Stress is a fact of life, but it doesn’t need to be a way of life. You can learn to manage stress using specific relaxation techniques that clear your mind and reduce physiological side effects associated with stress (high blood pressure, increased heart rate, migraines, ulcers, emotional strain, muscle fatigue).
Deep Breathing. A very basic technique being used to manage stress is deep breathing. By inhaling deeply and allowing your lungs to bring in more oxygen, followed by a slow and controlled exhalation that deflates the stomach, you can begin to relieve tensions that lead to negative stress.
Visualization. Another technique to help manage stress is mental visualization. Learning how to focus on one peaceful word, thought or image while blocking out other negative distractions that trigger stress. This technique works very well when combined with deep breathing.
Meditation. Meditation is a form of visualization that allows your mind to become more calm and peaceful using autogenic cues to release tension and create a more relaxed state. Although many people find it difficult at first, once the techniques are learned, meditation is extremely helpful in reducing stress.
Yoga Therapy. Yoga therapy, by far, is becoming an increasingly popular and scientifically proven technique to manage stress. When practiced on a regular basis, yoga can help you live a calmer life and increase your capacity to handle the demands of modern day living.
Iverson Fitness & Wellness Consulting offers our clients a mind/body approach to stress management using a variety of techniques. Sessions combine therapeutic yoga, deep breathing, gentle stretching, visualization, flowing yoga sequences and progressive muscular relaxation to enhance the overall effect. Using a combined method, you’ll not only learn to relax, but also improve your performance in other activities of life.
Guidelines and Position Stance from The American College of Sports Medicine
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by fatigue and widespread aches, pains, stiffness and spasms in the muscles, which make it difficult to perform regular activities of daily living, such as walking or carrying objects. This condition affects an estimated 5 to 10 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women between the ages of 20 and 55 years. Additional symptoms include sleeplessness, depression and anxiety, which may in turn cause impaired functional ability (including an inability to work), social isolation and overall poor quality of life. Not surprisingly, those with fibromyalgia often find exercise too painful to attempt. However, a well-designed program of physical activity that includes cardiorespiratory exercise and strength and flexibility training has been shown to reduce symptoms, alleviate pain, and improve muscle strength and functioning. The key is to begin slowly and to perform the right types of exercises that will help reduce fatigue and ultimately improve your overall quality of life.
Talk with your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program and ask for specific programming recommendations and possible changes to your medications.
Select low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, water exercise and cycling. Warm water, in particular, is a great environment for exercising comfortably. Aim to perform aerobic activity at least three days per week, starting with just a few minutes and gradually increasing to 20 to 40 minutes of moderate activity per session.
Spread your activity throughout the day (e.g., three 10-minute sessions). Set time goals rather than distance goals.
Start slowly and gradually progress the intensity and duration of your workouts. Take frequent breaks during activity if needed.
Consistency is key, but be prepared to adjust your workouts according to fluctuations in your condition. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two off if your symptoms flare up.
Avoid overexertion and high-intensity activities, which might worsen symptoms.
Some discomfort after your workouts is to be expected, but you should not be in pain.
It is often difficult for individuals with fibromyalgia to adhere to a program of regular exercise;
therefore, it is often recommended that individuals participate in supervised or group activities.
Your exercise program should be modified to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk of aggravating your health condition. Consider contacting a certified fitness professional who can work with you and your healthcare practitioner to establish realistic goals and design a safe and effective program that addresses your specific needs.
ACSM Current Position and Stance
Approximately one third of the U.S. adult population is overweight. The Year 2000 Objectives call for reducing the prevalence of overweight to 20 percent; thus weight control has become an important public health goal. The most commonly reported method of weight loss is dieting. However, the long-term success rate of this method is quite poor. Indeed, only about ten to 30 percent of those who lose weight by reducing calories maintain their full weight loss over time.
Exercise may be associated with better long-term weight control than dieting alone, but the influence of regular physical activity on weight regulation is complex. Although numerous experimental studies have documented the positive effect of exercise training on body weight and fat stores, far less is known about how regular exercise affects attained weight and the risk of weight gain in the general population. What few longitudinal data there are suggest that regular physical activity may be useful in minimizing age-related weight gain or reducing the risk of substantial weight gain, rather than in actually promoting weight loss. Nonetheless, primary prevention of substantial weight gain with age may be a more efficacious public health strategy for reducing the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related morbidity and mortality in the United States.
A study just published in the International Journal of Obesity reports some encouraging findings with regard to the benefits of physical activity to weight control. In a large survey of over 5,000 middle-aged men and women, Loretta DiPietro, Ph.D., M.P.H. and colleagues compared two-year improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness (determined by performance on a maximal exercise test on a treadmill) with changes in body weight over seven and a half years. Each one-minute improvement in treadmill time significantly minimized weight gain by about .60 kilograms (1.3 pounds) over the follow-up period compared to participants who demonstrated no improvement.
More substantial improvements of three and five minutes were related to actual weight loss in both men and women. Further, each one-minute improvement in treadmill time reduced the chance of a five-kg (11 pounds) weight gain by 14 percent in men and by nine percent in women and the chance of a ten-kg (22 pounds) gain by 21 percent in both men and women.
These results were not due to chance or other factors associated with exercise and body weight, such as smoking. It should be noted, however, that improvements in fitness level were necessary to minimize weight gain; simply maintaining a given fitness level was not sufficient to ward off the slow increase in body weight through middle age. Indeed, these and other recent findings by Paul T. Williams, Ph.D. in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that increasing amounts of physical activity may be necessary to effectively maintain a constant body weight with increasing age.
Thus, the current population-based findings suggest that increased physical activity and fitness play more of a role in minimizing age-related weight gain and preventing significant weight gain than in promoting weight loss. Even though the relationship between improved cardiovascular fitness and reduced weight gain appears to be small, over decades these small savings accumulate into net savings that are quite meaningful, especially considering the minimized risk associated with obesity-related chronic disease.
Recent suggestions from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health, and the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health call for 30 minutes or more of moderate- intensity activity per day on all, or most, days of the week in order to obtain significant health benefits.
Resistance Training and the Older Adult - Guidelines and Standards from The American College of Sports Medicine
The health benefits of appropriately prescribed long-term (more than 12 weeks) resistance training in older adults--ages 65 and older--are well known. They include improvements in muscle strength and endurance; other possible health benefits include increase in muscle mass, which translates into improvements in functional capacity. In addition, increased weight bearing with resistance training is considered beneficial in improving bone density and combating the effects of osteoporosis. Achieving appropriate levels of function is very important for older adults so they are able to carry out most of the daily living skills necessary to lead independent lives. Due to the fact that muscle wasting (sarcopenia) and weakness, exacerbated by physical inactivity, is prevalent in the aging population, more emphasis has been placed on developing resistance-training programs for older adults. When developing resistance-training programs for this group, important components to consider are the various training-related variables: frequency, duration, exercises, sets, intensity, repetitions, and progression.
Older adults often have orthopedic issues that contraindicate resistance training of the affected joint(s). Older adults are also at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and in many cases have even been diagnosed with it. Therefore, it is critical that the older adult receive prior approval from their physician before participating in resistance training. It should be noted that proper supervision of the individual’s resistance-training program, including any testing procedures, by an appropriately trained exercise professional, is highly recommended. It should also be noted that performing maximum strength testing in many older adults is not recommended. Therefore, when strength testing is appropriate, sub- maximum testing protocols for estimating maximum strength are recommended.
Frequency refers to the number of exercise sessions per week. The traditional recommendation for frequency is to engage in three training sessions per week for individuals primarily seeking improvement in their overall health and fitness capacity. Even though some individuals may be motivated to train more frequently, resistance-training studies with the elderly have indicated a range of two to four days per week to be effective and adequate in improving strength. So the recommendation is that the older individual train at least two days per week but no more than four, suggesting an average training frequency of three days per week. Also, the frequency of exercise should be structured so that there is at least 48 hours between training sessions. An individual could satisfy this requirement with a “total body” routine, meaning that they would exercise all of the chosen muscle groups during each training session two or three days per week. Another approach could be a “split” routine where some of the chosen muscle groups are exercised on one or two days a week while the remaining are exercised on a separate one or two days. This “split” routine approach may not be appropriate for those older individuals who are just beginning their program.
Duration describes the length of each training session. In reference to training duration, longer training sessions are not necessarily more effective. If one has an appropriately designed program based on sound training variables, lengthy training sessions are not necessary. In fact, older adults should avoid lengthy training sessions, because they may increase the risk of injury, manifested by extreme fatigue. Present guidelines for resistance training in older adults recommend a range of approximately 20-45 minutes per session. In other words, one should attempt to train for at least 20 but no longer than 45 minutes. This range suggests an approximate average duration of 30 minutes per session.
WHAT’S YOUR MAX V02
V02 is a term used to describe aerobic capacity, the volume of oxygen used by the body per minute. Max V02 is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be transported and used by the body per minute. Max V02 is an excellent indicator of cardiovascular fitness and health. Similar to the term “aerobic power”, max V02 offers you a greater understanding of your cardiovascular capabilities.
Generally speaking, fit individuals have a higher max V02 and stronger aerobic capacity than sedentary individuals. Fit individuals with a high max V02 are able to take in more oxygen per minute and perform exercises at higher intensity than someone who has a lower max V02. Fit individuals with a high max V02 can sustain longer bouts of exercise without undue fatigue. They can work harder, longer and more efficiently than someone with a low max V02. Fit individuals with a high max V02 also BURN MORE CALORIES per exercise minute, than an individual with a lower max V02. Thus, weight control is much more manageable with a higher max V02.
What’s your max V02? Oxygen consumption can be measured in a laboratory setting or assessed during a submaximal treadmill or bike test. Once assessed, your health fitness specialist can recommend exercise intensities to maintain your cardiovascular health, or assist in designing an appropriate improvement program to increase your max V02. Assessments take less than 20 minutes to perform.
Understanding the values: At rest, the amount of oxygen consumed per minute is approximately 3.5 to 4.5 ml/kg/min. The resting amount is also referred to as 1 MET (one metabolic equivalent of training). An average individual will typically show a max V02 of 2-3 liters (20-35 ml/kg/min). A fit individual have a max V02 range of 3-4 liters (35-50 ml/kg/min), and an elite athlete of 6-7 liters (80+ ml/kg/min.).
Max V02 and calorie burn: Calorie burn during exercise is directly associated with oxygen uptake at an estimated 5 kcals per liter of oxygen consumed. If you have an understanding of your max V02, you can easily predict the number of calories you can burn with exercise. For example: a fit individual with a max V02 of 3-4 liters would be able to burn up to 15-20 calories per minute during an “all out - max effort” of work. At 50% of max effort, they are still burning 7.5 – 10 calories per minute (450 kcals to 600 kcals per hour). That’s a lot of calories for one hour of work!
Factors that influence max V02: Exercise! As you become more aerobically fit, V02 will increase proportionate to your age, heredity, sex, and level of physical conditioning. Lung Capacity. Non-smokers will benefit with an increased capacity of lung function and respiratory health. Heart Disease. Values for estimated max V02 are based on the apparently healthy adult. If you have a history of heart disease, please seek advice from your cardiologist or physician regarding max V02
Written By: Susan Iverson, M.S. Iverson Fitness and Wellness Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved.
Fuel Use During Exercise
You use both fat and carbohydrates for energy during exercise, with these two fuels providing that energy on a sliding scale. During exercise at a very low intensity (e.g., walking), fat accounts for most of the energy expenditure. As exercise intensity increases up to the lactate threshold (the exercise intensity that marks the transition between exercise that is almost purely aerobic and exercise that includes a significant anaerobic contribution; also considered the highest sustainable aerobic intensity), the contribution from fat decreases while the contribution from carbohydrates increases. When exercising just below the lactate threshold, you are using mostly carbohydrates. Once the intensity of exercise has risen above the lactate threshold, carbohydrates become the only fuel source.
If you exercise long enough (1.5–2 hours), your muscle carbohydrate (glycogen) content and blood glucose concentration become low. This metabolic state presents a threat to the muscles’ survival, since carbohydrates are muscles’ preferred fuel. When carbohydrates are not available, the muscles are forced to rely on fat as fuel.
Since more fat is used at low exercise intensities, people often assume that low-intensity exercise is best for burning fat, an idea that has given birth to the “fat-burning zone.” However, while only a small amount of fat is used when exercising just below the lactate threshold, the rate of caloric expenditure and the total number of calories expended are much greater than they are when exercising at a lower intensity, so the total amount of fat used is also greater.
The Bottom Line
For fat and weight loss, what matters most is the difference between the number of calories you expend and the number of calories you consume. Fat and weight loss is about burning lots of calories and cutting back on the number of calories consumed. For the purpose of losing weight, it matters little whether the calories burned during exercise come from fat or carbohydrates.
Workouts For Fat Loss
To maximize your fat loss, try these workouts. For assistance in designing effective, safe workouts, contact the Iverson Fitness & Wellness Consulting Team! www.IversonFitness.com
A great way to perform high-intensity exercise and decrease your body fat percentage is through interval training, which breaks up the work with periods of rest. Not only does interval training allow you to improve your fitness quickly; it is also more effective than continuous exercise for burning lots of calories during exercise and increasing your post-workout metabolic rate. Try one or two of these workouts each week:
• 5–6 x 3 minutes at 95%–100% maximum (max) heart rate (HR) with 2-minute active recovery periods
• 4 x 4 minutes at 95%–100% max HR with 3-minute active recovery periods
• 8–12 x 30 seconds fast with 1-minute active recovery periods
Each of these interval workouts should include a warm-up and a cool-down.
Long runs or bike rides (≥ 1.5–2 hours at 65%–70% max HR) that stimulate mitochondrial synthesis and promote the depletion of glycogen threaten the muscles’ survival, since carbohydrates are muscles’ preferred fuel. In response to this threat, muscles “learn” how to use fat more effectively and over time become better fat-burning machines.
This handout is a service of IDEA, the leading international membership association in the health and fitness industry, www.ideafit.com.
With chronic stress, the hypothalams directs the pituitary gland to signal the adrenal cortex to release a hormone called cortisol. According to research out of the University of New Mexico, elevated levels of cortisol can stimulate an increase in appetite and an increased rate in fat storage. If the stress is not controlled (real or perceived stress), the hypothalamus signals do not wind down and cortisol levels continue to increase.
Chronic stress is also associated with emotional changes (anxiety, depression and apathy) that often lead to overeating. If the emotions aren't controlled, negative patterns of eating are often observed.
The good news is that exercise can help protect against feelings of distress, reduce symptoms of anxiety, guard against depression and improve psychological well-being. Even short bouts of exercise can help! As to the intensity, moderate to vigorous physical activity has been recommended (Dunn and Jewell, 2010).