Blogs > Simply Fit

Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dash Away the Effects of Salt on Blood Pressure with Exercise

Approximately one in three adult Americans have high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Although some sodium in your diet is necessary for proper health, too much can increase your risk for high blood pressure, especially in individuals who are salt-sensitive.

Sodium attracts and retains water. Under normal conditions, sodium helps to regulate the fluid in your body, including blood volume, which effects your blood pressure. Too much salt can increase your blood volume and, therefore, your blood pressure. A sensitivity to salt means that you experience these effects to a greater degree than the general population. Fortunately, exercise can help reduce your sensitivity to salt according to research findings presented last week during the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.

The lead author of the study, Casey M. Rebholz, who is a medical student at the Tulane School of Medicine and doctoral student at the Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, studied 1,906 Han Chinese adults from the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity (GenSalt) project. The GenSalt project was designed to investigate the contributing factors to salt sensitivity, such as genetic and environmental factors. The subjects were placed on two one-week diets: a "low" sodium regimen (3,000 mg/day) and a "high" sodium regimen (18,000 mg/day). Their blood pressures were monitored during each testing week. Participants whose blood pressure rose more than 5 percent from the low-sodium diet to the high-sodium diet were labeled as having a high sensitivity to salt.

Subjects were further classified according to activity level. They were divided into four groups according to their responses to a physical activity questionnaire. These groups were: least activity; next-to-lowest activity; next-to-highest activity; and, most active group. The investigators found that a dose-response relationship existed between exercise and salt-sensitivity. That is, the more active the subject, the less likely he or she was to be classified as salt sensitive.

Investigators found that the least active group experienced a 5.27 mm HG rise in blood pressure from the low-sodium regimen to the high-sodium regimen, where as the most active group only experienced a rise of 3.88 mm HG between the two testing conditions. When compared to the least active group, the odds of being salt-sensitive for the most active group fell by 38 percent.

The authors concluded that "the more physically active you are, the less your blood pressure rises in response to a high-salt diet." They also noted that further testing is needed in other populations, but they suspect the results will be similar.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg/day.

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

EurekAlert!; "Physical Activity Decreases Salt's Effect on Blood Pressure"; Public Press Release Date: 23-March-2011

Mayo Clinic: Sodium--How to Tame Your Salt Habit Now

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thank You!

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted for me in Fitness Magazine's "Face of Fitness Cover Contest." I did not win; however, the woman who did win last week's running is well-deserving of the title. She is a school teacher who is doing her part in combating childhood obesity by helping her students to realize the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. It is up to each one of us, from school teachers to corporate executives, to make a commitment to take action to promote our health, as well as the well-being of others. As a result, we will all come out winners as the health of our nation improves. Thank you again for your support.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Balancing Fitness

Living a healthy life requires achieving a balance between your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs. A dramatic tipping of the scale in any one direction can sacrifice the health of one or more of the other factors. Sometimes, our behaviors that we adopt with the intent to promote our health can be taken to the extreme and, as a result, we actually start to become unhealthy.

I have experienced this imbalance myself in the last few years, but I have worked hard to regain my balance. Recently, I decided to share this struggle and have entered my story "When a Third Place Finish Means Coming in First" in Fitness Magazine's "Face of Fitness Cover Contest." They have selected me to be in the running for a chance to win. The individual who gets the most votes this voting period moves on to the next round of the competition. I need your help with votes. You can read my personal story and cast your vote at I hope that you will find my story inspiring and that you or someone you know can benefit from it. Any support that you can provide is much appreciated!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Facing Fitness

As many of you know, I contend that the achievement of good health and fitness is not an endpoint, but an ongoing process -- a process that will inevitably have setbacks, but with patience and perseverance, you can maintain your well-being. It certainly is not an easy feat, but is one that is well worth the effort. My own fitness journey has had its ups and downs as I have progressed through various stages in my life from the high accolade of being a MVP high school athlete to the low of assuming the role of a sleep-deprived new mom with little extra energy to exert toward fitness.

Recently, I decided that I needed to share a life-changing setback I experienced a few years back, and so I entered my story, "When a Third Place Finish Means Coming in First," and photo in Fitness Magazine's "Face of Fitness Cover Contest." I am pleased to announce that I am currently in the running this week to win a chance to be the "Face of Fitness." I need your vote to win. If I win this week, I go on to the semi-finals. You can vote each day through March 21 at the following link: By following the link you will be able to read my story and have a chance to vote. Any support that you can provide is much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coconut Water: Is It Nature's Sports Drink?

If you are looking for an alternative to commercial sports drinks to rehydrate after a tough workout, you just might want to crack open a coconut. Coconut water comes from green, or young, coconuts. It is a good source of the electrolytes potassium and sodium, which can become depleted during strenuous workouts. Coconut water also contains magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can negatively effect your exercise endurance. Furthermore, coconut water only contains 46 calories and less than one gram of fat per one cup serving. The combination of sugar and minerals found in coconut water aids in its absorption, allowing for quick rehydration.

Note: Coconut water is not the same as coconut milk, which is an emulsion of the white meat obtained from mature coconuts. Coconut milk contains more fat and calories than coconut water (48 grams of fat and 445 calories per one cup serving of canned coconut milk).

Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry: Cocos nucifera (Coconut)

USDA Nutrient Data Base: Coconut Water and Coconut Milk

Coconut: Its Role in Health; Wendy Snowdon, et al.; 2002

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Transdermal Medication Patches and Exercise: Is it a Bad Mix?

Transdermal medication patches are gaining popularity as an alternative to the oral administration of drugs. These adhesive patches are placed on the skin and the medication they contain reaches the bloodstream by passive absorption through the skin. Various biological factors can affect the rate and level of absorption into the circulatory system, including the physiological responses specific to exercise.

Researchers from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska conducted a review of the literature to determine the effects exercise had on medication absorption from skin patches. Their findings were published in the March 1, 2011 issue of Sports Medicine. Due to the limited number of studies conducted on this topic, their focus was on two of the more common medications delivered by way of transdermal medication patches: nicotine and nitroglycerin.

General Findings of the Review:
  • Blood concentrations of both nicotine and nitroglycerin are significantly increased with exercise compared to levels found during rest.
  • Exercise-induced increases in blood flow to the skin are thought to contribute to the elevation in medication levels noted during physical activity.
  • One study found that levels of nitroglycerin still remained elevated one hour after exercise was discontinued.
  • Drug toxicity can result from exercise-induced increases in blood concentrations of medications delivered by transdermal patches.
  • Individuals who participate in intense, prolonged exercise (e.g., marathon runners) are potentially at greatest risk for complications from medicated skin patch use and exercise.

Guidelines for Transdermal Patch Use and Exericse:
  • Inform your physician or health care professional of your exercise routine before beginning skin patch use.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of drug toxicity related to the medication contained in the transdermal patch and seek medical advice or attention if signs or symptoms arise.
  • Exercise at a decreased workload for the first few weeks after starting skin patch use until tolerance to the drug has been established.
  • Avoid exercising in extreme environmental and temperature conditions.
  • Wear exercise clothes made of materials that "breathe" to prevent overheating and excessive sweating.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which can independently alter blood concentrations of the drug.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

Sports Medicine; "Transdermal Patch Drug Delivery Interactions with Exercise"; Thomas L. Lenz and Nicole Gillespie; March 1, 2011.

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