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Archive for September 18, 2011

25 Ways to Make Time for Fitness

25 Ways to Make Time for Fitness

 

Most common excuse for not exercising? Survey says: “No time.” But examine that excuse at close range and you’ll see it’s usually about something deeper, says Lavinia Rodriguez, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management (iUniverse, 2008). “Typically, it’s lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment, negative associations, fear or maybe low self-esteem,” she says.

Busy as we may be, we have less trouble finding time for television, social networking or even dull household tasks, Rodriguez observes, because there simply aren’t the same steep psychological barriers to those activities.

If you want to exercise, you’ll make the time. We interviewed psychologists, exercise scientists, celebrity trainers, authors and busy everyday people to get a handle on the 25 most promising strategies.

1. Make a Plan.

“The best way to make time for exercise is to have a written plan,” says Chris Evert, 18-time Grand Slam tennis champion. “Decide on the best time for exercise in your schedule and actually enter it into your computer or cell-phone calendar as a repeat event. This way it shows up daily and there’s less chance of you scheduling something during that time. Also, when you check your schedule in the morning, you’ll see it there and form a mental picture of when and how you’ll be exercising that day, which helps you stay motivated.”

2. Subdivide Your to-do list.

Rather than making one long to-do list you’ll never complete, divide your list into three categories, advises Lisa Druxman, MA, exercise counselor and founder of the Stroller Strides (www.strollerstrides.com) and Mama Wants Her Body Back (www.mamawants.com) programs. “It’s not enough to get things done,” she says. “You need to get the right things done. It’s OK to have dirty clothes in your hamper. It’s OK if you don’t read every email the moment you receive it. It’s not OK to cheat your health.” Druxman suggests the following to-do list makeover:

• Take out a sheet of paper and create three boxes that represent the most important parts of your life (e.g., family, work, yourself).
• List the top three to-dos that would make the most difference in each category. For family, it might be cooking or helping with homework. For work, it might be returning phone calls or completing a presentation. For yourself, include exercise, plus something else nurturing, like calling a friend or having a healthy lunch.
• Finally, block out times on your calendar for those specific to-dos, and honor those very specific commitments.

Having trouble deciding which to-dos are most important? “Think about the things that will have the most impact not just today, but a year from now,” Druxman says.

3. Find five minutes.

Even if your day is packed with meetings and other commitments, you absolutely can eke out five minutes for yourself, says Simmons. And that simple act of self-care has the potential to change your life. “I tell people it’s OK to start very, very small.” A five-minute walk now can easily turn into daily 30-minute walks a few weeks from now. “You have to start somewhere,” he says.

4. Limit screen time.

Don’t aimlessly surf cable channels or the Internet, says Rodriguez. That’s a surefire way to waste time you could be spending in more active ways. Before you sit down, set a time limit (consider keeping a kitchen timer nearby to alert you when time’s up). Most of us occasionally watch shows we don’t love because we’re bored, notes Franklin Antoian, CPT, founder of iBodyFit.com. “Consider trading just 30 minutes of that low-value television time for exercise,” he says. “My guess is you won’t miss it.”

5. Be an active watcher.

When you do watch TV, make the most of it. Do some ball-crunches, planks, yoga poses, squats, lunges or pushups while you’re watching. Keep fitness equipment, such as a kettlebell, resistance bands and a jump rope, near the TV. Or use the commercial breaks to mix in brief cardio intervals. Run in place or up and down the stairs; do some burpees or jumping jacks.

6. Delegate like crazy.

Reassess household chores: Can the kids do laundry? Can your spouse cook dinner? What professional tasks can you hand off so you can get out for a walk at lunch or stop by the gym on the way home? Don’t think you’re the only one who can do all of the things you’re currently doing. Look, too, for things that could be done less often — or that might not need to get done at all.

7. Be motivated by money.

Putting some money on the line may provide you with the motivation you need to show up for activity. Sign up for a yoga workshop, book some sessions with a personal trainer, or plunk down some cash for a race or other athletic event you’ll have to train for. Schedule a babysitter to watch the kids while you go for a run. Or take a few salsa lessons.

8. Think positive.

Psychologists suggest that actively editing your negative self-talk patterns is a powerful way to support healthier lifestyle choices. For example, anytime you catch yourself thinking, “I am too busy to work out,” rephrase the thought in more positive, empowering terms, such as, “I choose to make myself a priority.” Or, “I do have time to be healthy.” Or, “I am willing to do something active today.” Over time, those positive thought patterns will elbow out the negative ones, helping you to see your available choices more clearly.

9. Be a hot date.

Dinner and a movie is so cliché, says Shannon Hammer, motivational speaker and author of The Positive Portions Food & Fitness Journal (Fairview Press, 2010). What if, instead, you took your date/partner/love-interest to a cycling class or a ballroom dance lesson, went on a hike or a picnic, or kicked a soccer ball around the park? Bonus: Research shows that shared activity builds attraction.

8 Ways Exercise Makes You Gorgeous

10. Do brisk business.

Chances are, many of your coworkers are in the same boat as you: They want to exercise, but have trouble finding the time. So, what if you move the weekly progress update or brainstorm session to the sidewalk, or stand during meetings? Can your group hike to the coffee shop rather than order in? Can you woo a new client over a tennis match instead of dinner? The fresh air and endorphins will spark more creative ideas, Hammer says.

11. Socialize on the move.

Next time a friend suggests meeting for lunch, dinner or drinks, counter with an active invitation. How about joining you for a yoga class or a quick walk around the lake? Instead of spending time on the phone or emailing back and forth, suggest that you catch up on the latest news over a leisurely bike ride, or bond by trying an athletic pursuit, like indoor climbing, that neither of you has ever tried.

12. Work it in.

Diedre Pai, 35, is a mom to two girls under age 3. With an infant and toddler constantly in tow, she’s had to get creative with her exercise routine. While picking up toys, towels and trash off the floor, she increases glute and leg strength by doing squats instead of bending at the waist. “I do calf raises whenever I’m standing at the counter or stove, and when I’m going upstairs to change a diaper,” she says. Whenever she picks up her baby, she does a few overhead lifts. “That always makes her giggle.” Kids playing outside? “I get in there and run and climb at their speed, which gets my heart rate up,” she says. Over the course of a single day, Pai estimates she gets about 60 minutes of exercise this way.“I consider parenting to be a full-contact sport,” she says, “and being in shape makes me a better player.”

13. Find a cheerleader.

What looks like lack of time is often lack of motivation, so consider recruiting emotional support. “I decided 35 years ago that I would be the court jester of health and get people excited about fitness,” says legendary activity advocate Richard Simmons. “Because, when you’re excited about something, you find time to do it.” Nominate a friend, family member, life coach or personal trainer to be your cheerleader and encourage you (positive messages only; no nagging) on a daily basis. Or, join an online community like http://www.fitlink.com that emphasizes can-do camaraderie.

14. Be yourself.

Part of the reason you can’t make time for exercise may be because you’re not focusing on the right workout for your personality, says Marta Montenegro, MS, CSCS, CPT, celebrity trainer and exercise physiology professor at Florida International University. For example, don’t assume you’re a runner just because your best friend loves to run, she says. “Instead, analyze your lifestyle and personality to find a routine that suits you.” Once you understand your fitness personality, you’ll be able to identify activities you actually enjoy, and squeezing them into your schedule won’t be nearly as hard. (For more, see “Your Fitness Personality.”)

15. Bring the family.

If family obligations prevent you from fitting in regularly scheduled workouts, rope your gang into other types of group activities. Schedule family hikes, soccer games, after-dinner walks, bike rides or family trips to the gym. Let the kids suggest family-activity options. And remember that exercise is something you’re doing for your family, says Pai. “When the kids see that exercise is important to Mommy and Daddy, it will be important to them, too.”

16. Take your show on the road.

As you’re packing for a business trip or vacation, be sure to include your workout clothes, says tennis champ Chris Evert. Just packing them signals to your brain that you intend to make time for exercise. As for what to do? “Spend 15 to 20 minutes swimming laps, running stairs, or jogging on the hotel treadmill first thing in the morning,” she says. No gym or pool? Ask the front desk if they offer guest passes to a neighborhood gym. “Or, when my schedule is tight,” says Evert, “I do some yoga while catching the morning news on TV.”

17. Hit “play.”

“Exercise DVDs are cost-effective, private and flexible, and they allow you to stop and start your workouts based on real-life time constraints,” says Hammer. (So, for example, you can do laundry while working out.) Hammer used this approach to shed more than 100 pounds while going to school full-time and working. Try Pilates workouts from Brooke Siler (Anchor Bay), fitness training with Erin O’Brien (Acacia) or yoga with Shiva Rea (Acacia).

18. Rise and shine.

For most people, the day only gets more demanding as it goes on, says celebrity trainer and fitness DVD star Sara Haley. “Exercising first thing in the morning will ensure you fit it in,” she says. Lay out your workout clothes the night before, she suggests. “This way you won’t waste any time and can’t claim you forgot anything.”

19. Ditch your ride.

Whenever feasible, hop on the bus, train or subway, or ride your bike to work or to run errands, says Haley. If you can’t do it every day, try for once a week. People who take alternative transportation tend to get more exercise than daily car commuters.

20. Master the micro-workout.

Whether you’re at work or home, never let yourself sit idle for more than a couple of hours, says Mark Lauren, certified military physical-training specialist, triathlete and author of You Are Your Own Gym (Light of New Orleans Publishing, 2010). Build in a loop around the block when you grab a cup of coffee, or plan 10-minute breaks at regular intervals to stretch or do a brief circuit workout. “I like to throw in random sets of body-weight exercise throughout the day. One hard set of 12 or fewer reps won’t make most people sweat if they’re in an air-conditioned building, but it will be enough to make a difference if done several times throughout each day,” says Lauren. It takes less than 30 seconds to do 15 pushups or sit-ups, he points out. So don’t say you don’t have time. Set an alarm on your computer to remind you. (For specific exercise ideas, see “Workday Workouts.”)

21. Hit it hard.

“When you’re short on time, focus on higher-payoff workouts,” says Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman (Crown Archetype, 2010). “If you’re focused, there’s no reason you can’t get results in less than 20 minutes a week.” His favorite routines? Kettlebell swings (consider keeping a kettlebell by your desk) and slow-motion resistance training. “One female case study cut her body fat 3 percentage points in roughly four weeks with only five minutes of kettlebell swings three times a week,” he says. The key is staying focused and maintaining a high intensity throughout the mini-workout session. For a fast and furious workout idea, check out weightlifting complexes in “Simplicity Complex” — or search on “HIIT” (short for high-intensity interval training).

22. Wear your pedometer.

“As we get older, we typically take fewer steps per day,” says Wayne Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape For Life, a nationwide health and lifestyle coaching program based in Owings Mills, Md. “By age 60, most people are down to about 4,500 steps. Your goal should be to maintain 10,000.” The best way to do that is to get a pedometer at your local sporting goods store, or download an app that converts your cell phone to a pedometer. Those wearing pedometers tend to walk more because they’re more conscious of their steps. Looking for extra credit? “Climbing a flight of stairs is the equivalent of walking 100 steps,” says Andersen.

23. Adopt a DIY mentality.

“Start doing things by hand instead of letting a machine do them for you,” suggests Andersen. This might include snow shoveling, pushing a lawn mower, raking leaves or hanging laundry to dry. “Also, ditch remote controls and other automatic devices that undermine your body’s energy use.”

24. Work while you wait.

Katy Gaenicke, mother of two boys, found a creative solution to her “no time” dilemma. She spends a lot of time on the sidelines of football practices and games near their home in Boston. “I started bringing my bike with me and riding around near the fields while my son practices,” she says. Evert has used this technique, too: “Instead of cramming in one more errand while your kids are at their activities, put on your sneakers and take a walk for the hour.”

25. Phone it in.

Have a conference call you can’t miss? Need to return a few phone calls to family and friends? Grab your cell phone (and, ideally, a headset) and get walking. Assuming your area has reliable reception, strive to walk whenever you’re on the phone. A note of caution, though: Talking and listening will tend to distract you from the fact you’re exercising. That can be a good thing, or a dangerous thing. So always take care to remain aware of your surroundings, traffic and so on. The goal is to squeeze exercise in wherever you can — safely.

By Gina DeMillo Wagner, Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

12 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Blueberries

12 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Blueberries

1.  Catechins found in blueberries activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to assist with weight loss, and belly fat loss in particular.  According to research at Tufts University, regularly ingesting catechins increases abdominal fat loss by 77 percent and double total weight loss.

2.  They contain a group of natural phytonutrients (plant nutrient) called proanthocyanidins which have a unique ability to protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from some environmental toxins.

3.  Blueberries are one of the richest sources of proanthocyanidins.  These phytonutrients decrease free radicals levels that are linked to aging (yes wrinkling!) and disease.

4.  In animal studies, those given an extract of blueberries had less motor skill decline and performed better on memory tests than animals not given the blueberries.  Researchers conclude that compounds in blueberries may reverse some age-related memory loss and motor skill decline.

5.  Blueberries are packed with vitamins C, E, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.

6.  They are a rich source of the phytonutrients ellagic acid.  Ellagic acid has proven anticancer and genetic-material-protection capabilities.  It also encourages a healthy rate of apoptosis—how the body seeks out and destroys harmful or damaged cells, like cancer cells.

7.  Because they contain plentiful amounts of the phytonutrient quercetin, they may reduce the likelihood and severity of allergies.

8.  Blueberries contain minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

9.  Blueberries contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin.  Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain.

10.  Blueberries are excellent anti-inflammatory agents.  They increase the amounts of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age.  When heat shock proteins decrease the result is inflammation and damage, particularly in the brain.  Research shows that by eating blueberries regularly, inflammation lessens.

11.  They increase the production of feel-good dopamine.  Dopamine is a natural neurotransmitter (brain messenger) that tends to be low in Parkinson’s.

12.  They just taste great.  Ok, this is no surprise but it’s a great reason to eat blueberries anyway.

(Leesa recommends eating organic or pesticide free blueberries!  She also recommends Chews4Health which is a convenient way to eat your blueberries…learn more at www.chews4health.com/Leesa)

by Michelle Schoffro Cook

Adapted from The Life Force Diet by Michelle Schoffro Cook.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and eleven-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme Cure. Check out her natural health resources and free e-newsletter at www.WorldsHealthiestDiet.com.

6 Surprising Heart Attack Triggers

6 Surprising Heart Attack Triggers

Clogged arteries may be the root cause of heart attacks, but there’s usually something else that triggers them. Here’s how to protect yourself.

Heart attacks often come without warning, and although it’s well documented that they’re caused by atherosclerosis (plaque buildup on arterial walls), there are certain triggers that can set off a heart attack in people who are at risk. This week, Belgian researchers published a study in The Lancet ranking various heart attack triggers according to their prevalence in people who are already at risk for cardiac problems. Here’s a list of some of their more surprising findings, and some ways to protect yourself from heart attack triggers:

#1: Traffic Exposure

Commuters beware: Traffic exposure triggers about 8 percent of heart attacks among those who are vulnerable, according to the study, and it can affect you if you’re a driver, a passenger, or even a bicyclist riding along the road. Previous research on the link between traffic and heart attacks has been inconclusive as to whether it’s traffic-related pollution, the stress of being in traffic, or some combination of the two that causes heart attacks. But the clear message is that getting stuck in rush-hour jams isn’t good for anybody. Save your ticker and ask your boss if you can work from home one day a week. Telecommuters are healthier, past studies have shown, and they even work longer hours while still maintaining a better work-life balance than their colleagues in cubicles.

#2: Physical Exertion

Second on the list of heart attack triggers was physical exertion, accounting for just over 6 percent of cases. But they weren’t talking about the good kind of exertion that comes from exercise. The study authors noted that people who are sedentary most of the time, and then suddenly engage in heavy-duty physical activity, are most at risk. The best protection against this is at least 150 minutes per week of regular exercise. But if you’re already sedentary and need to, say, shovel out four feet of snow from a recent storm, be sure to warm up first, and delay the strenuous activity till later in the morning. Strenuous exercise first thing in the morning is a shock to your system and can up the risk of a heart attack.

#3: Alcohol and Coffee

These drinks, whether to get you going or calm you down, each contribute 5 percent to total risk of triggering a heart attack. Heavy alcohol intake is the primary villain, although doctors aren’t sure how it triggers heart attacks. A few theories are that too much alcohol can increase inflammation and interfere with your body’s ability to dissolve blood clots. But keep in mind that one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage per day can help prevent heart disease because of the beneficial polyphenols in wine and beer. Coffee, on the other hand, seems to work in exactly the opposite way. Most studies linking coffee to heart disease have found that people who drink it less frequently are more prone to heart attacks than people who drink a lot of coffee. So if you drink less than one cup of coffee per day, consider switching to tea to get your caffeine boost.

#4: Air Pollution

Smog, vehicle exhaust, and all those tiny particulates emitted by burning woodstoves all combine to form a potent, but silent, killer. Air pollution triggers 4.75 percent of heart attacks among those vulnerable, and even though it’s one of the lowest percentages, the authors considered it most concerning because no one can avoid air pollution. For that reason, experts in a new field of medicine called environmental cardiology agree that preventing heart attacks in other ways is more effective than trying to cope on the individual level with air pollution. Minimize stress, treat migraines if you have them, don’t eat red meat and salt, and do eat a Mediterranean diet. You’ll protect yourself against air pollution and all the other heart attack triggers included in the study.

#5: Feeling Happy and Feeling Mad

Strong emotions seem to trigger a heart attack even if they’re good ones. Anger and negative emotions contribute more to your risk—almost 7 percent—than positive emotions, which contribute just 2.5 percent. “Both intense positive and intense negative emotions can cause stress to the body,” says Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, director of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts, and a Rodale.com advisor.

All strong emotions increase adrenaline output, heart rate, and the stickiness of red blood cells, which combined can trigger heart attack. But there’s a reason you should still try to embrace more positive emotions to ward off heart attacks. “Positive emotions generally result in more balanced heart rhythms than negative emotions, and disrupted heart rhythms are a contributing factor in some heart attacks,” Rossman says.

Furthermore, he adds, “Because we tend to resist negative emotions, they produce more muscle tension than positive emotions, including tension in the muscles in the periphery of blood vessels. This blood vessel constriction also makes negative emotions more likely than positive emotions to contribute to heart attacks.”

#6: Sex

Rounding out the top seven heart attack triggers is sex, which increases your chance of heart attack by 2.2 percent, the authors found. All that horizontal activity can raise blood pressure and heart rates, triggering a cardiac event. The various studies looking at the link between sex and heart attacks have all concluded that this risk is still relatively low for healthy people, somewhere around 1 chance in a million. But people already at risk for heart attacks should take it easy. The good news, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is that regular exercise can keep you from succumbing to a sex-induced heart attack.

By Emily Main, Rodale.com


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

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