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Make sure to check out this amazing article below, The Sneakiest Strength Exercises to Do at Your Desk, by Elizabeth Millard, adapted from MyFitnessPal.
The Sneakiest Strength Exercises to Do at Your Desk
By Elizabeth Millard
Picture adapted from MyFitnessPal
In many workplaces, being sedentary is the default. Even with standing desks, parking at the other end of the lot, walking to meetings and trying to walk at lunch, most people still spend the majority of their workdays sitting.
Fortunately, there’s a way to sneak muscle-building exercises into your 9–5 — even if your day is packed with meetings. The trick is using isometrics — moves that use contraction and relaxation to engage muscles.
HOW ISOMETRIC EXERCISES WORK
On a basic level, muscles contract in three main ways. Concentric contraction happens when a muscle tenses as you’re shortening it. Eccentric contraction occurs when that muscle tension is prompted through lengthening — such as resistance or lowering a weight.
For example, with a bicep curl, you’d have concentric action as you bring the weight toward you, and eccentric contraction as you lower the weight.
With isometric contraction, muscles tighten without changing length, and there is no movement in a joint, according to Australian-based strength and conditioning coach Andrew Read. He notes that examples include pushing against an immoveable object like a wall or holding plank pose — you’re in one position without movement, but still doing plenty of work.
Sometimes called “static strength training,” isometric exercises can be so effective they bring muscles to fatigue quickly, Read says. The effects last long after they’re done. “Isometrics work, just use them like any other high-intensity method,” Read says. “A little goes a long way.”
Try peppering these isometric exercises into your workday. Although they seem like modest moves, they can help to keep your muscles working:
Clasp your hands or press your palms together in front of your chest, elbows bent, exerting equal pressure in both arms. Hold each press for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 5–6 times. This will work your biceps, chest and triceps — perhaps while you’re reading emails
Sit up straight in your chair, with shoulders relaxed. Breathe deeply and engage your abs as if you’re bracing for a punch. Hold for 5 seconds, then breathe out while “crunching” your abs upward as if you’re doing a sit-up. Exhale completely, take a few breaths, then repeat. This can be an especially good exercise during boring meetings, since the action is subtle and no one will know you’re doing a major ab workout while you’re taking notes.
Strong glutes help to protect your back, especially when you’re chair-bound for most of the day. A simple isometric exercise is to squeeze your glutes and hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then release.
To get some movement in your shoulders and engage your core, stand about 3 feet from a wall and place your palms against it at shoulder height and width apart. Press firmly against the wall for 10 seconds, then release. You can also make this into a push-up by lowering your torso toward the wall and pressing back up.
PUTTING ISOMETRICS TO WORK
Keep in mind that the main benefit you’ll see is stabilization of the muscles, according to Edward Laskowski, MD, of the Mayo Clinic. “Since isometric exercises are done in a static position, they won’t help improve speed or athletic performance,” he says. “Isometric exercises don’t effectively build strength but can help maintain muscle strength.”
He adds that isometrics are often used in physical therapy to rehab injured muscles, so if you’re trying to bounce back after injury or other issues, putting some isometric exercises into your everyday schedule can be useful.
There’s also another advantage, especially for work: Isometric exercises can help lower blood pressure, Laskowski notes. That means you might de-stress and sneak in some workout moves at the same time.
Read’s recommendation is to incorporate a few exercises per day, and do them at about 30% of your max effort. From there, you can start to build more into your workdays and increase intensity over time.
Adapted from http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/sneakiest-strength-exercises-desk/
In men, regular exercise appears to be a natural Viagra: It’s associated with a lower risk of erectile problems. In one study, sedentary middle-aged men assigned to participate in a vigorous exercise program for nine months reported more-frequent sexual activity, improved sexual function and greater satisfaction. Those whose fitness levels increased most saw the biggest improvements in their sex lives. Research in women has found that those who are physically active report greater sexual desire, arousal and satisfaction than women who are sedentary.
In addition, physical activity — especially strength training — can increase levels of testosterone, which may boost sex drive in both men and women. It’s worth noting that overtraining can have the opposite effect: A recent study found that men who do very vigorous exercise on a regular basis tend to have lower libidos. Although this is a potential concern for elite athletes or others who push themselves to the max without adequate recovery, it’s not something that most of us need to worry about.
A review of 66 studies on exercise and sleep concluded that regular exercise is comparable to sleep medication or behavioral therapy in improving the ability to fall asleep, as well as sleep duration and quality.
Researchers aren’t sure why, but they suspect physical activity may help by affecting body temperature, metabolic rate, heart rate or anxiety levels, among other things, in a way that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.
Because exercise also revs up your body, conventional wisdom has it that exercising in the evening can interfere with sleep. But overall, research has failed to support this assertion. For example, a small study of young adults found that doing vigorous aerobic exercise two hours before bedtime did not impair their ability to fall asleep or sleep soundly. Likewise, a small study of a group of older men and women showed that low-impact aerobic workouts done between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. were just as effective as morning workouts at improving their self-reported sleep quality. And a larger 2013 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll found that while responders who exercised in the morning reported the most favorable sleep quality, those who vigorously exercised in the evening said they slept just as well, if not better, on days they exercised than on those that they did not.
Of course, everyone is different, so it’s possible that nighttime exercise may make it harder for you to sleep. But the only way to know for sure is to try. You may be pleasantly surprised at what a little pre-bedtime sweat can do for your sleep.
You may have heard fitness buffs claim that they never get sick. Although this may seem like baseless — not to mention annoying — boasting, there is scientific truth to it. Numerous studies have linked regular exercise to a lower risk of colds. For example, a study that followed about 1,000 adults for three months found that those who did aerobic exercise at least five days a week were about half as likely to develop colds as those who didn’t exercise. And when exercisers did catch colds, they had fewer and less-severe symptoms than their couch-potato peers.
These studies, which show associations but not cause and effect, are corroborated by randomized trials on exercise and colds. In one such experiment involving sedentary postmenopausal women, participants were assigned to either moderately intense exercise (such as brisk walking) five days a week or once-a-week stretching. By the final three months of the 12-month study, those doing the regular exercise reported having substantially fewer colds than the stretchers.
Research in animals and humans suggests that exercise chases away colds by boosting the immune system. At the same time, very intense activities may suppress immunity by increasing levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. That perhaps explains why, in one study, runners who participated in a Los Angeles marathon were nearly six times as likely to get sick in the week after the race as runners who did not participate.
Although this is a potential issue for elite athletes or people who do marathons or triathlons, the level of activity among most exercisers — even if it’s vigorous — is far more likely to keep colds at bay than bring them on.
When you hear about a connection between exercise and eyesight, maybe you picture those eye exercise programs that promise to sharpen your vision. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Instead of moving your eyes, the idea is to move your feet.
Research shows that people who are physically active have a lower risk of cataracts. For example, a study of nearly 50,000 runners and walkers found that those who exercised most vigorously were 42 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those who exercised least vigorously. Exercisers who fell in the middle in terms of intensity were also at reduced risk, though to a lesser degree.
The same researcher found a similar benefit regarding age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss, in a study of nearly 42,000 runners. The more that people ran, the more their risk of AMD appeared to decline. A different study, which followed roughly 4,000 people for 15 years, showed that participants who were physically active were less likely to develop AMD than those who weren’t active.
Scientists aren’t sure why exercise protects against cataracts and AMD. One possibility is that it reduces inflammation, which is associated with both conditions. Cataracts and AMD have also been linked to risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, which regular exercise can improve. Further, some research suggests that people who are overweight or obese are more prone to cataracts and AMD, so physical activity may help by preventing weight gain.
You heard it here first: Exercise may be good for your hearing. A study of more than 68,000 female nurses who were followed for 20 years found that walking at least two hours a week was associated with a lower risk of hearing loss. Other research has linked higher cardiovascular fitness levels with better hearing.
Exercise may protect against hearing loss by improving blood flow to the cochlea, the snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that converts sound waves into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. What’s more, it may prevent the loss of neurotransmitters, which carry those signals between nerve cells. Exercise may also help by reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which are linked to hearing loss.
Of course, blasting music into your ears while you exercise could have the opposite effect and do damage to your hearing. Noise-canceling headphones are a good option because they reduce the need to turn up your music as much. But don’t use them while exercising in isolated spots or on a busy road, where you might not notice approaching traffic.
Although high-impact activities such as jumping or running can cause women to leak urine, research shows that moderate exercise may decrease the risk. For example, a study of middle-aged female nurses found that those who were physically active had lower rates of urinary incontinence than women who were inactive. A study of older nurses by the same team of researchers yielded similar findings.
A urinary problem familiar to many middle-aged and older men is nocturia, the need to get up more than once a night to pee. Often the cause is an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. Exercise can help prevent nocturia or reduce its severity. In a large study of men with BPH, for example, those who were physically active for an hour or more per week were less likely to report nocturia than those who were sedentary. Likewise, a study of sedentary older men found that after eight weeks of daily walking, they urinated less frequently during the night.
Another common bathroom-related problem for both men and women is constipation, which exercise can help improve as well. In a study of 62,000 women, those who reported daily physical activity were nearly half as likely to experience constipation as women who exercised less than once a week. A randomized trial involving inactive, middle-aged men and women with chronic constipation found that those assigned to a 12-week exercise program were able to poop more easily.
Exercise helps by decreasing what is referred to as “transit time.” That’s how long it takes food to move through the digestive tract — not, as it sounds, the amount of time it takes to get to work. Alas, a shorter commute is one benefit that exercise may not have — unless, of course, biking to work is faster for you than sitting in your car in heavy traffic.
Davis has written several books about health issues. This is adapted from “Fitter Faster: The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day” by Davis with Brad Kolowich Jr.
Adapted from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/better-sex-is-just-one-reason-that-exercise-can-be-so-good-for-you/2017/06/16/22e557f0-4621-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?utm_term=.4334c0220b10
By Robert J. Davis, Special to CNN
(CNN) – For some people, summer is the time to head indoors to exercise. But others welcome the heat as a way to sweat more and get a better workout.
Indeed, I’ve long regarded the sweatiness of my exercise sessions as a sign of how hard I was pushing myself. But it turns out I’ve been wrong: How much you sweat doesn’t necessarily correlate with how intense your workout is or how many calories you burn.
When your body temperature rises, your eccrine glands secrete sweat, and the evaporation of moisture from your skin helps you cool off. Of course, sweating can occur for other reasons, such as stress or fear.
That type of sweat comes from the apocrine glands, which are located mainly in the underarm and groin.
How much we sweat during exercise is due to a number of factors, including gender (men tend to sweat more than women) and age (younger people sweat more than older people) as well as genetics, temperature and humidity.
Weight plays a role as well. Larger people tend to sweat more, because their bodies generate more heat.
Another contributor is fitness level. Surprisingly, fit people tend to sweat sooner during exercise and more copiously than those who are less fit.
Research suggests that as your fitness level improves, your body’s heat-regulating system becomes more efficient, cooling you down faster and allowing you to work harder.
Don’t be misled by the loss of a few pounds after a high-sweat workout. This is simply water weight that you gain back when you rehydrate and doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve burned lots of calories.
On the flip side, don’t assume that a low-sweat workout means you aren’t working hard enough or burning enough calories. It could be that your sweat evaporates quickly because you’re exercising in air-conditioning, near a fan or outdoors on a windy day. Or, unlike me, you simply may not sweat much.
Whatever the case, wearing clothing made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester or Lycra can help you feel less sweaty. These pull (or wick) sweat from your skin to outer layers of the clothes, where the moisture evaporates.
Cotton, on the other hand, absorbs moisture but doesn’t promote evaporation. As a result, your shirt or other clothing can feel soaked and heavy after a workout.
A drawback of polyester is that it tends to stink more than cotton after exercise. In one study, researchers collected the sweaty shirts of 26 subjects after an hour of intensive spinning. The next day, trained sniffers determined that the polyester shirts smelled worse than the cotton ones. (It’s unclear who exactly agreed to do this job or why.)
Micrococci, a type of bacteria that break down sweat and cause unpleasant odor, were found to grow only on the polyester garments. That’s important because sweat itself is generally odor-free; it’s the combination of sweat and certain bacteria that literally raises a stink.
You can find “odor-resistant” synthetic fabrics, which are treated with various antibacterial compounds. Among the most common is silver, typically applied in tiny amounts known as nanoparticles.
But some research suggests that silver-treated clothing may not work as well as promised to reduce bacteria and odor. What’s more, a significant amount of the silver may come out in the wash, reducing the effectiveness of the garments and potentially harming the environment.
There are also concerns that exposing our skin to silver nanoparticles may pose a health risk, though there’s no direct evidence for this.
Adapted from “Fitter Faster: The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day” by Robert J. Davis with Brad Kolowich Jr.
Adapted from http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/13/health/sweating-workout-fitness-exercise-davis/index.html
9 Common Myths About Exercise
Exercise advice can be misleading. Here are nine familiar fitness directives that may be unnecessary or even counterproductive.
Stretch beforehand to prevent injuries.
Many of us learned in gym class or little league that static stretching, such as reaching for your toes and holding the stretch, before activity can prevent injury. But research has generally failed to support the idea. What’s more, pre-exercise static stretches may even do harm by impairing performance. One possible reason is that a looser muscle acts like an overstretched slingshot, generating less force than one that’s taut. Another theory is that stretching “cold” muscles damages them.A better approach is to warm up and then do dynamic stretches, such as arm or leg swings, which involve movement. Unlike static stretching, dynamic stretching primes muscles for action and may improve performance. In a study of young and middle-aged men, for example, vertical jump heights increased after dynamic stretching, while they declined after static stretching.Save static stretching for after exercise, when your muscles are warm. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. You should feel tightness or slight discomfort, but not pain.
Exercise on an empty stomach to burn more fat.
The rationale behind doing aerobic exercise on an empty stomach, a practice known as “fasted cardio,” is that when carbohydrate stores in the body are depleted, you burn mainly fat. In addition, when insulin levels are low, which is the case when you fast, you burn more fat.Indeed there’s some evidence that fasted cardio may boost fat burning—but only fleetingly. Over the course of days or weeks (which is what counts), research shows that fasted cardio doesn’t offer any advantages. In a four-week trial that randomly assigned young women to either fast or drink a 250-calorie shake before their aerobic workouts, while otherwise eating a low-calorie diet, both groups lost the same amount of fat and weight.Indeed there’s some evidence that fasted cardio may boost fat burning—but only fleetingly. Over the course of days or weeks (which is what counts), research shows that fasted cardio doesn’t offer any advantages. In a four-week trial that randomly assigned young women to either fast or drink a 250-calorie shake before their aerobic workouts, while otherwise eating a low-calorie diet, both groups lost the same amount of fat and weight.
Monitor your heart rate during exercise.
To measure exercise intensity, some programs have people wear heart-rate monitors and stay within a particular zone. Many gyms and cardio machines display charts showing what your target heart rate should be.The problem is that these targets are dependent upon your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is notoriously hard to measure on your own. The conventional way is to subtract your age from 220. But that formula is too simplistic and often yields flawed results, especially in older people. Other formulas have been shown to be lacking as well. If your MHR estimate is off, your target zone will be too high or too low.While people with medical conditions may require a heart-rate monitor during activity, most of us can use a simpler method to gauge intensity: a scale from 1 to 10 that measures how hard you feel your body is working overall. A 5 or 6 indicates moderate intensity, and a 7 or higher means vigorous activity.Perhaps the easiest method is the talk test. If you can talk and sing during your activity without becoming breathless, the intensity level is low. If you can talk but not sing, the intensity is moderate. And if you can say only a few words before having to catch your breath, you’re doing vigorous exercise.
Hold weights when you walk.
Carrying small dumbbells or wearing wrist weights seems, in theory, like a good way to boost the intensity of your walks while also working your upper body. In fact, adding weight does burn more calories. But there’s a problem. The light weights that people often use for walking typically burn too few extra calories to really matter. And heavier weights necessary for meaningful calorie burning may alter your natural arm swing and increase the risk of injuries.A better option may be to walk with poles. The practice, sometimes called Nordic walking or exerstriding, originated in Finland as an off-season training method for cross-country skiers. Research suggests that pole walking works upper body and abdominal muscles, allows you to walk faster and burns more calories than regular walking—all without making you feel as though you’re working harder. In addition, unlike weights, which may put stress on your joints, pole walking takes pressure off your knees, hips and lower back.
Buy running shoes based on your foot type.
Running shoes come in several categories, each designed for a different foot type. Stability shoes are for runners whose feet roll inward excessively or “overpronate” when they land, while motion control shoes are intended for those who have flat feet and are severe overpronators. Neutral shoes are designed for runners with high arches who don’t overpronate or who underpronateFor years it’s been widely assumed that overpronation leads to injuries and that using the right shoe can reduce the risk. But research has called these beliefs into question. In a study of more than 900 novice runners, all were instructed to use the same model of neutral shoes regardless of their foot type. Surprisingly, the runners with overpronated feet experienced fewer injuries than those with neutral feet, even though the overpronators were using the “wrong” shoe.This study comes on the heels of other research showing that assigning shoes based on foot type does not reduce injury risk. While a stability or motion control shoe may be the best choice for some people, your best bet is likely a neutral shoe that’s comfortable.
Drink even when you’re not thirsty.
Conventional wisdom (much of it influenced by makers of sports beverages) asserts that you should “stay ahead of your thirst” before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration. But studies show that for most people, thirst is a reliable indicator of when you need more fluid, even during exercise.Research suggests that dehydration isn’t always the threat that it’s portrayed to be. Contrary to popular belief, it’s generally not a cause of exercise-related muscle cramps or heat illness. And studies involving competitive cyclists have found that mild dehydration doesn’t impair exercise performance. What’s more, drinking only when thirsty results in better performance than does chugging constantly.Though you want to make sure to consume enough water, especially if you’re older or exercising in the heat, a bigger problem than dehydration may be drinking too much during exercise. If you take in so much fluid that your body can’t get rid of the excess, sodium levels can become dangerously low. The resulting condition, known as hyponatremia or water intoxication, is potentially fatal. To head it off, simply drink when you’re thirsty.
Check the color of your pee to see whether you’re dehydrated.
You’ve likely heard that urine ideally should be pale yellow and that the darker it is, the more you’re dehydrated. It turns out the science behind such guidance isn’t so clear. In a review of the evidence, researchers debunked the notion that urine color is an accurate marker of hydration. Part of the problem is that some foods (such as beets and carrots) can affect the color of urine, as can certain vitamins. Ditto for some medications and dietary supplements. What’s more, striving for pale pee could cause some people to overhydrate themselves during exercise and develop hyponatremia.If you’re concerned that your workout routine is leaving you dehydrated, try weighing yourself without clothes before and after exercise. If you lose up to a few pounds, you’re likely okay. If you lose more than that, you may want to increase your fluid intake. If, on the other hand, you gain weight, you may be drinking too much.
Eat afterward to refuel.
While you’ve probably heard that downing protein within an hour or so after strength training is necessary to maximize gains, the research on this is mixed. The science is even less conclusive on whether eating protein after aerobic exercise is beneficial.Consuming carbohydrates after exercise may help endurance athletes, especially if they have another training session later in the day. Some research suggests that chocolate milk is an ideal recovery food for such athletes because of its ratio of carbohydrates to protein. But for the rest of us who do a typical exercise routine of walking or running for 30 to 60 minutes, there’s generally no need to refuel with chocolate milk or anything else. In fact, if you’re watching your weight, adding calories after your workouts—without reducing them sufficiently elsewhere in your diet—could undermine your efforts.
Avoid sex before competition.
Abstinence from sex has long been considered essential for success in sports. As Rocky Balboa’s trainer put it in the movie Rocky, “women weaken legs.” But research has yielded little support for the belief. One study, which involved former male athletes, measured grip strength the morning after they’d had sex with their wives and then repeated the test after the men had abstained for at least six days. There were no differences in test results.Overall, the research suggests that sex before physical activity doesn’t have negative effects as long as there’s a lag of at least two hours and the sexual activity doesn’t also involve alcohol, drugs or sleep loss. In fact, it’s possible that sex may even enhance athletic performance by helping people relax.It’s unknown whether women are affected differently than men. The impact likely varies from person to person, so if you’re wondering how pre-game sex affects your golf score or your 5K race time, you‘ll need to do your own experiment and see for yourself.Adapted from TIME Health Magazine at http://time.com/4779651/exercise-myths-heart-rate/?xid=homepage
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