Flexibility Training: A Key Element to your Workout

 

stretching

 

Chances are we sit most of the day starting with our commutes in the morning to sitting at a desk with a computer. We put in a full day of sitting hunched over our desktop and get back in the car and end the day sitting at the dinner table and on the couch watching TV. You probably feel stiff and achy at some point during the day and that’s because sitting for extended periods of time leaves your body tense and shortens the connective tissues that link your muscles to your bones.(3)

 

What is flexibility and why is it important to me?

 

Everyone knows that resistance training and cardiovascular exercise are beneficial to your health but it seems as though less people view flexibility the same way.   Flexibility is needed to perform everyday activities with relative ease. Things like getting out of bed, lifting our children and putting away our groceries all require flexibility.

 

Flexibility deteriorates with age and without adequate flexibility, daily activities become more difficult to perform. Over time, we create body movements and posture habits that can lead to reduced mobility of joints and compromised body positions. Staying active and stretching regularly help prevent this loss of mobility, which ensures independence as we age.

 

Flexibility exercises can also help protect you against injury. You know Those achy knees and back from sitting all day? Flexibility exercises can alleviate those aches and pains  by lengthening those connective tissues. Being flexible also significantly reduces the chance of experiencing occasional and chronic back pain.

 

Adding flexibility exercises to your workouts is a great way to complete your program because they help with your everyday activities allowing you to move with a full range of motion and be able to move with less effort or pain.

 

How do I add flexibility exercises to my routine?

 

Many people know flexibility exercises as stretching. An excellent time for flexibility training is after your workout is complete because the muscles are warm and pliable, allowing them to stretch farther. Stretching reduces stress in the exercising muscles and releases tension developed during the workout. It also assists with posture by balancing the tension placed across the joint by the muscles that cross it. Proper posture minimizes stress and maximizes the strength of all joint movements. (4)

 

There are several exercises to incorporate starting from your neck and working down to your ankles.  Here are just a few examples:

 

Shoulder Stretch:

Stand back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart and arms at shoulder height.

Bend your elbows so your fingertips point toward the ceiling and touch the wall behind you. Stop when you feel a stretch or slight discomfort, and stop immediately if you feel sharp pain.

Hold position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Let your arms slowly roll forward, remaining bent at the elbows, fingertips now pointing to the floor.

Hold this position for 10-30 seconds.

Repeat.

 

Chest Stretch:

Standing in front of a wall, keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.

Place hands on wall at shoulder height.

Slowly push your arms back, while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Stop when you feel a stretch or slight discomfort.

Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Repeat.

 

Back Stretch:

Start on all fours with shoulders over wrists and knees hip-width apart.

Arch the middle of your back up toward the ceiling, and gently let your head and neck hang down toward the floor.

Keep your arms and thighs straight.

Repeat.

 

Hamstring Stretch:

Lie on your back with left leg extended and resting on floor.

Raise right leg, keeping knee slightly bent.

Reach up and grasp right leg with both hands. Keep head and shoulders flat on the floor.

Gently pull right leg toward your body until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg.

Hold position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Repeat other side.

Once you feel more comfortable you can pull leg back without the knee bent.

 

As with all other components of your workout, flexibility training should be based on the FITT method. (4)

 

Frequency- Should be included at the end of every workout, can be done every day.

 

Intensity- Start at your comfort level and adjust to increase the stretch as you become more flexible. Stretches should not be painful and you should stretch to the point of discomfort.

 

Time- Should last 5-10 minutes.

 

Type-There are two types of stretching, static and dynamic.

 

Are there different types of stretching?

 

There are more then a couple types of stretching.  Here are the two most common types.

 

Static– This method of flexibility training involves taking a specific joint or set of joints through a range of motion (ROM) to a comfortable end point (at least 20 seconds), resting for approximately 20 seconds, and then repeating the stretch two to three times.

 

The goal of static stretching is to overcome the stretch reflex (the automatic tightening of a muscle when stretched, which relaxes after approximately 20 seconds) to coax a joint into a wider ROM. This is done by holding the stretch gently and not overstretching the muscle. (4)

 

Dynamic- This method of flexibility training uses increasingly dynamic movements through the full ROM of a joint. Dynamic stretching develops active ROM through the process of reciprocal inhibition, where the agonist muscle is contracting while the antagonist or opposite muscle is carried through the lengthening process. (4)

 

When performed correctly, dynamic stretching warms up the joints, maintains current flexibility, and reduces muscle tension. The exercise begins at a slow pace and gradually increases in speed and intensity. This method of stretching is best performed before exercise or activity that is movement based, like tennis or golf.

 

 

 

What are the key guidelines to safely stretch?

 

  • A stretch should be smooth and slow, never jerky or bouncy.
  • Breathe normally throughout the stretch.
  • Don’t lock your joints when stretching, keep a slight bend to prevent injury.

 

Remember, stretching can be done every day.

 

Flexibility training is a must for a well rounded exercise program.  The examples of flexibility exercises above are just a small sampling of stretches that can be done. For more information and examples, please contact us.

 
References:
 
1. ”Flexibility Exercise (Stretching)”. Accessed 23, June 2015. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Flexibility-Exercise-Stretching_UCM_464002_Article.jsp

2. ”Flexibility Exercises”. Accessed 23, June 2015. National Institute of Health. NIH Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseandphysicalactivityexercisestotry/flexibilityexercises/01.html

3. “6 Simple Stretches for Flexibility’. Accessed 23, June 2015. Independence Blue Cross. http://savings.healthycoupons.com/ibx/article/fitness/6-simple-stretches-flexibility

4. “ The Importance and Purpose of Flexibility”. Accessed 24, June 2015. Human Kinetics. http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-importance-and-purpose-of-flexibility

5. Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 

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Cardiovascular Exercise: A Fitness Guide

 
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This week we discuss cardiovascular exercise, part of the 4 components of our well rounded exercise program. As we noted previously, as per the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week. (5) Cardio can improve both the function and the performance of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Many different cardio exercises exist and you can choose what works best for you by determining what will fit your intensity and goal level.

 

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, cardiovascular exercise is any activity that increases heart rate and respiration while using large muscle groups repetitively and rhythmically.(1) Cardio falls under high, low and no impact and here we will look at the differences.

 

High Impact: Both feet off of the ground at some point during the exercise. Examples include running, jogging and jump rope. High impact exercise might be good for those that have a baseline of fitness, no recent injuries and no bone or joint problems.

 

Low Impact: Any aerobic activity during which one foot is kept on the ground at all times. Walking and hiking are considered low impact. Low impact exercise is good for beginners, older adults and those with joint or bone problems. Low impact tends to be less jarring on the body and reduces the risk of injury. Remember, low impact doesn’t necessarily mean low intensity.

 

No impact cardio: Typically considered any water activity such as swimming and water aerobics because being immersed in water reduces the pull of gravity on your body. Cycling is another example as the bike supports most of your weight. No impact cardio is a good option for those that are recovering from an injury or have bone and joint problems.

 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), is another way to get your cardiovascular training. HIIT is a technique that alternates brief speed and recovery intervals to increase the overall intensity of your workout. Most cardio workouts are done at an exertion level of 5, but HIIT workouts are meant to be performed at an exertion higher than that, usually 7 or higher. They can be as short as 8 seconds or as much as 5 minutes. The higher the intensity, the shorter the speed interval and recovery is equal to or longer than the speed intervals. HIIT workouts can significantly increase aerobic and anaerobic fitness. (2)

 

A few things that cross over from our blogpost about resistance training include F.I.T.T principles and progression.

 

F.I.T.T includes frequency, intensity, time and type. When applied to cardiovascular exercise, our training program might look like this:

 

Frequency: 3-5 days a week

Intensity: 50-85% of heart rate maximum (220 – age x .50 to .85)

Time: 20-60 or more minutes per session, continuous or intermittent activity

Type: Aerobic (run, elliptical, brisk walk, bike ride, swim, dance, jump rope)

 

The recommended rate of progression in an exercise conditioning program depends on the functional capacity, medical health status, age, individual activity preferences and goals, and an individual’s tolerance to the current level of training.

 

No matter what type of cardio you choose, it’s not so much about time as it is what’s right for your body and your goals. It’s also important to enjoy they type of cardio you do! When starting or maintaining a cardio it is important to remember the following:

 

  • Don’t overdo it, increase gradually as your fitness level increases.
  • Warm up before getting into the most challenging part of your workout. This lets you increase body temperature and heart rate and allows your muscles to get comfortable with the work it’s doing.
  • Cool down before stopping. Performing 5-10 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity activity after moderate-to-vigorous exercise keeps blood from pooling, flushes metabolic waste from the muscles, and gradually returns circulation to pre-exercise levels.

 

Do you have questions about how to get started with a cardio program? Looking for new exercises to incorporate in your current program? Contact us for more information.

 

References:

 

  1. “Definition of Cardio Exercise”. Accessed 13, July 2015. Livestrong.com. http://www.livestrong.com/article/114986-definition-cardio-exercise/
  2. “High Intensity Interval Training”. Accessed 13, July 2015. The American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/3317/high-intensity-interval-training/
  3. “Cardiovascular Exercise”. Accessed 15, July 2015. The American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact/1/cardiovascular-exercise/
  4. “ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise”. Accessed 20, July 2015. http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise
  5. “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary”. Accessed 1, July 2015. Health.gov. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  http://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/summary.aspx
  6. Image courtesy of Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Workout Essentials 101: Guide to Resistance Training

 

Workout Essentials Resistance Training

 

We’re kicking off a 4 part blog series on 4 major areas of exercise that will include: resistance training, cardiovascular, balance and flexibility.  This week’s edition is on resistance training.  We’ll look to define what resistance training is, some foundational principles, benefits of resistance training and what type of resistance training you should incorporate.

 

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (i.e., brisk walking) every week AND muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). By following these guidelines it is believed that we can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases and other adverse health outcomes.

 

What is resistance training?

 

Resistance training is sometimes referred to as strength training, although incorrectly. Whereas if someone does resistance training they can increase not only their strength but also power, endurance and hypertrophy or increase in muscle mass.  Here are the differences:

 

1) Strength – the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specified velocity OR “the weight that a person can lift” (6)

 

2) Power – outside of the scientific realm may also be termed “strength, might, force” but scientifically is the “time rate of doing work”, the product of force applied over a distance in the shortest amount of time OR “how fast can you move” (6)

 

3) Endurance – endurance relating to resistance training involves the conditioning of muscles to handles higher levels of fatigue.  Think of the push up test you had to do in high school gym class.  

 

4) Hypertrophy – refers to muscle enlargement resulting from training primarily due to the increase in cross sectional area of the muscle. (6) Think of your traditional body building programs to gain muscle mass. 

 

Very good physiologically sound exercise programs will include all four of these components while maintaining emphasis on the overall greater goal.

 

The Foundational Principles

 

There are three foundational principles to remember regardless of the type of program your embarking on.  They are specificity, overload and progression.  Without some thought on these your program will not yield the results you want.

 

The first, specificity, is to train in a specific manner to produce a specific adaptation or training outcome. (6)  This basically states that your going to get the adaptation based upon the way you train and the exercises you choose.

 

The second, overload, refers to assigning a workout or training regime of greater intensity then a person is accustomed to. (6) Put simply, increase the loads of the exercises, frequency of the workouts, changing rest periods, adding exercises or sets or a combination of all of the above.

Last, progression, is as simple as it sounds systematic and gradual increasing the intensity of training. (6)  This enables the stimulus (resistance training) over time to produce the optimal results.  Small progressive changes also minimize the risk of injury.

 
There are four more additional principles, the F.I.T.T. principle, that aren’t considered foundations but provide guidance in figuring out your resistance training program.

     

  • FrequencyHow often your resistance training sessions occur during a week and manipulated for overload and progression
  • Intensity – How much weight or force/stress/weight is used relative to how much a person is able to lift (that person’s 1 rep max); can also be manipulated by changing sets and repetitions
  • Type – The type of exercise the person will be performing
  • Time – How long is your workout going to be.  Take into account rest periods.

 

What are the benefits of resistance training?

 

1)  Increase in muscle mass –  the disruption and damage done to the muscle from resistance training results in the repair and remodeling process by which the cross sectional area (CSA) of the muscle increases; hypertrophy.

 

2) Development of bone strength – the mechanical stress or “load” stimulates the development of new bone.  The stimulus must be above the minimal essential strain (MES) in order for new bone formation.

 
3) Improved neuromuscular system – an increase in neural drive occurs allowing for greater levels of muscle recruitment leading to maximal levels of force and power.  An overall more efficient system.
 
4) Overall health improvement – lower risks of some of the following:

  • Premature death
  • Diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis
  • Risk factors for disease, such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol
  • Functional capacity (the ability to engage in activities needed for daily living)
  • Mental health, such as depression and cognitive function

 

What type of resistance training?

 

Any type of activity causes the body’s muscles to work or hold against an applied force or weight is good. The weight can be your own body, bands, cables, machines and free weights to name a few.  Just remember our foundational principles when planning your exercises: specificity, overload and progression.

 

As we started out saying, it’s important to work all the major muscle groups of the body: the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.  The incorporation of large muscle groups (squats, deadlifts, power cleans) are especially nice because of their effect on increased hormonal release and those hormones’ role in muscle production.

 
The choice to incorporate a certain type of resistance depends on level of physical fitness, how familiar a person is with specific exercise movements, and individual goals.
 

Of course the other concern is recovery. All of the resistance training in the world will be worthless if special attention isn’t placed on how you recover from your workout.  You won’t be able to reach your goal if your constantly sidelined with injuries.  We dedicated a whole blog on recovery before, which you can take a look at here.

 

Final Key To Remember!

 

There is no one workout plan that works for everybody. The key is to pick a plan that matches your current fitness level and stays in line with your goals.  Have more questions about your workouts? Know somebody interested in benefiting from exercise just like you? Contact us!

 
Workout Essentials Resistance Training CTA
 
References

     

  1. “Resistance Training for Health and Fitness”. Accessed 1, July 2015. American College of Sports Medicine. https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/resistance-training.pdf
  2. “Physical Activity has Many Health Benefits”. Accessed 1 July 2015. Health.gov. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter2.aspx
  3. “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary”. Accessed 1, July 2015. Health.gov. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. http://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/summary.aspx
  4. “Strength Training for Bone, Muscle and Hormones”. Accessed 1, July, 2015. American College of Sports Medicine. https://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/strengthtrainingforbmh.pdf
  5. “Physical Fitness FITT Principles”. Accessed 6, July 2015. Teaching and Learning to Standards. Oregon Department of Education. http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/subjects/pe/curriculum/fittprinciple.pdf
  6. Baechle, T.R. & Earle, R.W. (2008).  Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.  Human Kinetics: Champaign.

 

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Post Exercise Massage: A Great Way to Help Recovery

 

Did you know that July 12-18 is ‘Every Body Deserves a Massage’ Week? Every year massage therapists use this dedicated week to raise awareness of the benefits of massage. Massage can be very beneficial in conjunction with an exercise program. Let’s take a look at those benefits.

 

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It is stated by the American Massage Therapy Association that those who participate in an exercise program can benefit from massage therapy. Sports massage can be used to improve athletic performance, speed recovery, and can be utilized by all individuals who participate in any athletic and/or exercise program to help improve conditioning and maintain peak performance. There are enormous benefits to exercise and moving the body but with strenuous movement can come normal wear and tear to the body. Heavily exercised muscles may lose their capacity to relax causing tight muscles and loss of flexibility. Massage can help the body recover from strenuous exercise by helping in the following ways:

 

  • Reduce muscle tension and stiffness after exercise
  • Aid in increased range of motion
  • Improve soft tissue function
  • Support the recovery of heart rate variability and diastolic blood pressure after high-intensity exercise
  • Decrease inflammation of cells

 

In addition, massage can help with blood and lymph circulation which in turn lead to removal of waste products and better cell nutrition. All of these benefits add up to relief from soreness, better flexibility and potential for future injury.

 

Not only can massage be positive in the physical aspects of your life, it can improve overall mental wellness too. Massage can help quality of sleep and help those that suffer with anxiety and depression. Stress is a component which can negatively impact on an individual’s health and well-being. Massage therapy has been shown to be a means by which stress can be reduced significantly on physical and psychological levels.

 

During ‘Every Body Deserves a Massage’ week, take the opportunity to meet with your favorite massage therapist or ask us for a referral.

 

References:

 

  1. “Massage Therapy for those Who Exercise”. Accessed 22, June 2015. American Massage Therapy Association. https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Therapy-for-Those-Who-Exercise.html
  2. “Injuries, Exercise and Massage. Accessed 22, June 2015. Dr. Frank Lipman. http://www.drfranklipman.com/injuries-exercise-and-massage/
  3. “Massage Can Improve Health and Wellness”. Accessed 22, June 2015. American Massage Therapy Association. https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Can-Improve-Health-and-Wellness.html
  4. Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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New Offering For Client Success at B3 Personal Training

 

When I set out to become a personal trainer back in 2005 it was because I so passionate about exercise I wanted to share that passion with everyone else.  I love what I do, coaching, educating and helping clients to make a profound impact on their life.  That is why I’m excited to introduce MEALS.  MEALS will provide yet another way that we can assist clients in providing the highest service possible.

 

ModernPalate Logo

 

MEALS are made by a local catering company and will be dropped off at B3 Personal Training in Doylestown twice a week on Monday and Thursday.  Here are just a few highlights of this new program:

 

  • Maximum of 500 calories in each meal.
  • Made fresh, never frozen.
  • Loaded with vegetables and lean proteins.
  • Nutrition information is printed right on the label, no preservatives.
  • Delivered in a microwaveable safe container making it easy to take to work or on your business trip.
  • Menu changes each week with new choices.

 
I know that making this service available will only help clients reach their goals quicker while eating deliciously!  Please, next time you stop in for your session ask your trainer about MEALS and how you can get your hands on them!

 

If your not a client, stop in anyway and find out how you can still take advantage of this service!

 

B3 Healthy,

 

Brent

 
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Exercise and Low Testosterone

 

How You Can Naturally Increase Your Levels

 
testosterone1
 

The three primary anabolic hormones involved in building muscle tissue are testosterone, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) as well as insulin and thyroid hormones. (6)  Testosterone is the primary androgen hormone that interacts with skeletal muscle tissue and will be our topic for this post.  We’ll discuss testosterone’s role in the body, the effect of aging on testosterone levels and finally how you can increase your testosterone naturally!  Let’s get started.

 

Testosterone, Key Role Player

 

Testosterone is produced in the testes. It plays a vital role in sperm production and is responsible for many of the secondary sex characteristics such as a man’s deep voice and hair on their chest.  In addition, testosterone contributes to a healthy libido, building muscle mass and maintaining energy levels.

 

Aging and Your Testosterone

 

Testosterone production starts to increase during puberty and after about age 30, most men experience a gradual decline in testosterone which continues throughout life. A drop in testosterone can contribute to losing his sex drive, feeling depressed, loss of muscle mass and having difficulty concentrating. Over time, bones can become thinner and more vulnerable to fracture.

 

Although age is the biggest factor for testosterone to taper off, there are other reasons as well. They include:

 

1. Injury to the testicles

2. Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer

3. Chronic diseases, such as AIDS, kidney disease, alcoholism, and cirrhosis of the liver

4. Stress

 

Testosterone can be checked with a simple blood test to determine adequate levels.  A low test result should trigger a check of your prostate health and your red blood cell production.  Reduced testosterone production, a condition known as hypogonadism, doesn’t always require treatment. Serious medical issues sometimes coincide with decreased testosterone production, and they should be diagnosed and treated if necessary.

 

Although a decrease in testosterone is normal, there are ways to increase testosterone artificially as well as naturally. Artificial testosterone can be administered orally, through the skin in gel patches or injected. The treatment does carry side effects and it is important to talk to your doctor to make sure this is the right course of action for you.

 

Increasing Testosterone Naturally

 
Now, let’s take a look at some of the natural ways to increase testosterone which include exercise and a healthy diet. Incorporating the habit of exercise into your lifestyle has many benefits. There are 4 factors that matter when it comes to testosterone levels and exercise.

     

  1. Your weight– obesity is a big problem when it comes to low testosterone. Fat tissue converts testosterone into estrogen, the female hormone. Exercise and diet can help you lose weight and maintain an ideal body weight to help you increase your hormone levels.
  2.  

  3. Age– The older you get, the less testosterone boost you may get from exercise, but exercise can help with bone and muscle health and better balance- issues that are affected by low testosterone in the first place.
  4.  

  5. When you exercise– Testosterone levels vary throughout the day and are typically higher in the morning than they are in the evening. Scheduling your workouts in the late afternoons or evenings can help boost your levels even more.
  6.  

  7. Fitness level– Starting or increasing your exercise program can help boost testosterone levels.  Research has shown that men with 2+ years of resistance training experience result in higher levels of testosterone. (6)
  8.  

Which Exercises Are Best?

 
Ideally, resistance training maximizes testosterone concentrations in the body.  Guidelines for resistance training are (6):

     

  1. Exercises that use large muscle groups such as squats, deadlifts and power cleans.
  2. Heavy intensity about 85-95% of your 1-rep maximum.
  3. Moderate to high volume of exercise achieved through multiple sets, exercises or both.

 

Make sure to keep your workouts balanced with cardio and flexibility training as well.  All exercise counts! Exercise will also help improve your mood and stamina and can help with sleep, all symptoms of low testosterone.

 

Remember, don’t overdo it. Overtraining can do harm to your body resulting in a drop in testosterone levels.

 

Make sure to get rest. Sleep should become a priority, aiming for 7-8 hours per night.

 

As always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

 

Addressing the big picture is key. You have to make several changes to maintain a healthy lifestyle but once this lifestyle becomes habit, you will see the positive changes to your body and mind.

 

If you have any questions on how to get started or to change your lifestyle for the better, contact us.

 
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References:

     

  1. “What is Testosterone?”. Accessed 21, June 2015. Healthline. http://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-testosterone#1
  2. “High and Low Testosterone in Men”.Accessed 21, June 2015. Medicine.net. http://www.medicinenet.com/high_and_low_testosterone_levels_in_men/views.htm
  3. “Does Working Out Affect Testosterone Levels?”. Accessed 22, June 2015. WebMd. http://www.webmd.com/men/features/exercise-and-testosterone
  4. “How Exercise can Help Low Testosterone”. Accessed 22, June 2015. Everyday Health. http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/low-testosterone/how-exercise-can-help-low-testosterone.aspx
  5. Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  6. Baechle, T.R. & Earle, R.W.  (2008).  Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.  Human Kinetics: Champaign, p. 52-55.

 

 

 

 

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Your Prostate and Exercise: What Every Man Should Know

 

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Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, behind only skin cancer.  The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 220,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States.  During National Men’s Health Month, June, the goal is to raise awareness of men’s health issues.  If you haven’t already talked to your doctor about your prostate or any other issues that may be affecting your health now is the time to do so.  If you would like to know more about heart disease, please check out last week’s post!

 

The aim of this post is to explain what the prostate is, the three major problems effecting the prostate and possible prevention techniques.  Let’s begin!

 

Anatomy Class

 

The prostate is a gland that is found only in men.  It is located beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum.  The urethra—the narrow tube that runs carries both urine and semen out of the body—runs directly through the prostate.  The prostate changes with age primarily due to male hormones  The main function of the prostate is to make fluid for sperm cells.

 

Three Major Problems

 

As a man ages, the prostate can become a problem in three major ways: enlargement, infection, and cancer.  Lets take a look at the problems involving the prostate.

 
1) Enlargement
 

Usually starting around 40 years of age the prostate starts to enlarge to the size of an apricot and by age 60 can enlarge to the size of a lemon. The enlarging of the gland is known as BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia. This means non cancerous abnormal cell growth and symptoms include:

 

  • Trouble starting a urine stream
  • Passing urine often, especially at night
  • Feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied
  • A strong or sudden urge to pass urine
  • Weak or slow urine stream
  • Stopping and starting again several times while passing urine

 

Drugs or surgery may relieve its symptoms. If the symptoms are not bothersome, the watchful waiting approach might be used before treatment. This includes getting annual checkups and being mindful of the symptoms so they can be treated before getting worse.

 
2) Infection
 
Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate). Some symptoms of prostatitis include:

     

  • Trouble passing urine
  • Burning when urinating
  • Strong and frequent urges to pass urine even if you don’t really have to
  • Pain in the rectum, belly or groin

 
Most cases can be treated with a course of antibiotics over a 7-14 day period.
 
3) Cancer
 

The third way the prostate is affected is by cancer.  By the age of 80, half of all American men will have some cancer cells in their prostate. It is a slow growing cancer with sometimes no symptoms. Symptoms can include:

 

  • Trouble passing urine
  • Frequent urge to pass urine, especially at night
  • Weak or interrupted urine stream
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation

 

By the time the symptoms present itself, the cancer may be advanced.

 

There are tests to find out if you have prostate cancer. The most common test is a rectal exam, followed by a blood test. A biopsy is then done to examine the prostate tissue cells. Other tests to see if the cancer has spread such as a bone scan or MRI may be performed. Once you have been diagnosed, your doctor will discuss and provide the right course of treatment for you.

 

What can you do to prevent or treat prostate cancer?

 

Studies have shown that lifestyle changes especially diet and exercise have a significant influence in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. Exercise and a healthy diet also play a critical role in the prevention of other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Anything you do to keep your heart healthy, can also keep your prostate healthy.

 

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to an accumulation of body fat, which can contribute to the development of inflammation and raise insulin levels. This excess body fat, especially around the middle, can increase inflammation and oxidation in the cells of your body, two natural processes that are strong contributors to the development and progression of prostate cancer.

Oxidation is a normal chemical reaction that occurs when free radicals form within the cells of the prostate. Once they are free to roam around, they initiate a process of breaking down normal cellular structures, causing damage and promoting the development of cancer.

 

Inflammation is a biochemical process that your body initiates when fighting off an infection.  While trying to fight infection, those oxygen radicals are also breaking down normal tissue. Cancer can spread when the inflammatory cells leads to the wasting away of normal prostate tissue.

 
Here’s what’s important: While you can’t change certain risk factors like your age or race, nutritional and exercise habits that reduce the development of oxidation and inflammation can be changed.
 

Regular exercise causes many changes in your body that help reduce circulating levels of reactive oxygen inflammation. Beyond burning calories, endurance type exercises, such as walking, running, cycling, and swimming, are particularly effective at increasing the body’s natural levels of antioxidants, eliminating inflammatory molecules that drive cancer. Keeping extra pounds off will help minimize and reverse lower urinary tract symptoms linked to an enlarged prostate.

 

A healthy diet is also key to maintaining a healthy body weight. Many foods have anti inflammatory properties and antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and ocean caught fish. Tomato based products can increase the levels of the antioxidant lycopene.

 
If you have any questions about how to start or maintain an exercise program we’re here for you!
 
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References:

  1. “About the Prostate”. Accessed June 8, 2015. Prostate Cancer Foundation. http://www.pcf.org/site/c.leJRIROrEpH/b.5802023/k.B322/About_the_Prostate.htm
  2. “Understanding Prostate Changes: A Health Guide for Men. Accessed June 8, 2015. NIH National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/understanding-prostate-changes#prostate
  3. “Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate Cancer”. Accessed June 8, 2015. Prostate Cancer Foundation. http://www.pcf.org/atf/cf/%7B7c77d6a2-5859-4d60-af47-132fd0f85892%7D/NUTRITION-EXERCISE-AND-PROSTATE-CANCER.PDF
  4. “Prostate Disease”. Accessed June 8, 2015. Medline Plus- U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prostatediseases.html
  5. “Prostate Cancer.” American Cancer Society.  Accessed on 19 June 2015. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/.

 

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Heart Disease: The Leading Cause of Death in Men

 

Men’s Health Week begins on Monday June 15th this year and in observance we are beginning a three week series of posts on men’s health issues. The first in the series is on the leading cause of death in men, heart disease.
 

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Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 male deaths [1]. Between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men [2]. The average age for death due to this disease is UNDER 65. These facts are chilling but there are ways for men to work hard at reducing your risk of heart disease.  Women concerned with reducing their risk of heart disease should check out what they should do. Heart disease includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart. When we’re done with this post, you’ll know about different heart conditions, the difference between modifiable and non modifiable risk factors and what exercise and dietary changes can do to help you.

 

Understanding The Difference

 
Not all heart conditions are the same. Here’s the difference (6).

     

  1. Coronary Artery Disease can also be called Degenerative Heart Disease and Coronary Heart Disease which is the narrowing and hardening of the arteries leading to the heart.  The arteries are vital for providing oxygen and nutrients to the heart. Coronary artery disease causes about 1.2 million heart attacks per year.
  2. Angina Pectoris is a temporary (lasts 1-3 minutes) but painful condition representing inadequate blood flow.  The pain appears in the chest as a sensation of burning, squeezing or choking and sometimes is confused with heart burn.
  3. Myocardial Infarction is a heart attack.  A blood clot formed from plaque accumulation in the arteries blocks blood flow in the heart.
  4. Congestive Heart failure, when the heart does not pump as well as it should. Heart failure affects almost 5 million Americans and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65.
  5. Heart Valve Disease relates to abnormalities that can cause a narrowing preventing the valve to open (stenosis), the valve improperly opens and blood moves back into the heart (insufficiency) or enlarged valves bulge backward (prolapse).
  6. Dysrhythmias are abnormalities with the heart’s electrical conduction system.

 

Modifiable vs Non-Modifiable

 
There are several risk factors for heart disease in men. Some are uncontrollable and others are. For a comprehensive explanation of all these risk factors check out our previous post.
 
You don’t have control over:

     

  • Being a male
  • Age
  • Race
  • Family history

 

But you do have control over these risk factors:

 

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being physically inactive
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Stress

 

High Blood Pressure & High Cholesterol

 

The two most common heart disease risk factors are high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

 

High blood pressure, or hypertension is defined by the systolic (top) number being 140 or over and/or the diastolic (bottom) number being over 90. Nearly 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure.

 

The risk for heart disease increases as your total amount of cholesterol increases. Your total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 mg. HDL, the good cholesterol should be higher than 40 mg in men and LDL should be less than 130 mg.  Regular exercise will also help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol.

 

Make the Change

 

Making lifestyle changes has been proven to reduce your risk of heart disease. Not only can you change physical risk factors but these changes can affect your emotional well being. In addition, a lot of positive changes cross over risk factors so if you already doing something to reduce one risk, you could be helping to reduce another as well.

 

Excess weight puts a significant strain on your heart and worsens several other heart disease risks. Increasing your physical activity and eating a heart healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy body weight. A diet low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fat and simple sugars will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease.

 

We have said it before and will say it again, exercise and diet can help control risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Cardio or aerobic exercise (running, walking, biking, elliptical, etc.) combined with weight training is best. Research from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism and International Sports Medicine Journal found that the positive effect from losing fat and gaining muscle significantly improves HDL. Also, a fancy enzyme in the body named lipase increases.  This is important because lipase helps turn fat into the good guys, HDL.

 

How much?

 

Most people should exercise 30 minutes per day on most if not all days of the week. This includes moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise like walking, biking and swimming and strength training. Strength training recommendations are as follows:

 

  • 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • 2-3 sessions per week
  • 8-10 exercises covering the major muscle groups

 
There are many physiological benefits for exercise.

     

  1. The improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. As the ability to use oxygen becomes easier, regular daily activities can be completed with less fatigue.
  2. Exercise improves the capacity of the blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise which is consistent with better vascular wall function and an improved ability to provide oxygen to the muscles during exercise.

 
The most important thing is getting started. If you have any questions on how to get started or what changes you can make, contact us.
 

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References:

     

  1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC.Deaths: final data for 2009[PDF-2M]National vital statistics reports. 2011;60(3).
  2. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, et al.Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart AssociationCirculation. 2012;125(1):e2–220.
  3. “Cardiovascular Disease: The Leading Men’s Health Threat”. Accessed June 10, 2015. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/men/features/6-top-health-threats-men
  4. “Exercise and Cardiovascular Health”. Accessed June 12,2015. American Heart Association. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/107/1/e2.full
  5. “Risk Factors for Heart Disease”. Accessed June 10th, 2105. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/risk-factors-heart-disease
  6. McArdle, W.D. et al.  (2001). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance.  Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins: Philadelphia. pp. 920-934.
  7. Image courtesy of thampapon1 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

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Celebrate Cancer Survivors Today

 

Today, Sunday, June 7th is the 28th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day®.  A survivor as anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.  For those who have had cancer it is important to know where you can find continuing streams of information, education and support.  That is part of what today is all about.  Exercise plays a role in the life of a cancer survivor.  Exercise has also been shown to provide benefits for breast cancer and lymphoma survivors.  So, join us in letting cancer survivors know that you care!

 

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What is National Cancer Survivors Day®?

 

National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual celebration that is held nationwide, and around the world, on the first Sunday in June.  It is a day for everyone, whether you’re a cancer survivor, a family member, friend, or medical professional.

It was created for a number of reasons:
 

1) Celebrating those who have survived cancer.

2) Inspiration for those recently diagnosed with cancer.

3) Support for families of those affected by cancer.

4) Outreach to the community about cancer.

5) Draw attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship.

 

What does the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation do?

 

National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation is a nonprofit that provides free guidance, education, and networking to hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and other cancer-related organizations.

 

Through National Cancer Survivors Day®, the Foundation works to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors by raising awareness of the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship.

 

Who is a cancer survivor?

 

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines National Cancer Survivors Day® is an opportunity for your community to demonstrate that it has an active, productive cancer survivor population and to bring awareness to the challenges they face during and after treatment.

 
If your a survivor or know someone who is and your confused as to how you should begin exercising again please let us know. We can help!
 

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Exercise for Cancer Survivors

 

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More then one million people each year are diagnosed with cancer (1). As of 2014 there were roughly 14.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States (2).  This Sunday is the 28th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day, a day to connect, support, educate and celebrate cancer survivors.  We all either know someone or know of someone living with cancer, a cancer survivor or sadly someone who has passed.  With the ever growing number of cancer survivors, projected to be 19 million by 2024, exercise plays a key role in living a healthy life (2).  Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., FACSM and lead author of the cancer recommendations for the American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM) had the following to say about cancer and exercise, “We’re seeing better everyday function and overall higher quality of life for cancer survivors who exercise (3).” Past posts have focused on exercise for breast cancer survivors and lymphoma patients, but this post will serve as a guideline for ALL cancer survivors and those going through treatment.

 

What can exercise do for cancer survivors?

 

Exercise is important for general overall health to keep all of your muscles working as well and efficiently as possible.  This is especially important if long-term bed rest was a result of the treatment plan.

 

Exercise helps prevent the following problems (1):

 

  • Stiff joints
  • Weak muscles
  • Breathing problems
  • Constipation
  • Skin sores
  • Poor appetite
  • Mental changes
  • Helps reduce stress
  • Relieve fatigue

 

Exercise can promote the following adaptations (4):

     

  • Improve balance
  • Strengthen muscles, or keep them from weakening
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Lessen the risk bones will weaken
  • Lessen the risk of blood clots
  • Lessen dependence on others to perform daily tasks
  • Improve self-esteem and lower risk of anxiety and depression
  • Lessen nausea
  • Lessen fatigue
  • Help control weight

 

What can exercise do for those undergoing cancer treatments?

 

Most cancer patients experience fatigue or severe tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest (6).  This could lead to a vicious cycle of lack of physical activity causing muscle weakness and reduced range of motion. Beginning exercise may be able to break this cycle allowing patients to carry out activities of daily living normally.  The goal of exercising during cancer treatment is to help maintain your endurance, strength, flexibility, and ability to do the things you need and want to do.  You’ll want to ask your doctor before beginning to exercise to make sure that it is safe.

 

Here are a few recommendations:

     

  • If you were used to exercising before you were diagnosed with cancer then you will need to reduce the amount and intensity of your program.
  • If you are new to exercise should start slowly and rest frequently.
  • Do some activity every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

 

What type of exercise should I do?

 

Well it might seem easy, but the recommendations from the ACSM guidelines basically say avoid inactivity.  According to a study those individuals who had 3 to 5 times more then the recommended leisure time activity reduced their risk of death by 39% (5).  Leisure time activity was defined as activity beyond normal everyday tasks.  That would equate to taking about an hour long walk a day but also included some of the following:  jogging, running, swimming, tennis, racquetball, bicycling, aerobics, and dance.  Researches concluded that if you are no very active that every little bit counts and more is better then none.

 

Officially, ACSM  recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (4).  This can be done over most days of the week at an intensity level that increases your heart rate but you’ll be able to sustain the activity level.

 

Strength training always appears to be beneficial. Again, follow the general physical activity guidelines set forth by ACSM for 2-3 days per week with 1 set of 10-15 repetitions for all major muscle groups.

As always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program to ensure that it is safe and will be effective for you.  We are here to help!  As part of the Medical Fitness Network we believe that exercise should be part of a comprehensive and complementary approach to the medical practice.
 

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Contact us today and we’ll develop your plan of action for free!
 

References

     

  1. “Learn about cancer.” American Cancer Society.  Accessed on 5 June 2015 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/index.
  2. Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics, 2014. Published June 1, 2014 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. First author: Carol E. DeSantis, MPH, American Cancer Society, Atlanta Ga. in “National cancer survivors day” American Cancer Society.  Accessed on 5 June 2015 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/news/report-number-of-cancer-survivors-continues-to-grow.
  3. “New Guidelines Strongly Recommend Exercise for Cancer Patients, Survivors.” American College of Sports Medicine.  Accessed on 5 June 2015 from https://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/acsm-in-the-news/2011/08/01/new-guidelines-strongly-recommend-exercise-for-cancer-patients-survivors.
  4. “Exercise Can Help Cancer Patients’ Quality of Life.”  American Cancer Society.  Accessed on 5 June 2015 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/features/exercise-can-help-cancer-patients-quality-of-life.
  5. “Leisure Time Physical Activity and Mortality: A Detailed Pooled Analysis of the Dose-Response Relationship.” Published online April 6, 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine. First author Hannah Arem, MHS, PhD. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md. in “Study Shows Walking an Hour a Day Achieves Greatest Longevity Benefit.” American Cancer Society.  Accessed on 5 June 2015 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/news/study-shows-walking-an-hour-a-day-achieves-greatest-longevity-benefit.
  6. “Study Shows Walking an Hour a Day Achieves Greatest Longevity Benefit.” American Cancer Society.  Accessed on 5 June 2015 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/news/study-shows-walking-an-hour-a-day-achieves-greatest-longevity-benefit.
  7. Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at Freedigitalphotos.net

 

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