Tag Archives: exercise

What is the most effective exercise?

Copy of bake breadThere are so many choices of what to do for exercise. Who has the time to sort through them all?  Wouldn’t it be great to  know  what is the most effective exercise for the results you want?

Despite all the ways to exercise, one thing does not change.   Your body is a use it to keep it system.  What you do regularly, your body adapts to.  This of course works for both ways; it gets stronger when you are physically active and gets weaker when you are not.   No matter what results you want, what is most effective for getting there is what you can do consistently.

Start by asking yourself What do I want most from exercise?  Stamina? Strength? Mobility? Energy? Confidence? Calm? Focus?

(Important:  Notice that weight loss is not one of those choices. Why?  Ask yourself, would I want to lose weight and not be healthy, energetic, functional, or comfortable in my body?  The fact is, you could lose weight and not get what you really want from it.   Weight loss is not the goal, it is a method for getting what you want.     Ask yourself what do I  want from weight loss? Get to the bottom line of why you want to lose weight)

Consistency is the holy grail of exercise

Michelle Segar, PhD

Now you are ready to ask: What could I do consistently that would give me more _______(insert what you want from exercise)?   Could you walk 10 minutes each morning for a little energy boost?  Could you stretch mid-day to feel more comfortable in your body?  Could you fit in some strength training for 10 minutes every other day so you can feel stronger?

Keep in mind,  what you are able to do will change day to day, season to season, year to year.  What will not change is the fact that your body adapts to what you do consistently.   So, abort the search for the “best” kind of exercise. Instead, get clear about what you want and what you can do regularly.  That will lead you to the most effective exercise for the results you want.

 

Leave a comment

by | May 7, 2018 · 6:39 pm

Read between the lines

pexels-photo-268460

With so much information about exercise available everywhere, it is challenging to know what is the right advice for you.   I want you to be a savvy fitness consumer.  This means having skills for knowing what is myth based and what is science based.

It also means knowing what is the right advice for what YOU want from fitness.  If you were planning to take a trip to a big tourist destination, you would pick and choose attractions that were most important to you.  Some attractions would not be of interest to you, so you would not waste your time and money on them.  It is the same with fitness.  Knowing what you want is key for using your exercise time and resources well.  Sounds simple right?  But check out this headline that I cam across as an example of why we need to carefully read between the lines:

Healthy Outlook: Coping with aches and pains of muscle gains

Given the category “healthy outlook”, one might assume this is about fitness for health and well being.  However,  the title contradicts that assumption.  Aches and pains are a sure sign this is meant for people training for competing, not for health.    We know there is a big difference.  Be on the lookout for who the article is directed toward. The writer may not be clear about the type of fitness they are writing about.

And then there is the mention of science-based information to catch your eye:

We’ll take a quick field trip back to our anatomy, physiology and biology classes…

Keep in mind, sports training is a branch of exercise science too.  It is a very different field of study from exercise science for health.   This is definitely where being a savvy fitness consumer pays off.  Since you know there are different kinds of exercise science, you can decipher if the science based information is right for you.

If you click on the website of the expert interviewed, “strength and conditioning for athletes.” you would have another indicator this is not right for you. Here is your last two red flags, in the conclusion sentence…

“The road to getting ripped is long and winding. Here’s to manageable soreness, raising the bar and learning to love that fleeting agony.”

You may have heard the slogan many times… “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” (and if you are in a certain age group you have that image of a skier tumbling down a mountain in the Olympics).  Again, the reference to agony being a normal part of exercise is a great subtle clue.    If your goal is to “get ripped” then  you need to train like a body builder, which is an athletic event.

If your goal is to improve health, sustain weight loss, and feel better to enjoy more of life, stay aware.  Read (and listen) between the lines of everything about exercise and fitness, they are mixed up often in the media.   Look for the signs that you are being told what to do to be a successful athlete.  To keep moving and motivated, seek advice specific to your reasons – to be healthy and well.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

2 Comments

by | April 9, 2018 · 6:15 pm

What is yoga?

female-1300399_1280.png

Often, I am asked the question, “what is yoga?”

As a certified yoga teacher and exercise physiologist I love answering this question, because yoga is so much more than a form of exercise.    Yoga is one little word with so many approaches and interpretations.

The word yoga means “to unite”, to bring together all the parts of you – thoughts, emotions, body and heart to the present moment.   The purpose of the movements in yoga are to prepare your body for meditation, so your thoughts are less likely to be distracted in the past or future when meditating.    Five thousand years ago, it was understood that for our thoughts to calm we need to move first. 

Therefore, the movements in yoga are not about making your body look a certain way.  The power of the poses are in the mindset with which you do them.    Forcing your body into a position it is not ready to do and toughing it out, or criticizing yourself if you cannot do it well, is not yoga.  Moving your body into a position with the intention of listening to it, being kind to it,  by finding the level that is just challenging enough to hold your attention in the present moment is yoga.

Depending on how you do those movements, yoga can improve stamina, strength, balance, mobility – we can’t really put it in one category of fitness because it depends on how the movements are used.

But it is all yoga as long as you are moving in the present moment as an act of kindness to yourself.   It does not matter if this is done in a chair or on a yoga mat . It does not matter if you sweat.  It does not matter if you are very flexible.

“You can’t fail at yoga” is what I tell all my classes.   I find we need the reminder often because we tend to assess our ability to do an exercise based on our “performance”.  Because yoga is based on your mindset as you move, you cannot fail.  Yoga reminds us to shift our attention to how it feels on the inside, not how it looks on the outside.  Sometimes that shift happens easily, sometimes it takes a constant reminder to come back to the present moment and practice listening to your body.  This is why yoga is called a “practice”, not a “perfect”.

If you have ever felt like you “failed” at yoga, it was not yoga.  There are many yoga videos and classes that are designed to work with your body by using a chair or modifying poses to find what works best for your body right now.  Seek an instructor that teaches yoga by the true definition of the word.

Next blog we will answer “is yoga good for weight loss”?

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

 

Leave a comment

by | March 26, 2018 · 6:25 pm

Exercising with Asthma

pexels-photo-235837

When doing cardiovascular exercise, there is a line between the level that is a comfortable challenge for your breathing and the level that feels uncomfortable for your breathing.  When you have asthma, the difference between these two levels is a very thin line.  It often does not take much to cause breathing that is not only uncomfortable, but also scary.  The fear of an asthma episode with exercise can really drain motivation to do it at all.

This recent study found that people with elevated body weight and asthma had fewer episodes of asthma when exercise was part of weight loss when compared to a group losing weight without exercise.  They also had less depressive symptoms, improved sleep quality and improved sleep apnea too!

That sounds great in theory, but when it comes down to it, if you are concerned about your ability to breathe while exercising, this information still does not lead to motivation. The fact is we are motivated, or de-motivated, by what we experience, not what we think.   So exercising with asthma (or any breathing limitation) means you need to make sure your experience with exercise feels safe and comfortable for your breathing.

It is possible when you use your ability to self-monitor your exercise intensity.  Staying mindful while exercising means you can tune into the signals from your body as you start approaching that line, before moving into an uncomfortable challenge level.   The more in tune you are with those warning signals, the sooner you can slow down to bring it back to a comfortable breathing level.  Practicing the art of self-monitoring your breathing level while exercising means you are more likely to reduce your risks of an asthma episode with exercise.  That probably means you will have an easier time getting yourself motivated to do it regularly.

The bonus of regular exercise is your body adapts and with asthma the line between just enough and too much gets a little less fine.  You start building the ability to do more exercise before you reach the uncomfortable breathing level.  That can mean fewer episodes and freedom to do more activities at a comfortable breathing level.

If you have asthma, you know what triggers an asthma episode can change day to day and with different environments, so use this information in the way that is right for you.  But this skill is a key part of using regular cardiovascular exercise as part of the treatment for asthma and many other breathing limitations.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

Leave a comment

by | March 19, 2018 · 5:51 pm

Tracking True Fitness

smart-watch-821559_1920(1)

In a past blog, we looked at why fitness trackers do not really track fitness, based on the definition of fitness for health and well-being:

“The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In other words, fitness is measured by how well you can do what you need and want to in every day life.  Exercise is training for life!

One important part of fitness for daily life is your stamina – how easily can you do the activities in daily life that require you to move continuously for an extended period of time?   If you feel short of breath or tired after doing an activity like walking from your car to a store, or doing housecleaning, it’s a sign your  cardiovascular system is overworking for the task at hand.

Measuring your total steps or miles per day does not necessarily improve stamina.   For  building stamina we need continuous movement done regularly so your body can adapt, making it easier to move for longer period so of time. To build stamina, its best if the level of that activity is at a comfortable challenge for your breathing.  These regular longer bouts of movement at the just right level for your body provide the practice your cardiovascular system needs to improve stamina.

The Active 10 program by Public Health England is focused on helping people focus on building stamina in the same way fitness trackers help people remember to move more during the day.  Instead of total steps, the goal is to move continuously for three 10 minute bouts a day.

They recommend walking at a “brisk” pace, but remember, brisk is relative to your body’s ability. Brisk means moving so your breathing is at a moderate to comfortable challenge – NOT uncomfortable.  It does not really matter how fast you go or how many miles you cover.  The Active 10 App is a wonderful free tool for tracking your bouts of walking in this way.

You can track true fitness by making a simple list of all the things that currently make you short of breath or fatigued if you do them for too long.  Check in each month to see if these activities are getting easier.  This is a true measure of fitness –  that ability to do daily activities with more ease.

Let your fitness tracker reminder you to avoid prolonged stillness. This is an important health goal.    But also remember fitness is about building stamina and for that we need longer bouts of movement.  The bonus is, when you use your daily life as a measure of your fitness, your motivation to move is more likely to be stronger as well.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

1 Comment

by | March 12, 2018 · 6:09 pm

It’s that time again, part 2

nature-3185397_1280

Back in October, we had to make a choice.  What is this winter going to be about?  Will it be about hibernating or spring training?  Will we let all those great brain chemicals from being physically active on the nice long days just fade away, or will we keep moving even when it’s cold and dark outside?

How did your spring training plan go?

If that question was met with an “eye roll”, that’s OK.  This blog is not about checking in to see if you have been “good or bad” this winter. It’s all good, as long as you are learning!  Really!

In October 2018, I will be asking you the same question – What is your spring training plan?   When I do, you will want to be fueled with personalized information about what works and does not work for you to keep moving all winter long.

Take a moment to jot down your answers:

  • What did I learn over these past four months about staying physically active through the winter? 
  • What did I learn about what gets in the way of staying active in the winter? 
  • Based on this information, what will help me stay active next winter?

Place this information on the October page of your 2018 calendar.  Now, give yourself a pat on that back, knowing your spring training plan for next winter just got an upgrade!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

 

Leave a comment

by | March 7, 2018 · 3:47 pm

But, is that enough?

spiral-staircase-483919_1280

 

Work when there is work to do.  Rest when you are tired.  One thing done in peace will most likely be better than ten things done in panic. I am not a hero if I deny rest; I am only tired.

—Susan McHenry

When I describe the basic goals for exercise and physical activity, most of the time I get the question “But, is that enough?”

We have discuses that exercise training is specific.  You get what you train for.  When exercising for the goal of weight loss, we easily get pulled into the “never enough” spiral.

The problem is, we make weight loss the reason for exercise.  Well, isn’t it?  I mean, don’t we need to exercise to lose weight?

Very few people are exercising ONLY to see the scale go down. Most people want to weigh less to be able to do more.  THAT is the reason to exercise. To be able to do more.  Yes, weighing less will make it easier, but fitness makes it possible.

So how much is enough exercise depends on what you want to be able to do. List all the activities you want to be easier.  What do you need? More strength, balance, mobility, stamina?

In general, gradually make these four goals as consistent as possible to build strength, stamina and mobility:

1. Avoid prolonged stillness by moving your body every 30 minutes during sedentary activities.  This helps your body reduce the inflammation that happens when your body is still, especially when it is stressed and still.   This can be a short walk or a stretch. Just move your body in some way, preferably taking a break and not multitasking so your brain gets a recharge too!

2. Do cardio at a moderate intensity for your breathing three days a week for 30 minutes.  This helps your body build stamina so every day life activities require less energy.   If you can’t do 30 minutes all together, break it up into smaller bouts that you can do, such as six five minute, three 10 minute, or two fifteen minute bouts.

3. Do quality total body strength training twice a week.  This helps your body learn how to move efficiently so daily life is less strain on your body.  What is involved in quality strength training? Basically learn how to work with how your body is designed to be strong. (These are all things we work on in a session together at the Weight Center):

  • Learning how to use your core to stabilize while breathing.
  • Learning how to do movements for your arms and legs while your core is stabilizing.
  • Training your nervous system by focusing on what you are doing
  • When starting out, keeping the resistance light so your nervous system can move muscles most effectively (instead of starting out with heavy weights to “kick start”).

4. Stretch after exercise and as movement breaks during the day.  This helps your body stay mobile and move with more freedom by reducing the tightness that can happen with aging and inactivity.

Notice, there is no requirement that you are able to run a certain distance,  lift a certain amount of weight or be able to touch your toes.  Those are fitness goals used when comparing your body to someone else, like in physical education classes or in sports.  When weight loss is about functioning better in your life, you don’t need to compare to what anyone else is able to do.

Let’s stay out of the “never enough” downward spiral that drains energy and motivation.  Let’s remember there is such thing as “enough” exercise  for the goal of weight loss to  function and feel better.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

1 Comment

by | February 26, 2018 · 8:35 pm