  They both weigh the same, 1 lb., but the uncooked popcorn (lean muscle) is much more dense and takes up a lot less space than 1 lb. of cooked popcorn (fat).

4: To reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes

  • Studies have shown that lean muscle mass helps remove glucose and triglycerides from the bloodstream which in turn can lower your risk of hardening of the arteries or acquiring type 2 diabetes.

5: To lower your blood pressure

  • It has been reported that weight training can lower your blood pressure for ten to twelve hours after each workout.  This reduction helps take some pressure off your heart and gives it a little break.

6: To strengthen your bones

  • Along with losing muscle mass, everyone is also susceptible to bone loss (osteoporosis) due to the process of aging.
  • Due to the fact that females naturally have less muscle mass on their body, women are much more prone to osteoporosis than men.  Therefore, it is more imperative for women to counteract the aging process by participating in a strength/weight training program 2 to 3 times per week.

7: To prevent you from falling

  • One in two women and one in four men age 50 and older will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among older adults 73 and older and the second leading cause of death from ages 60 to 72.
  • Strength training not only keeps you strong but also helps to improve your balance. This will greatly reduce your risk of suffering a fall-related injury or fracture.

 

 

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This post was written by Patti on January 20, 2013

Quick Action Saves Lives; Know Stroke Symptoms

Please familiarize yourself with the symptoms below that may be signs someone is having a stroke.  Recognizing symptoms quickly may save your life or someone you love.

Signs of a stroke may include:

•    Sudden numbness or weakness of the body, especially on one side.
•    Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes, or difficulty swallowing.
•    Sudden, severe headache with unknown cause.
•    Sudden problems with dizziness, walking, or balance.
•    Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others.

Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Click on the following link to view an informative WebMD slideshow, A Visual Guide to Understanding Stroke

 

 

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This post was written by Patti on January 17, 2013

Healthy Aging by the Numbers

Almost every day, I run across some facts and findings worth sharing with my clients to help them age well.  Below is a collection of a few to help raise your awareness and make you better equipped to manage your personal risk factors.

1.   Over 69% of adults in the United States over the age of 20 are overweight, 35.9% of those are obese.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
2.    More than 50% of American adults do not practice healthy behaviors that can prevent obesity which in turn puts them at greater risks for developing heart disease & type 2 diabetes. http://www.cdc.gov/pdf/facts_about_obesity_in_the_united_states.pdf
3.    Being overweight (BMI – Body Mass Index – of 25-29.9) increases yearly health care costs by $125, while obesity (BMI of 30 and above) is associated with an average increase of $395 per year.  http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=6835
4.    Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and about 34 million are at risk for the disease but most people do not perceive themselves to be personally at risk for osteoporosis, even though one in two women and one in four men age 50 and older will experience an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime.  http://www.nof.org/learn/basics
5.    The fact that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does makes muscle mass a key factor in weight loss. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/metabolism/WT00006/NSECTIONGROUP=2
6.     Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among older adults 73 and older and the second leading cause of death from ages 60-72. http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/Resources/Pages/Falls.aspx
7.    In the five to seven years following menopause, a woman can lose up to 20% of her bone density. http://nof.org/articles/235
8.    Six steps you can take to optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis are:

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D and eat a well balanced diet.
  • Engage in weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
  • Eat foods that are good for bone health, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day.
  • Talking to one’s healthcare professional about bone health
  • Bone density testing and medication when appropriate

http://www.nof.org
9.    Research shows that starting as early as 30 years of age, inactive adults will lose an average of 5 lbs of muscle mass per decade escalating to 10 lbs per decade by age 50. http://www.healthy.net/Health/Essay/Strength_Training_for_Seniors/742
10.    The Framingham Study on Physical Disability Among the Aging reported that 41% of women between the ages of 55-64 could not lift 10 pounds.
11.    Done regularly, strength training builds bone and muscle and helps to preserve strength, independence, and energy.

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/growing_stronger/growing_stronger.pdf

12.    Strength training can also reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions in the following ways:

  • Arthritis—Reduces pain and stiffness, and increases strength and flexibility.
  • Diabetes—Improves glycemic control.
  • Osteoporosis—Builds bone density and reduces risk for falls.
  • Heart disease—Reduces cardiovascular risk by improving lipid profile and overall fitness.
  • Obesity—Increases metabolism, which helps burn more calories and helps with long-term weight control.
  • Back pain—Strengthens back and abdominal muscles to reduce stress on the spine.

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/growing_stronger/growing_stronger.pdf

I bet you’ve heard some of these before. I’ll also bet there were a few chilling surprises!  Fortunately, it’s never too late to start an exercise program and action now on your part can help avoid problems later.  The question is, is it worth it to you to take action?

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This post was written by Patti on January 13, 2013

The Third Piece to the Weight Loss Puzzle

In my last blog entry, Weight Training or Cardio??,  I mentioned the importance of participating in BOTH weight resistance training and aerobic activities in order to lose weight and keep it off,  now I will talk about the third and final piece of the weight loss puzzle, paying attention to what goes into your mouth! I know, easier said than done!!

In talking with my clients about their diet, I suggest that they find a program that promotes a balanced diet and teaches portion control such as Weight Watchers.  You want a program that teaches you a life style change, not suck you in by selling you their food or doing something extreme like cutting out certain foods from your diet and therefore may be harmful to you because you may end up lacking important nutrients.

Food portions is the most important issue.  It doesn’t matter what program you follow, whether it’s the Paleo or DASH diet, Jenny Craig, Atkins, etc., bottom line is, you must expend more calories than the amount of calories you take in, period!

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This post was written by Patti on January 9, 2013

Weight Training or Cardio??

Perhaps your New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight so you will feel and look better but you have no idea where to start.  There is a lot of information out there and some of it is very confusing.  You may have read the recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution which stated that aerobics is the best way to burn fat as opposed to weight training therefore doing aerobics is the best way to lose weight. I cannot disagree that participating in aerobic activity does burn fat more quickly that lifting weights BUT you have to look at the WHOLE picture and if you want to lose weight and KEEP it off you need to do BOTH.  You will sabotage your quest to lose weight if all you do is aerobics and I will explain why.

FACT: Lean muscle mass is the most caloric hungry material in your body so the more lean muscle mass you have on your body, the more efficiently your body will burn calories, even at rest.

FACT: Starting in your 30’s, just as a process of aging, you will lose an average of 5 to 8 lbs. of muscle mass per decade.

FACT:  Your metabolism DECREASES when you lose weight since it takes less energy to move a lighter body around on a daily basis.  Example: Suppose your starting weight was 200 lbs. and you lose 25 lbs.  It will take you less energy to move a 175 lbs. body on a daily basis than it did to move a 200 lbs. body.

FACT: The bottom line is, you need to do BOTH!  You need to engage in aerobic activity regularly to burn fat.  BUT, in order to keep your metabolism revved up so your body can burn calories more efficiently on a daily basis and KEEP the weight off, you need to participate in some type of weight resistance training 2-3 times per week. Strength/weight training will help to counteract the natural aging process and keep lean muscle mass on your body.

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This post was written by Patti on January 7, 2013