Did you know that cold weather does NOT cause the common cold? The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by a virus. Most colds are caught in the winter because most cold viruses thrive better in colder temperatures, when there is less humidity in the atmosphere.
There are more than two hundred viruses that can cause the common cold, an infection of the upper respiratory tract, but the most common ones are rhinoviruses. The well-known symptoms include head congestion, nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes. Children may develop a low-grade fever, but this is rare in adults.
Colds usually strike eighteen to twenty-four hours after the virus enters the body. Most colds clear up on their own in a week to ten days, but occasionally a cold can lead to a more serious illness, such as bronchitis, a middle ear infection, or sinus infection.
It is estimated that healthy adults get an average of two colds per year. Children generally get many more because their immune systems are immature, and they have not yet developed immunity to many of the viruses that cause colds.
The most effective method for the common cold is prevention. Taking care of your body with a nutrient dense diet and consistent exercise will help to improve and maintain the major body systems that fight disease and illness. Be mindful of commonly used surfaces such as door nobs, keyboards, and even handshakes. Often people aren’t mindful of others when coughing or sneezing which both can discharge the virus into the air around you. Keep your immune system finely tuned and pay close attention to your surroundings~
What’s the predominant excuse you aren’t losing weight?
You work too much??
Contrary to popular belief, there are numerous ways to burn more calories and incorporate physical activity into your day job. One of the biggest contributors to health problems is lack of movement. Lack of movement slows down important chemical reactions throughout the body. These chemical reactions affect your metabolism, circulation, and brain function. Lack of physical movement also affects the amount of calories your body stores. If you eat something, your body will convert the food into energy. The catch is, if you don’t give your body a reason to use this new energy, it decides to store it primarily in fat cells. Your fat cells swell like balloons… better example = overgrown closets. We all know that when our closets overflow into the bedroom, it’s never easy to find a matching pair of socks or make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night without tripping over some shoes! Bottom line, in a messy room, it is difficult to move around. Imagine all of that going on inside your own body! So what do you do? Well, keep your room clean! In other words, make sure that you are using the energy you are putting into your body to prevent overgrown fat cells. Don’t think because you work all day, you can’t burn calories and lose weight. You can increase movement and the amount of you burn if you try the following:
Make the most of your commute = if you can’t walk or bike, try to park farther away adding (+) 20-40 yards to the front door, multiply (x) by 2 because you have to get back to your car, multiply (x) again by 340 days (considering a week or two of vacation plus sick days you’ll be out of the office) and you get (=) 13,600-27,200 extra yards/year. That’s a lot of football fields!
Take the stairs = one of the best ways to add incidental exercise. Climbing stairs can be one of the most efficient forms of physical movement you can do. Depending on the height of your work building, taking the stairs every time could add up to 20-30 flights/day or 6,800-10,200 flights/year! Who needs a gym?! It can also save you an average of 10-15 minutes out of your workday according to some medical association journals. Some journals found that at a hospital, it took a doctor an average of 13 seconds to climb 1 floor via the stairwell. Whereas, start to finish, it took an average of 37 seconds by elevator considering wait time.
Stand up = Standing stimulates muscles and increases heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), and the amount of calories you burn. You can stand while taking a call, texting, emailing, and even eating.
Stretch = stretching relieves tension throughout the body thus improving circulation and decreasing stress. Take the time to rotate your ankles, flex your quads, and extend and twist your torso.
Use a smaller drinking cup = not only is water one of the 4 essential nutrients, having a 1-2 ounce cup will require more trips to the water fountain thus increasing your movement throughout the day. Coffee or tea drinker? Use a smaller cup!
Deliver hand-written notes instead of e-mailing = have some fun and increase movement and interaction with your colleagues by personally delivering notes throughout your office.
Find an exercise buddy = surely there is a coworker in your office that would be interested in increasing the amount of calories he or she burns during the day. Motivate each other through physical challenges such as step counts, amount of visits to the gym a week, or total weight lost at the end of the month.
Sit on a fitness ball = you can swap your desk chair for a fitness ball forcing you to stimulate your core and improve your posture.
Store small exercise equipment at your desk = resistance bands and hand weights can easily be stored in a desk drawer and can help create an awesome workout without requiring a lot of space. Contact The Lab to get some cool ideas!
Chew gum = chewing is considered non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Sorry parents, but so is playing video games! Twitching your legs is another form of NEAT.
Eat these common foods as snacks = the following foods burn more calories than they contain: celery, apricots, oranges, carrots, hot chili peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, grapefruit, tomatoes, apples, and strawberries.
If you are having trouble losing weight there could be any number of reasons. I have listed 5 reasons that I feel are both manageable and achievable. While reading through these reasons, grade yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being perfect. This little test will help give you insight on areas of your health that you can improve.
1) Lack of movement -- If you sit and work long hours or have a sedentary lifestyle, start moving around. Functional movement increases circulation and can also affect energy levels. Try the following:
2) Overeating -- By eating excess calories and low-quality foods you are doing more harm to your body than good. Try the following:
3) Undereating -- Not eating enough can deprive your body of essential vitamins and minerals. Undereating also slows down your metabolism because your body will just hold on to the few calories it gets. Try the following:
4) Not enough rest -- Your body does much more than you think when you sleep. Sleep effects metabolism and hormone function. Not enough rest can affect some of the hormones that affect appetite and hunger. Try the following:
5) Low muscle mass -- Muscles require energy and burn lots of calories. Resistance training stimulates muscle growth and increases your resting metabolic rate. This means you’ll continue to burn calories long after you exercise. Your resting metabolic rate (BMR) makes up for 60-75% of your body’s total calorie expenditure. Someone with a healthy and high BMR can burn over 1,000 calories in a day without even breaking a sweat! Try the following:
A great way to help improve your scores in these categories is to find a workout partner. Working out with someone has all kinds of benefits. A workout buddy will help keep you motivated, hold you accountable, and even make exercise more fun. If you feel you and your workout partner need more education on workout routines and programs that will help reach your physical goals, contact THE LAB at www.traininglaboratory.com/contact.
Flexibility is one of the 5 components of fitness. The other 4 are cardiovascular performance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and body composition. Flexibility can be defined as the degree to which an individual muscle will lengthen as well as the ability of muscles to move through a full range of motion.
With that being said, I have been asked questions and come across various blogs debating the importance of stretching.
If someone asked you the question, “why do you stretch?”, what would you say? Most might answer, “so I don’t pull something!” Other responses would range from “warming up” to “I don’t wanna get sore!”
The real physiological effects of stretching aren’t what most people think. The following are 3 different perspectives on the effects of stretching, 2 research and 1 personal:
Contrary to popular opinion, there actually aren’t that many studies that prove stretching prevents injury and muscles soreness. According to Dr. Herbert from The School of Physiotherapy at University of Sydney, ”Stretching before or after exercising does not confer protection from muscle soreness. Stretching before exercising does not seem to confer a practically useful reduction in the risk of injury”. Your immediate response to this conclusion might be conflicting at first. A lot of people feel that they run or play better when they stretch. The fact is, there is no proven correlation for stretching and muscle performance. There are many other physiological factors that affect a muscle’s performance and recovery.
As a former pro athlete, I confess to a very dedicated regimen of stretching both before and after training and games. I was extremely flexible. Throughout my career I noticed that as my muscles grew and developed, and even though I stretched all the time, I was still getting muscle-related injuries. After frequent injuries I began looking into the effects of stretching. I learned that stretching cold muscles is not the best practice prior to physically demanding activity. I also learned that the warmer I was, the better I performed.
A research study in Nebraska compared athlete’s sit-and-reach scores with measurements of their running economy. The study was administered with a treadmill test and found that the athletes who were the tightest or LEAST flexible actually were the most economical. This was true for both the male and female participants. Those with the tightest hamstrings had the best running economy.
So what do you make of that study? You might be scratching your head with that one. The most probable conclusion is that tighter muscles contain higher elastic energy storage during each stride thus making running easier. What you should NOT conclude is that it’s better to have tighter muscles.
I am now going to list some popular beliefs to the benefits of stretching and then explain what really is going on…
“Stretching can help improve and/or maintain joint and muscle range of motion (ROM)” = True -- here’s the thing, you were either born with elastic muscles or you weren’t. This is genetic and uncontrollable. However, you can stimulate your muscles consistently to improve muscle elasticity and joint range of motion.
“Stretching decreases your risk of injury” False = stretching can simply help or maintain a muscle’s range of motion. There is no research that can prove stretching has a direct effect on muscle injury. There are many other factors that tie into tears and strains. A tear usually occurs where the muscle tissue meets the tougher tendon. Most might think if a muscle is stretched beyond its “limit” it will tear much like pulling a rubber band. (Cool trick: take 2 rubber bands but put 1 in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Pull the warm rubber band as fast as you can almost to the point of snapping it. Do the same thing with the frozen rubber band. Was there a difference? Anything happen?) Let’s briefly examine that previous statement… First, there are limits to the ROM of your muscles. You have a genetically pre-determined elastic ability as well as max angle of the joint. For example, you can stand up and completely straighten your leg, no problem, but when you sit on the floor it is difficult for some to straighten his or her leg of even touch their toes. This is because the muscles and bones are like pulleys and levers that are attached to the next working link in your musculoskeletal system. Flexion and extension of the joints can increase the length of the muscles. Therefore if you pull your muscles beyond their physical ability, they will most likely tear. BUT they might also tear if you over-stretch thus dulling their elastic effect. This is seen most in very physical and athletic activities.
“Stretching improves posture” False = this is another difficult theory to prove. Posture is more related to body composition and one’s physical condition. While sitting at a desk, gravity pulls on your body causing flexion of the spine unless your reciprocate this force by using your core muscles. This means you need to voluntarily engage your core muscles to help align the spine and sit up “properly”. While tight muscles may add tension to certain postures, it still comes down to your physical conditioning and your ability to voluntarily engage the muscles in your core to maintain posture.
“Stretching decreases pain” True = depending on the cause of the pain, whether it be injury or other physical condition, stretching can release tension in the muscle. If the pain is caused by injury, such as a tear or pull, inflammation and scar tissue builds up amongst the fibers causing pain. Stretching can help pull the scar tissue in line with the rest of the muscle tissue and even help break up scar tissue for a faster recovery. “Muscle Nots” are common as well. This is when a muscle contracts but won’t release, basically staying active and causing pain. Stretching will help pull that muscle apart and hopefully stimulate a release in the knot.
“Stretching promotes circulation” True = stretching involves movement which promotes circulation. Sedentary behavior neglects muscle stimulation and therefore decreases blood flow.
“Stretching improves functional performance” True = functional performance is like doing daily activities. This is not to be confused with physical or athletic performance. Functional performance involves light to moderate intensities of movement and demands on the muscle. Example; bending down to tie your show or reaching around to scratch your back. Consistent stretching will help maintain the natural characteristics of the muscle including elasticity and ROM.
These are some of the most common questions and concerns I’ve come across and I hope they help to give you a better understanding about stretching and its effects on the muscles. Whenever you are about to participate in something physical, it is best to warm up the body first. A warm muscle is more elastic than a cold muscle. To improve your overall physical quality of life, I definitely recommend stretching on a consistent basis. Exercising, yoga, dancing, and various sports are all great activities to participate in that involve stretching and flexibility.
If there are other questions or theories you may have or would like to discuss, feel free to comment and ask. You can also ask THE LAB at www.traininglaboratory.com/contact.
As a health professional, I am asked health-related questions all the time. A common question is “what is the fastest way to lose weight?”
I joke, “starve yourself.”
I’ll have you know that I can be sarcastic when appropriate and if they don’t ask me if that’s healthy, I will make it a point and follow up to my response with, “It is also the most unhealthy and dangerous way to lose weight.”
I should also tell you that women like to ask this question more than men. It seems that the pursuit of beauty is a life long journey. But why do women devote so much of their time to achieving a figure that is pleasing to the male eye without considering the risks? It seems they are well aware of the simplest, fastest, and most effective way to lose weight. They are also completely oblivious to the health risks and/or they just don’t care.
I have heard real stories of women who will starve themselves to win cash prizes from weight loss competitions, to look “better” for a photo shoot, or even to fit into an outfit for ONE night out of the whole year! These are just 3 of many reasons why women feel the need to deprive themselves of food in order to quickly alter their appearance.
The one industry known most for this behavior is the fashion industry. Back in November of ’08, the death of an Israeli fashion model whose weight had dropped below 60 lbs was chilling even in a world that prizes rail-thin models as an ideal of feminine chic.
An important question to answer is where does the influence come from? Is it a genetic disorder or a cultural/social disorder? Do women realize that this method of weight loss resembles anorexia nervosa (AN)?
I found a blog response to the question “Why Do Women Starve Themselves?”:
“I used to fully agree with you, but about a year a go, my ideal body changed. I believe the reason why I, along with other eating disorder sufferers, (I’m bulimic, 4’11 and my crazy brain isn’t gonna let me stop losing wieght until I’m at atleast 85 pounds.) I do it because being “curvy” all my life has lead to problems. When I was 10 I was sexually abused. Most of this focusing around my breasts -- had I been thin, I wouldn’t have had breasts at that age. I was racially picked on for years. I’m not hairy, but they would call me names such as monkey because of my weight. Now, not only do I feel less ugly when I hop on the scales and I weigh less, but I feel like I’m less of an ape and therefore more attractive. Hope this answered your question. It’s such a pain looking in the mirror and never being satisfied with what you see, and most of the time it isn’t because you think curvy girls are ugly. It’s because you think you’re ugly (most women suffer from some form of body dysmorphia) and aspiring to a “perfect” body, is sometimes the only thing that keeps me sane.”
Follow the link to read more about the psyche behind AN.
A genetic disorder can be difficult to recognize because your brain will not accept reality. Are you “skinny” but see yourself as “fat”? Do you see yourself as “fat” but see those with anorexia as “thin”? If you answered yes to either of these questions you possess symptoms of AN. Other symptoms include the tendency to restrict eating and have odd food choices, yet also have an obsessive interest in diet and ingredients of recipes. Those with AN often exercise compulsively, are anhedonic and ascetic, and find little in life rewarding other than the pursuit of thinness. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself of others, seek medical advice for help and further prevention.
A cultural/social disorder can also be difficult because you are constantly influenced by the ideal from your society. I found a blog response to this question. Lisa writes;
“Walk into any clothing store selling female clothes. Look at the mannequins. Look at their size. Look at the models. Society has dictated to women that: Being a size 0 is beautiful. Being skinny means you’re clean, and sexy, and what not. Being fat means you’re dumpy, ugly, dirty, and messy. It’s discrimination. Women try to impress other women because women like to gossip. Stereotypically women are the ones who are always talking about who is wearing what, who looks like they gained weight, who has flaby arms, who wore an ugly skirt…you get the picture. Overall most females tend to be very judgmental of other females…” Can you relate to this response?
Whatever the reason for starving to achieve rapid weight loss, I want people to consider the following;
It’s important for people, women in particular, to understand that this behavior of weight loss is damaging to your body and can eventually lead to death. You can be thin and HEALTHY rather than thin and unhealthy. Here is a list of the physiological effects:
These effects are severe and should be known. It’s not worth your health to lose weight via starvation. Even if it’s only a “one time thing”. With the resources available these days there are no excuses to not get educated on how to take proper action to lose weight. Instead of the pursuit of weight loss, try the pursuit of a happy and healthy life.
For more information on how to incorporate health and fitness into your lifestyle, contact THE LAB.
Did you know it is estimated that about 70 million people in the United States have arthritis? The condition affects men and women of all races and ethnicities and even children. However, arthritis is more common in women and in older individuals. If you are suffering from joint stiffness and pain from arthritis, exercising might be the last thing on your to-do list. However, arthritis specialists will recommend exercise for patients suffering from arthritis and so will I. I’m going to share with you the theory behind exercise and its affects on arthritis.
First let’s point out that there are over 100 distinct conditions of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis (OA). About 21 million Americans are diagnosed with OA. This condition can be caused over years of wear and tear, hence the reason it is most prevalent in men over 55 and women over 60, as well as health conditions such as obesity, physical injury, or even heredity. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another popular condition which involves the disfunction of your immune system. With RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue as if it were an infection or invading organism. This response can lead to stiffness, pain, and even tissue damage.
Well, that’s most of the bad news. I think most are waiting to here some good news, and there is good news!
I’ve learned that knowledge isn’t the only source of power. Action is power. It’s the people that actually do something with their knowledge that will be successful. It’s the people that accept defeat and do nothing that will suffer the most. I am about to give you the knowledge to fight this disease. BUT, that won’t be enough… you need to ACT on it.
Our bodies are designed to be active. The human body is so complex that scientists are still scratching the surface of its true potential. With that being said, you need to use your body the way it was intended to be used. You have to move. Movement immediately increases circulation in the blood stream which will help the systems of the body transport important compounds to the cells as well as remove any waste or toxins. Exercise takes movement one step further. With exercise you can stimulate cell growth and cellular regeneration. These are 2 very important processes you want taking place on a regular basis if you have arthritis.
Exercise is a highly effective way to combat arthritic symptoms without the need for surgery or medications. You should always consult a doctor before entering an exercise program in case there are specific limitations you health professional should know about. Other than that, it’s time to move!
You can reduce joint pain and stiffness by exercising. The following are a few ways in which exercise fights back against arthritis:
Exercise can strengthen muscles around the joints adding an increased level of support during daily functional activities and other applied stresses.
Exercise increases flexibility and endurance. These two characteristics will allow you to maintain full range of motion (ROM) throughout the joint as well as prevent fatigue in surrounding muscle tissue.
Exercise increases your overall energy level. This means it will be 10x easier to get off your butt and move. With higher energy levels you can fight depression and even increase self esteem. Think of it in another sense, exercise will supercharge your internal furnace!
Exercise can help with you get proper rest. Rest is more important than you think. This is the primetime for cell growth and regeneration. Your body will basically rebuild itself while you’re resting.
Exercise will help control your weight. Amongst the obvious health risks associated with obesity, excess mass adds excess stress to your joints. Learn about body mass index (BMI) and find out if you are in an acceptable weight class for your height.
I’ve used the term exercise as a general term in this blog. Understand that there are all forms of physical movement and exercise. Examples include walking, biking, swimming, yoga, and resistance training. For further questions or insights to exercises that may work for you or someone you know suffering from arthritis, contact THE LAB @ www.traininglaboratory.com/contact.
Most will make the excuse that they don’t have time. Make time! Good news is you only need about 15-30 minutes to have an efficient workout. Instead of longer aerobic or cardio routines, try short intervals of high intensity exercise. Refer to my blog http://www.traininglaboratory.com/blog/2011/11/20/5-reasons-to-consider-high-intensity-exercise/ to learn about the benefits of high intensity exercise.
Trust me, you can still eat tons of food this holiday. Just don’t eat it all in one sitting. Stuffing the stomach is for the turkey, not you! There is no rush to eat all this food. Remember two things; 1) it’s a holiday 2) leftovers!
Change Your Mindset:
Thanksgiving is about togetherness with family and friends. It’s not about weight loss or weight gain so don’t think like that. You’ll only be stressing your holiday out if you do. Instead, focus on weight maintenance. If you can get through the holiday season without gaining, you will be well ahead of the curve.
Don’t waste your calories on foods you can eat all year long. Stick to the seasonal selections. If you weren’t the chef, look for the choices that have less sauces and glazes. Choose sweet potatoes vs mashed potatoes. Choose white meat vs dark meat. Choose roasted veggies vs the creamy casserole.
Don’t be a couch potato! Most people will eat and drink more than they usually do. You can increase blood flow and burn calories simply by standing. Here are some tips; walk around and chat with everyone. Help set the table or serve food. Get up and go for seconds as long as your choices don’t conflict with my previous tips. Help clean up. Initiate a fun group game.