Catherine Mercer M.S. Exercise Physiologist
When someone suffers from the discomfort of chronic inflammation, physical exercise can seem impossible. Most people tend to become more sedentary when they experience inflammatory pain. Isn’t it better to rest the body when it is in pain? Won’t physical exertion worsen my pain level? The answer is no and no.
High intensity interval training or HIIT has been found to be one of the most effective exercise methods at reducing inflammation. This can be done using either cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, eliptical etc,) or strength training exercise. A HIIT exercise program alternates between low/moderate intensity intervals and high intensity intervals. However, many people are intimidated by or are not physically capable of high intensity intervals. Not to worry. The latest research on exercise and inflammation shows that as little as twenty minutes of moderate walking each day has significant anti-inflammatory effects.
The good news is that regular exercise will significantly reduce inflammation. The bad news is that too much sitting in between exercise can largely negate that benefit. One hour of exercise cannot offset ten hours of stillness. If you have a sedentary job try to get up and walk around at least once per hour. Try to be as active as possible during your non-working hours. A good tool is to get a pedometer or fitbit and try to clock 7,000 to 10,000 steps each day.
Diet is also vital in trying to manage chronic inflammation. Incorporate animal based omega -3 fatty acids, leafy greens, blueberries, tea, herbs and spices, fermented vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and garlic into your daily diet while limiting sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s fat was the enemy. Anyone who wanted to shed some pounds knew that they had to virtually eliminate fat from their diet. Fat will make you fat, right? Wrong.
Too many calories makes us fat. When we eat more calories than we burn we gain fat, regardless of whether those calories came from fat, protein or carbohydrates. In fact, when we try to avoid fat we tend to become carbohydrate junkies. Do you remember back in the 80’s and 90’s when low fat foods were the rave? The thought was that fat free cake, cookies, ice cream etc. wouldn’t cause weight gain. However, those foods were loaded with extra sugar (carbohydrate) to improve the taste. Guess what happened. People who ate those foods regularly got fatter. Carbohydrates cause an insulin response in the body which causes hunger. Those fat free foods were causing people to eat more.
That’s right. Our body gets used to converting what we give it to energy. If we give it loads of carbohydrates it will learn to metabolize carbohydrates. If we give it some fat it will learn to metabolize fat including stored fat. The best way to help the body burn fat is to eat fat.
Remember, however, that we still need to take in less calories than we burn in order to lose weight. The key is portion control, moderation and variety. A good rule to follow is to have no more than fifty percent of your caloric intake come from carbohydrates. Have at least thirty percent come from protein and twenty percent come from healthy unsaturated fats.
Most functional training is performed standing. It places great emphasis on working the stabilizer muscles. There are two basic categories of muscles: movers and stabilizers. Movers move the body. Stabilizers support the body. If we perform exercises on seated weight machines we are utilizing the movers only. This can leave our stabilizers weak and lead to poor posture, joint pain and injuries.
Functional training isn’t just the latest fad. It is based on sound principles of science and movement.
Regular exercise is by far one of the most effective things you can do to improve and maintain your overall health. However, if you are trying to lose weight, exercise alone won’t be enough.
So why can’t we simply exercise a few times each week and lose weight?
Regular exercise will make us feel better and stronger. This will help us to be more active throughout the entire day. That is when overall calorie expenditure really starts to add up.
Benefits of exercise for seniors:
Regular exercise will both prevent health problems and manage existing conditions in older adults. It can be safely done regardless of your age, fitness level, health or history. If you need help getting started safely, contact a qualified exercise professional that has experience working with seniors. Local classes designed for seniors are also a great way to start.
Sodium is an important electrolyte that binds water to keep intracellular and extracellular fluids in the right balance. Along with potassium, it is vital for muscle contraction and nerve transmission.
Too much sodium can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack in someone with hypertension. It is recommended that someone with hypertension keep their sodium intake below 2300 mg per day. This can be challenging when the typical American diet includes so many salty processed and convenience foods.
However, what about health conscious people who try to limit their sodium intake? Believe it or not, too little sodium can actually be more detrimental to our health than too much.
Recent studies have shown that people who a low sodium intake (less than 3000 mg per day) have a greater risk for heart attacks than those who consume a moderate amount (4000-5000 mg per day).
Exercise, eat for health and weight will come off.
Without daily sun exposure it is likely we will develop some level of deficiency. Depression, fatigue and muscle aches are three of the common symptoms. If a deficiency is prolonged, many more serious health problems can develop.
To check for a deficiency your physician can run a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. If you are unable to get adequate sun exposure, a high quality vitamin D3 supplement with 1000-5000 IU may be advisable.