Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Importance of Water

Spring has finally sprung, and now many people are taking advantage of the nice weather by taking their workouts outdoors.

As the weather warms, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of hydration - when working out and even when you’re not.
Everyone has heard that the human body is comprised of roughly 70% water, but did you know that, by the time you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated?

Try as I may to drink as much water as I can throughout the day, I too am guilty – as are most people – of not drinking enough to keep my body performing at peak condition.
So, why is keeping hydrated important?

·   Water helps you perform better.  Proper hydration contributes to increased athletic performance. Water composes 75% of our muscle tissue.  Dehydration can lead to weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalance when working out.

·    You will lose weight if you stay hydrated.  If your belly feels full, you won’t be as hungry and won’t overeat.

·    You will have less joint pain.  Your joints are fluid filled and you have to drink enough water in order for them to work properly. This is especially true of the discs between your vertebrae. If you suffer from low back pain, drinking water can help. This is also true for your knees. Water is vital to your joints and keeps them moving freely. Drinking water can reduce pain in your joints by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated. This is actually how glucosamine helps reduce joint pain, by aiding in cartilage’s absorption of water.

·    Hydration makes you happier.  Because the brain is made up of mostly water, scientists have shown that proper water consumption helps you think more clearly and helps to lighten your mood.

·    Lower your risk of heart attack.  According to the National Institutes of Health, coronary heart disease, when your arteries clog up with plaque, is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. A worsening of coronary heart disease can lead to a heart attack. The best way to prevent it? Drink more water.

·    Water helps to prevent cancer.  The U.S. National Library of Science and the National Institutes of Health states that staying hydrated can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and possibly reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Water is the building block of life and helps with critical functions such as maintaining body temperature, cushioning and protecting vital organs and aiding in digestion.  Therefore, it is vital that you try to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water (if you weigh 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces of water) each day.  Your body will thank you!
Fitness for Health can help you build a healthier body by creating a customized, exercise regimen that addresses your unique concerns.  Whether you want to decrease your weight, tone, build muscle, increase flexibility or improve your athleticism, we can help you reach your goals!  Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn how we can help you.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Think You Don’t Have Time for Fitness?

I hear this all the time, “I’m so busy at work/taking care of the kids/spring cleaning/taxiing the kids to sports practice that I don’t have time to exercise or go to the gym.”

Did you know that, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise ( or only 21 minutes a day) and two strength training sessions per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise and two strength training sessions per week?
You may be busy but, honestly, you can’t find just 21 minutes in your day to ensure you live longer, stave off diseases like diabetes and cancer and maintain cognitive function?  When you think about it those terms, 21 minutes seems like mere seconds.

So, no more excuses.
Have you tried high-intensity interval (HIIT) training?  It is a great way to get your strength sessions and aerobic exercise at the same time. Super-efficient HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break or to get in shape for a fast-approaching event. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than jogging on a treadmill for an hour. And according to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.

Short on time?  Try these 5 moves in 5 minutes with 10 seconds of rest between each move:
1) Reverse Lunge
2) Quick Feet – front-to-back or side-to-side (You’ll need a stationary object to place on the ground.)
Mountain Climbers
4) Hand Walk – Then end with 5 Push-ups

To learn how Fitness for Health can help you accomplish your fitness goals in time for summer, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fitness Trackers Help Senior Citizens Lose Weight

There are many ways that you can use technology to help you to chart, improve upon and plan your fitness routine. Whether you're young or young-at-heart, technological advances can tremendously help to customize workout plans and track your wellness.

According to the study published online in the journal, Obesity, fitness trackers may be effective in helping older people lose weight.
Researchers at Wake Forest University studied 48 obese adults ages 65-79 for 10 months — including five months of trying to lose weight and five months of follow-up.  Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups – one group given information about dieting and aerobic exercise or one group given the same information along with a fitness tracker and guidance on how to use it.

The study showed that the group who had the fitness trackers “weighed about 10 percent less than their baseline weight, while those without the trackers weighed only about 5 percent less.”
Researchers believe that the evidence shows that adding a fitness tracker and instruction (which researchers call a "self-regulatory intervention") to a fitness regimen may help senior citizens lose weight in addition to maintain that lower weight afterward.

"What this study shows is that this self-regulatory intervention appeared to improve weight loss and weight loss maintenance," said Corby Martin, director of Behavioral Science and Epidemiology at Pennington Biomedical Research Center and a spokesman for The Obesity Society.
As I mentioned in my blog, “The Future of Fitness,” on January 28, 2104, clients and reporters alike have asked me which innovations I’m most excited about introducing at Fitness for Health.  Personally, I am looking forward to the increased use of heart monitors in personal conditioning.  New Zypher monitors also act like bio markers which can record and track your physical health. This allows the wearer to know exactly how his/her body is reacting to his/her workout routines and helps fitness trainers better create personal exercise programs to meet that individual’s unique goals.

To learn how Fitness for Health utilizes cutting-edge technology in our exercise programs for senior citizens, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is Your Family Suffering From “Training Wheel Tears”?

It is that time of year again.  The weather is warming, flowers are blossoming, birds are chirping and children are eager to show their independence and shed their training wheels by graduating to a two-wheel bike.

Learning to ride a “big girl/big boy” bicycle can be difficult for the whole family.  It can be frustrating for the child learning how to maintain balance, and it can test a parent’s patience by reviewing instructions again and again to a child who is more interested in careening downhill than to listening to mom/dad.
Is there a cure for the “Training Wheel Tears”?

As a parent and the founder of a pediatric fitness facility, I can say that, although there is no magical cure for the bike riding blues, there are many tips and methods of instruction.

  1. Remember each child is unique.  Just because a child is five-years-old, it doesn’t mean that he is ready to learn to ride a two-wheel bike.  When your child is ready to learn, he will ask to be taught.
  2. The training bike should be at the right height for your child.  Make sure that your child can easily place her feet on the ground if she feels unstable.
  3. Many bike enthusiasts advocate taking the pedals off of the training bike and allowing the child to practice balancing first. They believe the child should be allowed to ride by pushing the bike along with his feet, so he can get a feel for balancing.
  4. Many children learn to ride by practicing on the grass.  Although it is more difficult to pedal on grass, the lawn provides cushioning when a fall occurs.
  5. If your child is older, allow her to practice in a location that is more private. This will decrease her anxiety and any teasing from neighborhood children.
  6. Teach your child to focus and be aware of his surroundings.  If you live on a street that has traffic, a car may not see your child practicing.  Teach your child that safety always comes first.
  7. Be patient.  Each child has different aptitudes.  Some children may learn in one hour while others may need more time and encouragement.
  8. Stay positive.  Encourage your child and congratulate her on her efforts.
  9. Consider hiring a professional.  Many cities offer fitness trainers who can help your child develop the skills necessary for bike riding.
  10. Use the latest technology.  There is a multitude of great children’s products that reinforce balance and steering while providing high stability at very low speed, making learning to ride a bike easier, quicker and more fun.

Don't expect the learning process to be crash-free.  It may take time for your child to become comfortable riding a bike.  So, be ready to comfort, coerce, cheerlead and bandage skinned knees.  And, you may need to wait for another sunny day to practice riding again if your child doesn’t feel self-confident yet.
Does your child need a little extra assistance learning to ride a bike?  Fitness for Health can help.  We offer “By Sickel” Bicycle Success which helps children build their self-confidence while improving their balance and coordination.  Call us at 301-231-7138 with questions about our bike riding program or visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn more about Fitness for Health.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Special Needs Child

Since all children are different, summer camp experiences can vary.  And, choosing a summer camp for your special needs child can seem overwhelming.

Summer camp options are as plentiful and unique as your child’s interests and abilities.  So, how is a parent to decide?
Here are a few tips to consider as you hunt for the perfect camp for your special needs child:

·    Plan a pre-camp visit.  Tour the summer camp venue, meet the staff and allow your child to ask questions that are important to him/her.  If your child feels comfortable in the surroundings, he/she will be excited to try new experiences and will look forward to attending camp.

·    During the visit, be very open and transparent about your child’s special needs. It’s the best way to ensure a good camp fit for your child.

·    Ask about camp’s philosophy.  Is it one you're comfortable with as a parent? Is it a good match for your child's temperament?

·    Inquire about the counselor-to-camper ratio.  The leader-to-child ratio will vary, depending on the type of camp and the age of the children.  Mainstream camps usually have one counselor for every 6-10 campers; the ratio at special-needs camps is often closer to 1:3. The higher the ratio, the more opportunities counselors have to work with kids on an individual basis.

·    Ask about the qualifications of the staff.  Do the counselors have a background in the camp’s area of focus?  Do the staff members hold educational degrees and/or work in that field? Have they taught children previously?

The right camp can help a child become more socially adept, improve self-esteem and often interested in new activities. So, selecting a camp for your child is important.  Include your child in the process!  Ask what camp activities are important to him/her and invite your child to attend camp visits with you.  This way, your child can ask camp personnel questions, meet the staff before the first day of camp and have the opportunity to meet other new campers during Open Houses.
Happy summer camp hunting!

Register for one of Fitness for Health’s special needs summer camps by April 16 and receive $50 off.  This year, Fitness for Health will offer three camps:
·   “B” Social Summer Mini Camp – This camp for ages 4-10 will integrate Social Thinking® and movement in collaboration with Sue Abrams, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Speech/Language Pathologist. Concepts will be introduced in a fun and motivating way encouraging participants to explore and improve their social thinking skills and motor development.

·    “B” Social Teen Summer Mini Camp – This camp is specifically geared for ages 11-13 and 14-16.  It integrates Social Thinking® and movement as with the camp above, but with a focus on teens.

·    Occupational Therapy SpOrTs Camp - Your child will have a blast while working on his/her fine and gross motor development, cognitive and visual motor skills, as well as his/her functional performance in sports and leisure play.

Visit the “Promotions” area of www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn more and to register.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Exercising Body & Mind

The physical benefits of exercise—improving physical condition and fighting disease—have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active. Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins. And conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy.

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
John J. Ratey, MD, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, suggests, “Try alternating between your usual routine and some workouts that are mentally challenging, such as dancing or tennis, a few times a week. Activities like these require coordination, which engages several areas of the brain at once.  It's the mental equivalent of doing a push-up to work your entire upper body versus a bicep curl that targets only one muscle.”

In a few weeks, your sweat will literally pay off with you obtaining greater cognitive clarity, better memory, improved focus and less stress – not to mention a leaner body!
To learn how Fitness for Health’s one-on-one, exercise programs help strengthen your body and your mind, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

4 Tips to Help Your Autistic Child Get Excited About Fitness

April is National Autism Awareness Month.  To celebrate, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of fitness in the autism community.

A great – and beneficial – activity for people with autism is exercise. 
In particular, studies have shown that exercise reduces problem behaviors such as the need for repetition, disruptiveness, aggression and self-injury in people with autism.  And, these benefits can last for several hours during and after exercise.

According to Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D. in his paper, “Physical Exercise and Autism,” for the Autism Institute, “One of the most effective treatments for autistic people is exercise. Vigorous exercise means a 20-minute or longer aerobic workout, 3 to 4 days a week; mild exercise has little effect on behavior. Many autistic children gain weight if they have an inactive lifestyle, and weight gain brings another set of problems.”
Motivating children can be difficult.  Motivating an autistic child to exercise can really be a challenge.  Here are a few tips to help your autistic child become excited to participate in a fitness program.

·    Create progress sheets/displays.  Everyone likes to see improvement.  Create a visual representation that shows where your child began (ie – 3 sit-ups), where you child is now (5 sit-ups) and displays your child’s goal (10 sit-ups). 

·    Does your child have a specific interest?  Shape the exercise routine to fit your child’s hobbies.  For example, if your child enjoys comic books, create an obstacle course based on a scenario from Marvel’s “The Avengers” using old sheets, lawn chairs, boxes or even sofa cushions and mattresses.  Pretend Loki has returned to Earth.  Your child should choose his/her favorite Avenger and use that character’s power to conquer the maze and save the planet. 

·    Include the whole family.  Everyone can benefit from additional exercise so become a role model for your kids by helping them try new activities.  Show them that exercise can be exciting and can be easily incorporated into daily life.  Make fitness fun and teach your kids the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle from a young age.  The younger a child is when this lesson is learned, the more opportunity for a healthy adulthood.

·    Reward difficult exercises with 10 minutes of a fun activity your child selects.  I’ve found that the children I train in my gym try their best to complete difficult tasks in order to have the freedom to choose their own ending activity.  This helps build self-esteem and empowers the child to make decisions about his/her fitness routine.

As Play Through Autism has written in their Special Needs Exercise Blog, “One of the most important points to consider is how to motivate your child to exercise of their own will. Asking your child to continually perform exercises just for a small reward will not last long, but helping your child to find enjoyment in exercise will promote lifelong fitness. This isn’t revolutionary, this is ABA applied to exercise.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.
For almost 30 years, Fitness for Health has created customized fitness programs for children and adults in the special needs community.  Our one-on-one training and cutting edge technology help families reach their fitness goals while having fun.  To learn about our programs for the autistic community or upcoming Open Gyms and Open Houses, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Importance of Bone Health

1 in 3 women over 50 years-old will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. 

In preparation for National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month in May, I wanted to highlight the importance of maintaining your bone health.
As you can imagine, your bones are critical – they provide structure for your body, protect your vital organs, and store calcium. 

Have you ever thought about the health of your bones?  You should.  Your actions today may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Did you know that your bones are continuously changing — new bone is made and old bone is broken down?  When you're young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases.  Research has shown that bone strength peaks between the ages of 20 and 30. This means that, after the age of 30, both men and women begin to lose bone mass unless they take action to prevent it.  Unfortunately, by the time we begin to think about our bones, we may have already suffered serious damage.

What can I do now to keep my bones healthy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, everyone can take a few simple steps to prevent or slow bone loss.  The Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Include plenty of calcium in your diet. For adults ages 19 - 50 and men ages 51 - 70, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and for men after age 70. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, salmon with bones, sardines and soy products, such as tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.
  • Pay attention to your Vitamin D intake. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults ages 19 - 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults age 71 and older. Good sources of Vitamin D include oily fish, such as tuna and sardines, egg yolks and fortified milk. Sunlight also contributes to the body's production of vitamin D. If you're worried about getting enough Vitamin D, ask your doctor about supplements.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

Fitness for Health is proud to debut a revolutionary, 12-week Bone and Joint Health program for adults and seniors that capitalizes on weight-bearing, fitness activities.  This new program helps to improve posture and increase bone density, strength and balance while counteracting the effects of osteoporosis, osteopenia and aging.
The Bone and Joint Health program elicits results faster and more effectively than traditional exercise or pharmaceuticals through two state-of-the-art fitness technologies:

  • bioDensityTM - Weight-bearing exercises are the key to stimulating bone growth, and the greater the weight applied, the better the results. The osteogenic loading that patients receive is multiples of bodyweight, and beyond what is typically seen in exercise.  Research has shown, bone density gains that averaged 7% in the hip and 7.7% in the spine over one year using bioDensity (Jaquish, 2013). These results are multiples of what the current interventions can do for bone density.
  • Power PlateTM- Power Plate is a whole body vibration platform that allows for reflexive engagement of the neuromuscular system at rapid and repeatable oscillation. This intervention has been clinically shown to increase balance and stability in both healthy and aging-frail populations.
When used once a week, research has shown the bioDensity system alone has significantly increased bone mass density, stability and functional movement with multiple ages, health conditions and for both genders. 

After each session, you’ll also receive a Performance Report detailing and analyzing your overall progress and offering tips to enhance your program.
Call us at 301-231-7138 to learn more about improving your bone strength.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MLB Workout

It's officially spring because the boys of summer are back!  Major League Baseball has held its Opening Day.
Are you jealous of the speed, agility, arm strength, core stabilization and leg power of Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander? Here are a few tips to help you become ready for the diamond:
  • Include sprints into your workout twice a week.  Sprints should last 10 minutes.  According to Human Kinetics, "Five minutes of the speed workout should be devoted to doing 10 all-out quality sprints at distances ranging from 10 to 50 yards (9-46 meters). Athletes should have about 30 seconds of rest between sprints so that they are breathing easily before their next sprint."
  • To improve your speed, you must stretch correctly so flexibility training is critical.
  • Jumping rope is great. Try some of these variations: typical two-foot jump, stride jumps (swap forward foot on each jump), crossover jumps or single-leg jumps.
  • Use a speed ladder.  A speed ladder is a vinyl ladder you roll out onto a flat surface. Run through the ladder (always as fast as possible) with one foot in each space. Then, do two-foot jumps forward. Step sideways on the left and step the right foot in, then the left foot in, then out to the right, then back to the left and so on. Try shuffling sideways straight through the ladder leading with the left foot, then back leading with the right.
Arm Strength:
  • Triceps Dips - Sit with your hands on the edge of a sturdy bench, fingers pointing toward you, slowly walk your feet out in front of you and take your bottom off the bench.  Slowly lower and lift your body weight, being sure to fully extend the arm and maintaining perfect posture throughout (do not roll the shoulders in). Whether your knees are bent at 90 degrees (easier) or legs are straight out (harder), be sure to lower yourself straight down (keeping a 1-inch gap between your back and the bench for the entire range of motion) and not in a swinging motion toward your feet. Repeat to fatigue (strive for 12-15 repetitions).  Want a challenge?  Try stacking your heels.
  • Diamond Push-Ups - While in a regular pushup position, put your hands together so that your thumbs and index fingers are touching. It should form a diamond shape in between your hands. Doing a push-up this way will put more stress on your triceps and better help strengthen the muscle. If you are unable to do regular pushups, rest on your knees instead of your toes. Try to complete 3 sets of 10 or as many as you can do. You will be able to do more as you get stronger.
Core Stabilization
  • Plank - Lie on your stomach with your forearms/elbows on the ground.  Rise up so that you are resting on your forearms and toes. Your stomach should be drawn in with your back straight.  Hold for 30 seconds - 2 minutes.  Repeat 5-10 times.
  • Superman - Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended.  Retract your shoulder blades down and in towards the midline of your spine with your ab muscles drawn in.  Maintain this position while lifting your opposite arm and leg.  Ensure your hips stay in contact with the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds.  Repeat 10-20 times.
Leg Power:
  • Parallel Squats - Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing straight forward or slightly outward.  Place a weighted bar (or even a broom handle) across the back of your shoulders.  Push your hips backward and lower your butt until the top of your thighs are parallel to the floor.  Your feet should be flat on the floor with your weight on your heels.  Rise back up to your starting position while keeping your heels flat on the ground.  Repeat 10-20 times.
  • Lunges - Stand like you are beginning a Parallel Squat with a weighted bar or broom handle across your shoulders.  Take a step forward with one leg so that your front knee is aligned over your heel.  Drop your back knee straight down until it is about 1/4 inch from the floor.  Use your stepping foot to push you back into your starting position.  Repeat this sequence with your other leg.  Do 15-25 reps on each side.
Are you ready to take your athletic training to the next level and train like a professional athlete?  Call Fitness for Health at 301-231-7138 to learn how we can help you become stronger, faster and more explosive.