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4

Train Your Brain

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

The latest in brain research makes it abundantly clear: If you want a sound mind and body, your brain must be in balance. Now some people might claim that half of Fun and Fit (the missing half this week, aka Alexandra) are wacky and off-balance! And they might be right….. But that’s another post that looks at the role wit and laughter play in longevity.

Graphic of brain from Heather Frey

Want to be a Brainiac? Buy this e-book co-authored with Heather Frey

This blog is mine, all mine. (Insert maniacal laughter here) as A-twin is off on vacation. She’s probably upping her serotonin and dopamine levels, which is a brain balancing good thing! So you all get to hear about my fave topic these days (ok, my “obsession”) –– how can we achieve the healthiest brain possible?

  • 1) First off, the more active your body, the more balanced your brain. Move, move, move if you want to be smarter! Lean, active people lessen their odds of having dementia by HALF; obese, inactive people increase their odds of dementia (including Alzheimer’s) by DOUBLE! Who is least likely to develop Alzheimer’s? People who move, laugh, AND eat brain smart foods. (Look for upcoming posts that reveal the most brain boosting foods and activities).
  • 2) Be aware that more than any other organism in the body, the brain is affected by your workout, lifestyle, and eating choices. The type of exercise that most stimulates your brain? Cardio! Even a simple, low key walk or dance class “youthens” your brain. Hmmm, makes me wonder why we have the word “ages” but I had to make up the word “youthens.
  • 3) Exercise literally changes your brain, all for the better. You can “train” your blood vessels, including the ones feeding your brain, to get more fit with exercise. Activity directly influences learning at the cellular level. In addition to priming our mind, exercise improves the brain’s ability to log in and process new information. In short, exercisers are better learners. Contrast for a moment to working out primarily to get in shape, lose weight, lower fat, and all those other key motivators. Doesn’t the thought of getting smarter with age motivate you even more?

That’s enough sitting and reading for now, eh? Time to get a move on.  She’s a brainiac, brainiac, on the floor, and she’s dancing like she’s never danced before!

For the record, the rumors of twins being half-wits are not true! I got all the brains! Alexandra got the looks, personality, inheritance, sympathy cards.

Readers: What would you do to get smarter with age and be the most intelligent 100 year old around?

Brain Graphic courtesy of the talented Heather Frey, aka SmashFit, a fitness pro par excellence AND a graphic designer! Did I mention that exercise also increases creativity?

3

Back from the Brink of Death: Suzanne Andrews’ Inspirational Weight Loss Story

Guest post from Suzanne Andrews

My journey to a new body and new life began with a difficult pregnancy and emergency cesarean section. By the time I gave birth, I was size 18 and 61 pounds overweight. At 5’2″, I was putting a tremendous strain on my knees and hips. The simple act of walking was an arduous task. Walking places a force of 3 times your body weight on the critical joints of your body. At my height and size, I was burdening my body with 528 pounds of pressure. Every step was excruciating.

Before weight loss - Suzanne Andrews

Suzanne Andrews "before"

I developed bursitis in my hips creating an inflammation so severe that I couldn’t walk without flinching. I suffered through two miscarriages and eventual gall bladder surgery. My condition had gotten so severe I couldn’t even play with my newborn without becoming winded. Exercise was out of the question. I could barely see my toes; being able to touch them was a fantasy.

Fit pic of Suzanne Andrews

Suzanne Andrews "after"

Every day was another dose of my harsh reality. Commuting to work on the bus was a humiliating experience, as I had to endure the cruel snickers when I couldn’t fit into the seat. My wake-up call came two years later, at my son’s birthday party. When I saw the videotape of the celebration, I didn’t even recognize myself. Staring me in the face, right there on the screen was the reason my hips and back ached so terribly. I had enough. It was time for a change.

A guest panelist and psychologist on the CBS Geraldo show where I worked, told me meditation could help. I was skeptical, but desperate to try anything that would make me feel whole again. I needed to be there for my son. At first I didn’t understand how a sedentary activity like meditation could help me to lose weight. It was not long before I discovered the secret—during meditation your mind is the CEO and your body the dutiful employee. You tell your body what it needs to do and it follows suit.

The ritual of meditation was the spark that jump-started my weight loss plan. I felt energized to exercise daily, choose healthier options and control my portion sizes. The meditation motivated me in ways I never thought imaginable, helping me lose the excuses and get on the track to better health. I started with gentle yoga combined with low impact exercises, which not only helped me to start shedding pounds, but also made my day-to-day tasks more manageable.

Pics of Suzanne Edwards in actionMeditation saved my life and prevented my son from becoming motherless at 10 years old. I credit my success to the incorporation of mind, body and spirit that meditation encourages. The same breathing techniques that controlled my appetite and regulated my stress also helped encourage me to exercise enough to develop my lungs and give them power. It was those same healthy, powerful lungs that delivered me from the brink of death when a medical miscalculation caused my heart to stop on an operating table. As doctors frantically fought to revive my lifeless body with CPR, my body started to shut down, turning my lips, hands and feet a chilling blue. Near death, I was transported by ambulance to the intensive care unit. My body was on the verge of giving up. My kidneys shut down and my veins constricted so tightly that doctors could not administer a lifesaving intravenous line.

My body and my spirit were determined to live. I would not die; I would live; I would see my son again. I started to meditate. After five minutes of willing myself to survive and using my meditation skills, my body started its journey back from the edge. My kidneys started functioning again. My pulse strengthened and my veins opened up. Later, my cardiologist would proclaim in amazement, “I’m an Indian doctor and my patient is teaching me how great meditation is!”

After that near death experience, I had a renewed sense of purpose: motivate others and help those struggling with weight find their purpose. My weight could have been a death sentence, but meditation and determination were my pardon. I went from being introverted and soft spoken to a confident, capable and dynamic woman ready to embrace life.

Three shots of Suzanne EdwardsAlways know, you are the CEO of your health. Exercise and be healthwise. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.

Dear Readers: Join 45 million in the PBS family and catch Suzanne in action on her PBS tv show, Functional Fitness. If her show does not air in your area, get bizzzeeee and email and request that they broadcast the show where you can work out with her. To learn more about Suzanne’s program, Functional Fitness; to work out with doctor-recommended DVDs; and to see a free preview go to www.healthwiseexercise.com
She says you are also welcome to email her at suzanne@healthwiseexercise.com. How friendly is that from a tv star?

Sailing Along Until a Stroke: Jerry & Ginny’s Inspirational Exercise Story

guest post by Jerry and Ginny

We are both artists and retired teachers, married to each other 26 years. For all our years together, we have been active, sailing in Greece, the British Virgin Islands, up and down the US coast from Maine to Florida and the Bahamas. We now live and play in Amelia Island, Florida, an area we chose a few years ago for our retirement due to the natural scenic environment and endless possibilities for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, and of course, sailing. Living the good life in the fun and sun of Florida is mostly a relaxing experience.

Ginny and Jerry of Florida, sailing

Jerry and Ginny Sailing Along Nicely!

Jerry: Then in December of 2009 I experienced a Hemorraghic stroke. My principal deficit from the stroke was extreme mental and physical exhaustion. My energy level varied drastically during the day making it difficult to be productive. I literally crashed after eating and sometimes could not sustain concentration beyond 20 minutes without stopping to rest.

I wanted to take an active role in my recovery and healing so decided to join Club 14 Fitness, a locally owned gym on Amelia Island. Ginny went along to encourage me. We were assigned a trainer and enjoyed working out together.  I really benefited from the structured workouts The exercise helped raise my energy level and spirits making me feel more “normal”.  Specifically, the exercise helped my circulation, and the sauna afterward relieves arthritic pain.

Rae Lane Club 24 Fitness Ameiia Island

After the initial 16 weeks of structured exercise I regained the strength and energy I had lost from the stroke and am now a third of the way toward my weight loss goal.

Ginny: I am so glad I went along to the club with Jerry! I definitely gained weight during his recovery from being home more, being less physically active, being stressed, and eating more. Finally I broke through procrastination and had the opportunity to see the results of working out three times a week.

I have dropped two dress sizes and feel amazing. Both Jerry and I are fitting into clothes we have not worn in over 20 years. We have also altered our diet, limiting starches and adding more veggies. Now the gym is a habit and we no longer allow other priorities to interfere with our health and Jerry’s recovery.Jerry and Ginny enjoying retirement and post stroke life

Our Advice: No matter how difficult life gets after an unexpected health problem, find a way to exercise. It is good for the body, mind and spirit of the patient and the caretaker!

Readers: What would it take to motivate you to work out more consistently and purposefully?

1

Running From Down to Up: Sharon Rosenblatt’s Inspirational Exercise Story

guest post from Sharon Rosenblatt

 

head shot of Sharon RI know that people always say that exercising improves your life because of all the health benefits and endorphin boosters but I’m one of those rare cases–exercise has literally saved my life. I wasn’t particularly active when I was younger. I did what I had to in order to stay thin. I participated, but didn’t excel in high school softball and track. Actually, I didn’t really come close to coming close to excelling. After all, I am the height of a standard hurdle. I’m not built for being active—I’m built more to be an armrest for my over 5 feet tall friends. High school sports were mostly just a way to beef up my college resume and make new friends.

College didn’t really change that. I was terrified of the freshman 15 so I started making the gym part of my daily routine along with trying to eat more than two different vegetables a day. Nothing special. I treated the trudge to the gym on the opposite side of campus as a viable escape from the library although I’d always try to take the stairs to the obscure 6th floor to study. Suffice it to say, working out was definitely a small component of my life but nothing I identified with. When I was close to finishing up my sophomore year in college, I went through some tough personal issues that landed me home for a semester on the strict recommendations of everyone but me. I was frustrated, for lack of a better word publishable word. I had doctors give me enough prescriptions to wallpaper a small bedroom and I was in an outpatient therapy program three times a week. After some time, I was getting better in the clinical sense, but I wasn’t fulfilled. I was getting praised for sharing feelings and speaking up in group but I missed that sense of challenge for something larger; something I couldn’t describe.

One of my friends who went to school not too far from my home suggested that we train for a road race. She gave me the details–a Thanksgiving run that was almost five miles. It didn’t have that hokey name of ‘Turkey Trot’ so I didn’t write it off immediately. I hadn’t run five continuous miles, ever. Even when I did track in high school, the most I could muster was a mile. The distance sounded like a marathon. But I was determined because I needed something good to look forward to besides CSI marathons on TV. So I joined a gym near my house. I went at those random hours of the day when it was less crowded and people couldn’t see just how much a tiny girl could sweat. I jogged a mile on the treadmill a day for two weeks. A 12 minute mile. Then I bumped it to two. I pushed myself to work out every day, even weekends. Suddenly, I wasn’t just running, I was running to something–a real goal that wasn’t thrust on me by a medical textbook and diagnosticians. I experienced self-motivation. I hadn’t believed in myself for over a year and seeing myself run my first 5k on a treadmill made me hunger for more miles. I started buying running clothes to make me look forward to working out more. I even bought one of those shoulder iPod holders. running from depression

Yet, the worst part of the process for me was dealing with my bodily limitations. I had never pushed myself at the gym before and I had to teach motivation again. I wish I could say that I was pumped from the get go and did two-a-days at the gym. There were some days where I would look at the gym as this foreign place where my kind didn’t go. A five miler was a morning workout for some of my fellow gym goers, and I was huffing through two. It was almost as though I had to learn how to walk again since I had no endurance. I did it without a personal trainer and only the advice from a few web pages. I recall being embarrassed that I couldn’t make myself run that far when people who looked to be less in shape than me could. Yet, I knew it was something I had to do if I wanted to break out from the doldrums of group therapy and repeated trips to the mall.

One way I remedied this was to make fun playlists for my workouts. I picked music that I related to and got me going. That made my workouts seem more like a dance party. However, this became embarrassing because I have the habit of raising my hands when a song tells me to do so. The song ‘Shots’ by LMFAO is especially problematic with the lyrics ‘If you’re feeling drunk, put your hands in the air’ and I’d start waving my hands like a maniac in the middle of the line of treadmills at the gym. I’m still occasionally guilty of this.

Even though I had to walk the uphill portions on race day in November, I still finished. And now, two years later, I’ve completed over a dozen road races (including two half marathons!). I’m running that Thanksgiving race again for my fourth time next year. I had to change my mindset that all runs are a race because I learned that in high school track. I used to get hung up over my mile times and trying to reduce by seconds became a mathematical and psychological nightmare. Since I’m bad at remainders from division and I have short legs, I’ve learned to live with my deficiencies and just run for me—not against me or anyone else.

Over the few years, I’ve found that running recreationally with others, even if it is at different speeds, is the best motivator. I treated running like group therapy—you always have something to learn by watching others. I’ve run with running clubs associated with athletic stores, college groups and just friends. Each and every time, I’ve had fun talking about the meaning of life related to the run. I’ve found runners to be the most grounded, yet philosophical people I’ve ever met. I also try to avoid fitness ruts as much as possible. I’ve experienced treadmill running to be boring after a while. Even if you have to run inside in winter months, at least pick a different position inside the gym or switch up the TV from ESPN to “The Price is Right.” Once the weather got nicer, I’d always try to explore new areas around familiar places. Suddenly, my friendly neighborhood hills seemed challenging when I’d approach them from a different side street.

Running, especially outside, gave me that push that drugs and therapy couldn’t always do. I’m not the fastest or have the best form but I do it because I always know that when I finish a jog or a 10 miler, the euphoria of the finish is always better than where I started.

Sharon

Silver Spring, MD, USA

http://wingsofpoesy615.blogspot.com/

SRosenblatt@AccessibilityPartners.com

3

Training for a Half Marathon – Elliptical or Treadmill?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams

Dear Fun and Fit:  Quick workout question for you. I am starting training to do a half marathon in 6 months and I’m wondering how to solve the age old question–treadmill or elliptical machine? I can do a mile faster on the elliptical but feel like I fatigue faster on the treadmill. Which one will get me best prepared for the half marathon? Thank you oh wise and great ones! Tina, Texas

 

Good ad for half marathon

Oh, so this is how they talk people into running half marathons!

 

Alexandra: Hi Tina, I remember you from one of our very first posts. Welcome back!

Kymberly: Do both activities, as our post on the “Best Cardio Workout” discusses. You want to be as conditioned as possible and all of one thing starts reducing the upward adaptation. “Why?” you ask. Lookee at our other post on adaptation and fitness progression. Both the elliptical and treadmill will boost your foundational, general, aerobic capacity. For specific training, you need to actually walk and run–on a track, outside, wherever you can. You are smart to start now for the gig in half a year.

A: I have a quick question for you…what are you doing during the other half of the marathon? Anyway, our colleague Jason Karp is a specialist in running, so here’s one of his many articles that will help you prep for the race. It’s a bit technical, but you are very smart. And since all that running will make you even smarter, maybe you should read it while on your beloved elliptical.  Or treadmill. Or both – one foot on each.

Chinese treadmill

A redhead who is not one of us doing a treadmill review.

K: Do you have any joint issues? If so, spend more time or any sore time on the elliptical which, cuts impact. Ultimately though, to perform best in an activity you need to do that activity, i.e. running. I’d suggest spending your initial two months on the treadmill and elliptical about half and half. And do some intervals to get your aerobic threshold upnot always steady state yet. Get on a cardio bike as well to reduce impact and joint stress as you increase miles and time. Spend months three and four moving among elliptical, treadmill, running, and power walking. By month five spend the majority of time actually running and on the treadmill; reduce the elliptical and walking. By late in months five and six, go on the elliptical only if your joints need a break or you need a mental break. Otherwise — outside with ya’ you running stud!

A: See that fit, trim redhead to the right? She’s happy because it’s her job to do treadmill reviews! So before you hop on that particular machine, check out the best treadmill reviews so you know you’re getting lemonade, not a lemon (although that machine looks more like a chili pepper)!

Readers: How do you train for half marathons? What about 2/3 or ¾ or 7/8 marathons?

Photo credits: Creative Commons

Disclosure: We were paid a fee to share the treadmill link with you!

3

Regaining Marine Corps Physique: Erik Therwanger’s Inspirational Exercise Story

Guest post by Erik Therwanger, of ThinkGreat90.com

Saving My Wife Led to Regaining My Life!

As a former U.S. Marine, I have always led an active lifestyle and remained in great physical shape for most of my life. In 1999, after ten months of marriage, my then 27 year old wife was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. We were told that it was very aggressive and she needed to start chemotherapy immediately. The effects of her treatments were devastating. To have more time as her caregiver, I left my job and started a career in sales. One of the side effects of her treatments was a violent reaction to the smell of food. To make sure that she did not encounter such odors, I started to eat out more often, usually at fast food restaurants in between my sales appointments.

Regaining Marine Corps Physique with Exercise- Erik Therwanger

In addition to eating poorly, I had stopped exercising due to how hectic my schedule was. After months of taking care of my wife, I  realized  I had stopped taking care of myself – I had gained over forty pounds. I began a ninety day diet and exercise program. I began eating three smaller meals consisting of a protein, a fruit, and a vegetable. I drank mostly water. In between each meal, I ate about a ½ cup of granola cereal (with a glass) of water.

I started a small amount of exercise, which only included about seven minutes of cardiovascular training, three days per week. My initial goal was to lose 16 pounds. At the end of my 90 days I had lost 42 pounds. I looked great and felt even better. The goal-setting process was a huge part of my success. I identified my initial goal of losing 16 pounds and attached many powerful reasons to it: I don’t want to die early, I want to be around to watch my daughter grow, and I want to feel good about myself.

During the first week, the least fun part of my program was cutting out the junk food that I had gotten used to. But after the first week, I was starting to see results. I had lost nearly seven pounds and I knew that I would not only hit my first goal, but I would exceed it.

The top four habits that I adopted to accomplish this goal were to:

  • Stay focused on my goal – instead of being focused on my challenges
  • Eat healthy foods – instead of eating fast food/unhealthy food
  • Drink a lot of water – instead of drinking soda
  • Exercise – instead of staying stagnant

But the most rewarding part of accomplishing my goal actually had nothing to do with me. I inspired other people to lose weight also. In fact, I have been asked so many times about my weight-loss program that I started to write a book, The Goal Formula which provides a detailed account of my story and my program.

Inspirational Exercise Story - Erik Therwanger, Marine Corps

Erik Therwanger today

For me, losing weight enabled me to regain control of my life in so many ways. It also allowed me to impact the lives of other people!

Readers: If you want to contact Erik and learn more of his story (which gets even more interesting and inspiring) go to http://www.thinkgreat90.com

13

Fitness + Desk = FitDesk

fitdesk.net

 

Alexandra: It’s an exercise bike with a pad where you can buckle your laptop in and go for a stationary ride! Well, K & A love to multitask, especially if we can combine our love of exercise with our addiction to weird stuff we find on the net dedication to our craft.

We were told by the developer that we could exercise and do our emails, tweets, gaming and work, while keeping our elbows and hands comfy. Guess what? It’s true. Because we are so twitchy, have such bad eyes, we thought the computer would be hard to read if we pedaled at anything faster than a mosey. But it really does have a smooth ride. And the FitDesk is especially fun and comfy if you get someone else to assemble it! Preferably someone with mad skills.

It’s Portable – Yes, it truly is. You can take it to the mountains,

FitDesk is so portable

Go wireless with the FitDesk

 

to the driveway,

FitDesk in the driveway

I park my FitDesk in the driveway.

 

to the backyard,

Pedal in the grass, but don't graze in the grass.

Hey, don’t turn on the sprinklers while I’m on the dating sites!

 

to the living room,

Arrival day of the FitDesk

Is the devil dog watching me get fit?

 

even to the beach.

Just don't forget your FitDesk

You can whale watch with the FitDesk, just not too close to the cliff! Ha! Just kidding. Forgot it.

Er, okay, maybe we forgot to take it to the beach. But you see how I almost look like I”m riding it? That’s gotta count for something.

And the best news? You never have to worry about getting so into your online farm game that you forget where you’re going and pedal into one of these!

don't ride your bike into the canal

Yes, people ride their bikes into the canals all the time! Stupid farm game!

 

Kymberly: The reality is that we as a nation are spending more time sitting. Bet you knew that.  We want to be active; we want to feel mobile and happy in our bodies. But working, driving, eating, watching tv, sitting at computers, and other mawduhn activities are only increasing our need to move while working. Fortunately, we (meaning people in general) are pretty ingenious and tend to find solutions so we can do it all! FitDesk is one such solution. In fact, I predict that FitDesk and other such multi-task, office-appropriate solutions are the wave of the future. You can pedal at a moderate pace that keeps you sweat-free in your office attire. Relieve the pressure from thinking you have to get an intense workout from the FitDesk; think of your time on the FitDesk as “not sitting” time vs “exercise time” and you will be ahead of all your plunked down coworkers!

A couple of initial questions come up for sure:
1) What does the thingie ma jingie cost? Around $200, but go to the website to check details and accuracy.
2) Even with its adjustable settings, the FitDesk is lightweight and smallish. Can it handle a 6’5” guy who weighs over 250? Glad you asked as that describes my husband, whom we talked into test riding this baby. Yes, he fit and could pedal away while using the laptop; No, he was not all that comfy so the machine may max out for tall, big (though good looking!) guys.
3) Is it worth buying? What price is your health worth to you? FitDesk seems to be filling the niche of low-priced, low key, low tech workstation workout machines. Sure, you can spend more and get something bigger and heftier. But we like that the FitDesk provides a great option for most budgets. Bottom line is that your bottom line will thank you! We give it our “purchase and pedal” thumbs up!

Readers: What do you think? Are you ready to take it for a whirl? And how much time do you spend sitting down?

Photo credits: Kymberly herself! Dang me if she doesn’t refuse to get in the pictures!

3

Spring into Healthy Habits – 30 Day Challenge

Spring into Healthy Habits – 30 Day Challenge with Fun & Fit

Hanna's Herb Shop made by Kroeger

Are you ready to create the habits that will keep you fit for a lifetime? Do you want to lead a healthier, more fit, active and vibrant life AND win gifts, prizes and coupons that are worth far more than the $9.95 registration?

Gift from Hanna's Herbs - Immunity Products

Women's Basket from Hanna's Herb Shop - You Could Win This!

Products for your internal system

Improved Internals Basket - You Could Win This

The secret to a healthier, slimmer, more fit you lies in your daily choices and habits. Why do more of the same when it’s not working? Our Spring into Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge will share exercise, motivation, nutrition/diet, and lifestyle tips to put you on the road to lasting change in just 30 days!

The Spring into Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge is different and better than all those other programs you may have tried because it gives you information and guidance that has already been proven effective for the thousands and thousands of students we’ve worked with over the years. No gimmicks, no undue suffering, no taunting, no unsafe or short-term results; just new habits you will “sneak” into your lifestyle.

 

All good things for your heart

Healthy Heart Basket from Hanna's Herb Shop - You Could Win This!

Immune Basket Prize from Hanna's

Immune Basket from Hanna's Herbs - You Could Win This!

For only $9.95 (about 33 cents a day), you will receive daily emails, beginning Monday, May 16, with specific steps for you take. And it gets even better! You can also win one of four gift baskets from Hanna’s Herb Shop (each worth $100), one of five berry shipments from Cal Giant Berries, or a basket of berries with a $25 gift card to Academy.com (Academy Sports & Outdoors).

 

Make Mine a Berry. Ahhh, Berry Delicious

In addition, every participant will receive a 20% discount coupon to Hanna’s Herb Shop, plus a free downloadable CD of workout music from iSweat Music. In other words, you get back much more than you put in!

Sing and Sweat

You can sing while you sweat!

Register today at FunandFit and beginning on Monday, May 16, you’ll receive the information you need to start creating new, healthy habits!

Here’s what you do:

1. Register at FunandFit

2. On Monday, May 16, you will start to receive your 30 days’ of Healthy Habits material, sent to your inbox every morning.

3. Inside those emails will be the coupon to Hanna’s Herbs that you can redeem online.

4. Inside those emails will be the code to download your FREE  iSweat Workout Music.

5. Go to the Fun & Fit fan page and post your comments, photos, successes, challenges, etc. The more you post, the more chances you have to win.

6. At the end of the Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge, we will notify the winners of their prizes.

7. Everyone is a winner, both in prizes and in gaining a healthier life.

8. Did you get the part where you get back more than the $9.95 you put in?

 

 

6

Get a Metabolic Boost from Stretching? Cardio? Strength Training?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training keeps your metabolism running longer. If that’s true, how long should I be stretching to get the good stuff going? In all the time I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting…
Mary, Holland, MI

Can stretching make your metabolism zoom?

Stretch Your Muscles For the Good Stuff

Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions! Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:

  • increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
  • may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
  • enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion
  • is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
  • assists in more effective performance of daily living activities

Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.

That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. And I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here, and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read this post on Not Bulking Up and calorie burning. It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!

Leap for health

Leaping Across the Abyss of Assumptions

Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise:  A recent article shared that women who did 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increased their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours.  So both weight training AND cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!

A: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.

K: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching MLS soccer on tv. And the players did stretch afterwards. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!

A: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason – full of fruit-flavored goodness.

Fruit Brute Goodness

Fruit Brute Flavored Goodness

K: Lastly, check out our post Stretch It or Be Wretched. Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t …cuz’ it’s probably true.

Readers: Psssssst, do you like research statistics? If so, in 6 months of continuous participation in resistance exercise, you can convince your resting metabolic rate (RMR) to increase and burn about 100 calories extra per day. Pump me up!

5

Abs Revealed, but I Don’t Want to See Your Butt

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Today our review is about Abs, and how they can be Revealed in all their glory! So suck in and suck it up, suckers!

Abs Revealed (Butts Not)

Abs Revealed (Luckily not Butts)

Alexandra: We received both the book Abs Revealed and the app that goes with it, titled (oddly enough) Abs Revealed: The Exercise i-Library, by Jonathan Ross. He was chosen as Personal Trainer of the Year two times by industry professionals, so our expectations were high. Which reminds me of a coffee mug I’ve had for years, which says, “If all else fails, lower your standards.”

Don't try again; readjust

The Perfect Body Image Mug!

A: Sadly, over the years, everything about me has lowered in a gravity sort of way, but I went through Abs Revealed hoping against all hope knowing it would have some “Hey, lady, we can tell you pushed out a couple of big-headed babies” exercises to make me look completely fabulous, awe-inducing hot, 25 reasonably buff. Guess what happened? Total awesomeness! Yes, these exercises work. And Ross’s advice is dead on.

Kymberly: What’s to like?

  • The many helpful “Myths and Misconceptions” sidebars sprinkled throughout. Ross has definite opinions formed from years of experience, education, and an insider’s view of lame stuff out there so he does not mess around. For example, his reply to the myth that fasting, detoxes, and cleansing routines will cut fat is “Santa Claus isn’t real either.” Well if Santa were to follow these exercises he might just work his way both up and down the chimney.
  • The balance between text and visuals. The book offers common sense info at the start for those who want to understand the whys and whats behind, no, not the behinds, but the abs. Then the pics are easy to follow.

Not to like?

  • Ok, we understand the book had men as the target market so all models are men… with enviable 6-packs. And we also know that women can access all the moves in here as well as the men. But could we have fewer pictures of the really skinny guy and maybe a middle-aged fit dude who has some meat on his bones?  Seriously, we’re not all young and male you know.

A: The only thing that made me gnash my teeth and curse the Nordic gods disappointed was the number of exercises that required equipment I don’t own. And the clubs where I teach have not yet joined the worldwide fabulous phenomenon had the opportunity to provide TRX, which means I cannot try the 17 exercises that require a TRX set-up (Jonathan, where’s my air ticket to D.C., your home base? Please lift the restraining order so I can try out your TRX equipment).

K: Yes, and who the heck still has the slide and original slide booties in a back closet?  Though I do groove on the “Hip Roll with Thread the Needle on Stability Ball” move. More importantly for you, our fit-tastic readers, is that you can trust the science behind these exercises. I admit to being a biomechanic snob who actually cares whether exercises address more than a look. If you are going to spend time and effort on a move, why not know it’s safe, has a functional purpose, improves usable strength, and makes you hotter than the guy pictured on page 165.  I tried several of the moves myself, especially liking the ones using the ball. I introduced a few to my seniors’ class (yes, they are amazing older adults!) and had great feedback. I made my two cats do the moves and they bailed. Whatever.

Abs Revealed is top notch.  Buy it; do the moves; get strong; quit yer bellyaching!

Readers: Get a double dose of Abs Awesomeness and listen to our radio interview of author Jonathan Ross. Mistakes and Solutions When Selecting Your Best Trainer/ Interview with “Abs Revealed” Author, Jonathan Ross. The perfect companion piece you can enjoy while working out!

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