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Exercise and Prostate Cancer

The rising rate of prostate cancer necessitates developing better methods to prevent and treat prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men, according to the American Cancer Society. The country’s 3.3 million prostate cancer survivors account for 21 percent of all cancer survivors.

There are many reasons why a cancer patient should stay as active as possible through cancer treatment and recovery. I will begin by pointing out a few studies that show how exercise can benefit cancer patients.  These studies demonstrate how exercise can reduce certain side effects from treatment, increase energy, decrease stress, and improve quality of life. In the last article of this series, I will suggest ways to develop an exercise program that is based on an individual’s needs and is safe and effective.

There is evidence to support the use of exercise in prostate treatment. Exercise plays a role in the all-around improved physical and mental health and therefore should be considered in the treatment plan. We know that exercise can decrease recurrence for some cancers and the role it plays in weight control, which is correlated with some cancers. For prostate cancer specifically, data indicates that obesity increases the aggressiveness of prostate cancer, and thus mortality. Men receiving androgen deprivation therapy are at higher risk for depression. Exercise reduces depression.

Studies do have their limitations.  Some use self-reported data about lifestyle and exercise. Moreover, there may be a low number of minority participants who may often have higher cancer rates. The following are a few of the published studies, which confirm that exercise should be included in the treatment plan for prostate cancer patients.

Studies have suggested that patients with high levels of physical activity had a lower rate of disease progression and also reduced mortality from prostate cancer. Ying Wang, PhD, a senior epidemiologist in the Epidemiology Research Program at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on 10,067 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer between 1992 and 2011.  Men with prostate cancer, which hasn’t spread may have longer survival the more they exercise.  A study demonstrated that men who were the most physically active had a 34% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer when compared with men who were the least physically active. Men who either maintained or increased their exercise level also benefited. Prostate cancer patients who kept up a moderate to high level of physical activity also had better survival prognoses compared with their more sedentary counterparts. Those men who were more active before diagnosis were more likely to have lower-risk cancer tumors and a history of prostate screenings. They were also leaner, more likely to be nonsmokers and vitamin users and they ate more fish. Wang concludes, “Our results support evidence that prostate cancer survivors should adhere to physical activity guidelines, and suggest that physicians should consider promoting a physically active lifestyle to their prostate cancer patients.”

Androgen Deprivation Therapy leads to numerous side effects, which can be decreased through exercise. Side effects of ADT include loss of muscle, increase in fat mass and osteoporosis. Risk for diabetes and heart disease also increases.  Brian Focht, reported at the November AICR convention, that functional ability increased dramatically as did quality of life for those that exercise, and side effects of ADT were reversed.

Exercise can decrease blood sugar levels, which lower insulin levels and also helps to lower inflammation. There does appear to be a positive association between insulin levels, inflammation and prostate cancer risk.

The evidence for physical activity in reducing anxiety and depression, while increasing general-well being is fairly substantial.  Improving well-being can have a dramatic beneficial effect on sexual function.  Consistent exercise will also help to lower insulin, blood sugar, and improve overall cardiovascular health, all of which have positive impact on erectile dysfunction and libido.

In 2016, Rider and Wilson studied the connection between ejaculation and prostate cancer, which was published in European Urology. Men that reported higher ejaculatory frequency were less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. This study showed a beneficial role of frequent ejaculation particularly for low-risk disease.

Some doctors have traditionally told patients to rest during this time but Favil Singh’s research confirms the importance of getting fit prior to surgery. Singh’s research published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies has shown that a regular dose of physical activity prior to surgery helps the recovery process. This reduces time in the hospital.

Singh stated “This is the first time we’ve been able to demonstrate the benefits of ‘pre-habilitation’ for prostate cancer patients. It is safe, side effect-free and can be done while undergoing chemo or radiotherapy. Just two sessions a week of resistance and exercise training for six weeks can make a difference to recovery.”

Often, there is a waiting period in between diagnosis and surgery. If fitness level can be improved before surgery the patient, then the patient goes into the surgery stronger and may have a better recovery.

The American Cancer Society and American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This advice is a good goal for those who have been inactive. Unfortunately, in my view this is insufficient for a significant number of cancer patients. Having worked with cancer patients for over 20 years, I believe that this recommendation needs to be changed. It is impossible to include aerobic exercise, strength training, and other exercise methods in the current recommended time frame. 


Carol J. Michaels is the founder and creator of Recovery Fitness® LLC, located in Short Hills, New Jersey. Her programs are designed to help cancer survivors in recovery through exercise programs. Carol, an award winning fitness and exercise specialist, has over 17 years of experience as a fitness professional and as a cancer exercise specialist. Visit her website, carolmichaelsfitness.com

 

References

Steven C. Moore PhD, et al, Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; 176(6): 816-825.

Lynch B.M., Dunstan D.W., Vallance J.K., Owen N. Don’t take cancer sitting down: A new survivorship research agenda. Cancer. 2013, Jun 1; 119(11): 1928-35 Medicine

Kristina H. Karvinen, Kerry S. Courneya, Scott North and Peter Venner, Associations between Exercise and Quality of Life in Bladder Cancer Survivors: A Population-Based Study, Cancer Epidemiology and Biomarkers Prevention May 2007, 10.1158/1055-9965

Gopalakrishna et al, Lifestyle factors and health-related quality of life in bladder cancer survivors: a systematic review. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 2016 (5): 874-82

Vallance, J., Spark, L., & Eakin, E.. Exercise behavior, motivation, and maintenance among cancer survivors. In Exercise, Energy Balance, and Cancer (2013) (pp. 215-231). Springer

Cannioto et al., The association of lifetime physical inactivity with bladder and renal cancer risk: A hospital-based case-control analysis, Cancer Epidemiology, Volume 49 August 2017

Cramp F, Byron-Daniel J. Exercise for the management of cancer-related fatigue in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; 14(11): CD006145.

Booth FW, et al., Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases. Compr Physiol. 2012 Apr; 2(2): 1143-211.

Stephanie Cash et al, Recreational physical activity and risk of papillary thyroid cancer among women in the California Teachers Study. Cancer Epidemiology, Feb 2013,37(1): 46-53

Hwang, Yunji MS; Lee, Kyu Eun MD, PhD; Park, Young Joo MD, PhD; et al, Annual Average Changes in Adult Obesity as a Risk Factor for Papillary Thyroid Cancer: A Large-Scale Case-Control Study, Medicine, March 2016, Mar; 95(9): e2893

Cao Y, Ma J. Body mass index, prostate cancer-specific mortality, and biochemical recurrence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011; 4: 486-501.

Galvao, et al. Combined resistance and aerobic exercise program reverses muscle loss in men undergoing androgen suppression therapy for prostate cancer without bone metastases: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Jan 10; 28(2): 340-7.

Galvao, et al. Exercise can prevent and even reverse adverse effects of androgen suppression treatment in men with prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2007; 10(4):340-6.

Winters-Stone KM, et al. Resistance training reduces disability in prostate cancer survivors on androgen deprivation therapy: evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Jan; 96(1): 7-14.

Giovannucci EL, Liu Y, Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of physical activity and incident and fatal prostate cancer. Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165: 1005-1010.

Storer TW, Miciek R, Travison TG. Muscle function, physical performance and body composition changes in men with prostate cancer undergoing androgen deprivation therapy. Asian J Androl. 2012, Mar; 14(2): 204-21.

Focht, Brian C.; Lucas, Alexander R.; Grainger, Elizabeth; Simpson, Christina; Fairman, Ciaran M.; Thomas-Ahner, Jennifer; Clinton, Steven K., Effects of a Combined Exercise and Dietary Intervention on Mobility Performance in Prostate Cancer, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. May 2016:48(5S): 515.

Rider J, Wilson K.et al. Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow up, European Urology. December 2016, volume 70, issue 6

Singh F. et al. Feasibility of Presurgical Exercise in Men With Prostate Cancer Undergoing Prostatectomy, Integrative Cancer Therapies (2016). DOI: 10.1177/1534735416666373

Wang et al, Recreational Physical Activity in Relation to Prostate Cancer–specific Mortality Among Men with Nonmetastatic Prostate Cancer. European Urology July 2017 online bit.ly/2tXMK6Y

Instructor Showing Health Results On Clipboard To Senior Couple

Respiratory Disease and Exercise: How to help your clients not suck at 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.

Expand your Education to Work More Effectively with these Clients!

Check out CarolAnn’s 4 hour course with PTontheNet, Respiratory Disease and ExerciseThe goal of this course is to educate health and fitness professionals on how to effectively implement exercise training techniques and work with clients that suffer from various respiratory diseases to help develop strength, flexibility, balance, breathing, and improve their quality of life.  Click here to learn more about the course.


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

References

  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]

Use Exercise Bands to Boost Your Cardio Endurance and Reduce Inflammation

Researchers studied 1,544 people age 50-plus. Some of those in their 80s had the lowest inflammation levels in their bodies because they took care of their health. This included cardio exercises along with resistance – weight training with weights and bands, stretching for flexible joints and mobility. Even in extreme old age, centennials showed positive outcomes when they exercised. Low levels of inflammation were also an important predictor of people’s cognitive function, especially those in the oldest age group.

Lori Michiel in her studio

I’d have to say that of all the exercises I do, I love anything aerobic (getting my heart rate up) the most.  Walking, jogging, biking and dancing are the most common forms to get your motor running and is a great way to shake off the cobwebs. Any quick, sustained movement can increase your heart rate.

Before you start moving around, think about what motivates you to push a little harder. Are you interested in exercise to reduce stress and shake off the blues, lose weight, build a healthier brain (cognition), or make new friends?

Researchers say those who believed exercise was good for stress reduction valued it more with increased age. Motivation to move when reaching 60-plus can yield different benefits. For instance, people who exercise experience less inflammation in their bodies. Inflammation can lead to illness (stemming from a lower immune system) and difficulty losing weight. Losing weight can be especially troublesome if you have joint issues (hip, knees or back). With each pound you lose, the equivalent of four pounds of pressure can be released.

The combination of cardio mixed with bands is one solution for cardio exercise to keep inflammation at bay. It is fun. Be creative and you will never get bored. In this month’s Exercise Snack Video, I will show you a few quick examples. Pay close attention to my cues on form and technique and in the long run (pardon the pun), you’ll have fun!!

Side note: The familiar tune of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” has been used for medical training for some time. It has the right beat — not to mention the perfect title — for providing CPR’s chest compressions at the right pace to revive a patient. Try playing it sometime when you exercise.

Reprinted with permission from Lori Michiel. Originally published on Lori’s Fitness Blog For Active Adults and Seniors.


Lori Michiel, NASM, has been assisting seniors in their homes since 2006 with customized exercise programs including those designed to address Parkinson’s, metabolic disorders, arthritis and diabetes. These adaptive programs are specifically designed to improve balance, circulation, flexibility, mobility and promote independence. Lori Michiel Fitness has over 40 certified trainers who are matched with clients in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties. Connect with Lori at www.LoriMichielFitness.com.

Depositphotos_11402918_xs

Exercise Solutions for Fibromyalgia

Approximately 4 million people in the United States live with fibromyalgia, an illness which manifests as severe muscle pain and chronic fatigue. Living with fibromyalgia — the cause of which is unknown, but seems to be connected to the nervous system — means coping on a daily basis with debilitating discomfort and a lack of energy, making exercise difficult. Indeed, a lot of different exercises can actually make the symptoms of fibromyalgia more acute, but there is a common misconception that exercise should be avoided completely by those with the condition.

Giving up exercise is not the answer. Some forms of physical exercise may exacerbate pain, but this is due to the unsuitability of the exercise itself, rather than just doing exercise. In fact, performing exercises that don’t trigger symptoms can actually help, not the least of which is relieving mental and psychological fatigue which is connected to living with the illness.

Start slowly

Throwing yourself into a workout with no gradual build-up is not recommended for anybody, but least of all if you live with fibromyalgia. Intense workouts need to be increased over time, whether you’re 18 or 80, in good shape or not. Unprepared muscles will not respond well and it could take days to undo the damage caused. As little as 5 minutes spent walking can be the best approach.

“After a while, start to increase the amount of time you spend exercising bit by bit, but do not increase the rigorousness of the exercise, which will have a detrimental effect,” warns Pamela Chase, a Fibromyalgia expert at SimpleGrad and Revieweal.

Keep it low intensity

And with the case of fibromyalgia, high-intensity workouts should never be the aim. Pain will only be exacerbated if you take on exercise that’s intense on the muscles, so again, walking is a great option, as is a gentle swim using breaststroke or backstroke. Other great options for fibromyalgia are yoga and tai chi, which include slow movements and little impact.

Take plenty of breaks

In addition to keeping exercise low intensity, take plenty of breaks. Not only will this allow you to recover energy levels, but you’ll actually be able to participate for longer, if you break your routine into smaller, bitesize chunks.

Listen to your body

Exercise can mean overcoming mental obstacles, no matter who you are, but when you suffer from fibromyalgia, it’s imperative you listen to your body. Don’t try to undertake exercise when the message coming from inside is ‘no’. There will simply be times when your energy levels are too low to participate in any form of exercise, so despite the mental frustration this will cause, listen to what your body is communicating.

Measure impact and recovery

Listen to what your body is telling you, and that means keeping tabs on it for two or three days after. As you start to build in exercise routines, do so gradually so the impact of each one can be measured independently. It will help you understand what is working for you, and what isn’t, and then you can develop routines that work for you.

“Although exercise tips are generic, and medical guidance is quite standard for fibromyalgia sufferers, the reality is that no two individuals will respond in exactly the same way to what could appear to be an identical workout, so continue to listen to your body, and continue with routines that work for you as an individual,” says Bruce Sorenson, a journalist at UKTopWriters and AustralianReviewer.

Additional tips

The nature of fibromyalgia means that there are related issues to look out for and manage with your workouts. One such issue is orthostatic intolerance — which means the blood rushes to the legs when sufferers stand up, and stays there. The solution to this is vastly increasing water and salt intake prior to and during exercise, and exercising in warm water. Using a recumbent bicycle can also greatly assist as a warm-up, or even as the exercise itself.

You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting any exercise routine or program to determine if it’s suitable for your needs.


Aimee Laurence is a personal trainer and blogger at Paper Writing Service and Essay Service. She writes about Fibromyalgia and health. Also, Aimee tutors at Assignment Help Australia portal.

 

References

Pamela Chase, a Fibromyalgia expert, Simplegrad and Revieweal.

Bruce Sorenson, a journalist, UKTopWriters and AustralianReviewer.

Prescription for good health diet and exercise flat lay overhead with copyspace.

Medical & Fitness Integration… a HEALTH-E-FIT!

Year after year, the IHRSA Trend Report continues to state that there will be an increase of trillions of spending cost in healthcare spending, with aging Baby Boomers contributing heavily to the total over the next decade. At least 50% of adults between 50-64 years of age live with at least one chronic condition. More than 44% of US consumers take at least one prescription medication daily, and the 50+ age group accounts for nearly 3/4 of spending on prescription drugs. The most commonly prescribed drugs for 40- to 60-year-old adults are for high cholesterol, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes and hypertension.

As more individuals who actively participate in the US healthcare system seek solutions, the more we need to do for positioning our programs and facilities to address their non-traditional needs. As with any other business, we must change, modify and refocus our service delivery system as our client profile and the associated service needs change.

In April 2017, I made the decision to solely focus on developing a Medical Fitness Service to champion the Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) initiative through HEALTHEFIT. Despite being created in 2007, EIM remains an untapped service that has not only been ignored by fitness professionals but also by healthcare as well. Exercise is Medicine®, a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), encourages primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans and to refer patients to evidence-based exercise programs and qualified exercise professionals, especially those with the Exercise is Medicine credential.

In reviewing the multiple areas that we could contribute positive health outcomes, we decided to focus on the following:

1. Orthopedic Pathology

  • Acute Low Back Pain, Low Back Pain and Sciatica, Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Rotator Cuff Pathology, Hip Replacement, Full Knee Replacement, ACL, Meniscus Pathology, Patella-Femoral Syndrome, Osteoporosis

2. Cardiovascular Disease

  • Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, Peripheral Vascular Disease, Alular Heart Disease

3. Pulmonary Disease

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD], Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema

4. Metabolic Disease

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity, Blood Lipid Disorders

HEALTHEFIT’s medical fitness services incorporate a Triangle Treatment Protocol® including: EIM, DNA based nutrition, and Behavioral Medicine. Depending on an individual’s employer benefits plans and/or health insurance, either all or part of these medically directed services can potentially be reimbursable. Creditability is very important to the medical industry therefore we had to ensure that we differentiate our staff from the everyday personal trainer.

While credentials are indeed important, the ability to translate this knowledge into patient specific program design and treatment progression processes is the real professional test. Our medical fitness providers are fitness professionals who have a comprehensive knowledge of special populations. I have been able to create a new professional that is gaining the trust of physicians and health insurance. Our recruiting, orientation, and onboarding process has been the difference in separating HEALTHEFIT from other programs and gaining acceptance with Virginia Premier as their exclusive in-network medical fitness provider and out-of-network
status with Anthem and Cigna.

Want to learn more? Join David for his upcoming MedFit webinar on this topic:


David Rachal III is the founder and CEO of HEALTH-E-FIT, a medical fitness based facility in Chester, VA, where he’s created a scalable system that engages, educates, and empowers physicians and medical fitness providers to work together. His facility uses exercise and nutrition as medicine making prevention, treatment, and long-term management accessible for all. David’s contributions to the fitness industry also include training hundreds of private clients to success and educating over 1,000 trainers in the past eight years as a Fitness Presenter and Certification Specialist with nationally recognized organizations. David holds an MBA with a focus in Healthcare Management. He holds many specialty training certifications, including the ACSM ‘Exercise is Medicine’ credential, the FMS Functional Movement Specialist, and NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator.

ORTHOPEDICS CONSULTATION WOMAN

If You Can’t Beat It, Use It: An Exercise Guide to Post-Joint Replacement Wellness

It all started over 40 years ago, when I chose as my sport – some would say, my life – the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. I was young, fit, pretty strong and, unbeknownst to me, very flexible – perfect for the art of kicking high and hard. Once I got hooked on it, I was in the gym a few hours a day, 6-7 days a week…for the next almost 20 years. That did not include the running I did to get my cardiovascular conditioning primed for the art and sport I was practicing at high levels of both skill and competition. I knew then, at age 19, that I was going to pay for the training and abuse I was putting my body through, but not until I was older, say, 40 or so.

apple-scale-weight-loss

To Weigh or Not to Weigh

Do you want to lose weight?

You might be asking should I weigh or not to weigh, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of knowing one’s outrageous weight, or to take arms against a sea of bulges by simply ignoring the scale and trying to eat less and exercise more. For some of us, the scale is a tool. For others, it’s the enemy.

So let’s say your plan is to lose 1lb a Week.

Some health and fitness professionals have made a compelling case for ignoring the scale, saying that measuring one’s percentage of body fat is the most accurate way to track one’s fitness level.

It indicates a healthy body composition, regardless of height and weight. I agree that you should know your body fat as a baseline for fitness.

Here are some body fat guidelines according to the American Council On Exercise

Body Fat Percentage for Women

  • Athlete: 14-20 percent
  • Fit: 21-24 percent
  • Average: 25-31 percent
  • Obese: > 32 percent

Body Fat Percentage for Men

  • Athlete: 6-13 percent
  • Fit: 14-17 percent
  • Average: 18-24 percent
  • Obese: > 25 percent

So why bother weighing yourself at all? When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to use any indication you can get that your efforts are paying off. It can take a couple of weeks before you see any difference in body fat. Your weight will change more quickly. Besides, there are relatively inexpensive scales that give you both your actual weight and your percentage of body fat.

My personal prejudice is to weigh yourself at least once every week or two. I do, and I find that facing my weight on a regular basis helps me stay motivated. Believe me, there have been times when I’ve dreaded getting on that scale. But I do it anyway because no matter what it says, I feel relief. I find it liberating. Why? Because now I know where I am and what I need to do next. It helps me maintain a healthy weight.

In my practice, I have helped hundreds of people lose weight. And many of them initially fight me about getting on the scale, and I understand this because I know that terror. Part of the process of losing weight is to prepare oneself to do it. If you are not psychologically ready to lose, stepping on the scale can be a real turnoff and actually deter you from losing weight. But once you’re ready, facing that number can jump-start your weight-loss program and keep you going.

I give my clients a baseline of their body fat percentage and get them to use the scale. Then we set up a diet and exercise plan. You can lose weight by diet alone. But dieting can reduce muscle mass along with fat. This becomes ever more important as we age. We can lose as much as 6 pounds of muscle tissue per decade as we age. And metabolism can slow down as much as 3 percent per decade. You can see that if left unchecked, you’re on a slow boat to obesity. Adding an exercise program may be all you need to turn this process around. Cardio exercise burns calories, and strength training raises your metabolism and builds lean muscle mass while you are losing. Losing about 1 percent body fat a month and one to two pounds a week is considered safe and realistic. Here’s the winning combination. Reduce calorie intake with diet, do cardio most days to burn calories, and strength train at least a couple of days a week to build muscle mass and increase metabolism.

So, I’ve made my case for using the scale as a tool, and I hope you’ll try it when you are ready. Regardless, to be or not to be at a healthy weight should not be in question.


Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities is the health and fitness industry. Her customer top rated exercise videos for Age-Onset health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available at www.mirabaiholland.com. Mirabai also offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com.