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For December 02, 2016

  • Great Weight-Loss Expectations
    Great Weight-Loss Expectations

    What�s Realistic?

    (MSNBC News Services, September 10 1999) � �It just isn�t working,� you say, and you give up on an important diet or exercise resolution. It�s tempting to toss in the towel when you don�t get results fast enough. One way to overcome this temptation is to develop healthy habits that don�t feel like torture. Equally important, however, is to have realistic expectations in the first place.

    STUDIES SHOW that exercise is one of the main influences on long-term weight control. But for most people, exercise works slowly. For someone who has been a �couch potato� for a number of years to start a walking program is a big accomplishment. Yet each pound of fat loss requires burning an extra 3,500 calories more than are taken in. Research shows that a person who weighs 180 pounds and walks three days a week for 30 minutes at a medium-paced three miles per hour would take almost four months to lose a pound. Someone hoping to lose a few pounds a week would have given up long before that.

    Exercise can produce greater results. The acronym FIT � for Frequency, Intensity and Time � tells you how to increase the benefits. Instead of walking three days each week, which is considered the minimum for maintaining your current level of fitness, walking five or six days a week will allow the calorie-burning to add up more quickly. Or once you�ve conditioned yourself to walking three miles per hour, you can increase that to a brisk four miles per hour and burn about an extra 50 calories a session. Interval training, in which you periodically push a bit harder, is a great way to burn more calories and increase your level of fitness. Or, if you can manage an hour instead of just a half hour of walking, you double the calories you burn. The hour can be broken up and spread through the day.

    Studies show that even by combining these strategies, it would take you five to six weeks to lose a pound. Your average weight loss would be eight to 10 pounds per year. This is plenty to improve fitness and gradually reduce your weight, but if you feel a need to lose weight a little faster, add some other strategies.

    Weight-training exercise to increase muscle is one way to burn more calories. Muscle tissue burns more calories than does body fat. In studies of weight-training programs, in about 12 weeks people who add three pounds of muscle (while losing fat) can burn an extra 120 to 200 calories per day.

    Look at your eating habits, too. By cutting back on portions or skipping a snack that was purely habit, many people can easily eliminate 200 extra calories a day without going hungry at all. That 200 calories daily can mean loss of almost half a pound a week.

    By combining these strategies, weight loss can proceed at the rate of a half to one pound per week. This is the rate experts recommend to safely lose mainly fat tissue, without loss of muscle tissue or slowing down metabolic rate. A year from now you�ll be a lot better off than the people who spend the year stopping and starting less sensible exercise and diet resolutions.

    These types of exercise and eating changes have been shown in many studies to produce a wide range of other benefits long before weight loss stacks up. You�ll find it easier to carry things and climb stairs. You�ll have more energy and feel less stressed. Notice and celebrate these and other changes in how you feel, and the temptation to forsake your resolutions will simply fade away.

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  • Sports Bras: Getting Some Visibility
    Sports Bras: Getting Some Visibility

    You probably know that sports bras have become highly visible lately.

    This is because Brandi Chastain, exuberant over making the winning kick for the United States recently in women�s World Cup soccer competition, tore off her blouse and exposed a black sports bra.

    It turns out that Chastain helped design the $40 sports bra, which all the women on the USA team wear. Apparently, this has resulted in a lot of interest in the specially-designed bras that give firm support to reduce bouncing of the breasts while running.

    As more women become more serious about exercising, manufacturers are appealing to them by pointing out that properly fitted bras for exercising can control breast motion, feel comfortable and look good.

    And there are some other issues involved. Without motion-controlling support, some women start lactating when engaged in strenuous exercise. Nipple irritation can occur using flimsy leotards for support.

    And, of course, if women are more comfortable while they exercise, they are probably going to exercise more often.

    In one of the few studies I�ve seen on the subject, 27 women marathon runners were mostly pleased with wearing commercial bras, although they did report some chafing.

    But its questionable how much this trend has caught on. Among women athletes at the University of Washington, only 10 percent reported wearing a sports bra, according to a report in The Physician and Sportsmedicine.

    I would say this is a choice best left up to the woman involved, since some sports are more rigorous than others. In volleyball, for example, some players wear front-latched bras to prevent scratches or pain from repeated diving and rolling on the floor.

    There is some evidence that breast injuries can be avoided by strong support, including wrapping elastic bandages around the breasts.

    Use your best judgement here. A blend of comfort, support and style would make the most sense � especially if you tend to rip your blouse off when winning a contest.

    Source: The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Vol. 10, No. 11.

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  • 10 Tips for Low-Fat Restaurant Dining
    10 Tips for Low-Fat Restaurant Dining

    Ten Ways to Stay Slim Despite Eating Out

    (Prevention, September 1999) � You've probably heard dining-out tips such as "choose broiled over fried" and "order sauces on the side" a dozen times. Here are some new ones that can help too.

    1. Maintain balance. Choose one splurge per restaurant trip and then round out the meal with healthy favorites. If you have to have the fettuccine Alfredo, have a big tossed salad as an appetizer and fruit for dessert.

    2. Go halvsies. Ask restaurants to use only half of the normal portion for high-fat ingredients such as cheese, oil, bearnaise sauce, or gravy. That way you get the flavor without being tempted to pile on more.

    3. Order extras -- of veggies. Whether they're dressing a sandwich or part of a stir-fry, ask for an extra helping of these low-cal, high-fiber gems.

    4. Get real. This isn't your last (restaurant) supper. You'll go out to eat again -- probably to the very same place -- so you don't have to eat everything that sounds good this time.

    5. Make it a two-course meal. Appetizers and desserts can really rack up the calories and fat. Choose one or the other to go with your entr�e.

    6. Mix 'n match. If you're dining with someone else who's watching what he eats, order one vegetarian and one meat entr�e, then share. You automatically cut your meat portion without feeling deprived.

    7. Share often. Offer a taste of your dish to everyone at your table. The more they eat, the less there is for you. (Just don't partake when they start sharing.)

    8. Go "big" on grease. If you really want something fried, choose large-size items -- a breast of chicken instead of five or six chicken fingers, or seven or eight steak fries instead of 20 or more thin french fries. The smaller items have more surface area, so they absorb more oil, making them higher in fat and calories.

    9. Collect menus. Decide what you're going to order before you get to the restaurant, where the sights and smells can blow even the best of intentions.

    10. Be first. Order before anyone else to avoid letting others' choices influence you.

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  • Difference Between Aerobic , Strength and Flexibility Exercise
    Difference Between Aerobic , Strength and Flexibility Exercise

    The sweat experts divide exercise into three general categories: aerobic, strength, and flexibility and strongly recommend a balanced program that includes all three. (Speed training is also a major category, but is generally practiced only by competitive athletes.)

    Aerobic (Endurance) Training

    Aerobic exercises build endurance and keep the heart pumping at a steady but elevated rate for an extended period. Practicing them regularly can enhance cardiac function, boost HDL (the "good") cholesterol levels, strengthen the bones in the spine, and lower the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Aerobic exercise also trims body fat and can improve one's sense of well-being. Jogging, swimming, cycling, stair-climbing, and aerobic dancing are all examples. As little as one hour a week is helpful, but three to four hours per week are optimal. People who are out of shape or elderly should start aerobic training gradually with five to ten minutes of low-impact aerobic activity (e.g., gardening, yard work, or walking) every other day and build toward a goal of 30 minutes per day three to seven times a week. Because it is so natural and convenient, brisk walking is an excellent and easy way to accomplish aerobic exercise.

    Some research indicates that walking at a swift pace burns at least as many calories as running or jogging for the same distance and poses less risk for injury to muscle and bone. Swimming is an ideal exercise for many people with certain physical limitations, including pregnant women, individuals with musculoskeletal problems, and those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma. Swimming, however, will not raise the heart rate quite as much as other sports because of the so-called diving reflex," which causes the heart to slow down automatically when the body is immersed in water. For swimming, use a heart rate target of 75% of the maximum and then subtract 12 beats per minute.

    Shoes and Clothing. Although Americans spend nearly $2 billion on home exercise equipment, all that's really necessary for a workout is a good pair of shoes -- well-made, well-fitting, and broken in but not worn down. They should support the ankle and provide cushioning for impact sports such as running or aerobic dancing. Airing out the shoes and feet after exercising reduces chances for skin conditions such as athlete's foot. Comfort and safety are the key words for workout clothing. For outdoor nighttime exercise, a reflective vest and light-colored clothing must be worn. Bikers, rollerbladers, and equestrians should always wear safety devices such as helmets, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. Goggles are mandatory for indoor racquet sports. For vigorous athletic activities, such as football, ankle braces may be more effective in preventing ankle injuries than tape.

    Aerobic-Exercise Equipment. A lot of money spent on equipment does not always translate into a better workout or better results. A simple jump rope improves aerobic endurance for people who are able to perform high impact exercise. Jumping rope should be done on surfaces that have some give to avoid joint injury. (A good floor mat is important to provide cushioning for all home exercises.) Home exercise machines can be adapted to any fitness level and can be used day or night. For burning calories, the treadmill has been ranked best, followed by stair climbers, the rowing machine, cross country ski machine, and stationary bicycle.

    Recently, elliptical trainers have been gaining popularity and, according to one study, are even better than treadmills for elevating heart rate and increasing calorie and oxygen consumption. Stationary bikes and stair climbers condition leg muscles. Stationary bikes are fairly economical and easy to use safely. The pedals should turn smoothly, the seat height should adjust easily, and the bike's computer should be able to adjust intensity. Stair machines offer very intense, low-impact workouts, which a recent study showed to be as effective as running with less chance of injury. Rowing and cross-country ski machines exercise both the upper and lower body.

    Cheaper models of exercise machines tend to be flimsy and hard to adjust, but many sturdy, moderately priced machines are available. The higher-end models may utilize computers to record calories burned, speed, and mileage. While their readouts may provide motivation and gauge the intensity of a workout, they are not always accurate. Before investing in and bringing home an exercise machine, it is wise to test it out first at a gym. In addition, initial supervised training when using these machines can reduce the risk of injury that might occur with self-instruction.

    Isometric (Strength or Resistance) Training

    Where aerobic exercise emphasizes endurance, isometric exercise focuses on strength. Adding 10 to 20 minutes of modest strength training two to three times a week is important for a balanced exercise program. People who only exercise aerobically eventually lose upper body strength. Isometric training builds muscle strength while burning fat, helps maintain bone density, and improves digestion. It appears to lower LDL (the so-called "bad") cholesterol levels.

    Isometric exercise is beneficial for everyone, even people in their 90s. In fact, strength training assumes even more importance as one ages, because after age 30 everyone undergoes a slow process of muscular erosion, which can be reduced or even reversed by adding resistance training to an exercise program. (Please note, people at risk for cardiovascular disease should not perform isometric exercises without checking with a physician.) Individuals should first select a weight or rubber band tension that allows a maximum of eight repetitions. When 12 repetitions can be completed, a higher weight or tension that limits the individual again to eight repetitions should be used. Once 12 repetitions can be completed at maximum tension, resistance can be lowered and the number of repetitions increased to 15 to 20. While doing these exercises, it is important to breathe slowly and rhythmically. Exhale as the movement begins; inhale when returning to the starting point. The first half of each repetition should last two seconds, and the return to the original position should last four seconds. Joints should be moved rhythmically through their full range of motion during a repetition and not locked up. For maximum benefit, one should allow 48 hours between workouts for full muscle recovery.

    Strength-Training Equipment. Any heavy object that can be held in the hand, such as a plastic bottle filled with sand or water, can serve as a weight. Heavy rubber bands or tubing are excellent devices for resistance training; they are inexpensive, come in various tensions, and are safer and more convenient than free weights for exercising all parts of the body. Latex bands are easier on the hands than tubing. Many inexpensive hand weights are available to help strengthen and tone the upper body. Ankle weights strengthen and tone muscles in the lower body but are not recommended for impact aerobics or jumping. Hand grips strengthen arms and are good for relieving tension. A pull-up bar can be mounted in a doorway for chin-ups and pull-ups.

    Flexibility Training (Stretching)

    Flexibility training uses stretching exercises to prevent cramps, stiffness, and injuries. It also ensures a wider range of motion (i.e., the amount of movement a joint has). Yoga and T'ai Chi, which focus on flexibility, balance, and proper breathing, may even lower stress and help to reduce blood pressure. Authorities now recommend performing stretching exercises for 10 to 12 minutes at least three times a week. When stretching, extend the muscles to the point of tension -- not pain -- and hold for 20 to 60 seconds (beginners may need to start with a 5 to 10 second stretch).

    Certain stretching exercises are particularly beneficial for the back. It is important when doing stretches that involve the back to relax the spine, to keep the lower back flush with the mat, and to work only the muscles required for changing position, usually the abdomen. It is also important to breathe evenly while stretching. Holding one's breath defeats the purpose; it causes muscle contraction and raises blood pressure.

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  • Can Diet Spot-Reduce Bodyfat
    Can Diet Spot-Reduce Bodyfat
    Originally featured in: Muscle & Fitness

    Written by: Jose Antonio, PhD, CSCS, Adjunct Health & Science Editor

    Should we eat more fat or not? Numerous books tout the benefits of eating more fat, particularly monounsaturated fat; others claim that fat is the archenemy of a lean physique. The answer really depends on your goals. Read on to see what I mean.

    In a study conducted at the University of Melbourne, Australia, researchers examined the effects of a fiber-rich, high-carbohydrate, low-fat (HCLF) diet and what they called a modified-fat (MF) diet high in monounsaturated fat on the distribution of bodyfat in 16 non-insulin-dependent diabetics (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM).

    The most common type of diabetes, NIDDM is characterized by impaired insulin action. That is, these diabetics usually don't have a problem with insulin production, but the insulin they do produce doesn't seem to cause the appropriate response in peripheral tissues. For instance, they have difficulty transporting glucose in the blood to skeletal muscle.

    So what problems are related to NIDDM? Because it's associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it obviously needs to be managed. You can decrease this risk in two fundamental ways - yep, diet and exercise.

    Dietary Recommendations
    In this study, the six male and 10 female subjects were prescribed two three-month diets with a one-month washout period in between. Both diets contained the same number of calories but differed in macronutrient content. The HCLF diet included 50% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 25% from protein, 24% from fat and 1% from alcohol; the MF diet included 41% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 22% from protein, 36% from fat and 1% from alcohol. About 50% of the fat supplied in the MF diet came from monounsaturated sources (such as olive oil). Both diets were low in cholesterol.

    Interestingly, both groups lost nearly identical amounts of fat, with slight but insignificant losses of lean body mass despite the marked difference in amount and type of fat consumed. This agrees with the idea that the caloric deficit, not the composition of those calories, is the important factor affecting fat or weight loss.

    Yet the picture isn't that simple. The HCLF group lost most of its fat in the lower body (legs and glutes) while the MF group lost the same relative amounts of fat from both the upper and lower body. The ratio of upper- to lower-body fat changing toward a greater distribution of fat in the upper body (including the abdomen) in the HCLF group is important because increased levels of abdominal fat seem to be more problematic with regard to cardiovascular disease and insulin regulation than hip or thigh fat.

    So does this mean you should start eating more fat?

    Well, if you're a non-insulin-dependent diabetic who doesn't exercise, perhaps you should follow the MF diet suggested in this experiment. But people who do exercise, especially bodybuilders, may not have a problem with insulin regulation. In fact, their muscles are typically quite insulin-sensitive. Following a diet that's high in fat (more than 30% of daily calories) certainly isn't needed to help regulate levels of bodyfat, since truncal obesity isn't a major problem with bodybuilders or athletes in general.

    Eating to lose weight is much different from eating to gain muscle mass. Bodybuilders should consume adequate carbs (to replenish muscle glycogen used during exercise) and protein (to provide the necessary building blocks for muscle growth), but do they need the added fat? I think not. Yes, bodybuilders attempting to gain mass need to consume calories above that needed to maintain weight.

    That is, to gain weight, you need to get those extra amino acids and glycogen from your diet. Of course, using androgenic steroids, insulinlike growth factor-1, growth hormone or other anabolic substances changes the entire equation. If you're training drug-free, however, you need to consume calories in excess of your daily expenditure to gain weight.

    Yet you could speculate on some interesting points concerning this study. Looking at weight loss in a normal, nondiabetic person, let's assume that this individual is cutting calories to lose weight (mostly fat, presumably). Let's continue to assume that a diet made up of predominantly more fat, especially monounsaturated fat, leads to a proportional loss of fat from both the upper and lower body, and that this same individual could lose proportionately more fat from the lower body as a result of a low-fat, high-fiber, high-carbohydrate diet.

    This has interesting implications for women who typically have a difficult time losing lower-body fat. Would the high-carb, low-fat diet be a better choice? What about men who may have more difficulty losing upper-body fat? Would they be better off eating a reduced-calorie diet that's relatively high in fat and lower in carbs? The idea is intriguing: Specific diet plans for regional fat loss!

    Nonetheless, keep in mind that diet should be tailored for very specific purposes and for specific populations. Don't give the bodybuilder a diet that's good for the diabetic, and don't give the endurance athlete a diet that more closely meets the needs of the strength-power athlete. Perhaps men and women will respond differently, as well. One diet, like one shoe size, doesn't fit all.

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  • Weight training benefits children
    Weight training benefits children

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health)--Weightlifting programs can improve the muscle tone and endurance in children - and help them to feel good about their athletic performance, researchers conclude.

    They recommend that resistance training programs for children include a high number of repetitions lifting moderate weights rather than few lifts of heavy weights, noting that high-repetition, moderate-weight training "resulted in more favorable changes in upper body strength."

    In their study, Dr. Avery Faigenbaum and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston the Boston researchers assigned 11 girls and 32 boys between five and 12 years of age to eight weeks of weight training. Half of the children engaged in workouts consisting of six to eight repetitions of each exercise, using relatively heavy weights. The other half of participants completed an average 13 to 15 "reps," but with lighter loads.

    In their report, published this month in the electronic version of the journal Pediatrics (www.pediatrics.org), the authors conclude that weight-training programs "can enhance the muscular strength and muscular endurance of children."

    They also note that there were differences in outcome depending on the training regimen used. While leg muscle endurance improved in both exercise groups, children using high-rep, moderate weights experienced "significantly greater" gains in muscle endurance compared with children in the low-rep, high-weight group.

    And while leg muscle strength increased by 31 percent in children engaged in low-rep, high-weight workouts, the benefit was even greater-- nearly 41 percent - in children involved in high-rep, moderate-weight workouts.

    Most of the children appeared to show the greatest improvements in strength during the first four weeks of the program, with lower body muscles tending to be more responsive to weight training than muscles in the upper body.

    The Boston team conclude that children should begin weight-training using moderate weights and a single set of 13 to 15 repetitions per exercise. This type of program "not only allows for positive changes in muscular performance," they explain, "but provides an opportunity for each child to experience success and feel good about his/her performance."

    The researchers note that three major organizations - the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association - support children's participation in "appropriately designed and competently supervised" weight training programs.

    Source: Pediatrics 1999;104/1/e5.

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