Tag Archives: motivation

Myth #4: Fitness Challenges

 

Squat challenge

Dream Arms Challenge

14 Day Toned Arms Challenge

30 day Butt and Gut Challenge

Fun Fitness Challenge

Burpies Challenge

These are just a few that came up in an internet search for “fitness challenges”.  There are several myths wrapped up in one here:

  1. I need rigid structure to be motivated 
  2. I will have “dream arms” (or other body part) from doing more of the “right” exercises
  3. Someone else knows what is best for my body
  4. I just need a jump-start and THEN I will be motivated

Lets take these one at a time:

  1. I need the structure of a program to stay motivated:  Research indicates true lasting motivation comes from the inside.  When we rely on external sources, such as a program, a trainer, and exercise partner,  a challenge, it does not last.   Internal motivation is when we connect what we are doing with why we are doing it.  Exercising not to lose weight but because of what you want from weight loss – to be able to play with kids, feel more comfortable and confident in your body, to travel and enjoy social activities, etc.  Structure, boundaries and habits are only motivating when they are keeping you on the road to your own personal definition of success.
  2. I need an exercise to work this part of my body.  Spot reducing is a myth.  Exercising to “work” a certain part of the body is exercise based on this myth that is widely promoted in the media.   This is a big red flag for most fitness challenges – the promise of slimming or sculpting a certain area of the body.  Lets face it, dream arms, or any other body part is based mainly on the photo-shopped images we see in the media.    Every image we see is touched up to perfection.  Very few people actually look like that, and if they do it is a combination of great genetics and a lot, (a lot) of time and effort.  Most of all, any changes are temporary, disappearing once the program is done.
  3. What is the right program for me? The fact is that what your body tells you when you are exercising is your best guide.  The right exercise for you is the one that provides a comfortable challenge for the body systems (ie: cardiovascular system, the muscle-skeletal system, the nervous system)  and leaves you feeling better, mentally and physically, than before exercise.  If your goal is to lose weight in order to feel better, and exercise leaves you too sore the next day to enjoy life, you just missed another day to feel good.
  4. When I see “results” I will be motivated to keep going.  What are the results we are looking for?  Weight Loss?  Sculpted arms? Lost inches?  As we discussed in number 1, these are external goals and they don’t last.  Instead ask yourself why do you want to lose weight, have sculpted arms, or less inches?  So you can feel confident, have energy, feel good about your self?   Those are your internal results.  Now, exercise so you feel more confident, have more energy, feel good about yourself today and every day.  That is what provides the true motivation to keep going.

If you are looking for lasting motivation, skip the fitness challenges and go for the real challenge in fitness for well-being.. Learning to trust your body.  Practicing being kind to yourself.  Then you will be much more likely to want to take the best possible care of you every day.  You will discover how to move so you feel better today and every day going forward!

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

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by | February 7, 2017 · 7:30 pm

What are you training for?

I am noticing a bit of confusion in fitness lately – confusion between sports and military training and exercise for health and well-being. I want you to be a savvy fitness consumer who gets what you want from your investment.  Let’s take a look at the difference between the two approaches and see what you think:

Training for wellbeing.pngIf you were an athlete or military professional at some point in your life, the switch may be challenging. Those approaches to exercise can be strongly ingrained in your approach to movement. If you have done a fitness program with a sports-minded approach in the past, or admire those who do, this approach can be so enmeshed in your thinking about exercise, they can seem to be one and the same. But clearly, they are not.

Here are questions to ask yourself to be sure you are training for health and well-being:

  • Am I pushing through pain and discomfort in my fitness class/program?
  • Who is my primary guide for what is right for my body – a “fitness expert” or how my body feels with a certain exercise?
  • How often do I ignore and “tough out” pain with exercise?
  • How often do I get injured when I am on a fitness program?
  • Am I consistent with exercise all year long?
  • Does my exercise program leave me too sore and exhausted to move more throughout my day?
  • Am I  feeling and living better as a result of my training?

Are your answers more in line with the training approach on the right or the left of the chart above?

If you are ignoring pain, listening to a trainer more than your body, feeling sore and exhausted more often than energized, inconsistent with exercise, have a love/hate relationship with exercise, and/or have sustained an injury as a result of your training – you may be using a sports approach to health and well-being training.

If you feel better mentally and physically, have less pain and injury, are listening to your body, are consistent all year long, have more energy and stamina and strength to enjoy life – congratulations! You have found a fitness program for well-being.

This is not to say  sports, athletic, or military training is wrong – it is simply a different goal than training for health and well-being.  Sure, there is some crossover between the two ways of training the body.

The big difference is that sports/military training has a higher risk of injury and is not designed for sustainability long term.  If you want your weight loss to be sustainable – you need a fitness plan that is sustainable as well.

Look back at the blog series on fitness I did a few weeks ago for more informative about fitness designed for health and well-being.

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.

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by | September 19, 2016 · 3:26 pm

The Magic Pill

Thank you, WBUR, for this new podcast series that started last week called “The Magic Pill.”  The positive news about movement as the most powerful medicine we have for health and well-being gets lost easily in the media. It is refreshing to see an encouraging approach getting some more air time!

Thirty years of prescribing this medicine has taught me one thing – the prescription is very individual. So take in the information and suggestions but above all trust your own knowledge about your body and what works best for it today. For example, they end the  first podcast with a cheerful “take the stairs” suggestion. Sounds easy enough, but for many, stair are a big challenge. So if stairs are not right for you at this time, try pacing while you wait for the elevator, or take an extra lap around the hallway before getting onto the elevator, or take a big morning style stretch as you wait. (You might just inspire the people waiting with you to do the same). You see … ALL movement is medicine – not just the ones that count on our Fit Bits!

The best medicine of all is enjoying movement.

Enjoy it and you will reap the benefits! Move in the ways that give your mind and body a lift. Because we are made to move, the body responds with a big “thank you” by boosting the immune system, giving amazing health benefits… instantly!

Check out the podcasts for The Magic Pill – they are brief (<10 minutes) yet full of inspirational science based information!

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.

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by | September 6, 2016 · 5:16 pm

Mindfulness and Fitness

mindful walkingThis is a link to a brief audio program from the creator of the Mindfulness Summit about the biggest obstacle to mindfulness. 

Over the past 30 years that I have been teaching about exercise and fitness, I have seen a growing trend.  This trend is, from what I can tell, one of the biggest barriers to exercise motivation.  It seems to be getting worse, not better.

The trend?  Never enough.  The push harder, be stronger, go faster, be better, do more approach to fitness keeps us in the never enough trap.  And in that state of mind with exercise (or anything), contentment, happiness and thus health and well-being are constantly out of our reach.

Research on the mind/body connection is now way too strong to ignore that fact and longer.  Being fit but chronically stressed counteract each other. Fitness cannot work its magic on health if one is in a constant stress response.   If the mind is never content, if negative stress is the state most of the time, health is effected.  So exercising to improve health needs to now consider the state of mind as well as the state of the body.

Combining mindfulness with exercise is an antidote for the “never enough” trend while boosting the health and well-being benefits.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening with an attitude of kindness, openness and curiosity, in the present moment.  Mindfulness means “to see clearly”.   It is not about being happy and content all the time, it is certainly not about stopping thoughts – it is about simply being in a mindset that allow us to recognize what is happening, so we can make an informed choice toward contentment.

In fitness and weight loss, we can get so focused on future results, on reaching the next level or taking off the next five pounds, that we miss what is happening right now.  And when we do, we miss contentment.

Many patients would say,  but I do not feel content at my current weight! As you will hear in this audio, the present is the only place to find contentment.  If we can’t practice it now, in the future there will be some other reason not to be content. The next goal, the next event, will keep contentment just out of reach.  Practice contentment now.  It is just a practice, and practice makes this skill stronger.

If you have not experienced mindfulness yet, it is difficult to understand with just words and descriptions.  Look into options in your area.  We are so fortunate to have our Center for Mindfulness right here in central Massachusetts.  They even offer online options for learning mindfulness.

The great news is that exercise, when designed to be, is a tool for mindfulness.   Mindfulness is paying attention with curiosity and kindness.  Movement is an opportunity to focus on the body, taking care of it, listening to it.  Movement is an antidote for the changes that stress cause in the body.  Stress prepares the body for movement. When we are in a stress response but not moving, those changes can cause damage.

Exercise and movement can be a pathway to contentment – right here, right now, when we practice mindfulness with movement.

Pause when taking a walk with a friend and notice what is good about that moment.  Pause after exercise and really savor the contentment you feel from movement.  Put on music and dance – and enjoy simply moving to music.  Move in a way that you enjoy, and really enjoy it, and you are more likely to find health and well-being in mind and body.

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.

 

 

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by | June 6, 2016 · 4:06 pm

Life After Weight Loss Surgery – Patient Perspective 2

patient_perspectives

I weighed in at my heaviest just after graduating with my Master’s in Education. I knew it was time for a serious life change. I started with small changes and ended up dropping just over 30lbs. It was great and I felt better, but realized I didn’t want this to be like all my other yoyo diets. I needed another tool.

I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy done in July of 2015. I’m just over six months out now. Lots of people knew but I didn’t widely publicize it. First let me start by saying, no I did not choose the easy way out, nothing about this process is easy. No one wakes up one day and says hey, let me just cut open my body and take out most of my stomach, that’ll be a quick fix. Seriously, no one does that.

I am a recovering binge eater who additionally had incredibly unhealthy habits that I am working hard to overcome. Having a tiny stomach helps, it’s one of the many tools in my box. Unfortunately, I still struggle with my eating disorder, I probably always will. However, I now know how incredibly painful it is to binge eat with a tiny tummy so I try to avoid that as much as possible.

I am very excited to say that I am now officially down 100lbs from my heaviest weight back in May 2014!  I am NOT an expert; I just know what has helped me. Here are some of the many things that I have learned on my journey in no particular order.

  1. Make one small change at a time that you can live with, forever. Changing too many things at once was always a recipe for disaster.
  2. It has to be a lifestyle change or it will all come back, plus some… I did it many times.
  3. High protein, low carbs, low sugar. If you really want it, eat it. Moderation is key. If you are a binge eater and seriously can’t control yourself, know your triggers. I cannot keep cookies in my house. I WILL eat them, ALL of them.
  4. Measure your food; it’s amazing to see what a “portion” looks like. Be honest with yourself about what you are actually eating. Start a food journal, or use an app. You don’t have to share it with the world, but don’t lie to yourself. Write in EVERYTHING. Did you really need that entire box of chocolates? No, probably not. The difference is I don’t lie to myself about what I’m eating or drinking. I’m making a conscious decision about what I’m putting into my body.
  5. Meal prep with healthy things you like. Start small, you don’t need to plan your whole week. That’s overwhelming in the beginning.
  6. Have a somewhat boring diet. I don’t mean eat gross things that aren’t appealing. I eat basically the same thing all the time. I know what’s in it nutritionally and I enjoy it. Yes, I occasionally venture outside of my typical foods. However, I also know that if I don’t let myself have what I want then I will binge eat. I have learned my triggers.
  7. DO NOT reward yourself with food. You are not a dog. Find something else that makes you feel nice. This was incredibly important for me to learn. It was one of those major light bulb moments. Now I save money for fun experiences when I reach a certain goal.
  8. Don’t get on the scale constantly. It can have way too much control over your life. Focus on how clothes fit, and how your body feels. Don’t let the numbers control you, it’s way harder than it sounds. Who knew 3 little numbers had so much power? I wish I cared more about the numbers on in my bank account that that scale.
  9. Exercise. I know that word sounds terrible and scary, but it really just means move your body more. Start with small steps like parking further away, or going for a walk between episodes on TV… Find something you enjoy. If you don’t like it you won’t keep doing it. I started running. – I know, you can’t picture it. I couldn’t either – I also started strength training. I am so thankful to my coworker who suggested it.
  10. Know your support system. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive. I am forever thankful for their support. Also, build a supportive circle of people who you aren’t necessarily close to such as on social media. Family and friends can be a great support, but can also say things that don’t help but hurt. Having an outside network of supporters is incredibly helpful.
  11. Set realistic goals, you don’t need some daunting monster goal hanging over you. Lots of short small ones. You’ll feel accomplished and keep going. There is nothing worse than feeling as if you failed yourself.
  12. Don’t tell people what you’re doing. Suddenly everyone is an expert and trying to “help” you. Initially tell the people who mean the most to you, whom you feel would support you, or whose support you feel you need. Other than that, people don’t need to know until you feel like no one can stop the path you are on.
  13. Learn to say no. I promise it will help. No to yourself, no to others. No is a complete sentence and doesn’t require an explanation.
  14. Instead of saying I don’t have time, try telling yourself that it isn’t a priority. See how it makes you feel. Sometimes I’m OK with it. Other times I realize that I should be a priority and I need to make time. There is always something we can cut back on. Maybe it’s scrolling mindlessly through social media?
  15. Make sure you have a good reason, something that you are fighting for. If you keep that in mind then it makes it so much easier. Mine is that I want to be healthy enough to have children and raise them. I want to be around long enough to watch them have children. I’m going to do anything I can to be healthy for that possibility.
  16. If you post comparison pictures, try to brand them in some way. People will undoubtedly use them to sell their stuff. Yes, it has happened to me. On that same note, take lots of pictures. Don’t delete all the ones you don’t like how you look, you don’t need to show them to anyone. It’s helpful to look back and see the change when you are feeling like a failure for one reason or another. There have been plenty of days when I felt like I wasn’t making as much progress as I wanted, or as quickly as I wanted it. I look back at my pictures and am always shocked.
  17. Think about what you are scared of in the process. Is it failure? It could happen, but you could also succeed. Is it how much money you will spend being healthy? You might be surprised. Better food is more expensive. However, I eat less of it. I also pay significantly less medical bills because of how sick I used to get. Yes, clothing is expensive. Clothes tend to get cheaper the smaller you are, unless you are into name brands. Is it excess skin? Skin has some elasticity, but we are being real honest here… Yes, I have excess skin. Yes, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. However, I can tell you that I am way more comfortable in my own skin than I have been in years. What is scaring you away from trying? Is that you might actually be successful and don’t know what to do when you are? I know, strange concept, but I was really scared of that. Take a leap of faith, you can do this.
  18. This one is important. I would say the most important – Love yourself and be proud of yourself at every stage of your journey. I can’t even begin to explain how important this part was for me.

This journey has been a crazy one, and my lifestyle has completely changed. I eat healthy, and honestly unhealthy food doesn’t even sound that appealing to me anymore. I do active things for fun now and am looking forward to doing so many more. I feel healthy and have energy at the end of the day now. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I may look different and lead a different lifestyle but, I’m still 100% me, sarcasm and all. Just a lighter, healthier version of me. I am still very much a work in progress, but that will never change.

Thank you to the patient who submitted this post – if you would like to share your perspective after weight loss surgery, email me janet.huehls@umassmemorial.org

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.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | April 13, 2016 · 3:40 pm

How to Set Successful Exercise Goals

goals 3This time of year it is common to see all kinds of advice on goal setting.  As I read through the articles though, I realize there are some unique aspects of setting physical activity goals for weight loss.Goal setting is important.  There is a science to goal setting that increases the chances of success:

A study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, found three factors that increased success:
1. Written Goals:  Those who wrote their goals accomplished 50% more of their goals than those who did not write their goals.  Use the format below to write down your goals.
2. Shared Goals: those who told a friend about their goal accomplished more.
3. Accountability:    A regular check in with another person increased rates of success .  This does not need to be complicated, a simple text to an accountability buddy would work.

This is also supported by a recent study by our own Sherry Pagoto, PhD on using social media for support and accountability.

In the last support group meeting we chatted about the SMARTER acronym for goal setting.  The SMARTER system is a very useful formula for increasing the chances of success.  While there are several variations of this method, I find there are specific ways to make it most powerful for exercise and weight loss goals.
Specific – The more specifics in the way the goal is stated, the more chance your mind will stay focused on the goal. Goals that are vague are difficult for the mind to maintain focus on.   The nice part about exercise goals is we can get very specific.  What is one thing you can start doing regularly right now for physical activity that will have an impact on your weight goal?  Now make it as specific as possible, including the when, where, how’s.  IE:  I will walk every day for 15 minutes after work, I will do these three  stretches for my back every morning before breakfast, I will do these 6 strength training exercises every other day at 7pm after dinner, one set of 15 repetitions each.  Include in these specifics who will be your accountability buddy.What will I specifically start doing for physical activity?  Is this measurable?  Who will keep me accountable on this goal?
Meaningful – Why are you setting this goal?  Why do you want to do strength training, walk, stretch?   State what is important about it more that just to lose weight.    Make the connection between why you are exercising and the real underlying reason you want to be at a certain weight.  This taps into your natural lasting motivation.   I want to be able to play with my kids, be more independent, be around for my grand-kids, be more effective at my job, keep my home clean, feel good about myself when I get dressed.   The more important the “why” is to you, the more motivation you will have for the specific actions you need to take to reach your goals.Why is this goal important to me?
Achievable – Success is motivating.  Setting goals that are just within reach creates enough of a challenge to keep interest in them, but not too overwhelming to drain motivation.  I find most people set an exercise goal that is way to big to start.  We tend to need more practice with setting the small goals.    If you have a big goal,  set it as a long-term goal for one to five years from now.  Chip away a  much smaller version of that for a very short term 3 month goal.  Three months is long enough to achieve something but short enough to make it urgent.
How confident are you that you can achieve this goal?  If your confidence is low, go back and chip away some more until you come up with a goal you feel confident about achieving.
Relevant – This step reminds us to look at our goals in terms of what is important to us.  When our goals match with what we really want more of in life, the motivation to stick with them is easier.   Make your exercise program very specific to what you want to be able to do in the future.  Create a program that is training you for what you want to do in the future – kayak, ski, dance, climb stairs, get up and down off the floor.   When you are in training for your healthy future, you are as motivated as an athlete with his eye on the goal medal.How will this exercise plan train me for what I really want to do more of in life?
Time-Bound –  Start today!  Not on Monday or the first of the month.    Motivation will not be stronger later.  Waiting only reinforces the procrastination habit.  If you set goals with meaning and relevance, you won’t want to wait to start . So if you are tempted to put it off, it is a sure sign it is too overwhelming or not meaningful enough. Go back to the first steps and create a goal you cannot wait to start.   If there is some prep work like joining a gym or getting new sneakers make those the first goals, but still make your actual start date today.    Write the three-month end date on your calendar as well as on the top of your written goals.  This will be a reminder each time you look at them. My three-month goal date is______________?  In order to get there, today I will __________________________.
Evaluate Every Day – This daily check in will keep you close to your goal.  Again, goals that are set on meaning and relevance to your life are a tool for maintaining motivation. Review your goal every day to keep you focused on why you are making efforts.  With exercise goals especially it is easy to let a week or two go by without exercise.  Daily reminder will prevent them from becoming an after thought thgoals 4at just leaves you feeling guilty.  Evaluate in a way that you are observing  what works and what gets in the way without judging.  Simply notice what is going well and where you need some extra support. Keep it quick and easy so you can stick with this important step in the process.How will I evaluate this goal each day?  How will I include my accountability buddy in this evaluation process?
Readjust – The evaluating step leads into this.  As you learn what is working and what is not, re-adjusting will be needed.  We take our best guess on goals.  Learning only lets us be more specific and realistic.  Reworking the goal based upon what you learn is not a cop-out, it is a “smarter” way to achieve your true goals.

 

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

If you know someone interested in weight loss surgery, forward this link to the Weight Center website and online orientation video

If you’re in the process of preparing for weight loss surgery at the Weight Center and have questions about your status or next steps, call 774-443-3886

If you’ve had weight loss surgery at the Weight Center and you’re due for a follow up appointment with one of our providers, call 774-443-3886 or email to weightcenter@umassmemorial.org

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.

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Filed under Barriers, Goals, Holidays, Inspiration, Motivation, Success, support, Weight Loss

The Power of a Gratitude Habit

Well-done studies on simple practices of gratitude have shown it leads to measurable positive effects on health and well-being:

  • Enhancing mood
  • Deepening ability to connect with others
  • Feeling happier and more content
  • Reducing inflammation in the body
  • Boosting immune system
  • Decreasing rates of cancer and heart disease
  • Reducing stress response
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Normalizing blood sugar
  • Improving tendency to take better care of oneself
  • More likely to choose to exercise
  • More likely to choose to eat healthier
  • Reducing pain levels

Fascinating to notice that a regular practice of gratitude makes a difference in making healthy choices.  Participants in one study on keeping a gratitude journal were found to have started exercising more.   Hmmmm, very interesting….

An important point is researchers found a difference between gratitude and feeling more fortunate than others. When we focus on what we may have compared to those less fortunate, the benefits are not there. Actual gratitude for our own lives, our own experiences, rather than in comparison to others, is what creates the healthy shift in mind and body.

Just like other healthy habits such as exercise,   a daily practice of gratitude primes the brain to find the good and strengthens resilience in tough times.  This is why it is a habit that can support the ability to keep other healthy habits going too.

Simply jotting down three things you are grateful for each day is an easy way to gain the benefits.

Another tool is to write down one thing you appreciate about your efforts for making healthy choices each day.  Record things like choosing to eat healthy in the face of temptation, choosing to exercise in the morning, remaining calm and level headed as the holiday treats start to surround you.  This can really boost confidence and resilience for future challenges.

Thinking about these things is not quite as powerful as  recording them in a journal, app, or some other simple way.  It only takes a few minutes a day but will keep you on the lookout for what is going well all day long.  Studies show that’s all it takes to give a boost to motivation and confidence.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

 

1 Comment

by | November 25, 2015 · 2:54 pm