Archive | May, 2009

Congress Plans Incentives for Healthy Habits – NYTimes.com

11 May

Congress Plans Incentives for Healthy Habits – NYTimes.com.

Just a few days ago, I posted information about two bills that have been introduced in Congress that would incent employers and individuals to adopt/maintain a healthy lifestyle.  The next day, the NY Times had a great article about many others in our legislature who are attempting to move prevention and wellness to the center of health care reform.  The ball is finally rolling so please take a moment to find the contact information for your representatives in congress (http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/) and let them know that you support legislation that would put America back on track to be one of the world’s healthiest nations.

Is evolution beginning to favor the less fit?

11 May

BBC – Earth News.

Live fast, die young? Since 1859 when Darwin introduced his work On the Origin of Species, the ‘theory’ of evolution and natural selection has been widely accepted among scientists.  I remember being taught about evolution in school and thinking the data was convincing because it made so much sense.  Of course evolution would favor the stronger, faster and more fit – they could out run, out fight, out think their competition.  So, as I was reading today’s BBCs article, I couldn’t help but wonder if times have truly changed.  The study referenced in the article showed that snails with slower metabolism grew bigger, reproduced more and lived longer.  It stands to reason that those same snails actually move slower which is next up for the same research team.  Obviously human beings are much further evolved than the common slug but someday, will slower, bigger (re: fatter) people actually have a longer life expectancy?  Will the morbidly obese, someday be considered the fittest?

Our society already caters to this population in many ways encouraging an inactive lifestyle.  Hopefully evolution will not follow the same trend, but if it does, we can all take a little solace in the fact that evolution moves at a snails pace and that pace is slowing down.

Back to Basics

10 May

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) reported that there are 26,830 health clubs, fitness centers and gyms in America. That means there are 1.5 fitness facilities for every single city, town, village, municipality, comunidad, and urbana in America (2000 US Census). As a professional in the fitness industry, I think that’s pretty damn cool. Plenty of places to get your sweat on. 

But, while that ratio sounds good initially, it isn’t all that great considering there are over 3 billion people in the US.  This means there is only 1 fitness facility for every 11,500 people.  That many sweaty people under one roof can make things smell like a wet shoe. 

Of course, not everyone cares enough about his or her body, so we don’t have to worry about 100 sweaty bozos occupying one squat rack for biceps curls.  But more and more people are learning the importance of exercise and the rate of participation has been climbing.  Unfortunately many believe that effective, well-rounded exercise is only possible through a gym membership.  Well, a gym makes things easier, no doubt; and relative to what most people can accomplish on their own, a trainer can speed fitness along.  But a gym or a trainer is not a prerequisite to health and fitness. The industrious can engage in an effective exercise program simply by keeping the following in mind:

  • Pick something up from the ground
  • Put something over your head
  • Throw something in different directions
  • Run
  • Jump
  • Stoop
  • Get on the ground
  • Get up from the ground

Do one, two or any combination of these things, and do them vigorously.  Make them challenging by doing them progressively faster, or use more weight, or both.  It isn’t that technical, really.  Do them with sound biomechanics, because they should be done regularly. 

And, fitness is also about fueling the body properly, so eat a lot of the foods that Mother Nature gives us:

  • vegetables
  • fresh fruits
  • some raw nuts and seeds
  • quality natural meats
  • (though some won’t agree with me here) fermented fruits in the form of liquid, like good wine. 

OK, the last one can be debated, but the others cannot.  Almost everyone benefits significantly by eating primarily vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and natural meats.  Eat when hungry, don’t when not.  It’s not that technical, really.  Just make sure to eat as close to nature as possible—and I don’t mean eating pizza and garlic bread while sitting in the woods and singing Kumbaya.

It’s About Time

8 May

The Hill Blog» Blog Archive » Promoting Healthy Lifestyles (Rep. Ron Kind).

A while back I had a conversation with a client who was in quite good shape and always seemed like he enjoyed his time working out.  Can’t remember how we got started, but the net net of the discussion was that he exercised because he had to, not because he wanted to.  This led to a fairly heated discussion, of which we were on the same side, regarding the fact that billions of tax dollars are spent annually on health care costs treating diseases associated with inactivity.  Yet, for those that do invest the time and energy required to maintain a modicum of fitness AND who are tax paying citizens, there’s nothing. . .bupkis.  Our society generously provides aid to those in need but how about a little incentive for those staying out of trouble!  I commend these congressmen for introducing WHIP and PHIT and only hope our legislature has the good sense to make it so.

Words and Phrases I Wish Would Die a Fiery Death

7 May

 Workout

Workout? We work out a math problem. We work out an embedded splinter. We work out a bad constipation. We work out a rocky marriage. But what the hell do we workout with a dumbbell? Why not just call it exercise—because that’s what it is. Exercise. And if I had my choice, this word, too, would also die a fiery death. Exercise merely describes our need to fill the void left by the sedentary lifestyle created by office chairs, automobiles, couches, and televisions. We—the proverbial we, that is—sit around all day so we have to invent gyms and dumbbells to regain our loss of physical activity, that natural element so critical for healthy gene expression.

 

Low Carbs

This sounds like a motor vehicle emission bill that was passed to lower the smog in our air—the one that chokes us while we’re out, er, working out. Makes no sense that we resort to the term low carbs to describe an eating habit. If we’re eating what our mothers told us to eat more of (vegetables and fresh fruits, instead of breads, pasta, commodity grains and processed foods), then we are, by default, eating a low-carbohydrate diet. Our ancestors (not the Mayflower ones but the much earlier Nomads/cave-dwelling ones) didn’t bake cakes, cut breads, or fry potatoes, nor did they process grains, corn and chemicals over the campfire. And they certainly didn’t add refined sugar into their coffee. Which really sucks because they had no idea what they were missing; but too bad for us, because we’re stuck with their DNA. Eat more vegetables and fresh fruits, and we don’t have to worry about confusing our discourse between eating and vehicle emission.

 

I Ate so Much that I need to Exercise it Off

We need to exercise for many physiological reasons, but to undo the mistake of eating poorly or excessively is encroaching bulimia—exercise bulimia. Dietary correction is not a reason for exercise, yet I see it all the time. People take exercise to excess to undo what their foods did to them. Of course, for some, lots and lots of exercise makes them feel good–they enjoy it, they say, makes them feel high.  Fair.  But I’ll bet you just as many, if not more, take it to excess upon exercise bulimia.  I’d guess that many possess deep psychological issues that require therapy (not my area), but I also wonder how many just don’t know they can optimize their body composition through truly eating well, instead of through maniacal exercising.

Why not just eat healthy foods like lots of vegetables and fresh fruits and some nuts and seeds and some quality meats, to begin with, and avoid excessive wear and tear and deleterious effects on the body through excessive exercise? Of course, it’s easier said than done. I’ll concede that it is far harder to make good food choices and sane portion control than to exercise the body into oblivion. Good food choices will control body composition far better than exercise, and certainly way healthier than exercising a million times a week.  I know, eating healthy all the time is not so easy.  But there it is.

Then there are those who train for sporting goals (weightlifting, marathon, triathlon, bodybuilding), but, good grief, don’t confuse that with health.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment.