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The Importance of Fitness in the Era of COVID-19

As we continue to struggle to flatten the coronavirus curve by implementing different protective measures, another health crisis is brewing as we become more isolated and less mobile than before the pandemic. COVID-19 is having a ripple effect on various aspects of our well-being that aren’t specifically associated with contracting the virus. Moreover, we are facing the reality that the virus is not going to go away any time soon.

woman-walking-dirt-road

Restoring Health: A Lifestyle Rx

America is in bad shape. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 60% of adults are living with one chronic disease and 40% have two or more.(1)  Astoundingly, 12% of adults are living with 5 or more chronic conditions(2) including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, coronary obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension. A concept people need to understand is that these diseases can be prevented, managed and even reversed with lifestyle choices.

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a bright light on how our level of health can literally be a matter of life or death. A study of thousands of patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus in the New York City area found that 94% had one chronic disease and 88% had two or more. The most common conditions included hypertension, obesity and diabetes.(3) In May of this year, the CDC reported that people with an underlying chronic illness had six times the risk of being hospitalized and twelve times the risk for dying.(4)

Boost Health & Immunity

Now is the right time to take small steps to improve health and build immune resilience with daily lifestyle choices. While there isn’t one diet, exercise regimen, or stress-relieving technique that is good for everyone, there are principles to follow that can boost health and vitality at any age.

There is a huge misconception that our genes determine our health destiny. This simply isn’t true. The study of epigenetics shows that we have the ability to change the expression of our genes by the way we think, feel, move and eat.(5) Each of our daily decisions and choices can increase or decrease inflammation in the body, moving us towards disease or back to health.

Acute & Chronic Inflammation

Our immune system uses the ancient, biological pathway of inflammation to protect us against injury and infections.(6) When you cut your finger, immune cells are sent to kill invading bacteria and begin the process of wound healing. This is acute inflammation that goes away in days or weeks when the body is healed.

One the other hand, chronic inflammation lasts a long time, from months to years.(2) It’s basically an abnormal immune response that causes damage to cells, tissues and organs. Oxidative stress plays a big role; it occurs when more free radicals are produced within cells than the body can neutralize.(2)  As you can imagine, when more damage occurs than can be repaired, health problems crop up.

It is now widely accepted that chronic inflammation is at the root of most, if not all, chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and joint disease.(2)

Lifestyle Matters

The good news is that deliberate and healthier lifestyle choices can prevent, manage and even reverse chronic inflammatory disease, the most important cause of morbidity and mortality facing people today.(7) It’s empowering to know that if you have, or want to prevent a chronic disease, you can regain your health and vitality by choosing real whole foods, optimizing sleep, reducing stress, being social, and moving more.

You may be thinking, “How the heck can simple lifestyle decisions address the complexities of chronic conditions?”  The body has an innate ability and intelligence to heal itself. You experience it each time you cut your hand; you wash the wound, put a bandage on and don’t have to think about it.

The research also supports it and I have lived it; by utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine I was able to restore my health from the ravages of chronic Lyme disease. You just need to provide the right environment for healing. This is not an easy task, but it can be done with time, effort and a plan.

Taking Action

Changing your lifestyle habits can feel overwhelming. To help you embrace this challenge, think about this analogy, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!”   Any healing journey begins with awareness, learning and exploration; then gradually taking action, one small step at a time.

Start today by exploring lifestyle behaviors that decrease inflammation and can put your health back on track so you can live with less pain, more energy, and greater vitality. A lifestyle prescription to restore health includes:

  • Reducing stress with deep breathing.
  • Getting good quality sleep by going to bed and rising at the same time.
  • Eating a plant-based diet rich in a rainbow of vegetables.
  • Hydrating with filtered water in the morning and during the day.
  • Nurturing relationships and engaging with positive people.
  • Moving well with good posture when performing daily activities and exercise.

Be proactive, make one hour a week to learn more by reading books, researching on PubMed.gov, listening to podcasts, attending lectures and webinars so you can find the strategies and practices that work best for you. As you begin to feel better, you will naturally be motivated to continue learning and making better lifestyle choices because healthy feels so good!

Learn more about restoring health with lifestyle practices!

Register now for Cate Reade’s webinar on this topic. This webinar will give a basic overview of the principles and practices of why and how lifestyle choices can help prevent, manage and reverse chronic conditions.


Cate Reade, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist and Functional Medicine Practitioner candidate on a mission to improve functional mobility and health span utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine. She has been teaching, writing and prescribing healthy eating and exercise programs for over 25 years. Today, as CEO of Resistance Dynamics and inventor of the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer, she develops exercise products and programs that target joint flexibility, strength and balance deficits to help older adults fall less and live more.

 

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  3. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/nearly-all-nyc-area-covid-19-hospitalizations-had-comorbidities-67476
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/Novel_Coronavirus_Reports.html June 19, 2020
  5. https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345337/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23974765/
Woman Receiving Massage

Oncology Massage by Kathy Flippin

Oncology massage is simply a massage in the context of someone going through cancer treatment. The most common cancer treatments are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Because these treatments often leave “injured areas” such as surgical incisions, radiation burns and general system fatigue, we have to know how to work with these conditions, to be able to give a good massage without hurting them. Studies have also shown that individuals that receive massage require less anti-nausea and pain reducing medication.

podcast mics

The Power of Podcasting: Create Your Own Platform & Leverage Your Brand

Podcasts are “where it’s at!” Did you know podcasting is now the most effective and cost-efficient marketing tool on the planet?  Podcasts provide wide-scale visibility to exponentially grow your business and increase brand awareness. In fact, the simple act of appearing on an established podcast as a featured guest can drastically improve your SEO and increase clients. Learning how to use this extremely affordable and far-reaching platform to your advantage may be the key to lasting success!

What do I need to know about podcasting? Here are some quick facts!

The Next Generation of Marketing

Forget spending money on print advertisements, billboards, or radio ads. Podcasting is “where it’s at!” Every business needs a podcast! It is effective, targeted, cost and time efficient, super fun marketing!

On-Demand, Passionate & Targeted Content

At any time, listeners can download, subscribe and like their favorite podcasts. Listeners may break up their shows into multiple sessions or listen all at once. Listeners can also search for podcasts based on their personal interests, hobbies, and more.

It’s FREE

Not only is it relatively cheap to produce your very own podcast, but it is FREE for listeners to download and enjoy your show. Provide value to listeners around the world while also promoting your business and brand without asking for payment or initial “buy-in.”

Accessibility

If you own a smartphone, a computer, a tablet, or have access to Wi-Fi, you can download and listen to FREE podcasts.

Opportunity for Intimate Connection

Podcasts allow you to tell “your story” in “your own words” and promote your business, brand, or values at a personal level. This is an opportunity to show empathy, authenticity, and share “your voice” with the world.  Remember, the most successful businesses and products start with a “story.”

Broad Reach

Unlike television, newspapers, radio stations, and print advertisements, podcasts are available around-the-world and not just specific to certain areas. This platform is a must for anyone who conducts business online.

Instant Authority & Credibility

As a fitness or medical professional, it is important to utilize a platform where you can offer valuable resources or information. Podcasts allow for you to be an instant authority in a specific field in addition to promoting your services on a large scale.

Statistics

Podcasts offer analytics that track the number of subscribers to your show as well as the number of downloads for each episode. The more downloads, the more people are learning about you, your mission, your values, and your business.

It’s FUN!

This is YOUR chance to create your own platform! Podcasting allows you to talk about the issues, stories, and topics that are most interesting to you! You can interview fascinating guests and use the podcast as an opportunity to cross-promote your businesses. Most of all, you make the rules and create the podcast format that works for you

Learn more about the power of podcasting and how to create your own platform!

Register now for Christine Conti & Brian Prendergast’s free webinar on this topic. This webinar will provide you with a basic overview of the steps needed to create your own podcast or utilize current podcasts to grow your reach, increase your client base and leverage your brand. Step into the new age of marketing through this cost-effective, time efficient platform!


Christine Conti and Brian Prendergast are co-hosts of Two Fit Crazies & A Microphone Podcast and owners of TFC Podcast Production Co. Christine is the founder of Conti Fitness and Wellness, LLC; Brian Prendergast is the founder and head coach of High Five Health and Fitness. 

 

protein-food-muscle

The Athlete’s Kitchen: Nutrition Tactics for Building Muscles

 Most athletes want to have strong muscles to be more powerful, help prevent injuries, add protection for contact sports such as rugby or (American) football, and yes, to look buff. They wonder: What can I eat for more muscle, strength and power? The standard belief is eat extra protein, but more fundamental than food is doing some form of resistance exercise. Lifting weights is far more powerful for building muscle than is eating extra protein (unless you have been eating a protein-deficient diet). 

alarm clock

10 Tips for Sleep Health

Here are ten critical pieces of information every person should know about sleep and how to optimize and enhance sleep for healthy living.

Sleep is the secret weapon for maintaining overall health and wellness.

1. Be asleep > 2 hours before midnight.

Quality sleep is biologically driven by the brain and is often inflexible to environmental change. The best quality sleep is achieved between 2200 – 0600. Quality sleep helps to clear toxins and repair muscle.

2. Electronic devices reduce quality sleep.

A recent study found that late-night tweeting increases next-day fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Biologically speaking, blue light emitted from smartphones and TVs stops nighttime release of the hormone that helps us fall asleep: melatonin. Melatonin helps us achieve restorative sleep responsible for overall rejuvenation and repair.

3. Quality sleep releases anabolic hormones.

It is a myth that we release growth hormone and testosterone after we exercise. Rather, the body “saves” that information and releases these anabolic hormones during sleep but only if quality, restorative sleep is achieved.

4. No sugary foods before bedtime.

While it is common to wake up starving in the middle of the night, eating low glycemic foods that do not elevate blood sugar (e.g., sweet potatoes over a banana or ice cream) before bedtime will help reduce awakenings in the middle of the night.

5. Supplementation with magnesium and zinc.

These are two key minerals rapidly depleted during the day that are critical for a healthy nervous system. Most foods do not provide adequate amounts of magnesium/zinc.  Both will help reduce leg cramping and muscle twitching common at night as well as with achieving quality sleep.

6. Sleep in the fetal position.

Sleeping on your back or stomach makes the ability to breath difficult during sleep. Use pillows to condition the body to sleep in the fetal position.

7. Keep the room cool for quality sleep.

A room temperature between 68 -72 degrees Fahrenheit will help ensure that you do not wake up in the middle of the night and can achieve quality stages of sleep.

8. Mentally rehearse important information before bedtime.

Sleep is necessary to learn and recall new information.

9. “Sleep bank” prior to intended sleep deprivation.

It is common to have poor sleep the night before travel.  Extending sleep by > 1 -2 hours for 3 – 4 days leading up to travel will help protect against declines in physical and mental performances.

10. Use sleep medications as a last resort for insomnia or other sleep difficulties.

When all else fails, take half a recommended dose of a prescribed sleep medication or use melatonin (3 -5 mg; 1 -2 capsules) to help re-adjust a sleep schedule to a new time zone. The easiest way to prepare for time zone travel is to slowly adjust sleep by 30 – 60 min in the direction of travel a few days prior.

Learn more about sleep physiology!

Register now for Dr. Brager’s free webinar on this topic. This webinar will give a basic overview of the principles and practices of how and why we sleep, and how sleep timing & quality shape overall health status.

 


Dr. Allison Brager is an expert in sleep physiology and relevance to issues of mental health. She serves in several leadership and scientific advisory board positions with professional research societies, industry, and professional, Olympic, and collegiate teams.

She has over 30 publications in flagship journals of medicine, neuroscience, and physiology widely featured by large media outlets and is author of the popular science book Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain. She has a Sc.B from Brown University and a PhD from Kent State University.