I am an admitted fitness nerd. I like earning continuing education credits to maintain my certifications, I enjoy trying new exercise techniques, and I appreciate studies and research about wellness by reputable organizations. One such just-released study has me unusually excited. Conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, researchers found that, "Not exercising may be worse for your health than smoking." This isn't surprising, really, but what makes the findings of this study so compelling is the scale, as it followed well over 100,000 patients for 23 years. There's just no way around it--exercise is essential to longevity and quality of life. Below is the article about the study featured at Time.com by Gina Martinez:
It’s common knowledge that there are many benefits to being fit, but one large new study found that skipping out on the gym is particularly bad for your health. In fact, the study claims not exercising may be more harmful to your health than smoking.
New findings, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, detail how researchers at the Cleveland Clinic studied 122,007 patients from 1991 to 2014, putting them under treadmill testing and later recording mortality rates. Researchers found a clear connection between a longer, healthier life and high levels of exercise. The report calls for health care professionals to encourage patients to achieve and maintain a robust fitness routine.
“Cardiorespiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit,” the study says. “Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was associated with benefit in older patients and those with hypertension.”
Although it is widely understood that an active lifestyle can lead to a healthy life, the study concludes that a sedentary lifestyle is the equivalent of having a major disease and the simplest cure is exercise.
Dr Wael Jaber, co-author of the study, called the results surprising. “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”
The study also took a look at the risk of being overactive and found that “ultra” exercisers do not face higher risk of death: the research consistently found that the more a person exercises the lower their mortality rates.
Happy holidays, Fitness Friends! How's your protein intake? I just read an article from the National Academy of Sports Medicine that may help you maximize this essential nutrient. As a fitness professional, I'm always benchmarking my nutrition against the latest data. I thought you might want to as well since protein is such a vital nutrient to those seeking strength and fitness gains.
The article, titled, "THE SECOND SCOOP ON PROTEIN: WHEN, WHAT AND HOW MUCH?," by Fabio Comana, revisits the importance of protein ingestion as part of an athlete's nutritional strategy (and by athlete, I mean you!). But that always begs questions, as the title implies: when is the optimal time to ingest protein? What kinds of protein are most useful? And how much is optimal?
I have included the link to the full article here for those who want the complete breakdown, but for those like me with a short attention span who just want the science-based bottom line from leading dietitians, fitness experts, and certifying agencies, here you go:
Aside from eating whole foods-based protein sources, my personal habit of more than a decade is consuming a protein shake immediately after a strenuous workout. My go-to recipe is a scoop of vanilla or chocolate Swiig Daily Whey Protein (20 g), a scoop of Swiig Get Flexible supplement (for joint health and mobility), a scoop of Get Recovered supplement (for regeneration and recovery), a handful of spinach and/or kale, a handful of sliced carrots, a handful of seasonal berries, half a banana, about a half a cup of organic milk and some ice. If I need the shake to tide me over longer, I will blend in a spoonful of raw, organic almond butter.
If after reading this you realize that you're not getting enough protein, or the right kinds of protein, or ingesting it with sufficient frequency, make that a goal as we head into 2018.
I'm not going to tell you work out today. I'm not going to tell you to eat right, to drink more water, or even to sleep seven to eight hours tonight. In fact, I'm not going to discuss anything related to your physical fitness in this entry.
Being that I'm a fitness coach, and this is a fitness blog, nearly all of my topics are related to your physical wellness. But I'm departing from that today, because I'm compelled to talk about a more important, eternal, and deeply personal realm of fitness.
But first, let me tell you about my client-friend, Linda. An avid fitness enthusiast, I met Linda at a health club where I work. She was one of the first members to participate in the group personal training program we offered, trained regularly with other trainers, and competed in physique competitions. By day, she was chief counsel for the IRS, by night (and weekend), a gym fixture, easily spending two or more hours at the club at a time. She seemed indefatigable, and more youthful than her 50-something age reflected.
Last week, Linda thought she caught the flu. While I don't have all of the details, I know she also contracted a bacterial infection at some point, which, within just a couple of days, shut down her organs and took her life.
As I and many others mourn the sudden loss of Linda's life, I was painfully reminded of how fragile life is. And as someone in my fitness circle, it was a sobering punch to the gut that no matter how fit you are, no matter how hard you exercise, no matter how healthy your diet, not one of us is immune from life's passing.
This isn't a surprise to anyone, of course, but it prompted me to ask my readers the following questions:
As a follower of Jesus Christ, whom I believe took on the sins of the world, died on the cross and rose again for those who will believe in Him, I'm thankful for the confidence I have in my eternity. For this reason, I have a great for love my readers, my community and the world around me, and I wish for nothing more than for others to share that same assurance. Because when that day comes, there's nothing we can do--not one more burpee, not one more sprint, not consume one more protein shake--to prolong our life.
Linda, too, knew Jesus, so we may find comfort in that knowledge as we deal with her loss.
In the days and weeks ahead, it will be my prayer that before your next fitness activity, you will spend a few moments asking yourself the questions I listed above, and be able to answer them with confidence and peace.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value
for all things, holding promise for both the present life
and the life to come.
~ 1 Timothy 4:8
In my last blog, I reflected on the highlights of an eventful 2016. Before we get any deeper into January 2017, I wanted to share my expectations for the year. I prefer the term expectations, as opposed to goals, because to expect something means it's likely to happen, almost like an obligation. A goal, on the other hand, is something to aim for, but you may not necessarily achieve it. While there's much to be learned on the journey towards a goal, even if it isn't reached, being expectant requires greater commitment.
Ok, so here is my list, in no particular order. Hold me accountable!
Now it's your turn! Hopefully you've already set your own expectations, and perhaps just need to write them out. Need a few suggestions? Consider these:
Place your list where you'll see it regularly, and feel free to post it in the Comments section for accountability. Let's make 2017 our best year yet!
Whew! We made it to 2017! Was 2016 a rollercoaster year, or what?! I know that for many of you, last year was fraught with ups and downs on many levels. It was certainly full on my end, too. And while I'm ready to focus on the next ride around the sun, I'd like to take a few moments to slow down long enough to reflect on the highlights of an eventful year.
What did I NOT accomplish in 2016? Writing blogs consistently! Besides having some computer issues, which have made website updates cumbersome, and limited creative time, I recognize that there's already so much available to read from countless fitness gurus. So much advice. So many videos. So little time or attention span to consume it all. And I'm not one to write just for the sake of writing. Rather, I do so only when I'm inspired. I'm aiming for greater inspiration (and a new computer) in 2017!
If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to jot down your own list of highlights, and even lowlights, so that you may acknowledge how you've grown, changed and adapted to your personal journey of life. An easy way to start is to peruse the photos you took through the year and review your calendar since January 2016.
May you be empowered by your reflections to set new goals for mind, body and spirit in 2017. We'll talk about those in my next blog!
I'm pleased to report that I'm officially "Certified for Life" as a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.)!
For some background, every two years, certified fitness professionals are required to complete a specific number of continuing education units, renew their CPR and AED certification, and pay a fee in order to maintain their active status with a certifying body (N.A.S.M., in this instance).
Being "Certified for Life" with N.A.S.M. requires trainers to make a greater financial investment in their renewal process, in essence prepaying their future renewal fees for life. This doesn't negate the other requirements, as we're still required to fulfill the continuing education units, and maintain CPR and AED certification status every two years to ensure that our industry knowledge is up-to-date.
The takeaway for the reader, and for current and future clients, is that this investment demonstrates a commitment to my craft, to the pursuit of enhanced health and wellness through continuing education, and a regard for one of the most respected certifying bodies in the fitness industry. While there are a handful of excellent organizations that educate and certify personal trainers, being a nationally accredited N.A.S.M. CPT is highly regarded and often preferred at health clubs over other certifications. I also hold personal trainer and group fitness instructor certifications through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, which was recently acquired by N.A.S.M.
At the end of the day, I admit that what clients value most are results, not initials after one's name. But asking a trainer about their certifications should be included in your top questions before you consider hiring them.
According to fitness expert, Gunnar Peterson, "It may not matter, but sometimes it gives you a little light on why they are training you a certain way," Peterson said in a Men's Fitness article. "N.S.C.A., N.A.S.M., and A.C.S.M. are the gold standards. There are great trainers who are not certified, but it's comforting to know that they applied themselves and studied a certain amount of pertinent information."
Happy Summer, Fitness Friends! It's been a while since I've blogged, but thanks to the encouragement of a friend and an interaction that occurred this week, I was motivated to put fingers to keyboard.
I'm quite thankful for this outlet for allowing me to vent and educate here, rather than lose my composure with a fellow fitness "professional," which almost happened this week.
Here's what happened: After teaching my classes at one of the facilities where I work, a personal trainer approached me to ask why my participants take dumbbells from the fitness floor into my classes since the group fitness studio is equipped with dumbbells. I asked which dumbbells they were taking, to which he replied the 12- and 15-pound pairs.
I said, "I think it's because we only have pre-set dumbbells up to 10 pounds in the studio, and I train my participants to build strength and lift heavier if they can."
With an eye roll, he says, "Oh please. Give me a break."
"Excuse me?" I replied.
"You have 10 pound dumbbells," implying that that should suffice for my participants, which are mostly female.
"Yes, and my participants can lift more than that, because they're strong!" I retorted.
Before the conversation could escalate, we were interrupted by a passerby (thankfully!). In the end, he explained that his desire was for more equipment throughout the facility, and we parted amicably.
Unfortunately, this old school personal trainer's ill-informed mindset about women training with heavier loads continues to exist despite myriad studies and expert guidance to the contrary, as summed up by trainer and fitness writer, Kellie Davis: "Undoubtedly, you've heard the horror stories: lifting heavy weights makes women bulky, it's dangerous, it's bad for your joints, and once you have muscle, you can't stop lifting or it will all turn to fat. It's all BS, and it feeds into stereotypes that are keeping too many women from experiencing the profound benefits of resistance training."
What are some of those "profound benefits"? Consider just a few borrowed from "8 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights," published at bodybuilding.com:
My participants and clients hear me touting the benefits of strength training all the time, because it's the best bang for your buck when it come to overall fitness. Moreover, strength training can be performed in an aerobic fashion, eliminating the need to perform additional cardio.
According to Shape magazine, "While cardio burns more calories than resistance training during your workout, lifting weights torches more fat overall. In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than those who skipped the weights. The more muscle owned, the more fat burned." Did you get that last point? The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn!!
Now that I've gotten you all fired up to weight train, let me clarify that I'm not suggesting you jump to excessive external lifting loads without proper progression. I also strongly advise not to add any load (extra weight from dumbbells, barbells, etc.) until your movement patterns (proper squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, etc.) are mastered and joints are stable by practicing bodyweight-only exercises. Lifting weights without proper form, technique and joint stability can lead to injury. And cross-training--exercising in a variety of formats and disciplines--is still encouraged.
If this data has finally convinced you to incorporate weights into your routine, I recommend working with a trainer who can assess your starting point and develop a program to reflect your fitness level and goals. Just make sure they believe in your potential to lift more than 10 pound dumbbells!!
"Mom, you go first, I'll go second, and G will follow me," instructed my nine-year-old son, Magnus.
He, my mom (aka "G," short for Grandma) and I were at the starting line for the Insane Inflatable 5k, a course dotted with oversized inflatable obstacles, similar to what you might find at those indoor bounce house playgrounds, only more extreme. Along with hundreds of other participants, the three of us were joined by several friends who comprised Team L.O.U. (Lift Others Up).
As we awaited the air horn signaling our turn to go, I admired the members of our team--moms with sons, dads with daughters, parents with children, and in my case, a grandmother with her daughter and grandson. How inspiring it was to see loved ones making fitness a fun family affair. More importantly, it was an opportunity for parents to model an active lifestyle for their kids.
My attention returned to scaling the first inflatable obstacle, with my son and mom following close behind. The next 45 minutes took us through a dozen inflatables over the course of 3.1 miles, and taught us a few lessons. Magnus developed a new appreciation for his grandmother, finding it "pretty cool" that she was able to participate with us. He also experienced endurance, running farther than he ever has. My mom proved that she could do more than she thought she could, and discovered areas where she'd like to develop more strength. And I was reminded that no matter one's fitness level, age or speed, the key is to just keep moving, and lift others up along the way.
Final thoughts: What fitness goals or activities will you set for your family in the coming weeks and months? The year is still young, so you have time to plan for at least one family-friendly 5k in 2016. If that's not your thing, schedule time to be active with your kids weekly. Stop being a spectator and get moving together!
During the holiday break, my oldest son, Magnus, participated in a three-day athletic camp led by a former NFL player. In addition to coaching the kids on speed, agility and quickness, the camp included lessons on character-building.
At the end of one practice, the participants were given a homework assignment to define themselves using the letters of their name. The activity was designed to teach the kids that while someone else had named them, they had the choice to determine what their name stood for. It was up to each one of them to help shape how others perceive them based on what they represented through their beliefs, goals and behaviors, and their names should signify that.
This assignment was challenging for my nine-year-old son whose vocabulary is understandably limited, so we helped him a bit. Here's what he/we came up with: M - magnetic; A - athletic; G - grateful; N - needed; U - unstoppable; S - swift.
In assisting Magnus, I couldn't help but ask myself, "What does Molly represent? How do I want to be defined, particularly as we enter into a new year ?" Perhaps surprising to some, none of my definitions were specifically fitness-related, despite fitness being my passion and profession. I went with over-arching concepts that encompass all facets of wellness, including spiritual, emotional and physical.
After some thought, I decided on this definition:
I need to be honest and admit that I was hesitant to write this, because I have such a long way to go in my pursuit of these ideals. But then I reminded myself of the definition of ideal--a standard to strive for, a conception of perfection. I won't get these right much of the time, but it's my aim this year and beyond to be a better "mother," to be more "open," to be a "light" to others, to live with "less," and to say "yes" to only the best.
My challenge to you this month is to complete this task with your name, and perhaps encourage your spouse and kids to do the same. You're welcome to flesh out your last name as well if your first name is fewer than five letters or you simply want give meaning to your full name. Feel free to share it here in the Comments section!
Here's to a healthier, more fulfilling new year, where we add meaning and wellness to every area of our lives!
One of my childhood neighborhoods was heavily shrouded in oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. It was a haven for squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels. Those bushy-tailed rodents would dart to and fro in front of oncoming cars, often to their demise.
Having witnessed countless squirrel crossings, I recognized that these creatures were run over because their behavior was erratic and indecisive. Like the video game Frogger, squirrels would cross a street in the hopes that their timing was faster than that of a vehicle. And most of the time, it was. But here’s where they made fatal mistakes: after darting just in time to a safe curb, they impulsively turned back in the direction from which they came, and even changed directions more than once in the middle of the road, appearing unsure about which side of the street was preferable. In that ill-timed deliberation, the squirrels found themselves under the tires of a two-ton car.
Ok, so why am I writing about the behavior of squirrels? Because I see similar behavior in people who are unsuccessful at achieving their fitness goals. How often have you or a friend started a fitness or weight loss regimen, only to second guess yourself? Perhaps you’ve jumped into a clean eating program, but turned back to your old habits because you became distracted or failed to plan? Or maybe you attempted to cross over to a healthier lifestyle, but someone or something made you look back, causing fear and confusion about how to move ahead. Or you're one of those folks who shuffles from one weight loss trend to another, never gaining traction or momentum.
While fitness failures haven't resulted in you becoming roadkill like the squirrels, indecision, poor planning and a lack of commitment can be the death of your health goals.
The solution to this sabotaging indecision is to set small, incremental goals that develop daily habits. Rather than looking way ahead to the other side of the road representing your ultimate destination, pay attention to the next step in front of you. Each pace, taken with intention, will help establish consistency, strength and discipline that will keep you moving in the right direction. For example, rather than focusing on the number of pounds you want to lose, which may seem overwhelming, write down a plan for the healthy choices you’ll make today, tomorrow, the next day and the next.
Here’s a daily checklist you may use to get started:
Now, here's your challenge: Implement your own checklist this week. Don't get squirrely and delay progress that you can start experiencing tomorrow!
I had the pleasure of leading a very special group fitness class this month. Participants got to sprout like trees, fly like birds, swing like monkeys, run like lions, crawl like bears, jump like frogs, lumber like elephants and slither like snakes. No, this wasn't another novel version of a boot camp, but a Kid Fit class at my youngest son's preschool. While coaching and corralling 20 three- and four-year-olds is like herding cats, the end result was achieved: to get these kids moving, and to instill a love for fitness through age-appropriate, play-based exercise.
The need to develop foundational habits of wellness in children is more important than ever. Why? Because America's kids are fatter and more sedentary than ever. To raise awareness of the obesity epidemic among children, September has been designated National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Consider these startling facts and statistics:
The Centers for Disease Control report that childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.
Immediate health effects:
Long-term health effects:
Beyond the health implications, childhood obesity carries a heavy price tag. Overweight and obesity in childhood is associated with $14.1 billion in additional prescription drug, emergency room and outpatient visit healthcare costs annually. And because many overweight children, without intervention, become obese adults, the health care costs just skyrocket from there.
Just as in adults, the CDC explains that, "Overweight and obesity are the result of 'caloric imbalance'—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors."
So what are some things parents and caregivers can do to prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children?
With all of this in mind, our very best solution for improving the health of our kids is to set an example and live a healthy lifestyle ourselves. No, that doesn't mean you have to lead a crazy Kid Fit class at your child's school! But if we eat nutritious foods and only stock good stuff in our homes, if we make time to exercise (and involve them), if we make sleep a priority, and if we limit screen and device time, we will be modeling the kinds of behaviors we wish for our children so that they may grow into healthy adults.
ACE Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist Manual
This summer, I learned that yet another friend was diagnosed with cancer. As the tears welled in my eyes with this revelation, I started counting: one, two, three, four, five. FIVE. I have five friends who are currently conquering cancer. Three have breast cancer, one is in the midst of a bone marrow transplant, and another has a treatable, but inoperable brain tumor.
With cancer’s prevalence in this country--1 in 2 males, and 1 in 3 females are predicted to have cancer in their lifetime--perhaps you, too, have been similarly impacted by this disease. With these odds, nearly half of us reading this will likely battle it ourselves.
Being diagnosed with some form of cancer seems nearly inevitable, but are there things we can do to lower our risk? The hopeful answer is yes.
The American Cancer Society reports that, “A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented. All cancers caused by tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption could be prevented completely. In 2015, almost 171,000 of the estimated 589,430 cancer deaths in the US will be caused by tobacco smoking. In addition, the World Cancer Research Fund has estimated that up to one-third of the cancer cases that occur in economically developed countries like the US are related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could also be prevented.”
So, by avoiding tobacco products, minimizing alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating right, we can reduce our risk of cancer by one-third or more? That’s all the motivation I need to make my health a priority. How about you?
For more insight into specific cancer-prevention lifestyle habits, read the following article provided by the American Cancer Society:
Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection?
How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for cancer? Much more than you might think. Research has shown that poor diet and not being active are two key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. The good news is that you do something about this.
Besides quitting smoking, some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk are:
The evidence for this is strong: Each year, about 589,430 Americans die of cancer; around one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight.
CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, and kidney, among others.
Being overweight can increase cancer risk in many ways. One of the main ways is that excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more estrogen and insulin, hormones that can stimulate cancer growth.
What’s a healthy weight? One of the best ways to get an idea if you are at a healthy weight is to check your Body Mass Index (BMI), a score based on the relationship between your height and weight. Use our easy online BMI calculator to find out your score.
To reduce cancer risk, most people need to keep their BMIs below 25. Ask your doctor what your BMI number means and what action (if any) you should take.
If you are trying to control your weight, a good first step is to watch portion sizes, especially of foods high in calories, fat, and added sugars. Also try to limit your intake of high-calorie foods and drinks. Try writing down what and how much you eat and drink for a week, then see where you can cut down on portion sizes, cut back on some not-so-healthy foods and drinks, or both!
For those who are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.
BE MORE ACTIVE. Watching how much you eat will help you control your weight. The other key is to be more physically active. Being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control. It can also help improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works.
More good news – physical activity helps you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too! So grab your athletic shoes and head out the door!
The latest recommendations for adults call for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or an equivalent combination, preferably spread throughout the week. This is over and above usual daily activities like using the stairs instead of the elevator at your office or doing housework. For kids, the recommendation is at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week.
Moderate activities are those that make you breathe as hard as you would during a brisk walk. This includes things like walking, biking, even housework and gardening. Vigorous activities make you use large muscle groups and make your heart beat faster, make you breathe faster and deeper, and also make you sweat.
It’s also important to limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching television, or other forms of screen-based entertainment.
Being more physically active than usual, no matter what your level of activity, can have many health benefits.
EAT HEALTHY FOODS. Eating well is an important part of improving your health and reducing your cancer risk. Take a good hard look at what you typically eat each day and try these tips to build a healthy diet plan for yourself and your family:
Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to and maintain a healthy weight.
Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat.
Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.
If you drink alcohol, limit how much
People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and slower breakdown of alcohol.
A drink of alcohol is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor). In terms of cancer risk, it is the amount of alcohol, not the type of alcoholic drink that is important.
These daily limits do not mean it’s safe to drink larger amounts on fewer days of the week, since this can lead to health, social, and other problems.
Reducing cancer risk in our communities
Adopting a healthier lifestyle is easier for people who live, work, play, or go to school in an environment that supports healthy behaviors. Working together, communities can create the type of environment where healthy choices are easy to make.
We all can be part of these changes: Let’s ask for healthier food choices at our workplaces and schools. For every junk food item in the vending machine, ask for a healthy option, too. Support restaurants that help you to eat well by offering options like smaller portions, lower-calorie items, and whole-grain products. And let’s help make our communities safer and more appealing places to walk, bike, and be active.
The bottom line
It has been estimated that as much as one-third of all cancer deaths in the US are related to diet and activity factors. Let’s challenge ourselves to lose some extra pounds, increase our physical activity, make healthy food choices, limit alcohol, and look for ways to make our communities healthier places to live, work, and play.
If you’d like more information on preventing cancer through diet and exercise, I've attached the pdf, "American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention," which may also be referenced at http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002577-pdf.pdf.
The ACS Cancer Facts & Figures 2015 annual report is also available at http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf
While attending a kickboxing training several years ago, the presenter introduced participants to a dramatic video of famed martial artist, Bruce Lee. It was an interview with Lee, who gave his famous, "Be water, my friend" speech:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless...shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
As a confessed Type A personality who craves control, this message really speaks to me on so many levels. From a fitness standpoint, these words provide inspiration when you feel you've hit a plateau, a roadblock or a setback. Consider "being like water" in these scenarios:
You want to eat right and exercise, but between work, kids and home, you're just too busy.
You've been performing the same exercise routine for a while now, with early measurable results. But nothing seems to be changing in your body anymore. Clothes fit the same, body composition is the same, weight is the same.
You said you were going to exercise four to five days per week, but are lucky if you exercise twice. You're disappointed that you've not stuck with your commitment, and even more disappointed that you're not experiencing results.
Due to some nagging injuries and conditions, you're afraid to work out and have gained extra weight. You'd like to exercise again, but don't know what you're capable of or how to start.
You joined a new gym, but it's a lot different from your last gym. The check-in process takes two steps instead of one, instructors don't use familiar choreography, and the culture is not quite like you're used to. Missing your old gym is demotivating.
No matter the obstacle, water always finds a way, doesn't it?
When in doubt, go with the flow that propels you forward!
It's enough to make a fitness coach cry.
Despite having an arsenal of fitness tools at our finger tips in this country, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that most Americans--more than two thirds--are overweight or obese. This study was conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who studied data from 2007 to 2012 of a nationally representative group of 15,208 people ages 25 or older.
The results corroborated estimates by the Centers for Disease Control:
For the record, being overweight means a person's body mass index is 25-29.9 and they weigh 25-30 pounds over the recommended weight for their height. Being obese means a person's BMI is 30 or greater, and they are at least 30 pounds over the recommended weight for their height.
What difference does it make if you're overweight or obese? "Excessive body weight is associated with a myriad of health risks including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, some types of cancer, pregnancy complications, shortened life expectancy, and decreased quality of life," says the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Beyond that, the CDC estimates that yearly medical costs of obesity in the U.S. reached $147 billion in 2008, the latest data available.
But losing weight is hard, you say? Then let me ask you this--is suffering from one of the maladies listed above any easier? I'm reminded of a quote I saw recently: "Losing weight is hard. Being overweight is hard. Choose your hard." I have friends battling cancer, and I assure you, losing weight is a preferable challenge.
If you find yourself in the overweight or obese category--two out of three of us will!--I'd like to suggest some simple actions to get you started on your mission to a healthier weight. Using the 2/3 ratio as inspiration, start with at least one of these tomorrow, then add another one the next day, and so on:
Make a dental appointment. Reschedule a reservation. Request an itemized bill. Follow up on a client. Call my step-mom. Confirm my son's camp registration. Ask hubby if he can take vacation that week in July. Buy a birthday gift for Amy.
This is a partial list of to-do's that were swirling in my head for a couple of weeks. About the time I'd sit down to address one of these items, my three-year-old would spill his drink or awaken from a nap, an email or Facebook post would steal my attention, the washing machine would play its obnoxiously catchy tune beckoning me to transfer the wet clothes into the dryer, or I'd need to hop in the shower before running an errand. By the time I circled back to my starting point, I'd forgotten what I was aiming to do.
I'd crawl into bed at the end of the day feeling as though I'd been busy, but accomplished little. As a task-oriented person who prides herself on productivity and efficiency, this left me frustrated. There's nothing more satisfying than a task well done, and well, I wasn't gettin 'er done. So I forced myself to sit with a pen and paper, and perform an age-old task in organization that, for me, works every time. I jotted down a prioritized list of the activities I needed to accomplish.
This simple act of organizing my to-do's and writing them on a prominently displayed notepad (I keep it on my bathroom counter where I'll see it throughout the day) immediately focused my efforts. By the end of that day, I had already completed more than half of the items that had escaped me for over two weeks. How satisfying to cross off each task! Why hadn't I employed this tactic sooner?!
For those of us who have goals of getting healthier, but haven't yet developed the daily discipline to eat right and exercise, consider creating a printed list. Add specific action items, such as, "Drink four 16-ounce bottles of water today," "Attend Bootcamp class at 5:30p," "Walk the dog for 30 minutes," "Plan next week's menu," "Prepare tomorrow's exercise outfit," etc.
Making a list is certainly not rocket science, but with so much vying for our attention each day, so many electronic gadgets beeping and buzzing at us, and so many reasons to be distracted, utilizing this basic list tactic may be the extra step you need to finally do for your body what's been on your mind.
In our lives B.C. (Before Children), my husband and I took a spontaneous trip to Rome and Florence, Italy, for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had no trouble trading turkey for lasagna in such a beautiful country!
One of the highlights of our trip was witnessing David, the Renaissance sculpture of the biblical hero by Michelangelo. Beginning in 1501, this famed artist meticulously chiseled what is arguably one of the finest examples of sculpture in history. Standing before David, all 17 feet of him, I actually teared up at this marvel of marble. It's truly a moving experience to behold works of art of this magnitude.
What I find wonderfully ironic is that David began as a 19 foot block of damaged carrara marble. Despite its imperfections, Michelangelo had this to say:
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
There is so much in this quote that applies to my clients and anyone seeking to reshape their lives and bodies into something healthier and fitter.
Many of us feel damaged, imperfect, even imprisoned inside a body we don't recognize or wish to claim. This perspective can make us feel like a cold block of stone -- heavy and burdened.
What if we allowed ourselves the vision of an artist, to see ourselves as we were created to be--"shaped and perfect in attitude and action"--and began chiseling away, layer by layer, the rough walls that thwart our potential? Admittedly, it's not a quick or easy task, as it took Michelangelo three years and the removal of two feet of marble to sculpt David. But taken one hour, one meal, one activity, one decision, one day at a time, your "lovely apparition" will, too, take shape. It all comes down to "attitude and action."
So, how do you start? Set a specific goal, write it down, and commit to a time frame. For example, you might say, I will exercise vigorously for 30 minutes three days a week (Mon., Wed., Fri.) from 6-6:30a for four weeks. Or, I will commit to eating a healthy breakfast of protein and carbs five mornings each week (Mon.-Fri.) within 30 minutes of waking, for four weeks. As you near the end of that month, build on that goal for the next month.
What does Michelangelo say about goals? “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” With that in mind, set a goal that's doable, but challenging, knowing you will continue to increase that goal as you get fitter and healthier.
What's the best time to start carving out your personal work of art? Now! "There is no greater harm than that of time wasted," said Michelangelo, who also believed, even in his artistic mastery, in hard work and continuous learning.
And on those days when you have unexpected setbacks, stay the course and keep your artist's vision, repeating Michelangelo's words for inspiration: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him/her free.”
"So, what's your secret?"
It's a question I've been asked throughout my fitness journey, and one I recently realized could be summed up in one word. Prior to this realization, I typically explained my regimen of exercise, my emphasis on clean, balanced eating, my constant consumption of water, and my requirement for sufficient sleep. It's a longer answer than most people want to explain why I've been able to maintain essentially the same weight for 20+ years. The only time my weight fluctuated by more than five pounds was during my two successful pregnancies.
My "secret" is the reason so many people fail at maintaining their weight. They eat well, for a time, exercise, for a time, and focus on their health, for a time, but they don't do those three things for a LIFE time.
As far back as I can remember, I was active. Not in a sport-specific way, but in a play-outside-for-hours way. Growing up, my family never had cable tv or video games, so being inside bored me. I would jump on my pogo stick in the driveway, ride my appropriately yellow banana seat bike, wrestle with my dog and throw a tennis ball against the house. My weekly chores were physical, too: cleaning the bathrooms, hanging up and taking down baskets of laundry (we didn't have a dryer), vacuuming, and hauling trash to the edge of our property.
Like a lot of little girls, I attended dance lessons, then went on to be a cheerleader from seventh grade through my senior year of high school. In college, I feared gaining the "freshman 15," so I only took the stairs while living on the seventh floor of my dorm. I also chose to attend a weight lifting class as an elective, where I learned the basics of strength training.
When I graduated from school and started my corporate career, I immediately joined a gym where I'd exercise after work several days a week. My enjoyment from fitness grew from that point on over the years, until it eventually became my profession.
As I look back over the last 10 years, throughout which time I have been a fitness instructor and personal trainer, I can state with confidence that I rarely went three days without working out. Most weeks, my rest days numbered one or two. If I recall correctly, the only two times in my adulthood where I took several weeks off from exercise was by doctor's orders while healing from my two c-sections. Now, some of those exercise sessions over the years may have been very short or a light intensity, but they counted. And they included everything from resistance training, to dancing, to martial arts, to indoor cycling, to mind/body disciplines, to body weight training, to swimming and running. These sessions took place at health clubs, at home, outside, and on vacation (I even recall going to a gym in Athens, Greece, while visiting there years ago. Efcharisto!).
And in the last decade, my diet has steadily and dramatically improved as I've learned more about food, its sources and its impact on the body.
Alright, so what's my secret? In a word, CONSISTENCY. It's not a magic formula, a miracle workout or a super food. It's consistently being active in a variety of ways, and choosing the healthy foods I like that fuel my activity.
Perhaps you had more modern conveniences than I had as a kid and spent much of your time in sedentary pursuits that continue to this day. Or maybe you've only had fleeting periods of time in your life when you've been disciplined to exercise regularly and eat right. Here's the good news: no matter your history, tomorrow offers a new opportunity to develop consistency. It doesn't mean you have to exercise everyday, nor does it mean you have to perfectly follow a healthy diet. It simply means not giving up. Not letting more than two or three days pass without a workout. Not allowing a day of poor eating to turn into a week. It means making fitness a part of your life, no matter where you are, what you do or how old you are.
Ready to be consistent? Here are a few tips:
"Come on, keep up," my mom would say to my sister and me. Everywhere we went, whether in the grocery store, on the sidewalk, or in the mall, my mom walked tall and fast. Even her stroll required a double or triple step on my part as a little girl.
My grandmother was the same way. She stood a slender 5'9, and the until the day she died, had the most proper posture of anyone I knew. My Gramma could convey a steely confidence simply by how she aligned her head and shoulders.
My sister, who since high school has stood a statuesque 6 feet tall, was regularly reminded to "straighten up," "stand tall," and "stop slouching." I absorbed those cues, too, so even as a stereotypical, angst-ridden, insecure teen, I exuded confidence because of the body language my mother and grandmother modeled for me.
That confidence was misread at times. In college, a fellow coed who would become a roommate and dear friend, revealed to me that she thought I was "a bi#ch" before she met me. Taken aback, I asked why. She replied that it was how I walked--my shoulders back and head held high--rather than the typical soft posture and dropped gaze that communicates submission and insecurity displayed by so many females. "So I appeared confident, then," I said. "Yes," she replied.
A few years later when I worked in a corporate setting, a coworker asked me if I rode horses. My answer was an emphatic no, as I've ridden a horse fewer than a dozen times in my life. As with my college roommate, I inquired why she asked that. She said, "Because of your posture. You stand so straight, like an equestrian riding a horse." I certainly preferred being called an equestrian over a female canine!
It's unfortunate in our society that women who stand tall, stand to be misinterpreted. My mother's underlying premise for teaching my sister and me to stand straight and walk fast was, to a large degree, out of protection. She would say, "Walk with purpose. Act like you know where you're going and as if someone's waiting for you." I've read self-defense studies over the years that say women who move confidently, decidedly and with purpose are less likely to become victims of crime than those who appear weak and insecure.
But now let's move from viewing posture as body language, to viewing it as the base from which a person moves. The National Academy of Sports Medicine says that, "Static posture, or how an individual physically presents him/herself in stance...is reflected in the alignment of the body. It provides the foundation or platform from which the extremities function. As with any structure, a weak foundation leads to secondary problems elsewhere in the system."
How a person's body is aligned is the basis for identifying muscle imbalances. For instance, a forward-protruding head, rounded shoulders, excessively arched back, knees that fall inward and feet that turn out indicate a number of potential issues that may cause faulty movement patterns. As a trainer (and one who has been raised to pay attention to posture!), I have to note such variances when developing exercise strategies for clients.
So, what is proper posture, and what's the healthiest posture for sitting, standing and lying down? Livestrong.com defines them this way:
What happens if we practice poor body alignment? "Proper posture helps the body produce high levels of functional strength. Without it, the body may degenerate or experience poor posture, altered movement patterns, sprains, tendonitis, and low-back pain," according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Additionally, over time, poor posture can lead to problems with bodily functions, including breathing and digestion.
If you feel that your posture isn't up to par, you may be wondering what are some exercises to improve your alignment. Here are a few suggestions:
So, the next time you stand, sit, lie down, or perform any exercise, sing the children's song, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," to remind you seek proper posture and alignment of joints for every movement!
The timing wasn't ideal. I was eight months pregnant, already mom to a busy 4-year-old son, and full-time fitness director in a town we loved. But my husband's promotion was one we couldn't pass up. So, I quit my job, raced to sell our current home, find a new home (and an obstetrician!) in a city several hours away, and camped out for a couple of weeks in an extended stay hotel while the home we purchased was made available for us to move in. Meanwhile, my husband was immersed in his new role and returning to our former town every weekend to complete his Master's program. His new job also required that he relinquish his company car, so we had to go about purchasing another vehicle. On top of that, we were blindsided by heartbreaking family drama at the worst possible time. To say that we were stressed is an understatement.
The only major milestone we didn't face in that short span of time was a death, thankfully. But we pretty much covered every other significant stressor that life presents.
How did we cope and relieve stress? Firstly, by turning to our faith. Secondly, through exercise and physical activity.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, so I thought it fitting to delve into this topic a bit as it relates to health and fitness. Now, we all know that too much stress is bad for us. It damages the heart, exacerbates skin conditions, increases the odds of obesity, depression and anxiety, and can worsen ulcers. And low levels of stress, when chronic, can cause negative hormone and inflammatory responses, and even contribute to cancer.
"But wait! I'm always stressed," you say! It's true that we all experience varying levels of stress daily, some of which is actually healthy. Our bodies were divinely designed to adapt to all sorts of conditions, and thrive despite challenges. But that only happens optimally when we have coping strategies to relieve the negative stress.
During that rollercoaster period when we were selling and buying homes, buying a car, adjusting to a new town, new job, new reality, and, oh yeah, being very pregnant, I continued my exercise regimen. I also took my son and dog for a daily walk. Having those opportunities to move my body, clear my mind and energize my spirit were absolutely essential to maintaining my sanity and de-stressing through a crazy period in my life.
Specifically, the Mayo Clinic explains that engaging in exercise helps relieve stress in the following ways:
What negative stresses in your life do you need to address? As you might expect, every resource I reviewed on "how to de-stress" recommended exercise, among other things.
While the best first step to reduce stress is often taking a few deep breaths, here are movement-based suggestions to energize you and help you shed negative energy:
If you're a sports fan, you know that this is one of the best times of the year for collegiate athletics. The NCAA Division 1 Mens Basketball Championship is well underway. I'm married to a former Division 1 ball player, so needless to say, the tournament is always on in my home. Being residents of the Carolinas for 20 years before moving to Florida, we're big fans of North Carolina teams. As such, we tuned in early for the Duke vs. San Diego State game.
While broadcasters shared pre-game stats, cameras cut away to San Diego State players engaging in what happens to be one of my favorite pre- and post-workout activities: self myofascial release (SMR). Huh? What's that, you ask? Simply put, it's self massage using inexpensive props such as a small inflated ball (a tennis ball works in a pinch) or foam roller to release muscle tightness or trigger points.
An article on realsimple.com explains that myofascial release manipulates the fasciae, thin membranes that cover each muscle, which may alleviate knots and soreness better than massaging muscles alone does. To try it, place your prop of choice on the floor or against a wall and lean on it so it’s under the tender spot. It should feel slightly uncomfortable. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. To increase the effect, gently roll the prop back and forth on the area.
“When it’s healthy, the fascia over a muscle is like a pillowcase that slides easily over a pillow,” says John R. Martinez, a doctor of physical therapy in New York City. “But when you have injuries or chronic inflammation, the fascia can bind onto the muscle and restrict its movement, which causes discomfort.” Myofascial release therapy helps “unstick” the fascia, he says.
So, what are the benefits of SMR exactly, when should I do it, and are there other guidelines I should follow? Consider these answers, courtesy of finishlinept.com:
Foam rolling BEFORE exercise is used to:
Foam rolling AFTER exercise is used to:
Guidelines for foam rolling:
Many health clubs now keep foam rollers on hand for members to use, but if you'd like to use one at home (which I highly recommend), just do a Google search for "foam rollers" and find the best deal. Keep in mind that rollers come in different lengths and densities. Longer ones are easier to use, but smaller ones travel easier. As for density, softer, less dense rollers are best to start with, then work your way up to firmer rollers as your muscles adapt and become more supple. Myo therapy balls are also useful for rolling your lower back, hamstrings, glutes and other areas requiring a more specific pressure point. They come in various circumferences, densities and textures. As mentioned above, a tennis ball will suffice. Give it a try!
That's a wrap! The Winter 2015 Fitness Is Freedom Results Club ended this week with a celebration lunch for participants. The nine-week fitness accountability program was created to help participants establish healthy, sustainable nutrition and exercise habits that would enable them to live more fulfilling lives. It is based on my years of experience coaching, facilitating and training women to become more empowered through better health.
Collectively, the 10 participants in this group lost 20.9% body fat, increased muscle mass by 11.5% and reduced their body age by 17 years through consistent mindful eating, effective exercise, good hydration, group support, and most importantly, the right mindset. With group support and weekly guidance, they developed the discipline to plan ahead for meals, to pre-schedule exercise sessions, to overcome barriers to their success, and to incorporate their families into the process.
To say that I am proud of these 10 amazing women is an understatement. I get as much out of these programs as they do, because I consider it my ministry to share my knowledge of fitness with those who desire it. Watching them transform physically, emotionally and psychologically is a privilege. The best part isn't even the composition changes they experienced. When they tell me how positive they feel about themselves, how their significant others have a renewed interest in them and how self-motivated they are--that's the good stuff.
One participant, who dropped a clothing size and finally feels comfortable wearing sleeveless shirts, expressed that her husband is noticeably more amorous, while another participant's spouse commented on her increased confidence. And that's the key. While they got stronger and leaner, none of these ladies received new bodies through the program. Parts weren't replaced and blemishes weren't erased. What developed, however, was confidence, which fits every shape and size, and is far more attractive than the most chiseled arms or flattest stomach.
I look forward to watching how they continue to blossom, and I'm excited to support another group of participants in the Spring 2015 Results Club (runs April-May, ending before school commences for summer). If you're in the Saint Johns, FL, area and want to experience the same kind of life-changing results, I have just a few spots left in the next session. Click on the Results Club tab at fitnessisfreedom.net to register and get more info.
What does being "fit" mean to you? For me, being fit grants me the freedom to do the things that are important to me--playing with my kids, keeping up with my husband, facilitating positive change in clients through exercise and nutrition, setting a healthy example for those around me, and serving others.
I recently had the opportunity to serve at a very special event called Night To Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. It's a prom
I kicked off my Valentine's Day this year getting hot n' sweaty in my cold garage. It was 30 minutes of pure pleasure that ended in satisfying exhaustion. Since this is the day of love, what better way to celebrate than with a heart-pumping exercise session?! (You knew that's what I was describing, right?! See the routine below.)
I love fitness. Actually, what I really love is the state of being fit. And not because it's my job to be in shape. I loved fitness before I was paid for it. Why do I love being fit, you may wonder? Here are my top reasons:
I love being fit because...
Now, keeping it real, do I also love that being fit allows me to rock a pair of skinny jeans, feel comfortable in a tank top, and eat pizza every week? Without a doubt. But that's just a bonus.
It's not lost on me that, regardless of my fitness level, my body is still aging and will one day expire. But if living a life of fitness allows each day that I do have to be fuller, healthier and more productive, then it will have been a worthwhile love affair.
4 Rounds of 45 secs work/15 secs rest (with one min rest btw rounds)
1. Jump rope
2. Pushups + Dumbbell Plank Rows (AKA Renegade Rows)
3. Kettlebell Swings
4. Alternating Dumbbell Lateral Lunges
Warmup + Cardio/Strength + Stretch = 30 mins
I had the day all planned out. In my Type A, checklist-oriented mind, I was going to enjoy sleeping in (with kids, that translates to around 7:30a in my house), have a leisurely breakfast with my boys, do a few chores, engage in an extended workout followed by an extended hot shower (one of my favorite simple pleasures), attend my oldest son's football game, then start a furniture refinishing project that I've been meaning to get to.
Sounds reasonable, right? Except that life happened soon after I woke up. When I went to greet my 3-year-old, his diaper had leaked overnight, which meant he would need an impromptu bath and his bed would have to be stripped and remade. Minor setback to my schedule. Far worse was the telltale discharge and pink color to his left eye. Yep, conjunctivitis. That would require a weekend visit to the pediatrician, then waiting on a prescription at the drug store. MAJOR setback to my schedule.
But life wasn't done teaching me a lesson about my well-intended plan. When we finished breakfast and put the last of the dishes in the full dishwasher, the dang machine sounds this cute little chime with a prompt that reads, "Leak detected. Consult use care manual." Super. Just super. And of course, the manual indicates that the only solution to this warning is to call the 1-800 number and make an appointment for a service call (Quick rant: modern appliances aren't made to last anymore. This machine is only a year old, and our brand new refrigerator needed a significant repair after only six months. Ridiculous!)
Clearly, the day wasn't going even remotely as I'd planned, and no one would fault me for foregoing my plans to exercise. But I was committed to fitting in an intense workout (which would help me keep my sanity--exercise is proven to be a mood stabilizer and anti-depressant). And thankfully, I did, in large part because we live in a country where service calls can be scheduled online, doctor's offices have Saturday hours, and drug stores fill prescriptions while you wait. After putting out the unexpected fires that life threw at me, I had just enough time for a massive calorie-burning 35 minute workout and quick shower before my son's football game (Workout posted below!).
You might be wondering why I've shared this day-in-the-life with you, and it's this: you make time for the things that matter. I was committed to exercising that day, and despite several setbacks, I made a way to make it happen.
We are now one month into the new year, which means we're nearing the point where new year's resolutions start to fade. Why? Because life gets in the way. But here's the thing--it always will. You just have to decide what's most important to you, what's worth making time for, and who you want to be. A quitter? Nah. Strike that word from your vocabulary. You may need to make some adjustments to your goal, but don't give up on it, or yourself. And as the saying goes, it it's important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse!
Reboot your exercise routine with my MAKE-TIME-FOR-THINGS-THAT-MATTER WORKOUT, which took me about 35 minutes to complete. This is a combination of traditional muscle-building exercises and a high intensity metabolic circuit. Use dumbbells (DB) that are appropriate for your fitness level and heavy enough to challenge your muscles in only 10 repetitions.
WARM UP (unloaded squats, lunges, pushups, dynamic stretches)
STRENGTH-TRAINING CIRCUIT: Perform 3 sets of 10 reps. Move immediately from one exercise to the next:
1. DB squats
2. DB chest flies
3. DB alternating lunges (10/leg)
4. DB bent over rows
5. Mountain climbers (20/leg)
6. Optional: recover 30-60 secs
HIIT METABOLIC CIRCUIT: Perform up to 5 rounds of either 45:15 (45 seconds work/15 seconds recovery) or 40:20. If you're just starting out, fewer rounds or more recovery time is preferable.
1. Jump rope
2. Kettlebell swing
4. Optional: recover 30-60 secs
Growing up in the surfing town of Ormond Beach, Fla., I frequently used words like "rad," "killer," and "dude." And I just read some news that has me uttering another throwback term--"Stoked!" The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently published its annual list of top fitness trends, and I couldn't be more excited about what's included on that list.
My four favorite forms of exercise rank first, second, fifth, and ninth, which I have been recommending to my clients and personally practicing for years. And of course I appreciate trends three and five as they recommend qualified fitness professionals. Heck, I just love the whole list. Like I said, I'm totally stoked!
Without further ado, here are ACSM's Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2015, based on survey responses from thousands of fitness professionals.
1. Body Weight Training: Body weight training uses minimal equipment making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness.
2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.
3. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals. Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
4. Strength Training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders. (The other essential components are aerobic exercise and flexibility.)
5. Personal Training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.
6. Exercise and Weight Loss. In addition to nutrition, exercise is a key component of a proper weight loss program. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.
7. Yoga. Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.
8. Fitness Programs for Older Adults. As the baby boom generation ages into retirement, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.
9. Functional Fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.
10. Group Personal Training. In challenging economic times, many personal trainers are offering more group training options. Training two or three people at a time makes economic sense for the trainer and the clients.
The remaining 10 trends include:
11. Worksite health promotion
12. Outdoor activities
13. Wellness coaching
14. Circuit training
15. Core training
16. Sport-specific training
17. Children and exercise for the treatment/prevention of obesity
18. Outcome measurements
19. Worker incentive programs
What fitness trends are OUT for 2015? Zumba, Pilates and indoor cycling. This doesn't mean that one can't or shouldn't engage in these activities. They just didn't weren't considered one of the top 20 trends by the more than 3,400 fitness professionals who participated in ACSM's survey.
For my clients in the over 50 crowd, I thought you'd like to know which of these trends best suit you. According to the online publication and global community, High50, the top five fitness trends for those 50+ are:
1. Body Weight Training
3. Ballet classes
4. Functional Fitness
5. Treadmill Training - Performing interval training on a treadmill, where you mix speed, duration, incline and recovery.
Now that you are armed with the leading fitness trends, pick one or two to try this week!
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.