Sunday, August 7, 2022

The 5-4-3-2-1 Method for Immediately Reducing Anxiety!

 


Anxiety is something we all experience at some time or another, but for many it is a constant challenge.   It is estimated that 30% of adults suffer with anxiety and many children as well.   At its worst anxiety can be crippling and even when it is not that severe it is extremely unpleasant.

Regular exercise has been proven to be incredibly effective at quickly reducing anxiety and keeping it under control.    However exercising is not always practical when you are in the middle of a panic attack or experiencing high anxiety.

In this case the 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a simple method to quickly reduce anxiety that can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime.   The reason it works is because it addresses the root cause of ALL anxiety which is fear and uncertainty about the future.    Anxiety is always about what is going to happen – not what is happening right now!   Some anxiety is about what is going to happen in the near future – such as when you are about to give a speech and other anxiety is about events further ahead.

In any case if we can shift our mindset to be fully in the present moment anxiety disappears!    The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a great way to do this, and here is how you do it:

1.     Start by simply paying attention to your breathing – just pay attention – do not try to change your breathing - just observe it!

2.     Next identify 5 things you see around you such as a spot on a wall – a painting – a glass on a table – you can say it out aloud or just to yourself.

3.     Next identify 4 things you can feel/touch around you.   Could be a wall, a door, your hair, the ground, etc.

4.     Next identify 3 things you hear.   This could be external like an air conditioner or internal like your belly rumbling.

5.     Next identify two things you can smell – you can move around to find some type of odor if you cannot immediately smell something.

6.     Next identify something you can taste – like gum, your toothpaste from when you brushed your teeth, or the meal you had before.

Do not worry if you cannot identify every item – the key is shifting your mental focus to your immediate surroundings and connecting with all five senses:  sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

You will be amazed how quickly this can reduce anxiety and bring you into the present moment where anxiety does not exist!

For more information on this technique click here:  https://www.fitnessblender.com/articles/the-5-4-3-2-1-grounding-technique 




Sunday, July 31, 2022

More Exercise Required to Live Longer!

 


You heard that right!  Recent research is overriding long standing exercise recommendations to optimize lifespan and prevent death.   Many are familiar with existing American Health Association Guidelines stating that you need to do 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week to get the most benefits from exercise.

A new National Institutes of Health – funded, peer-reviewed published study look the self-reported activity of 100,000 adults over 30 years.

They found that those who exercised two to four times the 150-minute moderate exercise per week recommendation had a mortality reduction of 26% to 31% respectively.

Those who exercised two – four times the 75-minute intense exercise per week recommendation had a mortality reduction of 21% - 31% respectively.

Those who hit the current recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week still saw a 20% mortality reduction.

Those who hit the current recommendation of 75 minutes per week of intense exercise per week had a 19% reduction in mortality risk.

The study concluded that the maximum benefit in mortality reduction occurs when doing between 150 – 300 minutes of intense exercise per week or between 300 – 600 minutes of moderate activity OR both!

Critically the study did NOT find any link to adverse cardiovascular health effects for those people who exercise more than four times the current recommendations for moderate and vigorous activity.

What does Moderate and Intense Exercise Mean?

Heart Rate – if you use a heart rate monitor moderate exercise can be defined as exercising between 50% - 70% of your Maximum Heart Rate for Moderate Exercise Intensity.     70% - 85% of your Maximum Heart Rate for Intense Exercise.  To determine your maximum heart rate and heart rate zones review this previous blogpost: http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2022/04/the-incredible-benefits-of-walking-and.html

Rate of Perceived Exertion for Moderate Exercise (how hard does it feel?)

1.     Your breathing accelerates but you are NOT out of Breath if not talking continuously.

2.     You start to sweat lightly after 10 minutes

3.     You can talk but NOT sing

Rate of Perceived Exertion for Intense Exercise (how hard does it feel?”)

1.     Your breathing is deep and rapid and hard to keep mouth closed and not breath through mouth.

2.     You develop a sweat after only a few minutes

3.     Hard to speak – cannot say more than a few words without pausing to breath.

 


Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Many Benefits of Watermelon!

 


Watermelon does not just taste great – it is great for you!  It is a cousin of cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.   

One of the reasons watermelon is beneficial is that it contains a high quantity of lycopene which is a powerful plant chemical that gives watermelon its red color like tomatoes (another source of lycopene).  Lycopene is a potent antioxidant, and watermelon contains 1.5 times more lycopene than tomato which is the more commonly known source of lycopene.

Lycopene is a carotenoid, similar in structure to beta-carotene associated with carrots.   However, lycopene is much more potent than beta-carotene and provides many unique benefits.   In one study, men with the highest plasma levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.

Lycopene Fights Cancer

Scientists at eh University of Portsmouth showed that lycopene slows the growth of breast and prostate cancer by interfering with signaling pathways that facilitate tumor growth.  Lycopene also slows the growth of renal cell cancer and helps prevent the cancer from occurring in the first place.  Lycopene has also been shown to work to combat the negative effects of HPV infection (Human Papilloma Virus) which is the cause of cervical cancers, uterine cancer, and certain throat cancers.  It helps the body combat this virus. 

Lycopene and Eye Health

Lycopene protects eyes from oxidative stress that causes many eye diseases and is one of the strongest eye nutrients you can consume.  It may even have the capacity to delay or even prevent cataracts.  Through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, lycopene can help slow or stop processes that lead to macular degeneration.

Lycopene Reduces Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is pain from nerve damage often accompanied by tissue damage.   It has many causes including diabetes and injuries.  Pain can be severe and difficult to treat.  Lycopene has been shown to safely reduce diabetic neuropathy in a study published in the European Journal of Pain.

Lycopene and Heart Health

Lycopene can help prevent high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

L-Citrulline

In addition to lycopene watermelon contains l-citrulline – particularly if you eat/juice the rind that has the highest amounts.   L-citrulline is an amino acid that is converted into l-arginine in the kidneys.  Through this process it helps boost levels of Nitric Oxide (NO) which is very important for circulation and through this process can help reduce blood pressure and treat erectile dysfunction.   In fact, citrulline supplementation has been shown to improve erectile function in men.   


Saturday, July 16, 2022

Are Multivitamins Really a Waste of Money?

 


Multivitamins that provide essential vitamins and minerals at doses that provide greater than 100% of the RDA are the most commonly used dietary supplements.

Major press outlets have been pushing a highly negative narrative about Multivitamins such as:

 

  • “Multivitamins are a waste of money for most people”
  • “Multivitamins continue to disappoint”
  • “Multivitamins and Supplements—Benign Prevention or Potentially Harmful Distraction?”

A key theme the press pushes is that people who take multiple vitamins use them to attempt to compensate for unhealthy lifestyle practices like smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, taking drugs, etc.   Is this true?

The answer is NO!.  The overwhelming majority people take multivitamins as an addition to a healthy lifestyle. A study looking at the health habits of nutrition supplement users concluded that:

 “Dietary supplements are used by half to two-thirds of American adults, and the evidence suggests that this usage is one component of a larger effort to develop a healthier lifestyle. Dietary supplement users tend on average to be better educated and to have somewhat higher incomes than nonusers, and these factors may contribute to their health-consciousness. Dietary supplement use also tends to be more prevalent among women than among men, and the prevalence of use increases with age in both men and women. Numerous surveys document that users of dietary supplements are significantly more likely than nonusers to have somewhat better dietary patterns, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid tobacco products. While supplement users tend to have better diets than nonusers, the differences are relatively small, their diets have some substantial nutrient shortfalls, and their supplement use has been shown to improve the adequacy of nutrient intakes. Overall, the evidence suggests that users of dietary supplements are seeking wellness and are consciously adopting a variety of lifestyle habits that they consider to contribute to healthy living.”

The press also frequently publishes articles stating that nutrition supplements either do not work or that they are dangerous.    Is this true?

In almost every case when you look at these studies you find a number of factors which negate their validity and usefulness including:

Many are sponsored by drug companies who design the study to deliberately prove a supplement does not work.   For example, the Cosmos Trial sponsored by Pfizer used Centrum Multivitamin to examine how this multivitamin affected cancer risk.  The problem is that Centrum is uses inferior forms of many nutrient forms while also using far from optimal doses.   All that can be concluded from this “research” is that Centrum did not affect cancer outcomes.

As to Nutrition supplements being dangerous – that is a VERY misleading statement.   Let’s look at the facts – not the hype!   

To put the danger of nutrition supplements into perspective consider that drug overdoses currently kill over 85,000 Americans each year.   Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications like aspirin and ibuprofen alone routinely kill over 7,000 people every year.  Opioids alone account for 50,000 deaths and are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years of age!

Now what about deaths from nutritional supplements? 

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which has been tracking supplement and drug issues for over three decades, there have been 13 alleged deaths from vitamins in 31 years!  Let that sink in 13 in 31 years is less than 1 death per year compared to over 85,000 deaths from pharmaceuticals every year.  

In addition, according to Dr. Andrew Saul, the editor in chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News, “my team looked into this and we could not find substantiation, documentation, proof or convincing evidence of one single death.”   In most of these alleged cases people were taking both medications AND nutrition supplements.

This is not to say the nutrition supplements cannot harm people or cause death some can and there are also drug interactions to consider.    To get a handle on how to prevent these issues read this previous blog article on this subject:   http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2019/05/how-dangerous-are-nutritional.html

Last but not least when it comes to nutrition supplements being ineffective and dangerous consider this conclusion in an article published in the Integrative Medicine Clinician.

A major and serious problem arises when unskilled and invalid research is published by authors (including nonphysician journalists) in major journals which mischaracterizes the validity of nutrition interventions (e.g. essentially always concluding that nutritional interventions are inefficacious or potentially hazardous) and then such research is used politically and in the media to disparage, restrict and regulate practitioners and the nutrition supplement industry to the detriment of human health.”

In this context, it’s worthwhile to note that there continues to be a concerted campaign to rein in the supplement industry and limit consumer choices. A chorus of voices within the FDA, Congress, academic medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and their enablers in the press want more restrictions. Is the current negative publicity about multivitamins a coincidence—or is it furthering a narrative?

The Alliance for Natural Health is worth supporting if you care about access to nutrition supplements.   You can sign-up to receive notifications every time a bill comes up in congress attempting to restrict your access.  They make it easy to let your representatives know you do NOT support supplement restrictions.    Here is a link to their latest notification and you will see a green join button in upper right – there are no fees:   https://anh-usa.org/action-center/?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f88223%2frespond

 



Sunday, July 10, 2022

Build Core Strength, Balance and Total Fitness with Stand-up Paddleboarding!

 


Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a fun activity that almost anyone can learn, and it is one of the best workouts available!   Stand-up Paddle Boarding is low impact and provides a combination of balance, core, strength, and endurance.     Since you are standing you have to use everything from your feet (wow do you use your feet!) all the way up through your entire shoulder girdle.    Because you are standing your arms never have to go above shoulder height which means that there is much less stress on the rotator cuff muscles than kayaking.    You use your shoulders heavily but your shoulders are stressed in the position where they are naturally most stable and strong so much better than kayaking for those with shoulder and neck issues!

Just standing on a Paddle Board forces you to stabilize your entire body and core, and it is one of the best activities available to develop balance.   Best of all if you do fall you land in the water and getting back on the board is very easy!  

SUP Technique Breakdown

Learning to SUP is easy but mastering the stroke and maximizing your speed takes lot of practice.  The first thing to focus on is NOT pulling the water!     Instead you want to plant the blade in the water and pull yourself and the board up to the paddle blade.   Imagine that you are stabbing the paddle firmly into soft sand then pulling yourself and the board up to the paddle.   If you can clearly visualize the difference here it will go a long way to getting your stroke where it needs to be for optimum speed.   Think about grabbing the water NOT pulling the water by you!

Reach

Once you get a little feel for it start looking at how far you are reaching forward to put your paddle in the water.   You want to reach as far as possible each time you stroke, BUT there is a limit based on your particular anatomy, shoulder strength and balance.    If you reach too far you can overstress your low back, shoulder or just be off balance which is counter-productive.

Catch

This is where the blade of the paddle enters the water.    Make sure the entire blade enters the water before you begin to pull.   The catch should be as smooth and clean as possible with no splashing.

Pull

Now you are ready to apply power to the paddle.   Use your entire body for this part of the stroke.   It is NOT about using your arms.   Rather your arms merely connect you to the paddle through your hands and you use the rotation of your torso, hips, and shoulders to drive your paddle!  Try to relax your arms as much as possible to perfect this technique. Do not pull too far back as this will actually slow you down.   Once the paddle passes your hips if you keep pull you are actually pulling the paddle up meaning you are pulling the paddle board down and this only slows you down.

Release

After the pull you need to release the paddle from the water.    Like the catch you want this movement to be quick, smooth, and with zero splashing.   Feathering the blade of the paddle creates a smooth release and set-up for the next catch.   You feather by dropping your top shoulder, “breaking your wrist inward”, or a combination of both.  

Recovery

Once you release the paddle you are ready to set-up for the next catch and pull.   Try to relax during this phase – the key to optimum paddle technique is learning to set a rhythm between tension and relaxation and ultimately getting your breathing into a rhythm with the stroke.  The first time you feel this come together it is amazing – really zen!  So stay relaxed and let go of the tension you produced in the catch and pull and smoothly swing the paddle forward to prepare to drive the blade fully into the water for the next pull!

 How many calories can you burn Paddle Boarding?

Obviously your actual calorie burn will depend on the intensity of effort you are putting into to paddling along with your height, weight, and the wind and water conditions you are paddling in.     However here are some estimates based on people weighing between 165 and 200lbs :

            Casual Paddle Boarding – 300 – 430 calories per hour

Yoga on Paddle Board – 416 – 540 calories per hour

Touring on a Paddle Board – 615 – 708 calories per hour

Surfing on a Paddle Board – 623 – 735 calories per hour

Racing a Paddle Board – 715 – 1,125 calories per hour

So if you have not taken the plunge yet – google “Stand-up Paddle Board Rental” and find a rental location and give it a whirl.   Rentals including paddle, board, and lifejacket are generally $25 - $35 per hour so get out there and give it a go!    

Sunday, July 3, 2022

The 3/7 Method of Strength Training: Better Results in Less Time!


Strength Training science is always advancing and one of the newer discoveries is the use of a specific strength training protocol called the 3/7 method.  When researcher Jacques Duchateau heard about the protocol from a Swiss Track and field Coach John-Pierre Egger he decided to test it in his lab.

The 3/7 method uses a weight that is 70% of your one-rep max (typically a weight you can perform 12 repetitions of an exercise before reaching momentary muscular failure).   You lift this weight in five sets of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 reps with just 15 seconds of rest between each set.

The researcher and his colleagues published their study on the method in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews which compared the 3/7 method against various other protocols for bench press.   For both strength and muscle growth the protocol outperformed 4 sets of 6 reps with 2.5 minutes of rest between sets and produced similar results to 8 sets of 6 reps, all with the same weight!

The key advantage of the 3/7 method is that it takes just 5 minutes.   The key to this and any other protocol is hitting failure.   In this case if you pick the right weight you will hit failure in each of the last 2 sets.

Give it try to break a plateau in your program!


 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Incredible Pistol Squat

 


The pistol squat requires mobility and strength from the entire lower body and core, and once you work up to being able to complete them you can get a great lower body workout anywhere with no equipment. 

Most people will not be able to perform the pistol squat properly without working through several progressions that help develop the specific mobility, strength and stability required to get through the exercise for repetitions.

 Pistol Squat Progressions

There are two basic ways to progress to a full pistol squat. Either use a progressively lower bench or step, or use something to hold onto while doing a full pistol to help pull yourself up and progressively use it less and less until it is no longer required.

For the step progression, you can use actually stairs or use a chair to start.    Stand facing away from the chair or staircase and put all your weight on one leg keeping the other leg straight with the hip flexed slightly so the non-standing foot is held off the ground in front of you.  

Flex the hips and reach back with your butt towards the staircase or chair and lower yourself down under control keep your arms straight and in front of you parallel to the floor to counterbalance your hips moving backwards.  

Let the standing knee and ankle flex along with your hip as you reach your butt backwards and go down.    However, you MUST keep the heel of the standing leg down and this requires a lot of flexibility of the soleus tendon (soleus is the single joint calf muscle).    

Try to lightly touch your butt down to a stair or the chair then drive the standing foot down, squeeze the glutes extending your hip, knee and ankle to the starting position.  

Perform sets of 5 – 10 reps each leg.  Overtime find progressively lower steps, benches or individual stairs so that you are progressively squatting lower and lower until you can perform a full squat on one leg all the way down to the ground and back up again keeping your non-standing leg straight and parallel to the floor while the hip is flexed.

The second option to progress to full pistol squats is to hold onto something that you can pull on while doing a full pistol squat thereby assisting the stance leg.    

You can hold onto a suspension trainer, a cable machine handle, door frame, chair or table, or resistance training band or rope anchored above you.    A great way to do this is to anchor a suspension trainer or resistance band above you to a secure point then grasp the two handles and pull on them as required to do a full pistol squat.    Over time progressively use less and less assistance from the upper body, switch to just one hand, then lessen grip and assistance until you can perform full pistol squats.

The excellent videos below show you exactly how to start and progress the pistol squat - and once you master it you can get a great lower body workout in anywhere!

Videos:  https://youtu.be/It3yvU0fomI or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPksQCbeVZw

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Incredible Benefits of Grounding - Walking Barefoot on the Ground!

 


With summer arriving many of us will have the opportunity of walking on a beach in bare feet.     It’s not just the sea air, water, and sunshine that makes this so fun.   There is a powerful connection formed with the earth when your feet are in direct contact with the ground.

Anyone with small children knows they want to try to ditch their shoes every chance they get – but if you think about this a little you will probably realize that you feel better when you can walk around barefoot.   This is particularly true when you can walk directly on the ground safely such as walking on the beach.  Researchers have begun to unravel why being barefoot directly on the ground can in fact be very good for your health!

Your immune system functions well when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.

Research has shown that electrons from the ground have measurable antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation.  For most of our time on this planet we have been in direct contact with the ground without anything that would block the flow of electrons into our body – natural animal hides do NOT interrupt the flow of electrons!

However in modern time’s pavement, wood, rubber, plastics and many other forms of non-conductive material are between our feet and ground blocking the natural flow of electrons.

The surface of our planet has a negative electrical potential. So when we are in direct contact with it electrons flow to your body through a process called “grounding”.   Grounding cause positive physiological effects that promote optimum health.

Specific researched benefits include improvements in blood viscosity, heart rate variability, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep, autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, and reduced effects of stress.

When you connect directly to the ground without any non-conducting material between you and the electron field of the planet there is an improvement in the balance of two sides of your autonomic nervous system:  the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

How Shoes May be Impacting Your Health

Materials like metals are excellent conductors of electricity (aka electrons!). The human body is also conductive because it contains a large number of charged ions (called electrolytes) dissolved in water.

Other non-conductive materials, such as plastic and rubber, have very few free or mobile electrons. Traditionally shoes were made of leather, which is a good electrical conductor. However almost all modern shoes contain rubber and plastic which block the flow of electrons from the earth to your body.

The Health Benefits of Grounding

Your immune system body has evolved a method of destroying bacteria and viruses by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are delivered by immune cells. These ROS do exactly what they are designed to do, but they can also cause extensive damage to healthy tissues. ROS are usually positively charged molecules that need to be neutralized immediately to prevent damage to the body after destroying bacteria or viruses.   This is one of the key functions of anti-oxidants which are most important in immune cells to protect them from the ROS they generate!

Anti-oxidants essentially provide a supply of negative charges. Food based antioxidants (such as Vitamins C and E) and anti-oxidants your body produces are critical but a regular supply of electrons grounding can supply them as well.

Evolution facilitated the process of grounding by providing conductive systems within your body that deliver electrons from your feet to all parts of your body. This system has been integral to human physiology for thousands of years. Negative electrons are always available, thanks to the Earth, to prevent the inflammatory process from damaging healthy tissues.

All of this was interrupted when we started to wear shoes with rubber and plastic soles, and no longer slept in direct contact with the ground. Several experiments have proven that a person who is grounded is less stressed and more relaxed.

So have some fun, kick your shoes off and get back to nature!

How to get the benefits of Grounding

Grounding is simple in warmer climates – simply spend time barefoot in direct contact with the earth.   Even better do this on a beach walking along the edge of the water because the flow of negatively charged electrons will be highest here because sea water is an ideal conductor of electrons!    Any amount of time will help but the more you can do it the better!  Even better spend some time laying on the beach or ground with your body in direct contact with the ground without any artificial fabrics, rubber or plastic between your skin and the ground.

For those of us who do not live in warm climates staying grounded during colder months is a bit more challenging but doable! There are actually shoes that are specifically designed to facilitate electron flow from the ground into your body like these: https://tinyurl.com/bdhcj53z 



 

 


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Ideal Rest Time Between Sets of Resistance Training Exercise

 


There are several different variables to consider when resistance training including:

The exercises you chose to do

The amount of resistance used

The number of repetitions for each set of exercise

The total number of sets of exercise

The rest time between sets of exercise

There is an inverse relationship between the weight lifted and the number of repetitions completed in a set.   When you choose heavier weights you will be able to complete fewer repetitions before fatiguing the target muscles.      A general rule is that higher levels of resistance with less repetitions focus more on building strength, and lower levels of resistance for more repetitions focus more on increasing muscular endurance.

So how does rest time between sets of exercise affect the workout and the results you will obtain from a workout and how should you determine your rest time between sets?    The answer depends on your goals for the workout.        

If your goal is to maximize strength (meaning the maximum amount of resistance you can complete one repetition with) then you should choose longer rest periods of 3 – 4 minutes to allow for complete recovery of the muscles between sets and use high levels of resistance for 3 – 5 repetitions.   

If your goal is muscular hypertrophy meaning increasing muscle size then reducing rest periods to 1 – 2 minutes with less resistance and a higher number of repetitions – 8 – 15 would help to maximize progress.  

If your goal is maximizing calorie burn during the workout and caloric afterburn after the workout, then using minimal rest periods down to no rest period between sets of resistance training is optimal to drive the metabolic overload during and after the workout.

If all this seems too complicated the great news is that a recent study done with experienced weightlifters showed that there was no difference in results when one group used a timed recovery of 2 minutes and another group used a self-selected recovery period based on each individual’s perception of fatigue.     

In the group that chose their own recovery period the average recovery time chosen was less than 2 minutes.    The researchers concluded that the volume of exercise performed (total number of sets and reps) may be the more important factor in driving results versus an exact rest time.

For most of us in the gym who are focused on building a lean physique but not concerned with absolute strength or size the following recommendations are a good guideline:

Do 1 – 3 sets of exercise for each major body part such as chest, shoulders, arms, legs, etc.

Choose a level of resistance where you can complete 8 – 12 repetitions of each set of exercise in good form hitting momentary muscular failure by the end of the set.

Use slow controlled movement without momentum to keep tension in the target muscles throughout the set.

Use compound movements for most exercises – meaning movements that involve movement at two or more joints such as a chest press or push-up versus a pec fly movement.

Use the shortest rest period possible that allows you to complete 8 – 12 repetitions – probably between 30 seconds – 2 minutes!


Saturday, June 4, 2022

How to Avoid the Nine Big Beginner Mistakes in the Gym!

 


Click here and watch this short video to find out how to avoid the 9 Big Beginner Mistakes that prevent people from reaching their goals!https://youtu.be/-NL1_upNzQU_