Aging Gracefully Blog

Posts Tagged ‘interval training’

Weighing in for the Holidays

Monday, October 31st, 2016

If you are typical of most Americans, your weight was probably at an annual low at the beginning of October. It is likely to creep up with the approaching holidays, peaking around New Year’s Day with an increase of about 0.7 percent. According to a study by Cornell University, those extra holiday pounds that happen in the next ten weeks take about five months to come off – that’s late April for us!

How can we resist this trend?  The Cornell study (conducted with data from a company called Withings that sells wireless scales) showed that participants who weighed themselves four or more times per week gained less weight and dropped it more quickly, by the end of January. Personally, I believe in the benefits of daily weighing, a habit that will work for you too!

Weighing in can be an effective tool of feedback.  By establishing your average daily weight within a narrow range of several pounds, it’s easy to recognize when you start gaining.   Your weight normally fluctuates from day to day within a few pounds, depending on fluid levels, salt intake and hormonal changes.  Damage control is most effective at an early stage, as you start to exceed this range, rather than waiting until you have a major project of losing ten or more pounds.

How you lose weight matters. Crash diets usually backfire because if you don't eat enough your metabolism switches to slow-mo as your body adapts to sustain itself with fewer calories when faced with potential starvation. Clinging to those calories makes it harder to take weight off. A more effective strategy is to eat a well-rounded diet of healthy foods in moderation. Portion control is key, as is limiting sugar, fat and alcohol. Exercise restraint when confronted with temptation and keep track of your party-time indulgences.

In a similar fashion, if you are always doing the same steady pace cardio workout at the same moderate intensity for days, weeks, months on end, your body will adapt to the training stress after 4-8 weeks.  As you continue this type of training, you’ll actually burn fewer calories, not more, even as you add more workouts.  To trigger fat loss, shorten the length of your exercise session and increase the intensity by adding sprint intervals.  For more on this, see my recent blog post Beat Belly Fat with Burst Training.

Stress also contributes to weight gain. The holiday season can wreak havoc with your best intentions to stay calm, cool and collected.  Stress levels rise along with hectic schedules, parties, travel and general disruption to your normal routines.  When you are in a stressful situation, your body makes a hormone called cortisol, meant to give you a quick boost of energy.

But if you’re stuck in a stressed-out zone, the body thinks you still need to fight, so it keeps making cortisol. High levels of this hormone make it harder for your body to use insulin which slows your metabolism and fuels weight gain. Helpful tips to stay calm and carry on include:

  • manage your time; keep track of your commitments
  • pace yourself to avoid over-booking throughout the month
  • make sure you get enough sleep
  • practice mindful techniques like meditative minutes and deep breathing

So prepare yourself to sail through the holidays with a minimum of overload by using simple steps to track your weight, moderate your diet, intensify your cardio workouts and manage stress.  Here’s looking to late January for being back to normal!

For more about how to beat belly fat, please see Joan Pagano’s video program “Beat Belly Fat, Bloating, Bone Loss and the Blues:  Simple Steps to a Better You

© Copyright – Joan L. Pagano.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Exercise Smarter, Not Harder

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Exercise smarter not harder

Take a creative approach to exercise.  Not only is it fun to find innovative ways to shake up your normal routine, but all the body’s systems need to be surprised with diverse patterns of stress in order to continue to improve.  Use these simple tips to become more resourceful in your every day activities and watch your body redistribute as you shape up. 

Instead of doing the same old route when you're out for your usual walk/run, look for inclines to power up, stairs to hop down and places to throw in 20 jumping jacks.  By adding intervals of varying intensity, you are simultaneously building bone, tuning up your cardiovascular system and burning extra calories.

If your program is stale and needs rejuvenating, try something new.   Intervals of high intensity work can be adapted to resistance training as well as to cardio activity.  Try interspersing one minute of heart-pumping cardio into your strength training exercises.  You can use exercises like jumping rope, step-ups or running in place to keep your heart rate elevated. 

Use compound movements in your strength training. Combine upper and lower body actions to target 8-10 muscle groups for efficient toning and calorie expenditure.  For example, try combining a front lunge with a lat row, a squat with a biceps curl and calf raise, a plie with a shoulder raise. You improve your coordination and core stabilization in addition to getting a full-body workout in a shorter period of time.

Invent time-saving ways to fit exercise into your day-to-day.  If life intervenes and you can’t do your normal weight training session, at least do some exercises using your body weight, like push ups, squats, crunches and planks.  Do two sets of diagonal push ups after your walk/run, using a railing or back of a park bench for support. Practice balance by standing on one leg while brushing your teeth for two minutes.  Sit on a stability ball at your desk to add some core training as the muscles of the trunk work to keep you upright.

Ramp up your daily activities by becoming more creative in how you choose to exercise.  As you develop an active lifestyle in your daily routines, your body will thank you by becoming healthier and more energetic.  And the changes will be reflected in the way you wear your skinny jeans!

 (c) Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

 

 

10 Top Fitness Tips for the New Year

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Tone up, trim down, and stay in shape all year long! Use these 10 tips from Aging Gracefully Blog posts to create an exercise routine that you can keep up every day for long term benefits.

  1. Create a habit of exercise:  A new study suggests that habits may be more important than will power in the effort to change.  Read more...
  2. Be accountable:  Pew research reports that 70% of Americans now track some aspect of their health and fitness.  Read more
  3. Set SMART Goals:  Experts in the field of self-improvement state that your goals must be Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timed.  Read more
  4. Bounce back from set-backs:  Backsliding is no excuse to give up!  Be resilient and use a constructive attitude to deal with challenges.  Read more about new research on resilience and the 7 habits of resilient people.
  5. Take the mistake out of lifting weights:  These 5 strength training "don'ts" help you get started safely.  Read more
  6. Tune-up your cardio workouts:  Bust out of a stale cardio routine to get real results.  Read more
  7. Maximize the minutes in your workout:  Boost health and fitness benefits with Interval Training.  Read more
  8. Count the steps in your day to reduce your risk of disease.  Read more
  9. Think outside the box:  Expand your horizons and take your workout in the great outdoors.  Read about winter workouts here and easy ways to adapt your indoor workout to the outdoors here.
  10. Protect your joints:  Show your wrists some love; be kind to your knees.  Ease the pain of arthritis (Part 1 and Part 2)

Stay tuned for future blog posts with more practical tips on how to keep up with everyday exercise for lifelong fitness.

 

Cardio Tune Up: How to Get Real Results from Your Cardio Workout

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Are you dedicated to your cardio routine….and not seeing results?  Stuck in a metabolic rut or on a weight plateau? How savvy are
you about manipulating the variables to achieve your goals?

  • Do you know your heart rate training range? It's easy to figure out and check manually. It just takes two fingers and a watch with a second hand.  Or you can use a device like a heart rate monitor. There are a lot of high tech choices now that make the old bulky black jobs so old-fashioned.
  • Are you using it to create intervals in your workout? Interval training is all the rage. By adding intervals of faster paced, higher intensity activity into your workout you train your heart to work in the higher ranges plus you burn more calories. Speed up, recover and repeat at a ratio of 1:2, one minute of push followed by two minutes of recovery.
  • Do you vary your routine by using workouts of different length and intensity? Create a cycle of three workouts, always allowing for at least a 5 minute warm up and cool down.  Do each of the workouts twice a week using any cardio activity.
    • High Gear:  30 minutes total, sustaining the fastest pace you can for 20 minutes.
    • Intervals:  45 minutes total, alternating between high intensity and recovery.
    • Long, slow distance:  60 minutes total, using a steady, moderate pace for the entire time.

Make your workouts more fun, interesting and challenging and you will get results! Contact us with your questions and comments on Facebook.

The Seven Minute Workout: Fitness in a Flash for the Whole Family

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

It's all the rage:  twelve exercises in a seven minute workout using only bodyweight, a chair and a wall. According to the American College of Sports Medicine Human Performance Institute, this total body workout delivers all the benefits of prolonged endurance exercise in an interval training format.

Interval training combines high intensity effort interspersed with brief periods of recovery. The twelve exercises - alternating upper body, lower body and core muscles – must be done in rapid succession, in the order given.  Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, resting for 10 seconds in between. Work at 80% of your maximum capacity, i.e. at level 8 on a scale of 1-10 perceived exertion.

The exercises are:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Wall sit
  • Push-up
  • Abdominal crunch
  • Step-up onto chair
  • Squat
  • Triceps dip on chair
  • Plank
  • High-knees running in place
  • Lunge
  • Push-up and rotation (side plank)
  • Side plank

This is something the whole family can do at home. Several people have told me that their kids are into it. One woman told me that her son does it with her while her daughter times them and her husband demonstrates proper form for push-ups!

Have You Got IT? Maximize the Minutes in Your Workout

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Does your workout have the IT factor?  That is IT as in Interval Training.  Here's an easy tip for getting the most out of your workout:  Add minutes of faster paced, higher intensity exercise into your cardio program.

High intensity interval training is a hot topic in the fitness world.  Several new studies suggest that a few minutes a week of strenuous exercise can improve aerobic fitness more quickly than moderate exercise does, and may improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels after several weeks.

These studies have looked at various bouts of exercise, but haven't established a definitive period of time for interval training to provide maximum health benefits.  It's especially unclear if interval workouts can help maintain weight, since these shortened sessions do not burn as many calories as longer sessions of moderate exercise.  They may not help with building muscle either.

While you may be tempted to cut your workout time by switching to hard workouts of short duration, consider this: Very good epidemiological studies support our current recommendation that 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week is associated with improved health and longevity.  Larger, longer studies need to be done to prove the benefits of short workouts.

To give your longer workouts a little juice, and burn extra calories, try interspersing some interval training.  A good rule of thumb is for every minute of pushing, rest for two minutes, then repeat.  It adds some life into your routine and may also add years to your life!

Speaking personally, it's time for summer vacation!!  We are signing off for the month of July and will be back with more in August.  Enjoy those lazy, hazy days of summer!