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. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Put the Sitting to Rest

When it comes to improving your health, decreasing the amount of time you spend sitting throughout the day is just as important, and maybe even more so, as is engaging in a daily bout of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise. Swedish researchers from the Karolinska University Hospital and the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences addressed this distinction between the two health behaviors in the February 4, 2010 online issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They note that each behavior is characterized by separate metabolic and physiological processes that effect health.

In order to better understand this distinction, the authors state that a clarification of the definition of sedentary behavior is warranted. They point out that sedentary behavior should not be used as a synonym for a lack of exercise (e.g., going out for a run), rather, it should be used to define muscular inactivity during day-to-day tasks (e.g., sitting rather than standing at your work desk). Based on this concept, the researchers present a new model of "inactivity physiology" which suggests that sitting and limited non-exercise physical activity (e.g., gardening, sweeping, etc.,) should be viewed as a separate risk factor for disease.

During the 58th Annual American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Denver, Colorado earlier this month, Steven N. Blair, FACSM, of the University of South Carolina reiterated the importance of this new paradigm. Blair noted that too much sitting is not the same as too little exercise--each behavior has qualitatively different causal mechanisms and that too much sitting is associated with chronic diseases regardless of whether or not a regular exercise program is followed. He explained that the body's cells are always sensing the metabolic environment and responding to it. The entire day's worth of activity is what is most important to stimulate and signal these processes to promote health.

Blair discussed that exercise is not the perfect anecdote to sitting too much. "Exercise does not make you immune to the diseases caused by prolonged periods of sitting," he stated. In other words, one hour of exercise will not offset the ill effects associated with sitting for 6 hours at a time. The effects of breaking up periods of extended sedentary behavior with active tasks are immediate. Blair recommends:
  • Stand while talking on the phone
  • Conduct walking meetings or stand during an office conference
  • Stand to greet visitors
  • Walk to a co-worker's office to hand-deliver a message rather than sending an email
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
Br J Sports Medicine doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.067702

EIM Tutorial Lecture: "Inactivity Physiology: Misconceptions and Major Public Health Implications"; June 1, 2011

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Have Kids, Will Walk

Parenting requires you to tap into your creative energies and to foster your problem solving skills like never before in order to overcome the biggest of challenges that the littlest of the human race can generate. This holds true when it comes to finding a balance between family time and exercise time. Family walks are a great solution. Incorporating games and other activities into your family walks can keep boredom (and complaints) at bay. Here are a few creative walking games and activities that can motivate and entertain the kids while you are out on a family trek:
  • Guided Tour: Children love to role play. Get them interested in the family walk by allowing them to take turns as the tour guide of your walking adventure. Have your child lead the walk and point out the "attractions" along the way. For instance, if the family's favorite ice cream shop is on your route, your child could say "And here to your left is where the best fruit smoothies are made in town."
  • Scavenger Hunt: The thrill of discovery can motivate. Prior to setting out on your walk, find a small pad of paper and pencil that your child can carry during the walk. On the paper, write a list of items that your child is to look for on your walking path, such as flowers, interesting stones, colorful birds and rabbits. As she finds each item, have her check it off the list.
  • Traveling for Treasure: Who says you have to leave the yard to get in a good walk? Traveling for Treasure requires a family member to hide a small object, such as a stuffed toy, somewhere in your yard. Once hidden, the hider draws a map with clues as to where the item can be found. The seekers then follow the map and walk to the hidden treasure. Once the item is found, the game is continued with another family member assuming the role of the hider.
  • Scrapbook Adventure: Children are more likely to maintain an active lifestyle into adulthood when positive associations with exercise have been formed starting at a young age. You can foster this by having your child create a walking scrapbook or journal. Bring a camera on your walk and take pictures of interesting finds along the way. Have your child collect leaves, pine cones, flowers, etc., found on the walk. At the end of your trek, let your child arrange and glue the items into a scrapbook. Also, encourage your child to write down a few thoughts about the walk to help bring back positive memories when the scrapbook is perused at a later date.
  • Tangible Rewards: It can be difficult for children to grasp the importance of regular exercise, particularly in reference to chronic diseases, which may not manifest until adulthood. Providing your children with an incentive that can be experienced in the present or immediate future may help to foster compliance. Include a destination, such as a favorite relative's house, into the family walk to help give the activity a more concrete purpose. Or, hold an award ceremony after a certain number of family walks have been completed. Certificates can be handed out for various achievements accomplished during the walks (e.g., best "tour guide").
Family walks are a great solution to the time constraints parents face. To learn more about the benefits of walking or to locate a walking path in your area, visit the website of Every Body Walk!. To find more information about children and exercise, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Go Bananas for Exercise Performance

There is no monkeying around about it, eating a banana to fuel your exercise is an acceptable alternative to drinking a sports beverage containing six percent carbohydrate, according to research presented May 31, 2011 at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, Colorado.  This is good news for individuals who are interested in optimizing their health through a diet that emphasizes whole foods. In a poster presentation, researcher Krista Kennerly from Appalachian State University in Kannapolis, NC outlined findings from her study that investigated the effects of banana consumption on cycle exercise performance and markers of exercise-induced inflammation.

Fourteen seasoned cyclists (mean age 37+/-1.9 years) underwent two trial conditions performed three weeks apart. The testing sessions involved consumption of 0.4 gm/kg of carbohydrate either in the form of a banana or a six percent carbohydrate sports beverage prior to, and every 15 minutes during, a 75-km cycling trial at the fastest pace possible. The researchers took blood samples from the participants before, immediately after, and one hour post-exercise to evaluate levels of blood sugar and lactate, white blood cell count and nine inflammatory markers.

The investigators found that exercise performance did not differ between the banana and sports drink trials. Likewise, blood sugar and lactate levels were not altered during or post-exercise and did not significantly differ between the two testing sessions. Both trial conditions resulted in significant increases in the white blood cell count but banana consumption yielded a significantly greater increase in two anti-inflammatory compounds: IL-10 cytokine and chemoattractant IL-8 chemokine. Kennerly et al. concluded that banana consumption can sustain exercise performance in a similar manner to a six percent carbohydrate sports drink when total carbohydrate intake is the same.

A banana is a great snack for the athlete. One medium banana contains about 29 grams of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is the main source of fuel for your body during exercise. Bananas also contain potassium and their consumption can help offset an exercise-induced electrolyte imbalance. Furthermore, bananas provide you with fiber and small amounts of protein. Ripe bananas are easily digested, making the carbohydrate readily available.

Poster Presentation at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, May 31, 2011; "Influence of Banana Vs. Sports Beverage Ingestion On 75-km Cycling Performance and Exercise-Induced Inflammation"; Krista Kennerly, et al.; Appalachian State University, Kannapolis, NC.


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