Do Benefits of Exercise Get Lost Sitting Too Much?

Research has demonstrated often that sitting too much is bad for us. Individuals who sit ten or more hours a day are at greater risk of premature death. Too much sitting can cause a host of health problems especially if exercise is absent.

We have all heard that sitting for extended periods of time can take years away from our lives. New scientific research has backed this up and now sitting for long periods of time has been linked to various forms of cancer.

A large meta-analysis was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looking at 43 observational studies with approximately 69,000 cancer cases. The study reported the lowest and highest “sedentary time” in subjects and concluded higher sedentary times were associated with an “increased risks of certain types of cancer.” The researchers found “sitting is associated with a 24 percent increased risk of colon cancer, a 32 percent increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21 percent increased risk of lung cancer.” The good new, however, is only 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day “substantially weakens this risk”. Time to start standing and moving more!

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Edward Stanley, 1873.

Four Tips if You are Sitting Too Much

Assuming the above statement is true, then how can we add more activity into our daily routine to help us add more years to our lives rather than the other way around? Here are four easy ways to get you started.

1. Use a Pedometer. Research has shown repeatedly that people who walk more during the day are thinner than those who don’t walk as much. Pedometer users take approximately 40 percent more steps throughout the day than non-pedometer wearers. Build up to a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Keep in mind there is no magic number here. The research shows anywhere between 8,000 to 12,000 steps a day is optimal for health and keeping your bodyweight in check.

2. Increase Office Activity. When you need to make or take a call, do it standing preferably while walking outside; make it a walking conference call. Always take the stairs rather than use an elevator. Hard to imagine but the worldwide average for using the stairs is only 5 percent. Get out for a 15-minute walk at lunch time. If possible, get a walking treadmill desk, standing desk etc. You get the idea.

3. Turn Sunday into a Funday. This of course could be any weekend day. Have a predetermined plan and schedule an activity that is done with family or friends. Get together for a hike, a long bike ride, walk/run, stadium stair climb, run a road race together, kayak/SUP trip, etc.

4. Take a Short Walk After Dinner. This can be a big one for paying back strong health dividends. Research shows, a short 15-20 minute walk following dinner can improve digestion, decrease stress level, regulate blood sugar (great after a high carb meal), and improve sleep.

Additional Research on Sitting Too Much

A great reference for me lately has been the new book, “Exercised” by Harvard University researcher, Dr. Daniel Lieberman. He has a ton of health and fitness information in the book that is heavily referenced with some great longitudinal studies. According to Lieberman there is a lot of hyperbole out there with respect to research on sitting. He goes on to say, however, that there also well-publicized studies that have determined “sitting more than three hours a day is responsible for nearly 4 percent of death worldwide.” In addition, “replacing an hour or two of daily sitting with light activities like walking can lower death rates by 20 to 40 percent”.

Dr. Lieberman looks at three main concerns with too much sitting. First, when we spend 9-12 hours a day sitting, we could be using more of that time standing and adding more physical activity into our day. Second, long periods of “uninterrupted inactivity elevate levels of sugar and fat in the bloodstream”. Finally, his third concern is the most alarming, hours of too much sitting could “trigger our immune systems to attack our bodies through a process known as inflammation”. Keep in mind this is one of the more important reasons for strength training beyond building and maintaining muscle mass as we age. Muscle makes up about a third of of the body and lean muscle mass “has potent anti-inflammatory effects”. Just one more reason why EVERYONE should be committed to regular strength training.

Hopefully, reading a few of these statistics will help to change your mindset and get you moving a little bit more. I’m going to stand up now, how about you? Stay active and be safe.

Try the Jefit App to Increase Your Activity

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

Exercise Guidelines to Keep You Strong as You Age

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We all have different needs when it comes to exercise and those needs continue to change as we age. When was the last time you really thought seriously about your exercise routine? More importantly, are you experiencing gains with the current program you’re on? Maybe gains came easy when you were younger. What worked once, however, for whatever reasons does not seem to work as good now.

First, celebrate your success. You have continued to exercise all these years and that’s a good thing even if – at times – it may not be as evident when you step onto your bathroom scale. Keep in mind, more than 30 percent of Americans do not exercise at all and only about 5 percent of the population exercise at what is considered a vigorous level. Approximately 69 percent of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

All the work you’ve put in has done wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, it has helped maintain your strength and lean muscle levels. A loss of muscle tissue occurs, for those who do not exercise, at a rate of about half a pound a year or roughly 5 pounds per decade. As this happens, a few of the many by-products are loss of strength, power and balance.

Use It Or Lose It

The average person who does not exercise regularly, experiences an 8 percent drop in their strength level per decade. By the time someone reaches age 65 they have about 25 percent less strength compared to when they were 30 years old. On the aerobic side of things you lose about 10 percent of your aerobic capacity each decade after age 40. There is potential to lose as much as 25 percent of bone in both sexes, as a result of inactivity, sitting too much and menopausal changes in women. With all this decline comes balance issues and additional problems with functionality, that could ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

Write down what you and your body really need as you get ready to enter 2021. What are you truly looking to accomplish with all the time you invest in yourself doing exercise and trying to eat healthier? You don’t own it until you write it down.

Needs Assessment

Prior to beginning any type of exercise program, it is essential that you undergo a needs assessment. The goal of this analysis is to create clearly defined goals that will help you make the most progress from your training. Ask yourself, what does your body really need at this point in time? Maybe you need more mobility work and less pounding (running) or loading (lifting weights). You may have been doing a lot of strength or cardio work but how is your balance? When was the last time you treated yourself to a good massage or took a yoga class? Find out what you need (by testing yourself) and set a few short and long-term goals.

Test Yourself Periodically

Work with a coach and complete an assessment to determine where you currently stand in the following areas below. Ask yourself: How do you judge improvement if you don’t measure it? Visit our Jefit Coach to help.

  • Body Composition
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic ability
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
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Exercise Program

This is where most of us get lost and end up wasting a lot of time. The first goal is to find out what’s tight and lengthen it and then what’s weak and strengthen it. This will ultimately help you move and lift better in the gym. The second goal is to move better, also known as movement competency. Once an individual can execute a movement efficiently with a full range of motion (that is unrestricted), like a Squat or Deadlift, then and only then should the volume (sets x reps x load) be increased. When someone cannot execute a particular movement pattern correctly, do not increase repetitions, the number of sets or especially the load. Anyone who is loading tight, stiff muscles is basically an accident waiting to happen, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll need to take time off!

Focus on the primary movement patterns below using the “Big 6” as part of your primary strength routine and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull

A well-designed exercise program should improve mobility, increase strength, power, improve cardiovascular fitness and more. A strength and conditioning program should change body composition by way of adding lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. Balance should also improve in addition to flexibility and mobility. You must add time to your workout though to address it. But you won’t know if you’re improving if you don’t periodically measure it. Has this been an issue for you?

Focus on adding in a bout of sprint work to your weekly cardio routine. This should come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A few examples would be sprinting, cycling or rowing. Place more emphasis on quality rather than quantity when doing HIIT and remember, the key is manipulating the intensity as you get better at it.

Finally, focus on doing more mobility work each time you exercise and make it part of your recovery process on off days. These guidelines will help keep you strong and functional through the aging process.

Potential Prescription Ideas

  • Strength training (Big 6) 2-3x/week.
  • Fitness: Elevate your heart rate 2-3x/week for 15-30:00 (wear a heart rate monitor). Add HIIT at least once a week.
  • Power: work on vertical or horizontal jumping 1x/week (jump rope, box jumps, DOT drills, etc.)
  • Add more mobility work (via movements and foam roller etc.).
  • Baseline/Follow-up Assessment
  • Try Yoga

Use Jefit to Help Track Progress and More

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

All You Need To Know For Effective Fat Loss

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If you want to lose body fat, you’re not alone. However, effective fat loss can seem impossible at times, especially if you try to overcomplicate things. Many magazines, articles, Instagram “experts” and YouTubers like to share their opinions on the matter, and this can make it seem even more complicated. Below, you’ll find four simple things that you need to remember for effective fat loss. Stick to them, and it’ll work for you too.

Find a Type Of Exercise You Enjoy

Exercise is important but not the most important aspect of fat loss, believe it or not. However, it can help, and a ton of additional benefits come with it, too. Finding a type of exercise you enjoy will make it so much easier. Switch it up and just have fun. 

Get Your NEAT Up 

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is the energy your body uses for movement other than exercise. Len Kravitz, PhD, defines NEAT as “the energy expenditure of daily activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and talking – all activities that are not considered planned physical activity of a person’s daily life.” It is basically the “micro” exercise you do each day while going about your daily activities. By walking more and aiming to be more active day to day, it will, collectively, make a big difference.

In one research study it was determined that lean subjects (higher NEAT level) expend approximately 350 more calories a day (i.e. walking and standing) when compared to obese subjects (lower NEAT level). That amount of calories over the course of one year (with all other factors being equal) would equate to a weight-loss of 36.5 pounds!

Control Sleep and Stress 

Sleep and stress play a huge role in fat loss. Make sure you’re getting a minimum of 8 hours a night, and keep your stress levels under control. Look after yourself and get into a routine with it. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that individuals who got less than 5.5 hours of sleep each night lost 60 percent more lean muscle that those who got adequate sleep.

Eat a Balanced Diet 

The most important aspect of fat loss is how you eat. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be consistent. Fad diets should be avoided, and instead, a balanced, healthy eating approach should be taken.

Workout with Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Want a Powerful Bench Press? Try Adding Tricep Extension

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Who isn’t interested in improving their PR for bench press? I know we all are; a new 1-RM can make a day. But on that same note, we also hit plateaus with our beloved bench press. There are, however, certain exercise like dumbbell tricep extension and dips, for example, that have been proven to be beneficial. When you watch someone perform a bench press exercise they usually have no problem pushing the weight off the chest. Where they have more of an issue is performing “complete” arm extension required at the end of each repetition. This is a reminder that the chest may in fact have the necessary strength but the triceps need to be stronger. Enter dumbbell tricep extension.

Muscles Making Up the Tricep(s)

The tricep muscle is comprised of three unique heads that make up the tricep brachii muscle. Individually, we know that the medial head, which sits beneath both lateral and long heads, is made up of slow twitch muscle fibers. This is important because slow twitch fibers respond well to endurance training or a higher number of repetitions. The lateral head, though, is made up of fast twitch fibers and finally, the long head of the triceps is, you guessed it, comprised of both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.

What EMG Research Can Tell Us

When in doubt about how well an exercise targets a muscle group, look at the research. In this case the research is based off electromyography (EMG) results. We can see what overall percentage of a muscle is activated for specific movement patterns or an exercise such as the dumbbell tricep extension. In the case of dumbbell tricep extension, one research study showed 76 percent peak muscle activation during the exercise. The long head showed more of an increase, 81 percent, while the lateral head decreased to 72 percent. Remember that the EMG device records the electrical activity of the muscle. Basically, the stronger the muscle activity, the higher the action potential, resulting in a stronger EMG signal.

Are There Better Exercises for Tricep Development?

Yes, of course. We are highlighting in this article just one of let’s say the top five exercise. Some of the other great exercises that build tricep strength are: diamond push-ups, kickback exercises and dips (bodyweight and weighted). The dumbbell tricep extension is just another good tool that should be in your tool box.

Tricep Extension Training Options

  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Dumbbell Standing One-Arm Extension
  • Pulley Extension
  • Standing Rope Extension
  • Supine Rope or Dumbbell Extension
  • Tricep Kickback
  • Barbell Skull Crusher
  • One Arm Tricep Kickback (one knee on bench)

Jefit Member Performing Classic DB Tricep Extension

Long-time Jefit Elite member Don Goldstein demonstrates how he performs his DB extension exercise – see here. Don actually goes on to say that, “by doing triceps overhead extensions and weighted bench dips it helps develop the tricep heads from different angles; in addition it helps prepare the triceps for increases in load when going heavy on bench. Basically if you don’t train your triceps, your bench won’t increase as they go hand in hand.”

Get Strong With Jefit

Looking to get back to the gym after taking a long break? Want to connect with like-minded people to keep you motivated? Download Jefit to track your workouts and join our members-only Facebook group. You can record your training, set a schedule, and talk to fellow Jefit members. Basically, everything you need to get back into the swing of things!

What do you do to get back to the gym after taking a long break? What tips work best for you? Let us know in the comments, we would love to know and hear from you too!

What’s More Important for Weight Loss: Exercise or Diet?

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Have you ever wondered about the value of exercise and diet as it relates to weight loss? Which do you think is more important, exercise or diet? If you’re looking to losing weight, both diet and exercise are critical pieces of the puzzle. Many people, though, place more focus on the diet aspect. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle then you need to consistently monitor both. Remember, you can’t manage something if you don’t measure it. Finally, if the goal is simply to build lean muscle mass, then strength training and diet are paramount. The goal in this scenario is to create a surplus of calories each day. Weight gain and ultimately adding more muscle mass can not occur if this does not happen.

National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)

One of the best research-based organizations that looks at the weight loss question is the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The NWCR is the brain-child of Rena Wing, PhD, from Brown University Medical School. The NWCR “provides information about the strategies used by successful weight loss maintainers to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss.” The NWCR is currently tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and, more importantly, have kept it off for long periods of time.

Main Outcome from NWCR

NWCR members have lost an average of 73 pounds and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. “To maintain their weight loss, members report high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/day/walking), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.”

What should help clear up this debate is the fact that only 1 percent of the NWCR database (>10,000 subjects) have been successful at keeping their weight off with exercise alone. About 10 percent of the subjects have been successful with weight loss maintenance by focusing on diet alone. More than 89 percent of the subjects have been successful because of BOTH diet and exercise modifications.

NWCR

Finally, maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the week and especially on the weekend is important no matter what the goal. Focus on eating clean, healthy foods, avoid highly processed foods and finally, watch the added sugar in everything you eat. Lastly, sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise will always be good choices when it comes to weight-loss.

Workout with Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

New Audio Cue Module to Be Released Soon on Jefit

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The Jefit app will soon have a new update that will improve the workout experience on their award-winning app. The new feature, called audio cue module, allows everyone to be “hands free” during a workout. The audio feature offers voice commands at the beginning, during and at the end of each set of exercises. This lets someone who uses the app to be hands free during a bodyweight interval workout, as an example. In addition, it keeps the person fully engaged in their workout. Rather than the need to continually slow things down, as would be the case, if they were always checking at their screen. In turn, creating a more challenging workout while optimizing exercise flow on the app.

The Jefit Audio Cue Module

The soon to be released Jefit audio cue module will prompt someone after they start a workout with a specific command. The experience begins with “Ready Go!” followed by “first, barbell bench press” as an example. When you’re halfway done with the set you’ll hear an audio cue letting you know just that. The same holds true for the end of each set as well. The person also has the option of turning off the audio command feature before they begin the workout. This new feature will allow a person to put the phone down while working out. Take a moment to listen to the audio cue in this Jefit Instagram post, that can be found here.

Workout with Jefit

The Jefit team looks forward to supporting members with new features like the new audio cue module. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, as well as a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, advice, and motivation, to get you closer to your fitness goals today. Stay strong with Jefit.

Four of the Best Exercise Podcasts to Motivate You Right Now!

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Could you use a little more motivational exercise knowledge right now? The following are four of the best exercise podcasts that have dropped in October. Each of these episodes are from intelligent sources who are considered experts in their particular fields. We have featured some of the best podcasts and book updates previously on our site, in case you missed them. Enjoy these latest episodes during your next workout or when you have some time to chill.

One of the Best Exercise Podcasts – Peter Attia, MD

Episode # 134: James O’Keefe is a preventative cardiologist and bestselling author of The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle. In this episode, James discusses cardiac physiology and what makes the human heart susceptible to disease. He provides evidence for what supports his approach to exercise – elucidating both positive and negative kinds of exercise for heart health. He also discusses the role of nutrition, specific nutrients, and pharmacological interventions to support heart and brain longevity.

20-Minute Fitness – Shape

Listen to this week’s episode of 20-Minute Fitness to hear the full story about muscle recovery by the Founder of Hyperice, Anthony Katz, a recovery expert. He discusses the science behind various recovery techniques using his suite of recovery products which, full disclosure, I’ve tried and really do the trick. We have also discussed one of his products, the Hypervolt, in a previous post on Jefit that you can read here.

The Breaking Muscle Podcast

Here is the third episode that made our list of four best exercise podcasts for October 2020. This shows has Chris Barakat, MS, ATC, the founder of School of Gainz and Competitive Breed. He is also a competitive natural bodybuilder, researcher, and educator who knows his stuff. In this episode Chris and Tom talk about whether delayed onset muscle soreness is a useful indicator of effective training. Also discussed, what actually makes a good muscle building exercise, and how much variety do you need in your training. Finally, they discussed an often misunderstood topic, periodization, asking the question…is it a good muscle building tool.

Barbend Podcast

The final podcast episode is a 30-minute talk with Dr. Bo Babenko, a physical therapist and trainer. He discuss injury myths and misconceptions. Dr. Babenko has worn many hats in fitness career over the past decade: physical therapist, triathlete, CrossFit regionals competitor, and more. The conversation is geared towards what’s changed about physical therapy and recovery during Bo’s career. Also discussed, are the most common myths and misconceptions regarding injury recovery. This is one episode that can be very useful to just about anyone who strength trains.

Let us know if you “connected” with one of our best exercise podcasts for the month of October. If you know of a better podcast please let us know. Stay strong with Jefit.

Try Eating This Nutritious Breakfast to Energize Your Workout

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Let’s face it, we really are what we eat. We’re all aware of how important it is to properly fuel our body for sustained energy throughout the day. A nutritious breakfast or first meal is critical to this way of thinking. Choosing healthy food options can do wonders for both our mind and body. When taken optimally, meaning, food quantity and meal timing, food fuels our brain and muscles like nothing else. No meal is more important, however, than that first meal of the day. This is your first food option in the morning or at noon if you’re into intermittent fasting (IF). How you initially fuel your body after waking, from a fasted state, will set the tone for the rest of the day.

You may have been like me in the past where you were focused on consuming food every 3-4 hours. It may have been important to eat healthy and often to build lean muscle and/or maintain blood sugar levels. As the body ages, eating habits may however change. Some people have a tendency to change eating habits, spacing their meal frequency farther apart. Not eating for longer periods of time (12+ hours) has been shown through research to be a positive change. The body uses a combination of macronutrients to fuel the brain and body (carbohydrates, fats and some protein). Not eating for longer periods of time will adjust the ratio of how the body burns carbohydrates and fats for fuel. A higher percentage of fat (instead of more carbs) will get utilized.

What Are Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients?

Macronutrients are large molecules that our bodies need to function optimally. The big three are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Water and fiber are also considered macronutrients. Conversely, micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are molecules that we need but in much smaller quantities. Both are very important and all are needed to help the human body function properly.

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The Authors Actual Breakfast this Morning (you guessed it, Oatmeal)
A Nutritious Breakfast Option

Eating eggs or egg whites in the morning may be your thing. Maybe its cold cereal or a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana. All, other than the cold cereal, are healthy, nutritious breakfast options. A combination of macronutrients in a breakfast or snack are important to fuel the body for long periods of time. One key macronutrient is fiber. Many breakfast options, like cold cereal, have minimal or no fiber. Eating fiber helps with gut health, it keeps us feeling satiated and will help reduce the sugar and fat cravings.

A healthy, nutritious breakfast option to give a try is oatmeal. Where not talking instant oat meal out of a package either. Try the type that you cook on the stove (for 5-minutes). It’s loaded with all the macronutrients including fiber. You can add things like nuts and fruit that will increase total calories but also the amount of fiber and protein. The following is a calorie breakdown of a typical bowl of oatmeal that I typically eat. Following that, are additional add-ons like fruit and nuts.

Old Fashion Oats Calorie Breakdown
Food Calories/Macronutrients
1 Cup Oatmeal150 calories/27 grams CHO/4 grams Fiber/5 grams Protein
1 Cup Almond Milk40 calories/1.5 grams CHO/3.5 g Fat/1.5 g Protein
1/2 Cup Walnuts392 calories/8 grams CHO/39 grams Fat/4 grams Fiber/9 grams of Protein
1/2 small Banana45 calories/11 grams CHO/1 gram Protein/6 grams natural sugar
1/2 Cup Blueberries41 calories/10.5 grams CHO/1.7 grams Fiber/0.54 grams Protein/7 grams natural sugar
TOTAL668 calories/58 grams CHO/9.7 grams Fiber/17 grams Protein

There is sugar in this breakfast option, yes, but its natural occurring sugar found in fruit, as opposed to added sugar. Most of the fat comes from the walnuts, this can be optional, but keep in mind it’s from healthy fat. The big takeaway is – it contains about 10 grams of healthy fiber and 17 grams of protein. Bonus, adding in a scoop of healthy peanut butter (like this morning) will bring that protein number to 24 grams. Eat healthy, fuel up for your day and workout with smart, nutritious food choices like this one. Stay strong with Jefit.

Amazing Health Benefits of Exercise During This Unprecedented Time

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What can you do to keep you and your family safe during this extremely stressful time? We now know wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing improves our chances of staying healthy. The health benefits of exercise coupled with the above advice may be just the answer. We have been looking to put a dent in this pandemic as a CV-19 resurgence is brewing. This might be just the one two punch needed to knock this pandemic out for good.

The following is a look at just a few of the many health benefits of exercise. Many of us are sadly experiencing more stress since March 11, 2020. The cumulative effect of all this stress is obviously not healthy for the body. A recent study showed younger people are not exercising at a rate as pre-pandemic. One group, however, that is not part of this inactive group, are individuals sixty-five and older. They are finding time to exercise in record number. How about the rest of us?

Take Advantage of the Many Health Benefits of Exercise

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Exercise Improves Mood and Mental Health

During each exercise session, the body releases chemicals like endorphins and dopamine that improve our mood and make us feel more relaxed. Another chemical you may not have heard much about is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It may be the most important chemical released during exercise since it fosters long-term brain health. BDNF acts not only as a growth factor, it also promotes the formation of new connections between nerve cells. As a result, regular exercise helps you manage stress better and reduce your risk of depression.

“People suffering from depression are 2.5 times more likely to have experienced stressful life events. Exercise appears to help buffer these negative life events,” according to the authors of the book, Exercise for Mood and Anxiety.

Regular Exercise Will Improve Sleep

As I’m sure any physician or exercise expert will tell you, sleep is a critical component for mind and body restoration. With an inadequate amount of sleep, the body will eventually have issues with the recovery and building processes from that days workout. It has a lot to do with your central nervous system (CNS). When the body goes away from getting optimal amount of sleep – no matter what the reasons – the CNS does not get time to fully “recharge” or recover. Why is this even important? Because your CNS is responsible for reaction time and initiating muscle contractions and much more. As a result, the body becomes slower and will feel weaker in workouts.

Health Benefits of Exercise: Studies Demonstrate if You “Do It” You Live Longer

Author Dan Beuttner of the Blue Zones has spent most of his career studying populations that live longer. The different “blue zones” that he studies are areas from around the world where people were 3 times more likely to reach 100 years old who followed a series of strategies. Two of the more important were the types of food someone ate on a regular basis and daily activity.

Walking more is associated with longer life. Adults who walked 8,000 steps per day had a 51 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, compared to those who walked 4,000 steps a day as reported by researchers in a JAMA study. Not into walking but you like to run? A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported any amount of running, even once a week, was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Regular Strength Training Keeps You Healthy

One of the first things you think of when strength training comes to mind is muscle. When done correctly, strength training builds additional muscle mass. This in turn keeps someone healthier and more functional, especially as they age. The health benefits of exercise – especially strength training – include increased bone strength as well. Remember, that tendons connect muscle to bone. As we lift weights, the resistance creates a “pulling” effect on the tendon that consequently pulls on the bones making them stronger over time.

Data from a 2017 study looking at more than 28,000 women from the Women’s Health Study showed “a moderate amount (≈1–145 minutes/week) of strength training was associated with lower risk of all‐cause mortality compared with 0 minutes/week, independent of aerobic activity.” In a second systematic review study of 1430 studies, showed resistance training was associated with a 21 percent lower all-cause mortality and that number more than doubles when aerobic exercise is added. According to the authors, “resistance training is associated with lower mortality and appears to have an additive effect when combined with aerobic exercise.”

There probably has not been a more important time to either start or maintain your exercise routine. The benefit of reducing stress alone should be enough to make you exercise most days of the week. Try using the Jefit app to help make your life a bit easier as well. The award-winning app will help you plan, record and track your strength training sessions. Stay strong especially during these stressful times!

Micro Exercise: What is it and More Importantly, Can it Get Us in Better Shape?

Fitness Progress

Approximately 80 percent of adults and adolescents in this country are insufficiently active. We know that physical activity (PA) promotes optimal growth and development. As a result, it allows people to feel, function, perform and even sleep better. There is an abundance of research that shows PA can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Moreover, individuals who “are physically active for about 150-minutes a week have a 33 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are physically inactive, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. But the question you need to ask is, how long does one really need to engage in exercise each day? What is the minimal dose effect we need to stay improve health? Can micro exercise fit the need here?

“Physical inactivity is as harmful to your health as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.” 

~ Steven Blair, PhD, University of South CArolina

What is Micro Exercise Exactly?

Micro exercise has been described as any physical activity or a short workout that takes between 3 and 10 minutes to complete. Included in the description of what constitutes micro exercise are walking, stair-climbing, household chores and doing many of the traditional bodyweight exercises such as squats, push-ups, planks, lunges and burpees. In fact, a study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism “found three bouts a day of vigorous stair workouts done three times a week was highly effective at improving cardiovascular health.” The Harvard Alumni study also found that men who average at least eight flights a day of stairs enjoy a 33 percent lower mortality rate compared to men who are sedentary. If sedentary individuals add more of these activities throughout their day and repeat them, three to five times for 3 to 10-minutes per day, it could have, as research contends, similar health advantages to HIIT.

Will Micro Exercise Actually Get Us in Better Shape?

Research has shown short, intense bouts of exercise between 3 and 10-minutes, added throughout the day, can in fact improve health. The one caveat is, it has to total 30-minutes before you place your head down on your pillow for bedtime.

A Few Micro Exercises Ideas to Try

  • Conference call walks throughout the day or JFW (Just F—ing Walk) 
  • Skip the elevator and say hello to stairs
  • Bodyweight exercises added throughout the day (burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, T-push-ups, squat jumps, plank, etc.)
  • Add in yoga moves like the crow, one-leg stances or lunch with rotation
  • Take a short ElliptiGo SUB (stand up bike) at lunch time (I have one it’s a great workout)
  • Jump rope for 3-4 minutes
  • You get the idea…

Lastly, the next time you see a flight of stairs, make sure you climb them. Try to jog a bit while walking the dog or possibly add-in a 3-minute plank before you shower. Mixing in a few additional bouts of short, intense activity – throughout your day – like those mentioned here will most definitely improve your health and fitness. Keep micro exercise at the forefront of your mind as a secondary fitness option. Nothing obviously can replace your regular strength training workouts. Stay strong!

References

Jenkins, E. M., Nairn, L. N., Skelly, L. E., Little, J. P., & Gibala, M. J. (2019). Do stair climbing exercise “snacks” improve cardiorespiratory fitness?. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 44(6), 681-684.

7 Health & Fitness Podcasts for Mind, Body and Spirit

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Ditch the music and try listening to a podcast the next time you exercise. In fact, combining exercise with a good, educational health & fitness podcast has been a savor for many people, myself included. To nourish the mind, body and spirit with a little “food for thought” is a good thing.  A Runner’s World survey found that nearly 20 percent of runners listen to podcasts while jogging. Maybe it’s time to change things up for the next workout by replacing music with an informative podcast, what do you think?

The Explosive Growth of Podcasts

It feels as though we’re getting new health & fitness podcast recommendations seemingly on a daily basis. More than one-third of Americans (104 million) now listen to one or more podcasts each month. In 2017, 40 percent of Americans 12 or older had listened to a podcast, compared to 55 percent in 2020. That is a significant jump according to The Infinite Dial 2020® research group. A 2018 article featured in Fast Company reported 525,000 active podcast shows with 18.5 million total episodes consumed. That number now, only a few years later, is at 29 million episodes. In 2020, more than 155 million people listen to a weekly podcast.

With so many podcast out there, where do you even begin to look to find the best rated shows? There are always recommendations from family and friends that you can check out. If you’re looking for other suggestions though, take a look at our list that includes some of the better health & fitness podcast. If time is an issue, try to listen to one on your next walk, run or at the gym. You can click any of the show icons below to visit and download the podcast if you desire.

Best Health & Fitness Podcast

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An informative podcast from former ABC News Anchor Dan Harris. After leaving his news job he started the company 10% Happier. I read his meditation book (that was great) and you’ll love his podcast – to help set your mind right. Podcast #286 in particular, with Dr. Mark Hyman titled “Feeding the Mind” was a great episode that I really enjoyed and you will too.
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Katy Bowman, MS, has a great book out as well with the same title that I highly recommend. She has a great YouTube video out on The Difference Between Movement vs. Exercise. Katy is one of those movement experts who really gets it and “walks the walk.” This is a must-listen to podcast to find out new ways to add more movement into your day. Love her “movement as nutrition” philosophy. This is one health & fitness podcast you should like.
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Robb Wolff, PhD, has a very informative podcast – not to mention a few best-selling books. The show can get deep into the weeds sometimes. His knowledge base, though is off the charts and you’ll learn a ton. I know he owned a well-known Crossfit on the West Coast at one time (and may still do). If you’re looking for more knowledge on eating clean, Paleo diet and nutrition – this would be a great start.
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Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, is among other things a registered dietitian. Her weekly show will offer great insight into the current diet culture in this country.

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TED Talks have always been informative and now you can listen to health-related shows daily. To make life easy, here is a link of the 10 best health & fitness TED Talks.
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Dr. Mark Hyman has long been a favorite doc and author of mine. Now you can listen to him to “fuel” your mind and body. After reading one of his earlier books, UltraMetabolism, I knew I liked his way of thinking. Since then he has 13 books on the NYT best seller list. You can get a taste of his knowledge by listening to an interview by Dan Harris in the 10% Happier podcast.
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Pete McCall is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), international presenter, host of the All About Fitness podcast, fitness blogger and an author of several articles, textbook chapters and the book Smarter Workouts: the Science of Exercise Made Simple. This is a great, educational podcast to pick up more than a few exercise tips.

Our list includes just a few of the many great health & fitness podcast currently available. Lastly, we could all use a fresh perspective during these uneasy times and listening to an insightful podcast while exercising can help in that area and now you have a new show for each day of the week. Stay strong!

How to Return Safely to the Gym Following Time Off

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Just about everyone has felt like their life has been turned upside down over the last six months resulting from the pandemic. Moreover, everyone is now looking for ways to get back to their regular routine and that includes exercise. We all want to get back at it and we want to return safely to the gym. If there was ever a time to reap the psychological and physiological benefits of aerobic exercise and strength training it would be now!

This article will address how to return safely to the gym from an exercise standpoint rather than from a gym safety pandemic point of view.

How Quickly Does the Body Begin Detraining?

The body begins to lose cardio and strength gains made at the gym in as little as 2-3 weeks. The good news, though, is any gains lost due to time off can be redeveloped quickly. As long as you’ve been healthy. You can typically maintain strength levels for 3-4 week after a hiatus. Where you really begin to see the effects of missing workouts though is with the loss of muscle mass. This can occur in as fast as 3 weeks. The key is to always listen to your body before/during/after workouts. If you need to back off on the weight or mileage during a workout because you don’t feel 100 percent, then do so. If you experience any stiffness, tightness or pain, that’s your bodies way of telling you to back off and watch out.

Gradually Increase Workout Volume

When starting out or coming back from a hiatus, strive for 20-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise according to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines. On the strength side, aim for 1-2 sets of an exercise using 12-15 repetitions with moderate resistance. As time moves forward, slowly decrease the amount of repetitions while increasing the amount of resistance and the number of sets. Increase the amount of resistance each week by about 10 percent for lower body and 5 percent for upper body exercises once you’re able to reach 12 repetitions. Begin with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges and split squats before moving to machines or free weights. In both instances, 3 days a week is plenty, eventually progressing that to 4-5 days if and when needed.

Pay Special Attention to Recovery

On the off days you’re not strength training focus more on stretching and mobility. In addition, spend time on your foam roller to release any tight muscles and connective tissue. Also try using a recovery product like Hyperice to help in that area. In fact, think about adding a few days of either yoga, stretching or a mobility class to your weekly routine. If you like to run, closely monitor your weekly mileage building it back up slowly.

Document Your Workouts

A valuable tool is documenting how your time is spent in the gym or at home during each workout session. Monitoring training volume (sets x reps. x load) on a daily and weekly basis will help prevent overtraining and you’ll get better gains. Research has shown that you’re 2-3 times more likely to stick to a new habit when a plan is in place and a record is kept. To help you plan, log and track your strength training workouts, download the award-winning Jefit app. One of the great training tools featured on the Jefit app is the ability to record 1-RM for each exercise. In fact, if you come back after time off, choose a lighter percentage of your 1-RM initially before building back up slowly. This will help keep overtraining type injuries at bay. Stay Strong!