Strong, Functional Hips: A Must for an Active Lifestyle

Strong, functional hips are beneficial both in and out of the gym. Powerful hips are the driving force that connects a strong upper and lower body. The hip is considered the most powerful joint in the body because of all the musculature needed to function properly. If the hips are not functional they will hinder the body and end up producing less force in compound movements. Think about how less efficient you will be if your hips are weak or dysfunctional. Everything from performing squats and deadlifts to holding a yoga pose will be negatively affected. According to Michael Reiman, PT and his colleagues, as stated in the International Journal Sports Physical Therapy, “Restricted (hip) mobility can consequently have deleterious effects not only at the involved joint but throughout the entire kinetic chain”.

What Movements do the Hips Perform?

The hip joint is your basic ball-in-socket joint that allows movement in three degrees of freedom. Strong, functional hips, are developed over time using these seven movements:

  • Flexion
  • Extension
  • Abduction
  • Adduction
  • Circumduction (Rotation)
  • Internal Rotation
  • External Rotation

A Hip Dynamic Warm-up is Extremely Beneficial

One of the big injury culprits in todays society is inactivity, which includes the big one, sitting too much. Daniel Lieberman, PhD, a Harvard University evolutionary biologist, reports in his new book, Exercised, that the average American adult is inactive 55-75 percent of the day. One way to offset this inactivity is with regular, focused movement, that incorporates the seven areas of movement mentioned above. Therefore, adding 15-minutes of dynamic warm-up prior to exercise is a great start. This will help develop strong, functional hips. Here is a quick dynamic warm-up you can try before your next Jefit strength workout.

  1. High Knee Marching or Running (to target hip flexion).
  2. Standing Hip Extension (hip extension).
  3. Standing Side Leg Swings (hip abduction/adduction). Runners love this one.
  4. Supine or Standing Knee Circles (rotation).
  5. Moving Side Step-Over (internal/external rotation).

Perform (#1 & 5 above) for 10-15 yards each. The remaining ones can be done for repetition or time. Change up the direction as you progress, meaning perform forward/backward etc. As with the first one, High Knee Marching, one day move forward and the next, try to perform it as you walk backward.

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Major Muscle Groups Used to Move the Hip

  • Flexion: Iliopsoas group (iliacus and psoas major).
  • Extension: Gluteus maximus.
  • Abduction: Gluteus medius and minimus.
  • Adduction: Adductor brevis, longus, and magnus along with pectineus and gracilis.
  • Rotation: Lateral rotator group of muscles including the biceps femoris, sartorius, and gluteus medius and minimus.
  • External Rotation: Gemellus superior and inferior, obturator internus and externus, quadratus femoris and finally, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.
  • Internal Rotation: Tensor fasciae latae (outer hip) parts of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus (upper buttocks) the adductor longus, brevis, and magnus (inner thigh) and finally, the pectineus (upper frontal thigh).

Effective Hip Exercises

This list of hip exercises are in no specific order. The first ten are performed as bodyweight exercises. You can progress to carrying a load. The second ten are some of the better strength training exercises. What are your favorite exercises on this list? What exercises do you see great results with that did not make our list? Again, these are not the BEST, just a few that came to mind first.

  1. Multi-directional Lunges (forward, reverse, side)
  2. Step-ups
  3. SLRD (single-leg Romanian Deadlift)
  4. Plyo Box Jumps (single & double le)
  5. Explosive jumps (broad jump, star jumps etc.)
  6. Child Pose (yoga)
  7. Pidgeon Pose (yoga)
  8. Bodyweight Squat (regular & deep)
  9. Medicine Ball Squat to Explosive Push
  10. Side-Lying Hip Abduction
  11. Traditional Squat – Front/Back – (barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell)
  12. Kettlebell Hip Thrust
  13. Wide-Stance Squat (progress to below parallel)
  14. Sumo Squat
  15. Goblet Squat
  16. Barbell Hip Thrust
  17. Bulgarian Split Squat
  18. Deadlift
  19. Kettlebell Swing
  20. Walking Lunges (barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell)

*Bonus: Monster Walks (using a band) and Band Side Step

Get Strong with Jefit

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. Stay strong with Jefit.

Five Components for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating Patterns

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The USDA releases an updated nutrition and healthy eating guide every five years. At the core of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is eating patterns and the relationship with food and nutrients. The individual goal for this work is to adhere to eating patterns that promote health and prevent chronic disease across a lifespan.

The healthy eating patterns recommended in this 8th edition were developed by integrating findings from systematic reviews of scientific research. In addition, food pattern modeling, and analyses of current intake of the U.S. population were also looked at. The evidence shows that “healthy eating
patterns are associated with positive health outcomes.”

Healthy Eating Pattern Defined

According to the authors of this DGA report, “healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight. It can also help prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout periods of growth and development.” An eating pattern represents all the foods and beverages you consume. All foods consumed as part of a healthy eating pattern fit together like a puzzle to meet nutritional needs without exceeding limits. This is especially true in regard to saturated fats, added sugars, sodium, and total calories.

The Five Components Needed

  • Follow a Healthy Eating Pattern Across the Lifespan. A healthy eating pattern includes plenty of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and oils. It limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  • Focus on Variety, Nutrient Density, and Amount. Meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  • Limit Calories from Added Sugars and Saturated Fats and Reduce Sodium Intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
  • Shift to Healthier Food and Beverage Choices. Replace typical food and beverage choices with more nutrient-dense options. Be sure to consider personal preferences to maintain shifts over time.
  • Support Healthy Eating Patterns for All. Each one of us can play a major role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings around us. This includes from home to school to work to our communities.

Final Notes on Eating Healthy

A healthy eating pattern, or style, includes the following:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups (dark green, red and orange, legumes, and starches).
  • Fruits, especially whole fruit.
  • Grains, half of which are whole grains.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits the following:

  • Limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. A number of studies have shown an association between increased intake of trans fats and an increase risk of CVD.
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.
  • Eat less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats.
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium.
  • Limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men).
  • Moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-oz cups/day or providing up to 400 mg/day of caffeine) can be part of healthy eating patterns.

Avoid the Halo Effect

This refers to someone who eats healthy foods but goes overboard on portion sizes. As a result, they end up consuming too many calories for the day. Try the following: protein should be the size of your smartphone, all carbs should be the size of your fist, and fruits and veggies should cover the rest of your plate. This is an easy way to visualize what a healthy meal looks like. Also, you’ve heard, the the more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you’ll be eating.

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Go Hand-in-Hand.

In addition to having a healthy eating style or pattern, we all need to also meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our overall health. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) and should perform strength training on 2 or more days each week, using the Jefit app to plan, log, track and share your workouts. Stay strong!

Reference

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, 8th Edition. USDA: DietaryGuidelines.gov

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.

Maintaining an Active Lifestyle Now Impacts How You Age

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When we’re young we can feel invincible, but as we age, that invincibility can slowly deteriorate. The short-term goal for many is to maintain an active lifestyle throughout their twenties and thirties. The thinking behind this is that if you start young, the habit will carryover into the golden years. One of the key ingredients in this scenario is sustainability. The long-term goal should be to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what decade of life someone is in.

An Active Lifestyle is a Mindset

In its simplest form an active lifestyle incorporates physical activity into every day life. The time invested in activities like walking, biking, running and strength training are well worth it. Maintaining a consistent routine with such activities will keep chronic disease at bay. A physically active lifestyle is beneficial for the body and the mind. The by-product of an active lifestyle improves everything from quality of sleep to

Three Types of Physical Activity

Physical activity consists of three components, muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. It’s important to focus on these individual components and add each one into your weekly training program.

  • MUSCULAR STRENGTH

Muscular strength is defined as the maximum amount of force a muscle or group of muscles can produce during a single bout of exercise. There are many reasons why this is so important to maintain throughout ones life. One of those big reasons is lean muscle mass. If you don’t engage in regular strength training you lose muscle mass. Period. If you do not strength train regularly, as you age, you become part of a statistical group that loses approximately 5-8 pounds of lean muscle mass with each passing decade starting at about age thirty-five. Let’s just end by saying those numbers get much worse after fifty.

  • CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE

Is the ability to move the body over a sustained period of time. It’s critical to improve and maintain cardiovascular fitness throughout your lifetime. By doing so, you’ll reduce your risk of developing heart disease by increasing the efficiency of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

  • FLEXIBILITY

This is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to move through a range of motion. Flexibility is a component of mobility.

“Given what we know about the health benefits of physical activity, it should be mandatory to get a doctor’s permission not to exercise.”

~ PER-OLOF ASTRAND, MD, PHD, KAROLINSKA INSTITUTE, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Benefits of Maintaining a Lifelong Active Lifestyle

Here are a few examples of the benefits associated with enjoying an active lifestyle.

  • Research published in 2013, in the journal Lancet, reported among people with early signs of pre-diabetes, taking an extra 2,000 steps each day, or the equivalent of a 20-minute moderate-paced walk, helped lower their chances of heart problems.
  • Over the course of a yearlong study, an additional 8 percent lower risk of heart disease was observed for every 2,000 steps walked a day.
  • Scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed journals between 1970 and 2007. The studies evaluated 459,833 test-subjects who were absent of cardiovascular disease at the start of the investigation. The subjects were followed for an average of 11.3 years with all cardiovascular events recorded. Their analysis makes a strong case for the benefits of good old walking. The study showed walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent and decreased the risk of dying by 32 percent.
  • The Harvard Alumni study found men who average at least eight flights of stairs a day enjoy a 33 percent lower mortality rate compared to men who are sedentary.
  • Research shows that people who sit the most have a 112 percent increase in the Relative Risk (RR) of diabetes and a 147 percent increase in the RR of cardiovascular events compared to people who sit the least.

Review of Physical Activity on Awareness & Mood Levels

A research paper published by Berger titled Psychological Benefits of an Active Lifestyle looked at the key benefits derived from an active lifestyle. According to Berger, “exercise has many benefits…, it is important to explore ways in which exercise might become something one “wants” to do several days a week. Possible sources of enjoyment and motivation for physical activity may include “feeling better” or mood alteration; stress reduction; and enhancement of self-concept, self-awareness, and even self-knowledge.”

Adding the components of physical activity (strength, endurance, flexibility) into your workouts will allow you to make the most of each day. Finally, turning this into a habit now when your young will pay back stronger dividends when you’re older. Stay Strong!

Moving Towards a More Healthy Lifestyle

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No one needs to tell us that we’re currently living in unprecedented times. The health of everyone in this country, and worldwide for that matter, is at the forefront of all our minds. It is more important than ever to attempt to follow a healthy lifestyle. How do you know if you’re living a healthy lifestyle in the first place? Harvard Health reports you’re considered healthy if you can answer “yes” to all the following criteria. (1) healthy diet, (2) healthy body weight, (3) never smoked, (4) consume moderate amounts of alcohol and (5) exercise regularly.

What’s Considered a Healthy Lifestyle?

According to Harvard Health, one important component to this type of lifestyle is a healthy diet. Meaning, an “intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids”. In addition, avoid unhealthy foods like “processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.” No smoking in a no-brainer. A healthy body weight according to the site, is a body mass index (BMI), between 18.5 and 24.9. But to be honest, this is not the best metric to monitor, instead focus on your percent body fat. On the alcohol side, no more than one drink/day/women and two drinks/day/men. A healthy physical activity level means roughly 30-minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week.

Does Living a Healthy Lifestyle Actually Add Years to Your Life?

The research does in fact demonstrate that living a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. Individuals who met the criteria for all five habits (listed above) enjoyed living longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men to be exact. People who had none of these habits “were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.” There is also additional research that reports similar findings to this in the Journal of American Medical Association.

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Are you getting a minimum of 30-minutes of moderate or vigorous activity most days of the week?

You probably have the exercise piece down already, especially if you’re using the Jefit app to help record and track your workouts. Here are some additional ways to move towards a healthy lifestyle, in addition to the five criteria mentioned in the research studies above.

10 Ways to Help You Live Better and Longer

Exercise

  • Burn 1,100 Calories a Week. Duke University scientists discovered that this amount of calories expended from exercise prevents the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (fat). This type of belly fat causes arterial inflammation and hypertension. Are you falling short of this number? Try joining a sports a league. One study reported that people who exercised in groups boosted their average weekly calorie burn by 500 a week.
  • Hit the Weights. University of Michigan scientists found that people who completed three strength workouts/week for two months lowered their diastolic blood pressure by an average of eight points. That’s enough to reduce the risk of stroke by 40% and heart attack by 15%.
  • Find the Time to Exercise. People who exercise for 2 hours/week are less likely to feel stressed than their sedentary counterparts, say researchers from Denmark.
  • Get on Those Daily Chores. Doing 150 calories’ worth of chores a day can lower blood pressure by 13 points, according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The reduction lasts only 8 hours, but make it a daily habit and you can lower your blood pressure in the long term.

Diet & Nutrition

  • Drink Five 8-Ounce Glasses of Water a Day. Those drinking this amount of H2O were 54% less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack compared to people who drank two glasses a day.
  • Try a Natural Remedy. Israeli scientists found eating one grapefruit a day lowers cholesterol by 20% even in people who don’t respond to statins.
  • Cut Down on Sweets. Tufts University researchers found low-sugar diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who consumed all types of carbohydrates. The happier people also limited their total carbohydrate intake to 40% of their daily total calories.
  • Enjoy Your Joe. Brooklyn College researchers discovered drinking 4 cups of coffee a day lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 53%.
  • Indulge Your Chocolate Craving. A 15-year study by Dutch scientists found men who ate 4 grams of cocoa/day had half the risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate less. That’s the equivalent of two 25-calorie Hershey Kisses – an amount that can fit into any diet.

Lifestyle

  • Try to Laugh More. A 15-minute funny video improves blood flow to your heart by 50%, reported by the University of Maryland. “This may reduce blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposition, and inflammation,” says study author Michael Miller, MD.

Hopefully this article has offered you a little more insight on what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. If so, maybe you feel like you’re more equipped now to live a more healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Continue to focus on improving your mind body & spirit a bit more each day. Be Well and Stay Strong!