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Fight Muscle Loss Now!

When you think of a typical older person, one thing likely comes to mind: frailty. Even if you can’t really identify any obvious illness, there is something about most elderly people that communicates frailty and weakness. They probably walk slowly, move carefully and let others do many things for them, rather than doing those things themselves.

What is it?

It’s muscle loss, otherwise known as sarcopenia. And if you are 25 years old or older, it is happening to you already. But you don’t have to take it sitting down. (Pun intended.)

What is sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia refers to the process of losing skeletal muscle mass and strength. “Sarco” is the Greek word referring to flesh, and “penia” means a reduction in amount. Thus, the word describes a progressive weakening of the body caused by a “change in body compensation in favor of fat and at the expense of muscle.” (1)

Everyone, beginning around age 25, starts to lose muscle mass, though the actual symptoms of this loss do not usually begin showing up until around the age of 40 or so. The process begins really picking up speed after the age of 65. In fact, around the age of 40, most women will lose almost a half-pound of muscle every year and replace it with fat. (2)

The result of this gradual loss of muscle is an insidious weakening of the body, loss of balance, loss of confidence upon walking, and a reduced ability to recover from near falls. As we lose strength, we become more inactive. This makes sense, because if we have less muscle, it takes much more effort to move, and we fatigue more easily. But also, with loss of strength comes loss of balance and stability. The fear of falling keeps many people sedentary. And a sedentary lifestyle opens the door for chronic illness.

Take back your muscle

And now for great news: you can delay sarcopenia and even reverse it. How? By lifting weights. Even though you cannot grow new muscles cells to replace the ones you have already lost, you can develop the ones that you have left. In fact, you can become stronger than you ever have in your life by simply beginning a strength training program.

No matter how old you are, it is not too late to start. Even patients in nursing homes have seen transformation. After strength training, bedridden patients were able to begin walking with walkers, walker-dependent patients graduated to canes, and so on. (3)

And no matter how young you are, it is not too early to start! By starting early, you can significantly delay the effects of sarcopenia.

As you begin lifting weights, you will notice a transformation in your body. You will have more energy, you will perform everyday tasks with noticeably more ease and your clothes will begin sagging on you, because you will be building muscle and burning up the fat deposits. You will have greater balance and more confidence.

And perhaps best of all is the insurance policy you pay premiums on every time you choose to lift, because you are laying a strong, solid foundation for your later years. You are laying up health, independence and the ability to live well, not just long.

Don’t let another day go by that you are losing muscle. Fight muscle loss now. Take it back, and get ready to feel better than you ever have!

Maurice D. Williams is a personal trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness and Assistant Professor of Health & Human Performance at Freed-Hardeman University. With almost two decades in the industry, he’s worked with a wide range of clients, including those with health challenges like diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, lower back pain, pulmonary issues, and pregnancy.



  1. Biomarkers by William Evans Ph.D. and Irwin Rosenberg M.D. Page 23.
  2. Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam E. Nelson Ph.D. Page 22.
  3. Younger Next Year for Women by Chris Crowley and Harry S. Lodge M.D. Page 178

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.

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!

Find a Fitness or Allied Health Pro Near You

Search the free MedFit Network directory to locate a professional near you! MedFit Network maintains a free directory of fitness and allied healthcare professionals who can work with individuals with chronic disease, medical conditions or the senior population.

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.



  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/
Elderly woman with alzheimer

The Dark Side of Parkinson’s Disease: The FACE of Parkinson’s Disease, Part 2

Click to read part 1 of this article, covering background on facial masking, swallowing, vocal issues for people with PD.

As a fitness professional, you can help. The key is is knowing how to appropriately apply facial, swallowing and vocal projections drills to private and group sessions.  Below are some tips to utilize with your “fighters”.

Occupational Therapy Tips

Decreased facial expression

  • Practice recognizing emotions in other people and creating appropriate responses. These responses may include facial expressions and verbal communication. Practicing these reactions to others can help support relationships. 
  • The word, “affect” refers to the appearance of emotion through facial expressions, voice tone, and body language or gestures. If you have trouble with facial expressions, try to express yourself more through adding gestures or body language when you communicate.
  • Communicate your situation! Try explaining your trouble with facial expressions and decreased voice volume to people who may not initially understand.
  • Facial exercises: 
    • look in the mirror and practice your facial expressions.
    • hold a smile, raise your eyebrows as high as you can, bring your eyebrows together to frown,  open your mouth as wide to stretch your jaw, close your eyes tightly and open them wide, close your mouth and expand your cheeks, stick your tongue out and stretch it in each direction
    • Try to exaggerate your facial expressions and lip movements when you speak


When eating:

  • Try to maintain good posture
  • Focus on keeping your chin up and lips closed when eating
  • Swallow often to limit saliva
  • Avoid sugary foods that create more saliva

Lip closure exercises:

  • Close lips tightly for 5 seconds and release (5 times)
  • Close lips around tongue depressor and hold while trying to pull from mouth for 5 seconds (5x)
  • Fill your cheeks with air and move the air from cheek to cheek (5×5 times)

Dysphagia (Swallowing)

Transferring food from a utensil to the mouth, chewing the food then swallowing and most likely socializing all at the same time without any problems is a task most people take for granted.  According to Dr. Jose Vega MD, PhD, three phases must occur in order to swallow properly.

  1. The Oral Phase: This phase begins when food is placed in the mouth and moistened with saliva. Moistened food is called a food bolus.
  2. The Pharyngeal Phase: As the food bolus reaches the pharynx, special sensory nerves activate the involuntary phase of swallowing.
  3. The Esophageal Phase: As food leaves the pharynx, it enters the esophagus, a tube-like muscular structure that leads food into the stomach due to its powerful coordinated muscular contractions. The passage of food through the esophagus during this phase requires the coordinated action of the vagus nerve, the glossopharyngeal nerve, and nerve fibers from the sympathetic nervous system.

Difficulty swallowing as it pertains to PD, reflects a deficiency of dopamine in the brain and often improves with medication and therapy/exercises. Drooling is also a symptom and is caused by reduced reflexive swallowing not from an overproduction of saliva but tends to improve with dopamine replacement therapy.  I have come to learn over the years that tremors and swallowing problems are usually the reason someone living with PD isolates themself.  It is embarrassing to finally get food on your utensil only to get it to your mouth and realize it has scattered all over the place or fear of aspiration which by the way may not always be heard. Aspiration can be quiet and lead to aspiration pneumonia, the leading cause of death in PD.

Care-partners and Fitness Professionals need to recognize the signs of aspiration as noted below. 

Coughing Before/After Swallowing

  • Trouble chewing 
  • Pocketing food inside the cheek
  • Gagging during a meal
  • Crying or face turning red while eating
  • Drooling especially during meals
  • Clearing the throat before/after and throughout the day
  • Hoarse during and after the meal

For this reason, Coaches at Bridges For Parkinson’s offers popsicles to our “fighters” at the end of class. And they love it! They can have a fun treat without the fear of dropping food and visit with others so it is a win-win! Plus, it allows us to make sure they are hydrated. Sneaky, sneaky!

If a person living with Parkinson’s Disease or their care-partner is not sure whether their loved one has a swallowing issue, the Parkinson’s Foundation provides some great questions to help determine the answer:

  • Have I recently lost weight without trying?
  • Do I tend to avoid drinking liquids?
  • Do I get the sensation of food being stuck in my throat?
  • Do I drool?
  • Is food collecting around my gum line?
  • Do I cough or choke before, during or after eating or drinking?
  • Do I often have heartburn or a sore throat?
  • Do I have trouble keeping food or liquid in my mouth? 

ORAL EXERCISES to help with strengthening and coordinating the LIPS

  1. Pucker up and blow a “oooo” then transition to an “EEEEEE” (SMILE BIG!)
  2. “MMMM” press lips together as much as possible and take a deep breath in and hum..         good for the lungs too.
  3. “Blowfish Hold” and hand isometrically pushes into cheek

TONGUE- ROM, Coordination and strength to help with eating and drinking

  1. Stick tongue out as far as possible and hold it there (add SPOON FOR RESISTANCE)
  2. Stick tongue out and up and hold (ADD SPOON FOR RESISTANCE)
  3. Stick tongue into sides of cheek (helps with food deposits)
  4. Roll tongue back and press against roof of mouth

In addition to swallowing exercises, meal prep aids in reducing issues brought on by dysphagia and may lower the risk of aspiration. The APDA Organization recommends the following nutritional information:

  • Foods that don’t require vigorous chewing. Avoid dry and crumbly foods.
  • Moderately textured wheat breads instead of very coarse, nutty breads or very soft, white breads.
  • Oatmeal, cream of wheat or moistened dry cereals instead of coarse, dry cereals.
  • Well-cooked, tender chicken/turkey, well-cooked fish without bones, chopped and ground meats, instead of stringy, tough meats that require a lot of chewing.
  • Soft casseroles and poached or scrambled eggs
  • Mashed potatoes or rice, moistened with gravy or margarine, instead of wild rice or French-fried potatoes.
  • Soft, cooked pasta elbows, instead of long spaghetti.
  • Soft, well-cooked vegetables, cut up or creamed, instead of raw vegetables or those with a hard texture.
  • Pureed or mashed fruits, fruit juices and fruit sauces, instead of fruits with seeds or hard outer skins. Avoid nuts, seeds or coconut.
  • Custard, yogurt, ice cream or other soft desserts


The article begins with a story of a grandmother experiencing dysphagia, hypomimia and hypophonia (softness of voice).  But people living with PD are not limited to hypophonia when it comes to speech problems.  Dysarthria and tachyphemia are additional speech issues people living with PD may experience.

Hypophonia or softness of voice is a condition that the Davis Phinney Foundation states 90% of people living with PD will experience. Characteristics of hypophonia include raspy voice, low speech volume, breathy and/or monotone speech.  

Dysarthria is another speech issue related to PD. It is characterized by poor articulation, respiration and/or phonation according to the National Aphasia Association.  Speech will come across as slurred, effortful and can often be mistaken for inebriated.  Doctors encourage people living with PD who are still driving to wear a bracelet to help law enforcement know they are not drunk.

Tachyphemia or acceleration of speech is also related to speech issues. A person struggling with tachyphemia will sound like all their words are jumbled together and often feel like their tongue is twisted.

While these issues are troublesome and frustrating, there are some easy and even fun ways to combat low volume, slurred and accelerated speech.  

  1. Music Therapy – therapy defined broadly by the American Music Therapy Association as “a treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music [through which] clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives.” All over the country, Parkinson’s Choirs are using singing to help improve respiration, Swallowing and enhanced volume and clarity of voice.
  2. Breathing Drills- Strong lungs reduces risk of pneumonia and allows the person to complete ADL’s with little to no complications.  
  3. LSVT LOUD: an effective speech treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological conditions. A study on hypophonia in PD reviewed the effectiveness of LSVT treatment for those with idiopathic PD and found that voice loudness significantly improved. Goals include: increased voice volume, improved articulation, increased confidence with communication, and changes in neural function related to speech (https://n.neurology.org/content/60/3/432)
  4. Speak Up For Parkinson’s App: Yes, an app with exercises that also provides visual feedback on volume.  


  1. Breathe in and exhale on a vowel for 5 seconds.
  2. Hum for 3 seconds making sure to press the lips together then have the “fighter” say….
    Their favorite food or movie or color.
  3. Hum for 3 seconds then say the vowels, sliding the voice from one vowel to the next.
  4. Recite a poem with various emotions.
  5. Partner “fighters” and have them share jokes with each other. Whoever laughs the hardest wins!
  6. Close class or a session with a short song or team phrase . 

Fitness Professionals have the unique opportunity to incorporate exercises for the face, voice and swallowing while also performing strength and/or cardio exercises. You do not have to separate the two. It is a great way to challenge the cognitive aspects and  the physical, all while having fun! The best part is it creates a community moment which deepens their love and trust for you, the fitness professionals.  You are making a difference!’

Co-authored by Colleen Bridges, M. Ed, NSCA-CPT; Renee Rouleau-B.S., PhD student, Jacobs School of Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo; Kristi Ramsey, OTD, OTR/L.




Do you have what it takes to train those with medical conditions?

Healthcare through fitness is not really a new concept and goes back to ancient Greek times.  I believe there is an undeniable power in the collaboration of the two.

That is why I left corporate America 23 years ago, went back to college and then went on to take a dozen chronic disease and exercise specialty certificate programs.  My Dad was battling cancer for the 2nd time and I wanted to help people to have a better quality of life through fitness.

I was certainly a pioneer back in 1999 opening a “medical fitness” business.  I believed and still believe that I can help others restore people to health after a medical diagnosis, surgery, physical therapy or improve the quality their life through lifestyle changes, diet and exercise.

So as you can see, the concept of medical fitness is not new and the demand is rising as we face a global healthcare crisis beyond the pandemic.

Many of you don’t even realize you are already working in this space…

Are you working with clients over 50, have chronic disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar), have given birth, going through menopause, thyroid issues, have had a joint replaced, have arthritis, osteoporosis, battling depression or stress and are on antidepressants, are obese (men over 25% body fat women over 30% body fat), have musculoskeletal disorders, have overcome cancer, have had an injury or surgery and just finished physical therapy and looking to you for fitness?  Yep, you are in the “medical fitness space”.  You have to learn about all this stuff and continue to stay up to date on it all or you may cause more harm than good.

These are our clients today. We called them “special populations” years ago. Most of the general public do not know how to develop the components of a progressive fitness program. People with chronic medical conditions have an even greater challenge. They need to find a fitness professional that has specialty training to understand their specific needs and limitations.

I don’t see how you can avoid working in this space as this is the largest, fastest growing demographic and who needs you the most.  Developing a plan for a regular exercise & wellness program can be difficult for these people; they require specialized medical fitness specialists who understand their unique needs.

I believe we are in a perfect storm. Fitness professionals can be the first line of defense against the impacts of lifestyle diseases.

This next-level fitness professional can help and coach people on a journey to optimal health.  Those stepping into the medical fitness space are gaining education to specialize in making the transition from medical management and/or physical therapy to a regular physical activity program following a surgery, an injury, a medical diagnosis or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition.  They are also learning about prevention and restoring people to health through a personalized fitness plan.

Do you want to broaden your potential customer base to this demographic by adding new skills?

So, what do you need to get there? Rather than looking at continuing education as something you must do, look at it from this perspective: how can I invest in my education to grow my business and have more clients benefit from my services? When chosen well, continuing education allows you to build on your current skillset or broaden your skills into entirely new areas.

There are millions of “unwell” potential clients in the market looking for you. Those with medical conditions or chronic disease are seeking specialized personal trainers; trainers who understand their condition and create programming to improve the quality of their life and understand their complex health issues when their doctor tells them to start an exercise program.

You have the opportunity to truly be a pioneer into a new era, one in which medicine and fitness come together.

Lisa Dougherty started her fitness career in 1999 and has worked for over 20 years with clients with medical conditions or chronic disease, amassing dozens of certifications and continuing education along the way.

Inspired by her father’s cancer battle, she created the MedFit Network to help connect those with medical conditions to fitness, health & wellness professionals who could serve them. Later, seeing a gap in specialized education for these professionals, she founded the MedFit Education Foundation to facilitate and create high-quality education for all facets of medical fitness.


Instructor Showing Health Results On Clipboard To Senior Couple

Respiratory Disease and Exercise

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of people suffer every day from chronic respiratory diseases (CRD).  Currently in the United States, 24.6 million people have asthma1, 15.7 million people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)2 while greater than 50 million people have allergic rhinitis3 and other often-underdiagnosed chronic respiratory diseases.  Respiratory diseases do not discriminate and affect people of every race, sex, and age.  While most chronic respiratory diseases are manageable and some even preventable, this is what is known about the nature of chronic respiratory diseases4:

  • Chronic disease epidemics take decades to become fully established.
  • Chronic diseases often begin in childhood.
  • Because of their slow evolution and chronic nature, chronic diseases present opportunities for prevention.
  • Many different chronic diseases may occur in the same patient (e.g. chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer).
  • The treatment of chronic diseases demands a long-term and systematic approach.
  • Care for patients with chronic diseases should be an integral part of the activities of health services, alongside care for patients with acute and infectious diseases.

Exercise and CRD

If you are a health and fitness professional, some of your clients may be suffering from a chronic respiratory disease and you may be an important source for relief.  Moderate exercise is known to improve use of oxygen, energy levels, anxiety, stress and depression, sleep, self-esteem, cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and shortness of breath. While it might seem odd that exercise improves breathing when one is short of breath, exercising really does help one with respiratory disease.  Exercise helps the blood circulate and helps the heart send oxygen to the rest of the body.  Exercise also strengthens the respiratory muscles which can make it easier to breathe.

Beneficial Types of Exercise

There are several challenges to exercise prescription and physical activity participation in this population, but a large body of evidence demonstrates important health benefits from aerobic exercise.  Resistance training has also been shown to increase muscle mass and strength, enhancing individuals’ ability to perform tasks of daily living and improving health-related quality of life.5

Aerobic exercise is good for the heart and lungs and allows one to use oxygen more efficiently. Walking, biking, and swimming are great examples of aerobic exercise. The guidelines are approximately the same as generally healthy individuals.  One should attempt to train the cardiorespiratory system 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes per session.  One should exercise at an intensity level of 3-4 on the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (Scale Rating from 0 Nothing at All-10 Very, Very, Heavy).

Resistance exercise increases muscular strength including the respiratory muscles that assist in breathing.  Resistance training usually involves weights or resistance bands but using one’s own body weight works just as well depending on the severity of the symptoms.  It is recommended that one should perform high repetitions with low weight to fatigue the muscles.  This type of resistance training also improves muscular endurance important for those with CRD.  Resistance training should be performed 2-3 days a week working all major muscle groups.

Stretching exercises relax and improve one’s flexibility.  When stretching, one should practice slow and controlled breathing.  Not only does proper breathing help to deepen the stretch, but it also helps one to increase lung capacity.  One should gently stretch all major muscles to the point of mild discomfort while holding the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, slowly breathing in and out. Repeat each stretch 2-3 times.  Stretching is an effective method to warming up and cooling down before and after workout sessions.

When exercising, it is important to remember to inhale in preparation of the movement and exhale on the exertion phase of the movement.  An individual should take slow deep breaths and pace him/herself.  It is recommended to purse the lips while exhaling.

Use of Medication

If an individual uses medication for the treatment of respiratory disease, he/she should continue to take the medication based on his/her doctor’s advice.  His/her doctor may adjust the dosage according to the physical activity demands.  For example, the doctor may adjust the flow rate of oxygen during exercise if one is using an oxygen tank.  In addition, one should have his/her inhaler on hand in case of a need due to the increase of oxygen demand during exercise.

Fitness professionals can effectively work with those who have a chronic respiratory disease providing them with a better quality of life through movement.  You as their health and fitness coach can provide a positive experience to facilitate an effective path to better health and wellness.

Join CarolAnn for her upcoming webinar, Exercise and Allergies: How to Train Clients When They Can’t Breathe

Known as the trainers’ trainer, CarolAnn has become one of the country’s leading fitness educators, authors, and national presenters. Combining a Master’s degree in Exercise Science/Health Promotion with several fitness certifications/memberships such as FiTOUR, ACSM, ACE, AFAA, and LMI, she has been actively involved in the fitness industry for over 25 years. She is currently the Founder and Director of Education for Chiseled Faith, a Faith Based Health and Fitness Program for churches. Visit her website, www.CarolAnn.Fitness


  1. 2015. NHIS Data; Table 3-1. www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2015/table3-1.htm
  2. Mannino DM, Gagnon RC, Petty TL, Lydick E. Obstructive lung disease and low lung function in adults in the United States: data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-1994. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:1683–1689.
  3. CDC, Gateway to Health Communication and Social Marketing Practice. Allergies. https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/Allergies.html
  4. World Health Organization http://www.who.int/gard/publications/chronic_respiratory_diseases.pdf
  5. Eves ND, Davidson WJ. Evidence-based risk assessment and recommendations for physical activity clearance: respiratory disease. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism. 2011;36(Suppl 1):S80–100. [PubMed]
Tattoos Sweat Less Gym

Tattoos & Heat Loss During Exercise

Tattoos are personal permanent images on our body that carry meaning and commemoration. At least 14% of U.S. adults have at least one tattoo and the popularity of getting inked is on the rise. Nearly 36% of millennials have a tattoo and it seems to be a reoccurring trend. The athletic community also has a high incidence of players with tattoos. 

As much color as these skin decorations bring to the body, they may actually affect cause thermoregulatory problems. This is particularly true for people with sleeves, because the arms have a lot of sweat glands. Compared to a person with no tattoos, skin with ink on it sweats about 50% less. The type of sweat released on a tattooed area contains more concentrated amounts of sodium. Dyed skin changes the saltiness of our sweat. When the dye is injected into the skin, its home is same layer where our sweat glands live. Sweat glands excrete liquid onto the surface of the skin, but before it dries or we whip it away, our skin usually reabsorbs quite a bit of the lost sodium and electrolytes. Tattoos block this reabsorption. The age of tattoo does not influence this sweat alteration. New or old, about 50% of sweat is being produced. It is possible that the sweat glands after being inflamed from the 3,000 or more needles puncturing the skin, are now physiologically different. 

This is not a serious condition to sweat about. The body is still able to cool itself down despite tattoos covering perspiration avenues. A person who is covered in tattoos, exercising or working in high heat, or are sensitive to heat, might be at risk. When we exercise we do want to be able to cool down to keep our stamina and performance up. Research has not been adequately performed to determine if the areas of the skin lacking tattoos make up for the sweat not readily perspired by the covered tattoo areas. Don’t worry that if you sweat less you will lose less weight. We all perspire different amounts and quantity of sweat does not equate to quantity of weight loss. As soon as the body become rehydrated, that water loss is replenished. Excessive sweating for weight loss with saunas or body wraps are popular methods among wrestlers and boxers. Maybe they should skip out on marking their bodies. 

Sweat is the body’s air conditioning system. Tattoos might alter the desired temperature. 50% of NBA players have multiple tattoos and there hasn’t been a report yet of tattoo related injuries. Your skin will still get shiny with perspiration, but maybe not the same amount or with added salt. Be sure to hydrate, be sure to exercise, and be sure to get a tattoo you want to keep. 

Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough, owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA, is a NASM Master Trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition, Weight Management, Senior Fitness, Corrective Exercise, and Drug and Alcohol Recovery. She’s also a Wellness Coach, holds an M.A. Physical Education & Health and a Ph.D in Health and Human Performance. She is a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, and published author.




Osteopenia: Beating Brittle Bones

I recall watching an advertisement on TV that was promoting a brand of milk that is enriched with calcium and vitamin D. The advertisement had a provoking animation of a woman, stooping gradually, as she gets visibly older. The message was that aging adults need higher intake of calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong and healthy bones – and their milk was the solution. Or is it? We know that our bones tend to become more fragile as we age. A proper name for this condition is called osteoporosis. But many of us are probably not aware that women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, compared to men.