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For July 22, 2017

  • Fish Oil May Help Unclog Diseased Heart Arteries
    Fish Oil May Help Unclog Diseased Heart Arteries

    In a fat-fearing world, fish oil is emerging as one fat even a cardiologist can love. Adding to evidence that the omega-3 fatty acid promotes heart health, German researchers have found that a daily dose of fish oil may help slow or even reverse the hardening and narrowing of arteries in patients with heart disease.

    In the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Munich report that a fish- oil capsule a day may ``modestly'' improve blood flow to the heart and bolster traditional therapy in patients with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

    In a study of 223 men and women, those who took a dose of fish oil per day for two years had fewer atherosclerosis complications such as heart attack and stroke. Two fish-oil patients had complications, compared with seven patients on a placebo pill that contained other fatty acids similar to those of the ``average European diet.'' Most patients were also on cholesterol- lowering drugs, and many had previously had surgery to unclog their arteries.

    One of the ``good,'' polyunsaturated fats, fish oil has widely been thought to have important heart benefits. Found in fish such as salmon, it is a key component of the low-saturated-fat Mediterranean diet that has been linked to the lower incidence of heart disease in that area of the world.

    Just how fish oil bestows its benefits has been unclear, but researchers have suspected that it somehow helps clear clogged heart arteries. The German team, led by Dr. Clemens von Schacky, used X-rays to peer into the patients' heart arteries at the beginning and end of the study. They found that after two years, the arteries of the fish-oil patients, on average, offered more room for blood flow.

    The improvements were not dramatic, however; the fish-oil capsules failed to reverse the disease course in most patients. In the fish-oil group, 14 patients did show a mild reversal of artery clogging, compared with seven in the placebo group. Two fish- oil patients showed moderate reversal, while no placebo patients did. For 35 in the fish-oil group, atherosclerosis progressed slightly, and for four, artery narrowing progressed moderately _ results that were almost identical to those of the placebo group, in which 36 worsened slightly and five showed moderate disease progression.

    Still, von Schacky's team concluded that the benefits found in this study are significant enough to warrant including fish oil as part of traditional heart-disease treatment. Taking a daily capsule or dining on fish twice weekly would fulfill the prescription, according to the researchers.

    Dr. Robert Vogel, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, agreed that the omega-3 fatty acid, in the form of food or pill, is a wise addition to heart-disease therapy. But he pointed out that fish oil has been shown to have greater effects on factors other than atherosclerosis in treating heart-disease patients. Other research, said Vogel, has revealed that fish oil may help correct heart-rhythm disturbances and that it has a blood-thinning effect. It also appears to spur chemical changes in blood vessels that help them dilate.

    ``As a supplement, fish oil has fairly dramatic benefits,'' Vogel said. ``This is an area of research that has been consistent.''

    Annals of Internal Medicine (1999;130:554-62)

  • What to Look for in a Running Shoe
    What to Look for in a Running Shoe

    Picking the Shoe That Best Meets Your Needs

    (MSNBC Health, August 1999) � Walk into most athletic shoe stores and you�ll be confronted with a dizzying array of choices. Besides the huge range in prices for a decent pair of running shoes � from $70 on up � each shoe company offers its own cushioning system: Asics, for example, has Gel; Nike gives you Air; adidas protects the feet with Adiprene; Saucony has a grid system; and Brooks uses hydroflow. How do you choose the right shoes for your feet?

    THOUGH IT�S TEMPTING to simply get the best buy or choose a shoe based on looks, it�s worth the effort to buy a shoe that fits your foot properly to avoid injuries. And if you already have foot problems, like high or flat arches, bunions or tendonitis, you�ll need a shoe that offers proper protection.

    Your first stop should be a specialty athletic shoe store, where experts will carefully evaluate your feet and stride � either by observing you on a treadmill or as you run up and down an aisle in the store � to determine which shoe fits you best. �Running is a very tough sport that�s hard on the body. If you�re going to run, you should look at half an hour spent at a specialty running store as preventing lots of problems later, like Achilles tendonitis, planter fasciitis and soft tissue injuries,� explains Peter Fleming, manager of Runner�s Roost, a shoe store in Boulder, Colo. He�s worked in specialty running stores for nearly 20 years. Fleming also has been running for 15 years at the top international level on both track and road, and holds a number of British national records.

    If you�re fortunate enough to have a quality store close by, take your current shoes with you, so the salesperson can examine the wear patterns. A good salesperson should ask you a series of questions, including your actual and planned mileage and past/current injuries. Next, the salesperson should study your stance while you are barefoot to determine if there�s any rolling of the ankles or feet. Fleming also looks to see if the customer has narrow feet, high arches, fallen arches, bunions or injuries.

    You�ll also want to discuss running surface � dirt, asphalt, concrete or track � since these help determine how much cushioning you�ll need. If you run indoors, you may not need a pricey cushioning system that a runner who�s pounding the pavement may need. And if you won�t be running outside, you don�t need to spend extra money on high-tech materials that are waterproof.

    The salesperson should also put you in a completely neutral shoe � one that doesn�t have a lot of supportive features � and watch you run up and down an aisle or on the treadmill. This brings out any deficiencies in stride, like pronation (feet rolling in) or supination (rolling out), and will help determine how much and what type of support you need.


    Armed with this information, the salesperson should have you try out at least three different shoes made by three different companies for potential matches. �I use the �three F�s� philosophy: function, fit and feel,� says Fleming. �I work on determining what function the shoe needs to provide (in terms of support). The fit and feel are up to the customer.�

    Making sure the shoe fits
    • Make sure the arch fits well. It should feel like it's hitting the right spot, around the center of your arch, rather than rubbing on either end. It should fit the contour of your feet. Some brands will match your contours; some won't.
    • Forget the idea of size. If you think you're a size 9, you could fit into anything from a size 8 to 10, depending on the brand. It's worth being measured in the store whenever you buy shoes. Foot size increases over time, sometimes by as much as two shoe sizes. This is especially true after pregnancy.
    • If you have blisters or if the shoe doesn't provide enough arch support, consider getting an insole. They come in a wide range of prices and can make the fit more comfortable and effective.
    • There should be about a thumbnail's width from your big toe to the front of the shoe. You should be able to wiggle your toes in a proper-fitting shoe.
    • Women don't have to buy women's shoes; buy what works best for your foot.

    If you have a foot problem, be sure to take that into consideration. Dr. Paul Stone, a podiatrist and runner in Denver who treats NFL players, ballet dancers and runners of all levels, offers this checklist if you have the following:

    • Bunions. These are a structural deformity in which the bone behind the big toe pushes out, causing joint swelling. People with bunions need a wide forefoot in their shoes to accommodate the jutting bone. Good brands for bunion sufferers: Saucony, Asics, New Balance, Brooks and Turntec. People with bunions tend to have flat feet and pronate, but cannot wear straight-lasted shoes. The last is the shape of the outer sole, or bottom, of the shoe; it is either straight, semi-curved or curved.
    • High arches. People with high arches tend to have rigid feet and supinate � they land on the lateral side of the foot when running. Avoid shoes with a lot of motion control, because the rigid structure of the feet already provides too much motion control. Look for light, curve-lasted, very flexible shoes with good cushioning in the heel and forefoot. Stone especially likes Asics shoes for this problem.
    • Flat arches. People with flat feet tend to have overly flexible feet and pronate � they land on the medial side of the foot during running. Low-arched pronators need straight-lasted, motion control shoes with a stiff heel counter. The heel counter is a structural component of the shoe which promotes foot stability. Flat-footed people with bunions, however, must have semi-curved lasted shoes.
    • Planter fasciitis. No specific shoe recommendation; orthotics are the usual remedy for this (arch strain). You can visit a sports medicine physician, podiatrist, orthopedist, physical therapist or athletic trainer for recommendations on orthotics.
    • Achilles tendonitis. This requires high-heeled/steeply ramped shoes with lots of heel cushioning, such as the Nike Air Triax, Nike Air Max or similar Reebok models.

    Of all the cushioning systems currently available, Stone is partial to Asics Gel. He says it provides excellent cushioning and is more durable than any other systems he�s seen. Nike Air is good, but the air bladders tend to lose their resilience, as does the Reebok system, he says. For �neutral� runners � who don�t pronate or supinate excessively � Stone likes Saucony, which are well-constructed and durable, as well as the Nike Air Pegasus.


    If you�re tempted to buy a pair of cross-trainers for running, don�t. Cross-trainers are good for working out in the gym or walking, but never for running, says Stone. They�re too heavy and rigid. Let a shoe designer explain:

    Pam Stevenson designs outdoor footwear for the French-based company Salomon, and while at Nike helped design Olympic gold medal-sprinter Michael Johnson�s gold-colored Nikes. Shoe design takes about a year and a half from conception to release, and involves hundreds of hours of testing, drawing and gathering opinions from shoe users on what feels good or bad about the models being designed.

    The first task in designing athletic footwear is to understand the activity that shoe will be used for, explains Stevenson. In a running shoe, for example, impact needs to be dispersed from the heel to avoid stress fractures. In aerobics, where a large percentage of activity is performed on the balls of the feet, cushioning in the forefoot is more critical.

    Running is very linear, while aerobics or basketball is a side to side motion, so support is needed in different places. Proper support in your shoes will assist biomechanics and help you avoid overuse injuries.


    It depends on how much activity you�ll be doing and what types of problems you have, such as pronation or flat feet. If you run less and don�t have problems, you can spend less. If you have some problems, you�ll want to spend a little more because you�ll need some extra features, like heavy-duty motion control shoes. If you�re just starting out, don�t have major problems and don�t know if you�ll stick with running, start with an entry-level shoe priced around $70.

    Better running shoes are priced at $80 to $95. Above $95, you�re looking at shoes with top-end cushioning, better materials (more breathable, durable, waterproof) and unique lacing systems. If you don�t run that much, or won�t be running outdoors, you don�t need to spend this much. If you get hooked on running, you may want more durable shoes with fancier lacing systems.

    You can spend less than $70, but Fleming warns that since most specialty stores don�t go that low in price, you may not get the service and advice and could end up buying the wrong type of shoe, which could lead to injuries. Many people find a brand that works well with their feet and stick with it. Some people want a certain brand because they�re popular or they like the look. Fleming urges you to buy with an open mind. �Every brand has a different fit. For example, Saucony is popular with women because of the narrow heel and wider forefoot. Nike is popular with people with narrow feet � but there are variations within brands. I like to suggest they try a couple more, to make sure it�s the right shoe.�


    Replacing shoes at the right time is just as critical as buying the right pair. The rule of thumb is that shoes last for about 500 miles. But some people run �very light� while others may not. That means that two people using the same make of shoe may get anywhere from 350 to 500 miles out of that pair. Indications that it�s time to replace your shoes include:

    • Large creases on the midsole.
    • Knee or quadriceps (front thigh) pain, or if you�re developing lower leg pains you haven�t experienced before.
    • If you get a new shoe and after four months you start to get knee pain or old injuries flair up, that�s a good sign that your shoes are starting to wear.

    Buy your new shoes about three weeks before you get rid of your old ones, and switch off between the two to break the new ones in. If you�re a serious runner, it�s good to have two pairs and alternate between them to extend shoe life. And remember: Wearing your running shoes as a casual walking shoe breaks the shoe down quickly. Consider wearing a different pair of shoes for day-to-day casual use.

    Want more information on running and shoes? Check out the Runner�s World Web site. You�ll find shoe reviews and advice on how to determine what type of shoe you need and what kind of foot you have. You�ll find loads of information on training and stretching, too, as well as the latest news in the world of running.

    If you don�t have a quality running store nearby, nearly every major shoe company has a Web site, as well as links to retail outlets. Also check out Road Runner Sports, a retail web site that offers discounted shoes and advice on how to pick out the right shoe.

  • The Cold, Hard Truth About Cellulite
    The Cold, Hard Truth About Cellulite

    (From Prevention Magazine, August 1999) - Are there any proven methods for getting rid of cellulite? Many people lose weight but the dimples won't go away. Do cellulite creams really work?

    In reality, money spent on cellulite creams would be better spent on a set of dumbbells or a health club membership.

    The active ingredient in cellulite creams is usually an asthma drug called aminophylline or theophylline. The theory is that these chemicals break fat molecules down into fatty acids, which are then excreted through the bloodstream. But, according to dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, MD of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, "What works in a lab dish hasn't been proven to work on women's legs (or anywhere else on her body)."

    Also, human skin is effectively designed to keep things out; it would be very difficult to get the active ingredients in these thigh creams to reach the fat cells just by rubbing them in.

    Exercise and a healthy, low-fat diet are the best ways of combating cellulite. Losing weight can help too, but only if you're doing it healthfully -- no crash dieting. That may actually make cellulite look worse, because crash dieting can cause you to lose muscle tone. If you aren't exercising, start now, and make sure you include strength training exercise like weight lifting to shape and tone your muscles. That will help those trouble spots start looking better.

  • Dan Wirth - Part 1: Simple Guidelines for Effective Aerobic Training
    Dan Wirth - Part 1: Simple Guidelines for Effective Aerobic Training

    This is Part 1 of a 2 Part article. Part 2 will run tomorrow, August 2nd.

    What is aerobic training? Any form of exercise that uses the large muscle groups of the body in a rhythmic and controlled fashion for a given period of time. Energy development and utilization is in the presence of adequate amounts of oxygen. Walking, Jogging, Swimming, Biking, Roller Blading, Stair Stepping, etc. can be forms of aerobic training if utilized at the specific intensity and for the proper duration.

    Fundamental Guidelines

    • Frequency - 3 to 6 times per week
    • Duration - 20 to 60 minutes per session
    • Intensity - See guidelines below

    Intensity guidelines - There are two common ways to estimate where your heart rate should be at when performing aerobic exercise.

    Method 1

    Age Predicted Max Heart Rate Method

    Train at 60% - 85% of age predicted max heart rate. (Ideal range would be 70% - 80%)


    220 minus age = Age Predicted Max Heart Rate (APMHR)

    (APMHR) x .6 to .85 = Threshold Training Heart Rate Range

    1. 220 - 40 years = 180 (APMHR)
    2. 180 x .60 = 108 beats per minute
    3. 180 x .85 = 153 beats per minute

    Threshold Training Range is 108 to 153 beats per minute!

    Method 2

    Karvonen Method

    Train at 60% - 80% of age predicted max heart rate. (Because this approach to determining the threshold training heart rate tends to give a somewhat higher value compared to the APMHR the ideal range is 65% - 75%. This equation is a little more involved also :)

    This formula uses both your Age Predicted Max Heart Rate (APMHR)and your Resting Heart Rate (RHR). This makes it more individualized to you!


    1. 220 - 40 years = 180 (APMHR)
    2. 180 - 63(RHR) = 117
    3. 117 x .60 + 63 (RHR) = 133 beats per minute
    4. 117 x .80 + 63 (RHR) = 156 beats per minute

    Threshold Training Range is 133 to 156 beats per minute!

    What is anaerobic training? Anaerobic Training is higher intensity exercise that varies in duration. Energy development and utilization is without adequate oxygen delivery. The by-product of anaerobic exercise is Lactic Acid accumulation. Weight training, sprinting, basketball, and high intensity, short duration athletic events are all examples of anaerobic training.

    What are the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic training? Increased cardiovascular health, better appearance, reduced blood pressure and heart rate, improved blood profile, increased energy, improved body fat percentage, weight control, and enhanced athletic performance!

    Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
    Fitness Director (Fitrex.com)
    Director of Strength and Conditioning
    The University of Arizona

    Part 2 of this article, covering weight training, will run tomorrow!

  • How to Burn Off High-Fat Meals
    How to Burn Off High-Fat Meals

    (From Prevention Magazine, August 1999)

    Time it Right: Exercise Before You Indulge

    Take a long, brisk walk before your friend's wedding, and you may be able to splurge on hors d'oeuvres and cake -- guilt-free. In addition to its benefits to your waistline, exercise can help override some of the nasty effects of fat in your blood.

    High-fat meals cause spikes in the amount of fat (triglycerides) in the bloodstream, which wreak havoc on cholesterol by decreasing good HDL and increasing bad LDL. Over time, these contribute to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

    But researchers recently found that the timing of exercise can affect these fat levels significantly. When a group of 21 men exercised 12 hours before a high-fat meal, they cut the amount of fat in the blood by half. (Exercising 1 hour before the meal lowered the fat by nearly 40%.) Working out after a high-fat meal, on the other hand, reduced it by only 5%.

    "Exercise stimulates fat-clearing enzymes," says study coauthor Tom R. Thomas, PhD, director of the exercise physiology lab at the University of Missouri- Columbia. Fats are either broken down and excreted, or taken up by muscle and fat tissue. Either way, they're out of the bloodstream and less able to increase LDL cholesterol and heart disease risks.

    "I don't think the 12-hour time frame is critical," notes Dr. Thomas. "A better approach is to exercise consistently. Most of us eat a high-fat meal every day, making it important to exercise every day."

    You'll also have less of the visible kind of fat. Other studies have shown that exercise speeds the breakdown of fat-and if you're exercising at a moderate intensity or higher, your body will also burn fat long after you stop exercising. Dr. Thomas also suspects that if you're fit, more of the fat will be stored in muscle to be used for your next workout, while it will more likely be stored as visible fat if you're unfit.

    Quick Tip: Lose Twice as Many Pounds: Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that women who exercised for at least 150 minutes a week (that's 30 minutes five times a week) lost nearly twice as many pounds- 25 versus 14-as women who exercised less.

  • 9 Ways to Screw Up Your Diet
    9 Ways to Screw Up Your Diet

    Diet Dangers! Avoiding Common Diet Blunders

    (MSN Health Channel by WebMD, 7 October 1999) � The dreaded "D" word, diet, brings images of deprivation and failure to the minds of many. Nobody who has been there would claim that it is easy to stick to a weight-loss plan for the long haul, but it can be easier to stay motivated if you watch for and avoid the most common blunders.

    Eating Regular Meals

    Many dieters try to reduce their calorie intake by skipping meals, such as breakfast, but this common mistake is a sure recipe for failure. Most diet plans aim to spread meals out over the day, usually breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack or two so that you never feel "hungry" and are therefore less likely to indulge in that bag of chips after lunch.

    The "All or Nothing" Mentality

    So let's say you did eat the bag of chips. Don't make the mistake of allowing the negative self-talk to start discouraging you from your goal. You know, that little voice that says, "You may as well just give up. This diet isn't going to work. You've blown it now." The key to success is persistence, not perfection.

    Planning Ahead

    Make a list of all the groceries you will need for this week's meal plans and buy them all at once. Not having the ingredients you need on hand makes it easy to justify getting off track. Make lunch the night before so you have no excuse to go to the deli instead.

    Drinking Water

    Besides giving you a feeling of being full, water also helps your cells do their job. Visualize the water gushing into each cell of your body, flushing out toxins and waste and leaving behind a clean, lean, fighting machine ready to function at optimal levels.


    Dieting without exercising is like filling a car with gas and then never driving it. You have to burn the fuel to empty the tank. This doesn't mean you have to torture yourself, just do something that you can enjoy and that gets you moving, even at a moderate pace.

    Forgetting Your Reasons

    Make a list of the reasons you want to lose weight. Brainstorm and include everything without screening out things that seem small or trivial. Keep the list to remind yourself of your goals when you're feeling like giving up.

    Using "Radical" Diets

    It is unlikely that you will be able to stick to a diet plan of only grapefruit and watermelon, or only meat, or only liquid shakes. These methods may provide a quick initial weight loss, but they are unhealthy and unbalanced. Losing weight takes time -- it just isn't going to happen overnight. Keeping weight off involves retraining your bad habits, something these "quick" solutions won't do.

    Focusing on the Short Term

    Taking things day by day is a good thing. Weighing yourself every day is a bad thing. Try limiting weigh-ins to once a week or once every two weeks. A loss of one or two pounds a week is the goal, so daily weigh-ins can be counterproductive and frustrating. However, with a weekly or biweekly weigh-in, you will see bigger, more motivating jumps in the numbers.

    Unrealistic Expectations

    You know the ones, "I am going to look just like (insert model/actress name here) when I finish this diet." Or "I am going to lose eighteen pounds by the end of this week." Not to say you won't look even better than model X, or that you won't eventually lose those eighteen pounds, or even that you won't see positive changes in other areas of your life after losing weight. But fantasy thinking often leads to a big crash, leaving you feeling like you have failed because you didn't reach the unrealistic goal. If you find yourself having fantasy thoughts, do a quick reality check. Unrealistic expectations often lead to quitting before you get started.


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