Friday, November 14, 2014

Importance of exercises

Everyone Can—and Must—Find Time to Exercise

Still not convinced how important exercise is for everyone—including you?

 If so, take this chance to read about   two recently published reports that stress the value of exercise in preventing significant health risks. The first study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, followed 73,000 postmenopausal women for an average of 3.2 years. In this study, JoAnn E. Manson, M.D, Dr.P.H., of the division of preventive medicine at Harvard University, and colleagues found that women who either walked briskly or exercised vigorously at least two and a half hours per week had a 30 percent lower risk of heart-related problems such as heart attack, stroke, the need for heart bypass surgery, heart failure or death than the least active women.1

The second study, which followed a group of young girls through adolescence to their later teenage years, found that the level of physical activity declined precipitously over time, so that by the age of 18 or 19, up to 56 percent of the girls reported no regular physical activity. Not surprisingly, a significant number of girls were overweight.2 Together, the message from these studies is pretty powerful: Exercise is important—and as a nation, we’re not getting it done.

How Much Is Enough?

The answer to this question is a bit less well defined. In its most recent report, the National Academy of Sciences recommends one hour a day. Sounds like a lot for most people busy with jobs, families and commutes. So let’s get back to the first study: How about two and a half hours each week to lower your risk of heart-related problems. If you don't think you can do that, try harder to figure out how you can —or at least be a bit more creative. To help you out, here are 10 tricks to work in workouts, which can help you  manage your time.

1. Ride, run or walk to work. If you have a shower at work, this is a great way to start the day and make the most of your time.

2. Work out at lunchtime. A midday exercise will help break up the day, boost energy ,and will allow you  to make the most of your afternoon.

3. Exercise in front of the television. This way you are less likely to put off a workout so that you can watch your favorite show. Watching the tube can become a reason to work out, rather than a deterrent.

4. Exercise with friends or coworkers. If you use your exercise time as a way to socialize, you can accomplish two goals at once. Group workouts are also a great way to meet new people with a shared interest, so check out local running clubs, spinning classes or aerobic studios for times that fit your schedule.

5. Get up early. Morning is your friend. With practice, predawn workouts can become found hours.

6. Exercise at home. It’s tough to be away from the house and family for long periods of time. Running on a treadmill in the basement is a great way to fit in a run and at the same time be part of the household. Warning: Your dog may get jealous if you start substituting treadmill workouts for an outdoor run with them. 

7. Make a plan. Following a schedule is a powerful tool in the battle to stay on target. Look at the week in advance and pick your time slots carefully. Remember that it is always safer to start the day with your workout than to plan on getting to it later: Distractions are less likely to come up unexpectedly first thing in the morning than later in the day.

8. Make a date. If you plan to exercise in the morning, try the buddy system. There are few things more powerful than guilt to help motivate you to get out of bed in the early hours. If you commit to meeting someone for an early workout, chances are, you will show up—at least after the first time you sleep in and your buddy plays up the guilt factor.

9. Exercise before you go home. If there is a way to work out before getting stuck in the evening commute, you can avoid wasting time in traffic along with the pitfalls of procrastination.

10. Remember that time with family and friends is priceless; the benefits of exercise do not outweigh the importance of experiencing what is most valuable in life.

When it comes down to making exercise fit into your life, use these tricks to maximize your time with the people that matter most. It is all about balance, being your best while at the same time realizing for whom you are doing this. Get in shape so that you can enjoy your family and friends, so you can live longer and healthier and share more time with them, not less.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Could we have been wrong about exercise and weight loss?

Could we have been wrong about exercise and weight loss?

In a thought provoking article in this month’s New York Magazine, Gary Taubes reviews the evidence for exercise and weight loss and the relationship turns out to be far more complex than most of us thought.

For years, conventional wisdom held that you lose weight by exercising (and of course by eating less). These two cornerstones of dietary strategy were rarely questioned, and it wasn’t really until Dr. Atkins introduced the hormone connection to weight that anyone seriously considered that the relationship could be a bit more complicated than just calories in, calories out. Taubes reviews the evidence that exercise “causes” weight loss and finds it, to put it mildly, wanting.  Sure, lean people exercise more than those who are not lean, but, as he pointedly asks, “does that mean that working out will make a fat person lean?” The science, says Taubes, suggests that there’s more to it.

Let’s be clear. No one- including Taubes- suggests that exercise isn’t a good thing to do. It has proven benefits on the cardiovascular system. It has proven benefits on the brain. (In fact, aerobic exercise actually can cause new brain mass to grow!). But as many people know all to well, simply going to the gym for 20-30 minutes (or more) three times a week (or more) won’t always cut it when it comes to fat loss. The results have been sorely disappointing for more than a few people, probably causing them to give up and go back to their sedentary ways.

Taubes suggests a couple of other mechanisms that may illuminate the exercise-weight loss relationship. One is the fact that exercise increases the appetite, causing many people to eat a lot more after working out, thus blunting the calorie burning effects of the exercise. A second is the fact that some people may be genetically programmed to “store” and others to “burn”- perhaps Lance Armstrong sits on his bike because his body is programmed to find ways to burn off excess energy, and perhaps Mr. Jones sits on his couch after dinner because his body is programmed to store that Big Mac. And third- and most convincing- is the activation during exercise of an enzyme known as LPL (lipoprotein lipase) which is responsible for pulling calories into muscle cells during a workout. While this works great when we’re exercising, afterwards, LPL just keeps on doing it’s job but shifts to importing calories into the fat cells, working to return to them any fat they may have lost by exercising.

But the central point Taubes makes is that the biggest barrier to weight loss (whether fueled by exercise or diet) is one that Atkins Advantage readers have been hearing about for several decades: oversecretion of the fat-storing (and LPL raising!)  hormone insulin. “Because insulin determines fat accumulation, it’s quite possible that we get fat not because we eat too much or exercise too little but because we secrete too much insulin or because our insulin levels remain elevated far longer than might be ideal” Taubes concludes.

The take home point isn’t that we shouldn’t bother to exercise. Of course we should. But if we are turning to exercise primarily as a way to lose body fat, we’ll get much better results if we follow the Atkins Advantage program of eating- controlled carbohydrate consumption, low sugar, no refined carbohydrates foods, no trans-fats, more protein and more fiber. That way of eating is least likely to keep insulin levels raised, and much less likely to sabotage our exercise efforts.

It’s also the best way to stay healthy!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Confused About Carb Loading?

How you can maximize your energy, make your exercise time more effective and reach your goals most efficiently.

Have you ever eaten a bagel or muffin for breakfast, and then felt either so ravenously hungry or lethargic by late-morning that you wolfed down a sugar-filled energy bar? Now ask yourself why anyone would want to go to the gym in that condition—he’d probably spend the whole workout feeling he couldn’t get out of first gear. The rapid rise in blood sugar that comes from this type of high-carb load produces a very different outcome than most anticipate. It signals the body to release a big spurt of insulin, which actually lowers blood sugar and energy levels—a recipe for a mid-workout crash.

The original thinking behind carbohydrate loading was that it effectively restocked blood-sugar stores (glycogen) in the days before a major competitive event to provide long-lasting energy. But as you can see, carb loading at the wrong time (right before exercise) produces just the opposite outcome, leaving the body with less, rather than more, energy. Consistent energy is the goal, and avoiding sugar spikes and troughs is the answer!

In one study, 12 normal-weight men switched from their regular diet (about 48 percent carbohydrate) to a higher protein, low-carb diet (eight percent carbohydrate) for six weeks. Another eight men stayed on the regular diet for comparison. The men were encouraged to eat plenty of calories in order to maintain their weight. At the end of the six weeks, the men who had consumed higher protein and restricted carbs had significantly decreased their body fat by an average of 7.5 pounds and significantly increased lean body mass by an average of 2.4 pounds¹.

Why Protein Is Key

What would have happened if those men had also stepped up their exercise regimen during that time? They likely would have seen an even greater increase in muscle-to-fat ratio, because exercise builds muscle tissue when there is adequate protein in the diet.
Proteins, in fact, are the building blocks for muscle tissue. During exercise, the muscles are stressed—essentially causing dozens of tiny tears in the tissue. Proteins subsequently repair and rebuild this tissue, which is how your muscles maintain themselves and grow stronger. If you’re an active person, this occurs underneath your skin every day.

When Carbs and Exercise Go Together

There are some times when increased carb consumption does make sense and can enhance exercise performance.
1. During a workout of an hour or more. In contrast to research suggesting that consuming a carbohydrate snack one to two hours prior to exercise can result in lowered blood sugar levels, some carbohydrate intake can be beneficial and result in greater exercise tolerance. For those performing aerobic exercise lasting 60 minutes or more, consumption of a carbohydrate and electrolyte-replacement drink during exercise can enhance performance².
2. During preparation for longer-duration exercise events such as 20-mile runs or races. One study demonstrated that individuals who normally control their carbs and then consumed a high-carbohydrate diet in the days before an event increased glycogen storage and had much higher rates of fat oxidation than individuals who regularly consume a high-carb diet³.
3. When recovering post-workout. This recovery period is an important time to fit in at least a portion of your daily carb consumption to maximize muscle recovery and to aid the process of preparing for your next exercise session (carbs consumed immediately after exercise begin to replenish glycogen stores).