Friday, September 30, 2011

Are You Ready For Exercise?

You know exercise is good for you.  You've heard the success stories of weight loss when coupling proper nutrition with exercise.  Have you tried it yet?  Are you skeptical?  Are you making changes? 

Every day we make decisions about what is best for us, our family, and our financial well-being.  Some people have a process they go through before making a decision...weighing pros and cons, determining financial commitment, talk with family members.  Others take the "fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants" approach and make decisions without much preparation or planning.  Regardless of the decision-making system, sometimes our decisions are good ones and other times, not so good.

Whatever method you practice, we all go through the same "stages of change".  This is a model was developed by Dr. Prochaska and colleagues at the University of Rhode Island back in the late 1970s.  The official name is "Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change" but is more commonly known as TTM or "stages of change".  Their theory assesses an individual's readiness to act on a new healthier behavior, and provides strategies, or processes of change to guide the individual through the stages of change to action and maintenance.  In layman's terms, there are certain steps we all go through when a change is made in our life.

The stages are as follows:
  1. Precontemplation - not deciding to make a change, regardless of effectiveness of the outcome
  2. Contemplation - thinking about making a change but not quite ready to commit
  3. Preparation - made the decision to make a change, now getting ready to begin
  4. Action - changes have been begun and positive outcomes are seen
  5. Maintenance - new behavior is in place and now the focus is on retaining this behavior
  6. Termination - new behavior is constant and there is 100% commitment to continue
Which stage are you in?  If you are in stage 1 (Precontemplation) then just keep reading our blog.  Someday you will find it in you to want to make some changes to your lifestyle.  Those of you who are in stage 2 (Contemplation), definitely keep reading this (and future) blogs.  Arm yourself with the knowledge of the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition.  Ask questions, ask for advice, explore your options, decide what's best for you.  Find out what is preventing you from starting an exercise program.  Stage 3 (Preparation) is where you should start making a plan.  If you are in this stage, begin to figure out what goals you what to achieve through exercise and proper nutrition. 

Those of you who have made it to stage 4 (action)...keep up the good work!  You have begun to see the positive effects of taking good care of your body and mind.  Don't stop now!  Keep making those healthy decision.  If you've made it to stage 5 (maintenance) or stage 6 (termination), I stand up and applaud you.  Positive changes have been made in your lifestyle and you saw (and continue to see) the benefits.  You are healthier, you've improved your quality of life and your outlook on life in general is much better.

Take a moment to think about why you want to start and exercise regime.  Do it for yourself, not just because the doctor told you to or because your significant other says you must do this "or else".  Although those are good reasons, you must be ready mentally to make the change or you will not be successful.  We here at PROMATx Health Club can help you determine which stage you are in and whether you really are ready to make some positive health behavioral changes.

To quote Mr. Spock..."Live long and prosper".  We are here for you, come in and see how we can help!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Posture and Forward Head

Have you ever seen someone walking through a store and their head was in front of their body instead of over their shoulders?  It looks different and is a little more noticeable in some people.  This posture is called "forward head"...a very technical term!  Forward head posture is usually caused by tight muscles on the front of the body and is very correctable.

Proper posture of the head and neck allows the head to sit directly on top of the spine, without any significant over-curvature of the cervical (neck) spine.  When standing tall, if you were drop an imaginary line from your earlobes, it should fall through the shoulders, down through the hips and knees, and end in the ankles.  Depending upon the degree of forward head, that imaginary line could drop from the earlobes straight down to the toes.

Tight muscles on the front of the body can actually pull the head forward.  Staying in this position for long durations causes overstretching of the neck and upper back muscles.  Forward head posture increases the likelihood of developing headaches/migraines, pinched nerves in neck and shoulders, and decreased blood supply to the brain.  Decreased blood flow to the brain can inhibit mental cognition including memory loss and inability to focus.  Also, forward head posture increases a person's risk of injury such as muscle tears, torn rotator cuff, and whiplash.

How can this posture be corrected?  It's not just getting a person to stand up straight.  The muscles that are tight and pulling the head forward will need to be properly stretched.  Specifically the pectoral (chest) muscles and sternocleidomastoid muscle.  This muscle runs from the jaw ("mastoid") to the breastbone ("sternum").  The muscles that are overstretched in the back of the neck, shoulders, and upper back need to be strengthened and returned to the "normal" length.  

Once all the involved muscle groups are strengthened, stretched, and back to their normal length, it's important to focus on maintaining proper posture during all activities.  Your mom may have always told you to "stand up straight" it's time to listen!  Whether you are sitting, standing, lying down, or working on a computer, your head should sit right over top of your shoulders, low back should be supported with the back of a chair or pillow (when sitting or lying), abdominal muscles should be tight to form a "girdle" for your low back, and shoulders should be relaxed and not rolled forward.

Take a moment to look at your posture.  Drop that imaginary line and see where it falls.  Better yet, have someone take a picture of you from the side.  This will give you a good indication of your posture and whether you suffer from forward head.

If you find you have forward head posture, the trainers here at PROMATx Health Club can educate you on which muscles to stretch and how, and which muscles to strengthen.  Stop in a see us today.  In the meantime, stand up (or sit up) straight.  Let your spine do the work to hold you up, give your muscles a break!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greek Yogurt vs Plain Yogurt...Which is Better?

Greek and plain (regular) yogurt are both made by fermenting milk with live bacteria cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.  The only difference, in terms of production, is that Greek yogurt is strained to remove the liquid whey, and therefore it has a thicker consistency.  Both versions of yogurt have health benefits but is one better than the other?

Yogurt, regardless of the type, contains calcium and protein and both contain a beneficial bacteria to aid digestion.  So far, the answer is both are good for you.  When yogurt goes through the straining process to remove the liquid whey, some of the sugar content is lost.  So, the answer to the question of which is better, now leans towards Greek yogurt.  

Greek yogurt has a thicker, more rich consistency and some people describe it more as a dessert-type food.  Although this type of yogurt has become more popular over the past five years, not all consumers have taken a liking to it.  Some people don't like the taste, stating that it is too sour and the consistency is too thick. 

Based on the benefits of yogurt in general, it should be added to your daily nutritional plan.  If you are watching your sugar intake, Greek or strained yogurt is probably a better alternative.  Greek yogurt has a higher "fullness" factor because of the higher protein content.  Therefore if you are working towards weight loss, Greek yogurt might help. 

Not a fan of eating a cup of yogurt, plain or Greek?  Try adding fruit, honey, or granola for a different taste.  Add it to smoothies in the morning.  Substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise, sour cream or cottage cheese in recipes.  Make your own dressings with yogurt.  This list goes on!

The bottom line is yogurt is good for you.  Watch out for all the fancy additives...add your own fresh ingredients.  Choose your brand, choose your type, just choose yogurt!  


Monday, September 26, 2011

Vitamin E and Cold Prevention

Can vitamin E help prevent the common cold?  The jury is still out on the answer to this question but research is leaning towards a positive response.   

Vitamin E is one of 13 vitamins that is essential to body metabolism, cell growth and function.  It is also known as tocopherol and is an antioxidant important in the formation of red blood cells and the use of vitamin-K-mediated clotting factors.  Vitamin E is also involved in immune function.  Sources of dietary intake include wheat germ, corn, nuts, seeds, olives, spinach, asparagus and other green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, and products made from vegetable oils, such as margarine.

Results of a study from Tufts University published in the August 18, 2004, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that a daily supplement of 200 IU of vitamin E protected a group of older people against the common cold.  In this study, those who were given this daily supplementation were 20% less likely to develop respiratory infections and 22% less likely to develop colds than the participants who got the placebo.  The same researchers also looked at the protection effects in younger people.  They found similar results among young men, although the differences were not as great as those in older adults.  However, immune function decreases as we age and this may explain the greater effects in older adults.

This sounds promising, however, be careful with your intake of vitamin E.  High doses of this vitamin can be detrimental and toxic.  Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it can be stored in fat tissue.  Choose foods that contain natural sources of vitamin E.  If you decide to supplement with vitamin E, be sure to speak with your health practitioner to find the dosage that is sufficient for your lifestyle.  

As we enter cold and flu season, be smart.  Wash your hands often, especially after going to the grocery store and other public venues.  Eat well-balanced and nutritious meals, drink water, and exercise regularly.  Not sure if your meals are "well-balanced"?  Make an appointment with our nutrition specialist here at PROMATx Health Club and get a better picture of your vitamin and mineral intake.

Be healthy...stay healthy!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseed has been around for thousands of years yet we are just really beginning to learn about its many benefits.  Recent studies have shown flaxseed may help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, reduce bone loss, promote weight loss increase immunity, and fight cancer.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, it's not!

Flaxseed is high in:
  • Vitamins (including most of the B vitamins) and minerals such as magnesium and manganese.  
  • Fiber (soluble and insoluble)
  • Phytochemicals (powerful antioxidants)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
What is flaxseed?  It's the seed from the flax plant which historically been used as a source of fiber.  It can be purchased in 3 varieties...(1) whole seeds; (2) ground; and (3) oil.  Flaxseed is low in carbs, high in fiber and contains healthy fat.  For these three reasons, flaxseed is good for those trying to limit carb and sugar intake and those trying to lose weight.  Because this plant is high in fiber, it creates a sense of "fullness" in the stomach.

How can you increase your consumption of flaxseed?  Since flaxseed has a very light, nutty taste you can add it to foods you already enjoy.  Sprinkle it on your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.  Blend it into juices or smoothies.  Sprinkle it on salads.  Add it to sauces or casserole.  The list is endless!!

There are some drawbacks to consuming flaxseed.  Those who suffer from inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's or IBS, should stay away from flaxseed since it has a laxative effect.  Women who are pregnant or nursing should also stay away due to the phytoestrogens in flaxseed.  There are also very strict guidelines to storing flaxseed.  Depending on the type of flaxseed purchased (i.e., ground, oil, seed), it may have a shelf-life of a couple of months to a year.  It may also interfere with the absorption of some medications and nutrients.

Despite these drawbacks, flaxseed is a beneficial addition to your daily nutrition.  As always, consult with your health practitioner before starting a regimen of flaxseed.  When you've been given the "all-clear" to start adding it to your meals, your body will thank you!  Check it out today!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time to Get Your Groove On with Zumba!

Zumba Fitness® is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a "fitness-party" that is downright addictive.  Have you tried it yet?

There are a lot of benefits to participating in Zumba.  Since it is a "dance-fitness" class your heart and lungs will reap the benefits.  This aerobic activity elevates the heart rate, burns calories, and increases oxygen consumption.  Also, because it is a weight-bearing activity, your bones and connective tissue will become stronger.  With breaks in the music and dances, Zumba also becomes an interval training method.  Heart rate will lower slightly, then increase as movement increases.

How many calories can you burn in a typical Zumba class?  Just as an example, a 150-pound person can burn more than 450 calories in a 50-minute class at a moderate intensity level.  Obviously the higher the intensity level the more calories burned.  The use of Zumba toning sticks can increase the calorie burn to as much as 1,000 calories!!!

Ready to get moving and have fun?  Come in and try a class at PROMATx Health Club.  Be ready to sweat, smile, and move those hips!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

High Blood Pressure - The Silent Killer

Did you know that more than 66 million American adults suffer from high blood pressure? Did you know high blood pressure is known as the "silent killer"? It is given this name because high blood pressure (hypertension) doesn't have any symptoms and many people don't realize they have it. Hypertension also increases a person's chance for heart disease, stroke, and other serious problems.  Despite this, hypertension is easy to check for and can easily be controlled through exercise, diet and medication. 

In 2007, the Kentucky Department of Public Health published the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey results and showed that adults in Kentucky had the following risk factors for heart disease and stroke:
  • 30% of adults in Kentucky had high blood pressure
  • 38.5% of those screened reported having high blood cholesterol
  • 9.9% had diabetes
  • 28.2% were current smokers
  • 69.1% were overweight or obese
  • 55.8% reported no exercise in the prior 30 days
  • 81.6% ate fruit and vegetables less than 5 times a day
As if these statistics were bad enough, all of these were higher than the national average!

Do you see any of those statistics that are "controllable"?  Meaning a person has the ability to affect the outcome?  All 7 of the above statistics fall under "controllable, lifestyle risk factors".  You have the power to prevent heart disease and stroke through exercise and diet.

Studies published to date suggest that moderate-intensity activity may be most effective in lowering blood pressure.  Furthermore, regular physical activity has been shown to be effective in reducing the relative risk of developing hypertension by 19-30%!!

Do you have hypertension?  Do you know what your numbers are?  Talk to your doctor or health-care practitioner for more information.  If you are already battling high blood pressure, be sure your tell your doctor you are exercising (or getting ready to start an exercise program).  It's important to have an open line of communication so adjustments can be made in medication.

Another reason to start your exercise program today!  Don't become a statistic...take charge of your health.  Stop in at PROMATx Health Club and learn how you can take charge and make your own transformation. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Water...Is it the Magic Pill for Weight Loss?

Water is vital to sustain life.  Human beings can survive for quite a long time without food as long as they are properly hydrated.  In most instances, patients who had feeding tubes removed could survive for 10-14 days.  Hydration levels, again, play a major role in survival rates.  Sustaining life without water is a different story.  Depending on the environmental conditions and state of the body (i.e., elderly, infant, disease state), a person can begin to dehydrate within an hour.  Thus in a situation of extreme conditions, death can occur within a few hours.

The human body is more than 60% water.  Blood is made up of 92% water; muscles and the brain are approximately 75% water; bones are 22% water.  We lose water through sweat, urine, feces, and even breathing.  Mild dehydration causes decreased saliva production, decreased urine output, decreased frequency of urination, and urine that is dark in color with a strong odor.  Moderate dehydration further causes even less urine production, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and dry, sunken eyes.  Severe cases result in no urine production, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and irritability.  Final stage of dehydration is shock.

In a study published by Brenda Davy, PhD from Virginia Tech, water just may be the latest appetite-control agent.  This study was presented at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society in August 2010.  Davy confirmed through this study that just two 8-ounce glasses of water, taken before meals, enables people to shed pounds. What???  Over the course of 12 weeks, water drinkers in the study lost just over 15 pounds while non-water drinkers lost 11 pounds.

So here's the deal.  Davy reports this may be accomplished because water fills up the stomach with a substance that has zero calories.  You feel fuller as a result and eat less calorie-containing food during the meal.  Increased water consumption may also help people lose weight if they drink it in place of sweetened calorie-containing beverages, according to Davy.

Our challenge to you is to try this...drink two 8-ounce glasses of water before your meals and see if you eat less.  How easy is that??  This is the first study to look water intake and weight loss.  There will be more studies in the future and results may be different.  However, this is an easy way for you test this theory and, unlike weight loss through pills, it is a harmless way to try to lose weight.

Drink your healthy...and, maybe, lose some weight!  Come in to PROMATx Health Club for more information on weight loss.


Monday, September 12, 2011

What's the Best Way to Lose Belly Fat?

Belly fat...not just the layer that hangs over your belt (i.e., muffin top) the fat that lies deep within the abdominal cavity and surrounds internal organs.  This is also known as visceral fat and has been associated with increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.  Where fat is deposited in your body is just as important as how much fat you carry.

In a recent study by Duke University, researchers found aerobic exercise to be much more effective at reducing belly fat as compared to resistance training or a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training.  Duke researchers also found that aerobic exercise did a better job than resistance training at improving fasting insulin resistance, and reducing liver enzymes and fasting triglyceride levels. All are known risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

Although resistance training is important to improve strength and increase lean body mass (i.e., muscle), aerobic exercise burned 67% more calories than resistance training in this study.  Now if you look at the study design, you'll see the participants were given a fairly strenuous training program in both aerobic and resistance training protocols.  However, lead researcher Cris Slentz, PhD, exercise physiologist, believes similar results can be achieved with a more moderate intensity training protocol.  Lower intensity levels or durations will still burn calories; it just may take a little longer to achieve the same results as posted in this study.

What does this mean for you?  Cardiovascular activity is vital to keep the heart and lungs functioning at their peak performance levels.  It also is important, as proved in this study, for fat loss.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should be participating in moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity 30 minutes a day, five days a week.  However, this guideline is for the average HEALTHY adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.  Those who are striving for weight loss may need to participate in 60-90 minutes of cardio activity.

How much cardio training do you do?  Is it effective?  Check out our previous blog on exercise intensity to learn more about how judge how hard you are working out.  In the meantime, strive to meet the minimum guidelines of 30 minutes a day, five days a week for cardio activity.  Work with one of our trainers here at PROMATx Health Club to help reduce belly fat and improve your health.

Get off the couch, get out from behind the computer, put down the smart phone...get active and get healthy today!!

Duke University Medical Center. "Aerobic exercise bests resistance training at burning belly fat." ScienceDaily, 31 Aug. 2011. Web. 12 Sep. 2011.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Does Your Body Look Like Without Skin?

Did I just creep you out with the title of today's blog??  I didn't mean to!  Just because you may not have the knowledge of what goes on inside your body, doesn't mean it's too late to learn.  Here in Lexington, KY, you have the opportunity to see what your body looks like without skin!  You work hard in the gym, keep a healthy lifestyle, and watch what you eat.  Now it's time to see how all of that works together inside your body.  Starting September 10th and running through January 8th, you can visit the "Bodies Revealed" exhibit and see the muscles, bones, organs and everything else, up close and personal.  Don't be grossed out...take a look and explore the human body.

Those exercises you do in the gym (or in your living room) will make more sense if you can see what the muscle looks like, where it connects to the bones, and what surrounds it.  Take a look at the complicated make-up of the human body and marvel in its abilities to perform simple tasks like typing on a computer or complex functions such as digestion and innate breathing.

Expand your knowledge on your body.  Take a peek inside and see what a muscle really looks like; be amazed at how much can be packed into the human body; be thankful at how much our body does without us actually telling it what to do!

Learn more at Bodies Revealed.  Check it out today!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fitness for Stay-At-Home Parents

This post is for all of you who stay (or work) at home with your children.  Not everyone has the opportunity to leave the house and go to the gym for their workout.  Even if you don't have kids or don't work from home, this post is for you. 

Making time for exercise is crucial...actually fitting it into your day can be difficult.  Although coming into the gym exposes you to machines and equipment you might not have access to, there are plenty of things you can do at home to get in your workout.  Maybe you don't feel like leaving the house because of the weather or maybe your child is home from school due to a fever, you still can get a total body workout, with cardio activity, right in your own home!  With little to no money out of your pocket, you can work towards your goals at home.

Full body, body weight exercises have been around equipment needed!  Most people have the perfect cardio equipment in their house (or apartment) and don't even realize it.  What is it, you ask?  A flight (or two) of stairs.  You are up and down those stairs every day carrying laundry, chasing the kids, shooing the dog/cat out of where they shouldn't be.  Now it's time to utilize those stairs for a workout.  Start with a quick warm-up of climbing up and down the full flight a few times.  Just enough to get the heart rate up and the muscles warm.  When you are ready for the cardio portion of your workout, walk (or jog) up and down the stairs at a brisk pace for 5-10 minutes.  You can vary your pattern by skipping steps or walking sideways up and down.  Want to really work on brain power while you climb stairs?  Try going up and down backwards!  But be sure to hand on to the can be dangerous if you trip!

After 5-10 minutes of stair climbing, move on to your body weight exercises.  Push-ups are a great way to build strength in the chest and arms, and strengthen your core at the same time!  (Not sure what your core is..check out a previous post for more info.)  Squats and lunges are effective exercise for the lower body.  Dips on the edge of a chair or the stairs will work your triceps (back of the upper arm).  Got some heavy books or containers of laundry detergent?  Pick them up and do bicep curls or press them overhead for a shoulder workout.  Then head back to the stairs for another round of stair climbing.  Don't forget to stretch at the end of your workout!!

There are lots of ways to workout at home.  Don't neglect your workout just because you cannot make it to the gym.  You don't even have to spend any money...fill up an empty milk jug with sand and use that for weights.  Still need more ideas?  Our personal trainers can take you through a "home exercise program" and show you exactly what to do.  

Workouts can be done at just takes a little ingenuity and dedication.  Call PROMATx Health Club today and get started.  Don't wait...stay on track and work towards your goals!  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is Your Fitness Routine Getting Stale?

Have you been doing the same fitness routine for a while?  Are you getting bored with the order or type of exercises?  Have you hit a plateau?  Now is the time to try something new.

Performing the same routine every time you work out may seem like a good thing.  However, just as your mind can become bored with repeating activity, so can your muscles.  By switch your routine or activity every 4-6 weeks, you will wake up your mind and body AND burn more calories!!  Performing a new activity allows the brain to send more signals to muscles to "learn" the motion.  This in turn causes the muscles to work harder, thus burning more calories.

Not ready to try a new activity?  Instead, change the order of your exercises.  Or add a different type of cardio.  If you usually walk or run on the treadmill, try a stair climber or arc trainer.  The "new" activity doesn't have to be something you have never done before; just something you haven't done in a while. 

If you are willing to try something new, why not try a new group exercise class like Zumba or yoga?  Try out new machines at the gym.  Start a new bodyweight exercise routine that doesn't require equipment.  Go to the pool and workout in the water.  There are many ways to add variety to your workouts.

Still stumped at what to do?  Why not sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer?  Let the trainer do all the thinking for you...all you have to do is show up and sweat a little!!

Contact us for a little help with your exercise program.  Our trainers can take you to a new level and help boost your metabolism.  Don't be a slave to your routine...try something new, try something different, get your body moving!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Have You Started (or Achieved) Your Transformation?

You read our blog and learn about fitness and nutrition.  Now we want to hear from you.  Have you begun your transformation?  Have you completed the journey to the "new you"?  We want to know about it.  We want you to share your struggles, your triumphs, your experiences.  What did it take to get you started?  How long did it take you to get there?  Did someone (or something) inspire you to get started or to keep going?

Please share with us!  Someone can benefit from your story.  Even if you are still on your journey we would love for you to share your experience with our readers.  Contact us at and share your story.  Inspire those sitting on the couch contemplating their journey.  Inspire those who are knee deep in sweat and food temptations.  Inspire those who want to make a difference in their own lives.
Contact us today...share your experiences!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Flu Season is Coming. Are You Protected?

Flu season is almost upon us and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that manufacturers have already begun shipping flu vaccinations.  The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.  Flu season typically runs October through May.  The 2011-2012 vaccination will include prevention against three strains of the flu viruses:  influenza A (H1N1), another influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B.

Who is at highest risk for contracting the flu?
  • Children under the age of 5
  • Adults 65 or older
  • Pregnant women
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • Those with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, and weakened immune systems
  • People who are morbidly obese (BMI >40)
  • Those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • Health care workers
How can you protect yourself?  First and foremost, getting vaccinated against the most common strains of flu is your best defense.  If you are unable (or unwilling) to get a flu shot, there are plenty of other defense methods to protect you this season.  The most obvious (and most common) is hand washing.  Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places such as gyms, grocery stores and sporting events.  If soap and water is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Next, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.  Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth...this is how germs easily enter your body!  Avoid being near those who are sick.  Whether or not they have the flu is not important.  If you experience flu-like symptoms then you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

Although the flu is caused by a virus and not a bacteria, your doctor can prescribe anti-viral medications.  These will help lessen the symptoms and help speed up recovery; they won't, however, cure the flu.  Antibiotics are not helpful (and not recommended) for the flu.

Be smart this flu season.  Eat an abundant of fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly to help maintain a healthy immune system.  Wash your hands often and carry hand sanitizer with you at all times.  When you are active in the gym, be sure to wipe down your equipment after use.  By all means, if you aren't feeling well, then stay at home, rest and drink plenty of fluids.  For more information, go to and learn more about how you can protect yourself and your family.

Take care of yourself this flu season.  Your loved ones will appreciate it and so will the hundreds of people you come in contact with each day!!

The flu ends with U Widget. Flash Player 9 or above is required. The flu ends with U Widget. Flash Player 9 or above is required.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shoes Are Shoes...Right?

Look down at your feet.  What are you wearing?  What shoes do you exercise in?  As long as they are athletic shoes, it shouldn't matter...right?  That statement couldn't be more incorrect.  Athletic shoes have come a long way in the past 15 years.  There is a significant amount of research and technology that goes into designing and producing a pair of athletic shoes.  It can be confusing for the consumer, as well as expensive.  Let's take a look at how to buy a pair of athletic shoes.

First and foremost, you should look at what activity you are (or will be) performing.  If the activity is specific, i.e., running, basketball, and tennis, then you should purchase shoes specifically designed for that activity.  You wouldn't go dancing in steel-toed boots so why go running in shoes not made for running?  If you participate in a variety of activities during one workout session (i.e., weight training and cardio) then you should be able to purchase a "cross-trainer".  This type of shoe is good for a variety of physical activities. 

Next you should consider your feet.  Do you have high arches or flat feet?  Not sure??  Here's a simple test.  Take a bucket of water outside in your driveway or sidewalk.  Stand in the bucket with bare feet then step out of the bucket and walk normally for a few steps.  Quickly turn around and look at your footprints.  In the midfoot region, does it look like a big blob?  If so, you have flat feet.  If there is only a little footprint in the midfoot region, then you have high arches.  That's just a general test but it can help you decide how to fit your foot.  People with high arches need the proper support and may require additional orthotics.  Those with flat feet might not need as much cushioning as those with high arches, but they require greater support to create an arch in the foot.

One you have these two pieces of the puzzle, it's time to try on shoes.  Try to shop for shoes later in the day because your feet swell as much as half a shoe size throughout a day.  If you are buying shoes for a specific activity at a specific time of the day (such as running early in the mornings), then try on shoes at that time of the day for a proper fit.  There should be enough space at the end of the toes, while still allowing the heel to stay in place without slipping.  Finally, the shoe should fit comfortably around the ball of the foot, without pinching.  If your feet are wide, then shop for wider-width shoes.  Shoes should never rub or pinch anywhere on the foot.  If they are not comfortable in the store, then don't hope they will "break-in".  Find something that is comfortable as soon as you tie the laces.

Now that you have purchased a pair of shoes designed for your activity, it's important to be aware of when to replace them.  A good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every 3-6 months or every 350-500 miles (for runners).  Obviously it depends on how hard you are on your shoes.  Take a look at the soles...if they are losing the tread, it's time for a new pair.

How much you spend on the shoes is up to you.  Shoes can range anywhere from $19.99 to $179.99.  Price is not necessarily indicative of quality and support.  Go to a reputable shoe dealer and get fitted properly.  Have your feet measured because the structure of your bones change as we age and you may need a larger size than you think.

Remember, fit your shoes to your feet and activity.  Don't fall for gimmick shoes that target toning of the body.  Buy stable shoes that are comfortable.  Your feet (and knees, hips and back) will appreciate it and you'll have a better workout!!