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Taking it Slow. Not Every Fitness Goal Needs to Be Fast and Hard.

Senior Woman Holding Fitness Sign With Family In BackgroundGo big or go home? We all want to see fantastic results from our hard work and dedication to any fitness program. If we maintain nutrition, eat well and work as hard as we can, we are going to see results: that is inevitable. But, do we have to train as hard as possible each and every time we workout, each and every day? Sure, we fit in a rest day, but what else can we do to make sure we are restoring our bodies and minds?

Fitness goals are most easily reached when they are part of every aspect of our lifestyle and not compartmentalized into a few hours of the day. We have limited energy sources no matter how healthy we are, so it is important to maintain awareness about how each of our decisions and actions influence our wellness and choose accordingly.

From a physical aspect, we can slow down some of our workouts to build strength. This works in a variety of ways. By increasing resistance, continuing muscle exertion over a period of time and working muscles beyond the support of initial momentum, strength can be gained, even with relatively light weights or by using the weight of the body alone. This can be true of some weight training programs and is something you can discuss adding to your fitness routines with a certified personal trainer. It is also one of the key elements of building strength through yoga practice and asanas (yoga postures). An additional consideration from a holistic health perspective is the effects of the stress hormone cortisol on weight loss. By taking part in calming physical activities such as restorative, gentle, yin and meditative yoga practices, it is possible to reduce stress, allowing the body to shed weight, heal and be at top capacity for more intensive strength and cardio training when you are working with your personal trainer or in other group fitness programs. By taking time to slow down, you can actually optimize performance and fitness results.

Nourishing your mind can also come in handy, as a way to promote your health when you are not busy exercising or working. Take time to read, learn, talk with fitness experts, organize your time and plan your meals. A wealth of free information is available online to support you in your fitness goals. Blogs with entries from personal trainers and other fitness experts are a great place to start. Personal trainer certification organizations such as the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT), maintain blogs with a variety of advice for personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts. You may also get inspired and decide to take your fitness goals one step further. Once you get involved learning more about fitness, biomechanics and how amazingly capable your body is, you may even get inspired to become a personal trainer or group fitness instructor yourself!

If you find yourself interested in learning more about how to incorporate fitness into every aspect of your life, maybe even your work, you can find out more from the NCCPT.

No matter where you are at in your fitness journey, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Slow down sometimes to speed up your progress!

Reprinted with permission from NCCPT.


John Platero is the founder and CEO of the National Council of Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) which has certified thousands of personal trainers both nationally and internationally.

Trainer helping senior woman exercising with a bosu balance

Core Strength is NOT Washboard Six Pack Abs: 4 Steps to Building Your Powerful Core Strength

Most people associate the core with the look of your abdominals. They believe that having a strong core is associated with the look of a washboard stomach or Six Pack Abs. In reality, there are 27 muscles that make up the core of your body. From pelvis and hip muscles on up, the core is an entire system. Only a few of the muscles are visible to the naked eye.

Back pain

Three Steps to Ease Back into Exercise After a Back Injury

According to studies, Low back pain affects nearly 80% of all adults.  Most low back injuries come from the following: wearing high heels (women), performing manual labor and people who sit for long periods of time (greater than 3 hrs.). Although these statistics are alarming, there are some simple steps one can take to make sure that they avoid current and future back pain or injury. These steps all involve simple exercises that can be performed from anywhere, including one’s office.

Step #1: In order to prevent further injury or a relapse, the 1st thing one should do is stretch common muscles that are tight and may have caused the lower back pain in the first place. Tight muscles are known to overwork and when this occurs, they become overactive and let us know through pain. These muscles include: erector spinae, hip flexors, calves and the lats (the big back muscles). For each stretch, you want to hold the stretch for 30-120 seconds and perform the movement for 1-2 repetitions 3-5x/week. (View Stretches: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/five-back-pain-stretches)

Step #2: After you have stretched the tight muscles, now it is time to focus on strengthening the muscles that are weak or underactive. Muscles become weak or underactive typically from lack of use or overuse by the muscles that assist or oppose the weak muscles. For example, if your hip flexor is tight, it could cause your glutes (butt) muscles to become weak.  The muscles that tend to weak with a lower back injury include: certain core muscles, the butt and hamstrings. For each strengthening exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3-5x/week. (View core exercise: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/core-strength-for-back-pain; http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/lower-back-pain-10/slideshow-exercises)

Step #3: Now that you have isolated the lower back with stretching and strengthening exercises, now it is time to focus on integrating your entire body back into exercising. Integrated exercises involve using as many muscles as possible in one given exercise. By performing integrated exercises, you will ensure that the your hip joint (which can be misaligned with low back injuries) starts and remains in the right position and the proper muscles are working as they should be. For each integrates exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3x/week. (View integrated exercises: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Chiropractic/Corrective-Exercise-for-Back-Pain/8558#.VIoTN74zf8E)

If you follow these three simple steps, you can avoid low back pain setbacks and ensure that your back is strong enough to handle your daily activities of life.


Maurice D. Williams is a personal trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness in Bethesda, MD.

sitting-sedentary

Is Sitting Really the New Smoking?

Make no mistake: sitting less time overall is a good idea for myriad health reasons, but is sitting as bad for you as some would suggest? Is it really the new smoking? In 2017 alone, a slew of new research studies has looked at various health detriments associated with prolonged sitting, even in adults who exercise regularly.

For adults with type 2 diabetes, bouts of either light walking or simple resistance activities benefit not only their glycemic responses to meals (4; 5), but also markers of cardiovascular risk. Both types of interrupting activities are associated with reductions in inflammatory lipids, increases in antioxidant capacity of other lipids, and changes in platelet activation (6).

What is good for one may not be as beneficial for all, though. For example, in adults with low levels of frailty, sedentary time is not predictive of mortality, regardless of physical activity level (1). Sitting more if you are already frail likely just increases frailty and mortality risk, which is not surprising. Along the same lines, being less fit matters in how you respond to breaking up sedentary time. Middle-aged adults with low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness gained the most metabolic benefit from breaking prolonged sitting with regular bouts of light walking, which included five minutes of light walking every 30 minutes over a 7-hour research period (2). If you’re already very fit, adding in some light walking breaks during the day is not going to have as much of an effect—again not surprising.

For in adolescents in school, reducing their sitting time (both in total time and length of bouts) has been shown to improve their blood lipid profiles and cognitive function. A “typical” day (65% of the time spent sitting with two sitting bouts >20 minutes) was compared with a simulated “reduced sitting” day (sitting 50% less with no bouts >20 minutes (3). Can teens stand to improve their health this week? Again, it cannot hurt to break up sedentary time, so why not do it? More recess breaks for teens would be good—and for everyone else for that matter.

All is not lost for people with limited mobility or no ability to engage in weight-bearing activities. Including short bouts of arm ergometry (five minutes of upper body work only every 30 minutes) during prolonged sitting attenuates postprandial glycemia (following two separate meals) when done by obese individuals at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even though they remain seated (7). People who cannot walk or stand can, therefore, break up their sedentary time in other ways that can also be metabolically beneficial.

As for other health benefits, breaking up sedentary time is associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer. In a recent meta-analysis, prolonged television viewing, occupational sitting time, and total sitting time were all associated with increased risks of colorectal cancer in adults (8), which is the most common type after breast/prostate and lung cancers. That study reported a dose-response effect as well, suggesting that both prolonged total sitting time and greater total daily sitting time (2 hours) were associated with a significantly higher risk of colorectal cancer.

In summary, even just the most recent evidence is convincing enough that prolonged sitting is bad for you, and many more studies published similar results in prior years. Is sitting as bad as smoking, though? That remains to be proven. However, you really cannot argue with a recent international consensus statement on sedentary time in older people (9). It states, “Sedentary time is a modifiable determinant of poor health, and in older adults, reducing sedentary time may be an important first step in adopting and maintaining a more active lifestyle.” In fact, the best advice may simply be to consider the whole spectrum of physical activity, from sedentary behavior through to structured exercise (10). Putting yourself anywhere onto that spectrum is definitely better than sitting through the rest of your (shortened) life.

Reprinted with permission from Sheri Colberg.


Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM, is a Professor Emerita of Exercise Science at Old Dominion University and a former Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. She is an internationally recognized authority on diabetes and exercise. As a leading expert on diabetes and exercise, Sheri has put her extensive knowledge to use in founding Diabetes Motion (diabetesmotion.com), a website providing practical guidance about being active with diabetes. She also founded Diabetes Motion Academy (dmacademy.com), offering training and continuing education to fitness professionals.

 

References cited:

  1. Theou O, Blodgett JM, Godin J, Rockwood K: Association between sedentary time and mortality across levels of frailty. CMAJ 2017;189:E1056-E1064. doi: 1010.1503/cmaj.161034.
  2. McCarthy M, Edwardson CL, Davies MJ, Henson J, Bodicoat DH, Khunti K, Dunstan DW, King JA, Yates T: Fitness Moderates Glycemic Responses to Sitting and Light Activity Breaks. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2017;8:0000000000001338
  3. Penning A, Okely AD, Trost SG, Salmon J, Cliff DP, Batterham M, Howard S, Parrish AM: Acute effects of reducing sitting time in adolescents: a randomized cross-over study. BMC Public Health 2017;17:657. doi: 610.1186/s12889-12017-14660-12886.
  4. Larsen RN, Dempsey PC, Dillon F, Grace M, Kingwell BA, Owen N, Dunstan DW: Does the type of activity “break” from prolonged sitting differentially impact on postprandial blood glucose reductions? An exploratory analysis. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2017;42:897-900. doi: 810.1139/apnm-2016-0642. Epub 2017 Mar 1124.
  5. Dempsey PC, Larsen RN, Sethi P, Sacre JW, Straznicky NE, Cohen ND, Cerin E, Lambert GW, Owen N, Kingwell BA, Dunstan DW: Benefits for type 2 diabetes of interrupting prolonged sitting with brief bouts of light walking or simple resistance activities. Diabetes Care 2016;39:964-972
  6. Grace MS, Dempsey PC, Sethi P, Mundra PA, Mellett NA, Weir JM, Owen N, Dunstan DW, Meikle PJ, Kingwell BA: Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting Alters the Postprandial Plasma Lipidomic Profile of Adults With Type 2 Diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2017;102:1991-1999. doi: 1910.1210/jc.2016-3926.
  7. McCarthy M, Edwardson CL, Davies MJ, Henson J, Rowlands A, King JA, Bodicoat DH, Khunti K, Yates T: Breaking up sedentary time with seated upper body activity can regulate metabolic health in obese high-risk adults: A randomized crossover trial. Diabetes Obes Metab 2017;23:13016
  8. Ma P, Yao Y, Sun W, Dai S, Zhou C: Daily sedentary time and its association with risk for colorectal cancer in adults: A dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Medicine (Baltimore) 2017;96:e7049. doi: 7010.1097/MD.0000000000007049.
  9. Dogra S, Ashe MC, Biddle SJH, Brown WJ, Buman MP, Chastin S, Gardiner PA, Inoue S, Jefferis BJ, Oka K, Owen N, Sardinha LB, Skelton DA, Sugiyama T, Copeland JL: Sedentary time in older men and women: an international consensus statement and research priorities. Br J Sports Med 2017;19:2016-097209
  10. Dempsey PC, Grace MS, Dunstan DW: Adding exercise or subtracting sitting time for glycaemic control: where do we stand? Diabetologia 2017;60:390-394. doi: 310.1007/s00125-00016-04180-00124. Epub 02016 Dec 00112.
STRESS pencil

A Stress Management Plan for an Aging Population

April is National Stress Awareness Month!

Fortunately today, there are many tools to help individuals cope with stress. The first step is to acknowledge that you are stressed and to know what is stressing you. Once you are aware of your stressors, you need to make a stress management plan to follow. The journey may not be perfect but it is a work in progress. Most individuals aren’t going to know how to develop a plan or where to start. A trained individual such as a certified personal trainer can help to formulate the best plan for each client and make changes as the client achieves each milestone in the process.

As many as 20% of people experience depression in their later years

A stress management prescription is also needed for aging adults since the mind and body become slower to adaptations. The stress response lasts longer and seniors experience different symptoms then younger adults. Some key symptoms can be: crying, overeating, wounds taking longer to heal, heart palpitations, anxiety and depression. As a trainer, you will most likely be working with the client’s doctor who is treating them for these symptoms. There is a myriad of modalities that you can use to help your client drastically reduce their stress levels while they heal. As a fitness professional, incorporating meditation, exercise, yoga, Pilates, and many other techniques can help your client’s symptoms improve mentally and physically. The question is can we do more than telling clients to take a class? The answer to this question is an emphatic yes!

The causes of stress for this population are also different and depend on which decade in life they are in. Some examples are: loneliness, being institutionalized, fear of having enough money for retirement, loss of independence and many other causes. The problem is that many people can’t asses their own stress level and don’t know where to turn for answers. Chronic stress is harmful in many ways, but can be minimized once the individual becomes aware of their stress level and knows there are stress management professionals who can help.

Today, 53% of Baby Boomers are using complementary approaches to try and relieve stress and help with other conditions such as: anxiety, depression, chronic pain, stress, and hypertension. Complementary approaches are not limited to but include; exercise, nutrition, yoga, Pilates and Tai-Chi. Research conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health shows that meditation can help to relieve symptoms for example chronic pain. As a fitness professional it is important to realize that these modalities must be used in conjunction with conventional medicine.

When training clients, it is important to see them as a whole person through the dimensions of wellness. As people, we have many things going on mentally and physically that are very complex. A stress management plan helps to streamline what can work best for your client and their current needs. The plan can evolve and most likely will depending on what is going on in your client’s life at the time. When you can assess and classify your clients you then know which complimentary approaches will work better for them. This will in turn, will help to keep your client engaged and on track with their goals.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness. Become a Stress Management Exercise Specialist today!

 

Sources:

https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/aging-1/age-health-news-7/aging-and-stress-645997.html

https://www.slideshare.net/soniya302/stress-among-elderly

http://www.elderly.gov.hk/english/healthy_ageing/mental_health/stress.html

https://www.stress.org/seniors/

http://www.providencecare.com

http://www.health.harvard.edu/aging

 

Male doctor explaining the spine to a senior patient in medical office

3 Curves = Straight: The Importance of Neutral Spine in Exercise

I have been teaching strength training, as well as Pilates based mat and Vinyasa Yoga for over 2 decades. As a former dancer, I know that I was always struggling with having a “flat stomach” or having a “flat back”. Dancers, in trying to achieve that “perfect turnout” and “flatness”, were often taught to “elongate the spine” by “tucking the pelvis” under, which basically leads to a posterior tilt. Unfortunately, this idea is often taught in fitness to the general population. Trainers and teachers alike, some coming from the dance world, will tell students to “protect their back” by tucking the pelvis such as during standing exercises, even bicep curls, or worse, curl their knees into their chest while lying on the ground or bench, and attempting to do a chest press. Students will be so conditioned to this ROUND SPINE and TUCKED PELVIS, that eventually when they stand, this is their posture. Over time, the discs can bulge, and the forward pelvis will eventually lead to lower back pain they were trying to avoid, as well as knee pain and other issues.

I am a reformed pelvic tucker. I advocate neutral spine when teaching, whether it be standing work such as bicep curls, pronated work such as plank and push-ups, or supine work such as leg lowers and overhead triceps.

The spine has 3 curves: the cervical spine (at the neck) has a concave curve, the thoracic spine (back of the rib cage) has a convex curve, and the lumbar spine (lower back) has a concave curve. And if you want to add a 4th, the pelvis/sacrum has a convex curve as well.

Together, this “S” shape is what keeps a body “straight”. Constantly flattening one’s back or pushing one’s vertebra into this position will eventually damage them. Plus you have to learn to CONTAIN YOUR MUSCLES, not force your vertebrae. There is a moment when the base of your ribs and your pelvic bone will feel like they are aligned in the front, like suspenders. Whatever curves are left over should remain.

Sometimes I do my supine abdominal work as well as strength training on a foam roller (pictured at right). This way there is no avoiding working in neutral spine. Plus, the foam roller will target the transverse abdominus as you are struggling to keep the foam roller still while performing exercises such as chest press, chest flies, overhead triceps, single and double leg lowers, etc.

Another bad habit that trainers and teachers tell their clients and students is to “sit on their hands” while performing exercises such as leg lowers. This is BAD for every reason. Your hands have small bones and veins which are easily damaged by sitting on them. Say you are 200+lbs, and you are putting all of your body weight on your hands! This is not good! I often joke and tell my students “I am a guitar player! I am not going to sit on my money makers!” Also, sitting on your hands again causes the pelvis to tuck, and the shoulders to protrude forward. By teaching this, you are telling your clients and students to “slouch”. You have not taught them how to gain strength by maintaining neutral spine. Third, more often than not, the reason the clients are feeling “pain” in their lower back is they are attempting to lower their legs beyond the range where the abdominals are effective. For me, about a 45 degree angle from the top is plenty of work. Attempting to lower one’s legs all the way to the floor and back will usually be out of the range of someone’s abdominal strength. Find a range of motion where the abdominal muscles fell the work, and the lower back is not effected. You can also put your client on the foam roller, or if you do not have a foam roller, place a thin towel under the sacrum to alleviate any pain the floor may be causing, as well as teach neutral spine.

For “plank”, I often joke (as I am a realtor as well) that “if the plank is not straight, I am returning it to aisle 4 in Home Depot”. People tend to hang their heads when something is difficult. I advocate looking a few floor boards ahead while performing plank, as well as push-ups, and to use a side mirror to check that the line of the head, shoulders, ribs and hips are aligned, while keeping the natural lumbar curve. Again, the ribs and hips should feel like suspenders. Push-ups are basically a “plank with an arm bend and straighten”. So it is important not to hang one’s head, especially when the floor is getting close :). (Planks pictured at right)

In closing, remember that you want to teach your students functional exercises that will help them out in the real world. Teaching neutral spine alignment is one of the most important ideas. You would never want to lift a box with a rounded, tucked spine, so why teach clients to “tuck their knees into their chest” while performing chest press? Sometimes it will take some time for a client to undo these bad habits, but in the end, clients will be stronger, and use the transverse abdomens vs poor alignment to perform daily tasks.

Photos courtesy of ANDREW MARK PHOTO.


Kama Linden has been teaching fitness for over 2 decades. She has taught strength, step, Pilates, Vinyasa Yoga, senior fitness, and has worked with clients and students of all ages and fitness levels. She is certified by AFAA Group Exercise and NASM CPT, as well as 200 hour Yoga. She has a BFA in Dance from University of the ARTS.   You can order her new book, “Healthy Things You Can Do In Front of the TV”  on pre-sale on amazon.com, and it will soon be available on BN.com, and Kindle. Visit her website at bodyfriendlyoga.com

pregnancy-heart

The Increasing Need For Trained Maternal Fitness Instructors

The need for trained maternal fitness professionals has greatly increased as a result of the number of fit women who desire to continue with their exercise routine once they become pregnant. The past several decades has provided a large body of evidence that supports the benefit and safety of prenatal exercise in uncomplicated pregnancies, and ACOG and other fitness and medical health organizations recognize the importance of fitness in a healthy pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who continue or even start an exercise program during pregnancy gain less fat weight, have fewer complications during labor and delivery, and return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster than women who didn’t exercise while pregnant.

Knowing what the current evidence based guidelines are for pregnant and postpartum women and being able to work with this population will open up opportunities to create a specialized program that fits their unique needs. Fitness professionals who have training in this field offer skilled support and guidance to pregnant and postpartum women and help them confidently include exercise as part of their lifestyle. Pregnant women are unsure of what exercises and activities they can continue throughout pregnancy and need guidance on how to monitor their routine for safety. As pregnancy progresses, women need strategies for modifying their exercise program as their body changes to maintain a comfortable and safe routine.

For more information on prenatal and postpartum exercise and our CE correspondence course, “Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise Design” please visit, www.ppfconsulting.com

Article reprinted from Catherine’s Maternal Fitness blog with permission.


Catherine Cram, MS, is the owner of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting, a company that provides pre- and postnatal fitness certifications and information to hospitals, health & wellness organizations and the military.