Fitness & Wellness

Keep Your Heart Strong

Keep Your Heart Strong

A healthy heart can help you live a longer, fuller life. Getting older doesn’t have to mean your heart won’t function properly. You keep your heart strong and even boost your heart’s strength when you exercise regularly. It’s never too late to start working out, either. Even people who have had a heart attack benefit from regular exercise. Of course, you need to follow your doctor’s orders and begin slowly, especially if you are out of shape. In most cases, no matter what your health condition, most physicians are pleased when patients want to start exercising, but definitely find out first from the doctor.

Just like your biceps, your heart gets stronger with exercise.

Not only does the heart get stronger when you workout, it gets more efficient. Exercise also boosts circulation to the heart and helps improve the dilation of the arteries that provide blood to the heart. It lowers blood pressure the longer you do it, since it causes other blood vessels in the body to dilate. High blood pressure can cause heart disease. The longer you exercise the better you heart muscle can get oxygen from the blood and the more controlled the sympathetic nervous system is

Eat healthier.

There’s no doubt about it, what you eat makes a huge difference in your heart health. Most people initially think of cutting out salt when they first learn they have to make dietary changes. They’re right for thinking so. Salt contains sodium and high levels of sodium in your body increase your risk for heart disease, as well as other problems, like stroke. Cutting out processed foods and boosting your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is a start on heart healthy eating.

Don’t forget heart healthy fats.

Certain types of fat are actually heart-healthy. For instance, not only does butter from grass-fed cows contain higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K-2 than butter from grain fed counterparts. It contains the fatty acid CLA—conjugated linoleic acid—which can help you lose weight and is, just like the Omega-3 and K2, extremely heart healthy. K-2 rids the arteries of calcium, lowering the risk of osteoporosis, too. Butter also contains saturated fat. Don’t freak out. It’s all actually heart healthy. In fact, newer studies show that eating butter from grass-fed cows can actually boost heart health.

  • Cut out processed sugar. Sugar not only adds to your body weight and causes obesity that can damage the heart, it also increases inflammation, diabetes and creates other health issues that affect the heart.
  • Don’t sit too long. You need to move about five minutes for every fifty minutes you’re sitting. If you have to, set a timer to fifty minutes and get up and move around when it dings. It could be as simple as jogging in place or running up and down the stairs.
  • Try HIIT—high intensity interval training. HIIT is proven to get your heart healthier quicker. It involves doing an exercise for a few minutes at the top intensity, then cutting back to a recovery intensity for the same length of time or longer and going back to high intensity again.
  • Take a chill pill. Find a way to cope with daily stresses that you can use on the spot, like breathing exercises. Working out helps eliminate the hormones of stress, but dealing with it quickly can prevent the problem.

Why It's Important To Time Your Workouts

Why It’s Important To Time Your Workouts

How long you should exercise can vary by the exercise, but there’s no doubt about it, there is a sweet spot, where it’s the perfect amount of time. That’s why you should time your workouts to make sure you’re getting the right amount without overdoing. Of course, you have to make sure that you’re really exercising. If you’re going to the gym, spending time walking around or even talking to others, with a few exercises in between, you aren’t getting the same amount of exercise as someone who focuses totally on the workout.

Long hours and “living at the gym” every day may actually set you back.

You’ve heard of too much of a good thing? Well that can be true of exercise. When you do a tough workout, particularly when you’re working on building strength, your body needs down time to rest and rebuild. In fact a tough workout, while burning off the hormones of stress, creates other stresses. It can cause the immune system to be down for as long as 72 hours. Strength training, in particular, causes micro tears in the muscle tissue that when repaired makes them stronger. If you don’t give your body that day or two rest between sessions, it can’t repair itself.

If you’re not working out hard enough, you can do your routine without breaking a sweat.

A heart rate monitor is a help to see how fast your heart is beating, but you can perform a simple test. If you can easily talk or even sing while you’re working out, you’re not pushing yourself enough. You should also feel a little sore the next day, but not in excruciating pain. If you’re pushing yourself too much, you won’t see improvement and your workouts will become harder. You’ll hit the wall quicker. Don’t try to push past it, especially if you’re starting to hate exercise. Make sure you take a day or two break from the gym.

Overworking can cause symptoms in your daily life.

Not only will you start to hate working out if you’re overdoing it, you’ll also start to develop a sour mood about everything. It’s similar to what you see when someone is on the verge of getting sick. There’s anger, irritability and even depression. Your immune system might be down and you’ll get ill more frequently, but most of all, you’ll get fatigued more quickly doing everyday things. It’s not like the normal exhaustion you felt at first when you worked out, it’s more pervasive.

  • Your workout time should be based by the intensity of the workout. The more intense the workout, the shorter the time you should do it. HIIT and other types of interval training should shorten the workout.
  • When you’re considering how long to workout, only count the time you’re actually working out. It’s definitely not about how long you’re in the gym because you do a lot of other things while you’re there, including getting dressed, warming up and cooling down. It’s all about how you feel.
  • If you have a heart rate monitor, watch your resting rate. If your heart resting rate suddenly increases, your body is under stress. Cut back on the workout.
  • Working out too much can actually lead to losing muscle mass and increasing fat tissue. Unless that’s what you want from a program, it’s important not to overwork your body and get rest in between sessions.

Hormones In Food: Should You Worry?

Hormones In Food: Should You Worry?

While farmers are finding ways to increase milk production, speed up growth and improve the amount of eggs a hen lays, the public is actually left being Guinea pigs, to see if these changes in farming contaminate the food. Many people worry about hormones in food and the potential for antibiotic resistant bacteria because of the changes. There are ways to bring beef cows to full growth 20% faster and make salmon grow twice as fast. While some of the changes come from genetic engineering, some are from the use of growth hormones directly given to the animals. How does that affect the people that consume the meat or animal products?

What hormones are used on cows?

Recombinant bovine growth hormone—rBGH—is a synthetic hormone that increases milk production. Studies show that it has no negative effects on people, at least directly. It does increase the production of insulin-like growth factor—IGF-1—in people who drink the milk that contains it. That hormone mimics the actions of human growth factor, but also increases the risk for breast, prostate and other forms of cancer.

Are hormones in food the reason for an earlier onset of puberty?

Farmers make more money if the cattle is heavier, so sex hormones—primarily estrogen—are often given to the cattle to make them fat. It’s been done for well over fifty years. It’s given via an implant behind the ear to all beef cattle—unless the cattle is raised organically. Antibiotics are given to cattle, chickens and pigs to induce growth. Some scientists believe this may be part of the reason for the pattern of earlier onset of puberty, which is averaging seven months earlier than it did before the trend began.

Even more alarming are the results of the administration of rBGH on cows.

Cows given the hormone rBGH have a higher incidence of mastitis—infections of the udder. They then receive even more antibiotics to clear the infection. Does it add to the potential of antibiotic resistance bacteria? According to the FDA and food industry, you’re safe from all harm, whether it’s antibiotic resistant bacteria or as a result of cow hormones. Remember, the FDA is also the same bureau that said trans fats were good for you and still blame healthy fat for heart disease, rather than sugar.

  • The changes in public opinion and demand for hormone, antibiotic free meat and animal products has reduced the use of rBGH dramatically.
  • One article found in the Medical Hypotheses in 2009 stated that the potential for adverse effects may be delayed until adult years in children whose mother drank milk with rBGH when they were pregnant.
  • Another study showed that the elevated levels of IG-1 in the blood increases the risk for diabetes and other diseases.
  • There are no definitive studies to say these hormones are harmful, but there also are no studies to say they’re safe. If you want to avoid meat and animal products that are hormone free, check for labeling that says organic, “no rbGH” or “no rbST.”

Healthy Eating When You're Older

Healthy Eating When You’re Older

One of the biggest health issues for seniors is getting adequate nutrition. Even when you have access to shopping and plenty of money, health eating when you’re older isn’t easy. There are a number of statistics that show that malnutrition is prevalent in older people, even in Boise, ID. In fact, some types of low nutrition is often mistaken for dementia.

Making a meal for just one person seems like a waste of time to some.

Often seniors living alone simply don’t want to take the time to create a complete meal for themselves. One solution is to have healthy food already made and frozen in individual portions or have fresh fruit and vegetables cut up and ready for consumption to graze on all day long. Dental issues, a meager budget, digestive issues and food intolerance also add to the difficulty of eating healthy. Buying in-season fruits and vegetables, preparing several meals at once and freezing them and careful planning can help overcome those problems. Nothing is healthier and easier to make and eat than a smoothie made with lots of fruits and vegetables, plus protein powder.

Packaged foods are so much easier, but not necessarily healthier.

A pot pie or TV dinner might seem like a great alternative to cooking, but you won’t get all the nutrition you need. There are options. For those chilly winter months, making soup not only adds warmth and moisture to the air, it also provides quite a few meals for a low price. Using bones to create the broth also adds collagen to your diet. One recipe even shows using the bones from rotisserie chicken from the grocery to make bone broth. You can make the broth ahead and when you find you have too many vegetables cut up or left over, take out a bag of broth and make soup! It’s a way to stop waste while eating healthy. Add a side salad and some fruit for dessert and you have a nutritious meal.

Has the rush to put on sun block created a vitamin D shortage in older adults?

There are estimates that a high percentage of seniors suffer from vitamin D deficiency. While it’s easy to understand in our areas during the winter, it shouldn’t occur at other times. The sun is a free and natural source for the vitamin. Smart sunning should be part of everyone’s day. The ultraviolet rays are converted to vitamin D by the body. As people age, the amount converted is reduced by approximately 70 %. Muscle weakness, bone pain and fractures are a few of the results from a vitamin D deficiency.

  • Protein is important every day, just as fruit, vegetables, grain products and dairy. No matter what your age, your plate should be a rainbow of colors which include green, red, yellow, orange, purple and white.
  • If you want better digestion and healthier digestive tract, exercise. Getting adequate exercise not only increases energy levels, it helps create a friendlier host of digestive microbes.
  • Adequate hydration is often a problem with seniors. Seniors dehydrate faster than others. Dehydration can lead to rapid heart rate, lethargy, cramps, muscle weakness and confusion that resembles dementia.
  • If you have a senior relative on your Christmas list, give them a gift of homemade food. When you make up your own food, create an extra plate each meal and freeze it. You’ll have several to gift at Christmas.

Chronic Cardio: Are You Wasting Your Time?

Chronic Cardio: Are You Wasting Your Time?

There’s nothing wrong with doing cardio, but if you want to lose weight, it’s shouldn’t be at the top of your list. Are you putting in the effort, but not seeing the results? There’s a lot of reasons why that can occur. If you’re only doing cardio and omitting the other forms of fitness, strength, flexibility and balance, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. You’ll probably be able to run a mile, but may break an arm from a fall or hurt your back trying to lift a light package to “run” to the post office. These are reasons you need more than just cardio, but how else is chronic cardio a waste of time.

You won’t get the best results from doing chronic cardio if you want to lose weight.

Not only will you not get the best results, you might even sabotage yourself and make it harder. Think about the physique of a distance runner. It’s slim and not very muscular. That’s because cardio burns calories, but it doesn’t discriminate the type of tissue it uses to do that. After approximately forty-five minutes, it burns lean muscle tissue for fuel, rather than fat tissue. By contrast, strength-building exercises also burns a huge amount of calories, but it also builds muscle tissue rather than decreases it like cardio does. The more muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories 24-7.

Use your time exercising more wisely.

While you might go crazy doing cardio for hours every day, most people simply don’t love it that much. In fact, most people don’t have that much time to dedicate to working out. You can keep some cardio in your workout, but changing it from straight running types of cardio, to a cardio workout with kettlebells will do you more good. You’ll get strength-building, endurance (cardio), flexibility and balance from that type of workout, plus burn a huge amount of calories. HIIT and circuit training are also types of exercise that can combine cardio with other types of exercise. You get more bang for your exercise time.

Going crazy with cardio only can create boredom and leave you vulnerable.

Think about doing just cardio like eating just Lima beans. Even if you love lima beans, after a while you start hating them when you eat them too many times. It’s hard enough to stick to a workout schedule if you are doing something you love, but sticking with it after you’ve had your fill can be almost impossible. Even worse, if you’re trying to shed weight, you’ll not get the rapid results as you might with strength building workouts.

  • If you love running or other form of cardio, there’s no reason to give it up forever. Just alternate with other types of workouts to get maximum results and burn more calories.
  • You can turn any type of exercise into a high intensity interval training—HIIT—workout by varying your level of intensity. Even ordinary walking and running can become a HIIT workout by varying your speed between top speed and recovery.
  • Cardio, especially distance running, can create stress on your body. If you’re feeling dragged out or exhausted or find you pick up every germ that comes along, it’s could be from that stress, especially if you do more than a half hour a day.
  • For weight loss, remember, you can’t out exercise a bad diet. You have to eat healthy AND exercise to get the results you want.

Do You Really Need A Fitbit

Do You Really Need A Fitbit

If you haven’t already heard of the Fitbit, you may be one of the few. Just what is Fitbit and how does it work? Fitbit is a step counter, but much more than just that. It not only counts steps but also acceleration, intensity and patterns. It’s far more precise than other older devices that simply measured numbers of steps. It uses the motion patterns of your walk and sets a threshold where that amount of motion counts as a step. It uses your height and sex to determine many things, like running stride and the amount of calories burned. Although, newer models actually use a GPS application to track stride. Some measure heart rate and use it in the calorie burning calculation.

You may get a false sense of security from these trackers if you’re just tracking steps.

If you’re new to fitness, a Fitbit or other tracker could be a great way to get motivated to keep active. It does have its limitations, though. First, many of these trackers notify you that you’ve hit a goal of 10,000 steps that day and you’re done. There’s no need to go any further, right? That’s not necessarily true. The 10,000 steps is an arbitrary number from research in the 1960s in Japan. It’s based on the number of steps it took for a Japanese man to burn 3,000 calories. Newer Fitbits track all sorts of things, not just steps. So if you’re technology smart and learn to use it effectively, you’ll get a clearer picture of your workout.

Many studies show these types of trackers are ineffective.

It’s like getting membership at the gym. Just buying a membership won’t get you any healthier, thinner or fitter. The same holds true for a Fitbit. You have to dedicate yourself to using the information it provides and actually working out to get results. Just wearing it won’t help. Some studies not only provided financial incentive to use the tracking device to get fit and showed no marked improvement, until that financial incentive was removed and their level of progress dropped further. These are older studies, but demonstrate that just owning a device isn’t enough. You have to want to succeed.

You know your lifestyle and what works for you.

If you’re one of those people who love a challenge and compete with fervor to win (even at baby shower games), then the Fitbit could be a real plus for your new program of fitness. However, you can also get the same rush by working out at the gym and tracking your results. Whether a device tracks you or you do it by noting the number of reps or amount of weight you lifted, it’s all the same. For those couch potatoes, even if 10,000 steps is a random number, if a Fitbit gets you off the couch and walking more by reminding you to do it, it’s well worth the money.

  • Don’t give up your membership at the gym so you can afford a Fitbit or quit tracking your own results an letting the device do it all. These devices are helpful, but not the final word in fitness.
  • While there’s a danger that you won’t use the Fitbit, there’s also a danger you’ll be dependent on it. You might find yourself glued to the couch while it’s charging, because who wants to move unless it’s counted?
  • These devices track the workout you do, but don’t create a program that’s designed specifically for your needs. It also doesn’t show you how to adjust the workout or when to make it harder. It’s simply a tracker.
  • While you’ll get a report on how many calories you’ve burned, it’s based on an alga rhythm not a true measure. It can give you a false sense of security without counting calorie intake. Sticking with a healthy eating plan and program of regular exercise is the only true way.

Foods That Boost Your Memory

Foods That Boost Your Memory

Everything you do to help keep yourself healthy, from working out to healthy eating, improves your brain. In fact, studies show that exercise boosts cognitive thinking. As you age, memory often slows and those simple words seem illusive. Taking even more action can help ensure this doesn’t happen. There are foods that boost your memory that may already be part of your healthy diet, but by increasing the amount you eat each day, it helps ensure better brain health and keeps your mind alert and enjoying a good memory no matter what your age.

Try some extra spice for better brain health.

You may have already heard of using turmeric to boost your brain functioning. It’s become quite popular, particularly with elderly people and those suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. There are a lot of studies showing that the component curcumin found in turmeric, which is both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, can actually enter directly into the brain and benefit individual cells. Other studies show it may benefit memory and the brain by preventing or clearing amyloid plaque that’s associated with Alzheimer’s. Pair it with black pepper for a boost in its effectiveness. Sprinkle some cinnamon on your oatmeal to get more alert and fight inflammation. Just smelling it has been shown to help brain functioning.

Don’t forget to consume lots of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Your body and brain requires a balance of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3. A ratio of 4 parts Omega-6 to 1 part Omega-3 is ideal. Unfortunately, the American diet is closer to between a 12 to 1 ratio and a 25 to 1 ratio. That imbalance takes its toll on your brain. It can cause aggression, depression and decline. The brain needs fat to function. About 60 percent of the brain is fat and half that amount is Omega-3 fatty acid. It’s a primary building block of the brain. Lack of Omega-3 has been related to age related decline and even Alzheimer’s. Make sure your diet contains fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, eggs, chia seeds, flaxseed and other food high in Omega-3.

Eggs not only help boost Omega-3, they provide choline.

Choline helps boost your memory, but eggs also provide other B-vitamins that aid in brain functioning. While walnuts are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids,, they and other tree nuts contain nutrients that also aid in cognitive functioning. There are many studies that show the benefits of eating nuts frequently and one of those is improved memory. Grab some red and orange peppers or citrus for added vitamin C. It’s an antioxidant that also protects the brain.

  • You may already know that caffeine from coffee helps the effectiveness of a workout and improves your mood, but did you know that green tea is even better. It has other components like L-theanine that keep you alert AND relaxed. Green tea’s polyphenols and antioxidants help protect and boost memory.
  • Make sure seeds are part of your trail mix. They contain oodles of nutrients for brain health. Small dark chocolate chips can be, also. The flavonoids in dark chocolate improve memory and your mood.
  • Eat those green veggies, especially Brussels sprouts and broccoli. They contain anti-inflammatory nutrients. Inflammation is directly linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Blueberries and other purple or blue fruits and vegetables should be part of your meal. The blue comes from anthocyanins that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. They help boost memory and lower the risk of short-term memory loss.

Fitness Tips For Men In Their 40s

Fitness Tips For Men In Their 40s

I get a lot of requests from clients in Boise, ID for fitness tips for men in their 40s. That’s because staying fit is not only more important the older you get, but also far harder. It takes more perseverance to get or stay fit than it did in the 20s or 30s and longer to build the muscle tissue you hope to achieve. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It’s very possible and definitely worth the effort. The sooner you start with the program, the better. Muscle mass loss begins in the 30s, so by the 40s it’s well on its way.

The goal is never too big to achieve.

Maybe it’s more than just building muscle mass that you need. Maybe you need to shed weight…lots and lots of weight. Don’t despair or get overwhelmed. You have to break it down to smaller goals that are easier to accomplish. Start by finding out what you CAN do and where your limits are and work from there, increasing the amount of weight you lift or the number of repetitions as you go. Whether you’re trying to shed weight or just build muscle tissue, a healthy diet is also important.

You have to start somewhere.

On the other side of the coin are people who hesitate to begin for a number of reasons. You know that it’s not going to be overnight and might want to wait to start a program for just the right time. That perfect time never comes and you continue a downward spiral. You have to start somewhere and sometime if you want to stop the slow wasting of muscle tissue, so why not right now? You can begin simply, by getting more exercise walking. Start working out at a gym with a personal trainer for the best results. The trainer will create a program specifically to help maintain muscle mass and build it.

Combine your strength training with other types of fitness training.

You need more than just strength training to get fit. You need flexibility training to increase your range of motion and prevent injury. You also need endurance and balance training. Consider getting several types of training at once. HIIT training with weights can address both cardio and strength. Depending on the exercises used, it could also include flexibility and balance. Core strength is important and can also help you increase your fitness in all areas.

  • When trying to build muscle mass, consistency is the key. You won’t get the results you want if you only do few session a month. You need to create a workout you can do three times a week and stick with that schedule.
  • Eating healthy is extremely important. It provides the nutrients to build muscle tissue. Making sure your diet contains adequate protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids for muscle building, as well as other nutrients to keep your body functioning in a healthy manner.
  • While men may worry about building muscle tissue, women should, too. Loss of muscle tissue can lead to osteoporosis. Strength training can reduce the potential for bone loss.
  • One reason weight loss is more difficult as you age is that you have less muscle tissue, so you burn fewer calories. Muscle tissue requires more calories than fat tissue does, so you’ll burn more calories 24/7.


Do You Pack A Healthy Lunch

Do You Pack A Healthy Lunch

It’s often easier to pack a healthy lunch than it is to find a restaurant that serves one. It’s also far more budget friendly. For parents, a healthy lunch isn’t always found in the school cafeteria, regardless of what the new directive is. It’s important to have the proper nutrition to create a healthy eating plan. Having all the macronutrients, like protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables, plus water for hydration rather than juice boxes, cola or fruit drinks that only add calories.

A quality protein should be at the top of the list.

Protein is one of the body’s building blocks for bones, cartilage, skin, blood and muscle tissue. It’s also part of the chemical processes that keep your body functioning properly. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a vegan or omnivore, protein should be part of your lunch. Vegetarian source of protein include nuts, tofu, lentils and nut butters, while other sources include cheese, hard boiled eggs, lean meat and even ham. Protein fills you up and keeps your feeling full longer.

Healthy fat won’t make you fat.

There’s become a hysteria surrounding fat and it’s wrong. Not all fat is bad. Transfat is bad, but you definitely need other types of fat. Healthy fat is necessary to absorb fat soluble vitamins, like K, D, E and A. It comes from food like avocado, whole eggs, salmon, pumpkin seeds and cheese. Not only does fat make you feel full, it’s necessary for proper brain, nerve and heart functioning. It also helps build cells throughout the entire body.

Don’t worry about carbs, just include the right type.

If you’re counting carbs, you know that you need a certain amount to be healthy. They should come from complex carbohydrates, not simple ones that includes sugar and fructose and put on pounds. Complex carbs contain fiber that keep you feeling fuller longer. They include fruits, vegetables, whole grain, beans and even sweet potatoes. You need carbs for quicker energy.

  • Create a veggie wrap with a slice of cheese for a quick lunch that doesn’t require utensils to eat. Roll-ups, like a chicken avocado salad roll-up are good for anyone’s lunch, child or adult.
  • You need to include fruits and vegetables in your lunch to make sure you get at least five to thirteen servings each day, based on weight and age.
  • Whether you’re making lunch for yourself or your child, there’s nothing better than a mini quiche muffin that has vegetables or other creative way to add more vegetables to the mix.
  • As a time saver, you can make a week’s worth of lunches and freeze them or put leftovers from dinners in trays for lunch. Take them out of the freezer the morning you’ll use them. It’s best for people who have a microwave available to reheat the meal.