Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Obesity Guidelines in England

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England issued new guidelines yesterday to help people shed weight and avoid putting it back on.

"We all know that eating less and being more active will help us lose weight, but it can be quite hard to put it into action especially in the long-term, which is why some people need additional support," said Professor Kate Jolly, professor of public health at the University of Birmingham and NICE guidance developer.
The number of people who are overweight or obese in England – and the United States - is rising. More than a quarter of adults in England are now classified as obese and another 42% of men and 33% of women are overweight.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said, "It not only damages their health but dealing with the long-term consequences of obesity costs the NHS around £5.1 billion each year. It is a huge cost to the health service."
NICE said that obesity increases the risk of serious conditions including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers and even a modest weight loss of 3% kept off for life may improve or prevent health problems.

What can you do to ensure you lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight?
  • If you've been sedentary for a long time, are overweight, have a high risk of coronary heart disease or some other chronic health problem, see your doctor for a medical evaluation before beginning a physical activity program.
  • Celebrate summer and get moving!  Schedule one afternoon a week for the family to do yard work together.  Studies show that you can burn about 350 calories an hour mowing the lawn or 175 calories for 30 minutes of weeding.  Not only will you get a great workout, your yard will look great too.
  • Make time to exercise.  Find a convenient time and place to do activities. Try to make it a habit, but be flexible. If you miss an exercise opportunity, work activity into your day another way.
  • Look for chances to be more active during the day. Walk the mall before shopping, take the stairs instead of the escalator or take 10–15 minute breaks while watching TV or sitting for walking or some other activity.
  • Keep reasonable expectations of yourself.  Losing weight is a marathon endeavor, not a sprint.  It will take time.
The global obesity epidemic isn't a problem that's going to magically fix itself. Make a difference in your life – and the lives of your children – by setting a good, healthy example and get moving!

Come and experience a workout like no other.  Fitness for Health offers a one-hour, group exercise program utilizing exergaming fitness equipment which is cutting edge and state-of-the-art.  Call us at 301-2131-7138 to learn about our Tuesday/Thursday group program from 11am – 12pm for just $17 per class this summer!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Would Your Child Wear a Fitness Tracker?

Would your child wear a fitness tracker?

In a new study of 25 kids, researchers tested whether fitness trackers could be suitable tools for studying children's physical activity. The 7- to 10-year-olds tested three different fitness trackers — worn on the waist, wrist or upper arm — and a heart rate monitor. The children wore each device for a week, and later completed interviews along with their parents about which device they liked the best.
The wrist tracker was the kids’ favorite because it was the most comfortable and displayed an animated figure when the children moved.

“When studying kids' activity, even the most accurate tracker won't be useful if children don't wear the device, or can easily break it, so the goal of the survey was to find the types of devices that work best with kids,” said study researcher Sara Schaefer, of the Foods For Health Institute at the University of California, Davis.
How can parents encourage their children to be physically fit?  In my opinion, make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family!  The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime."  Families need to work - and play - together to enhance physical fitness while building stronger relationships.  With an integrated approach, parents, grandparents and children can create fun, recreational games that also increase self-esteem - and help families bond - while increasing kids' physical activity.

To learn how Fitness for Health can help your child enjoy physical fitness, visit

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Exercise is Food for Your Brain

Not only can regular workouts in the gym or on the playground improve your child’s attention span, memory and learning, research has also shown that maintaining physical activity reduces stress and the effects of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and can even delay cognitive decline in older age. In short, staying in shape can make your child smarter.  

“The brain's frontal lobe, thought to play a role in cognitive control, keeps growing throughout the school years,” explains Charles Hillman, associate professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois.  "Therefore, exercise could help ramp up the development of a child's brain.”
In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, Hillman studied 259 third to fifth graders.  He asked them to participate in regular, gym class activities such as push-­ups and timed runs, and measured their body mass.  Afterwards, he compared their physical results with their math and reading scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.

There was a strong correlation between children’s academic success and their time spent in physical activities.  Hillman noticed, “There was a relationship to academic performance.  The more physical tests they passed, th­e better they scored on the achievement test."
“Exercise turns on the attention system, the so-called executive functions — sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention,” writes John Ratey, M.D., an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (Little, Brown).  “On a practical level, it causes kids to be less impulsive, which makes them more primed to learn.”

Have you heard of the Naperville Study?  In 2003, Naperville Central High School determined that some of their students were falling academically behind their peers due to poor reading skills.  In addition to forming a reading class for these teens, the school created a PE class that met before school began so the students could still participate in gym class as required by the state of Illinois.  This became the Learning Readiness P.E. (LRPE), a class “designed based on research that indicated students who were physically active and fit were more academically alert.”
Every PE class (before school and during the school day) includes a cardio component for at least twenty minutes, coupled with the use of heart rate monitors to ensure that students are reaching their targeted heart rate zones. 

Paul Zientarski, who was the first LRPE coordinator at the school, explains “Since we understand how exercise helps the brain function, we wanted to make sure that the high school students understood how and why it helps them academically…Students who took PE prior to class showed one and a quarter year's growth on the standardized reading test after just one semester, while the exercise-free students gained just nine-tenths of a year.
Research has shown that innovative and creative approaches to fitness have helped kids - and adults - of all ages and abilities enjoy the benefits of physical activity.  In my nearly 30 years of experience as a Certified Athletic Trainer, I suggest these fitness tips:

  • Set aside a specific time each day for fitness.  If you know that your child has extra energy in the late afternoon, plan to work out at 5pm each day.  This will allow your son an opportunity to unwind from a hectic, school day and better regulate energy needed to complete homework.  By organizing your child’s fitness routine, you can help him stay on task and better his manage time.
  • Exercise every day.  Exercise will help increase blood flow and release endorphins that will boost mood and help clear her mind so she can better focus during the school day and during homework time.
·    Make physical activity fun for the whole family. Play catch - or fetch - with your dogs.  Run around your house or backyard chasing and playing with your pets.  Or, head to the playground.  Playing on the swing set or crossing the monkey bars is a great workout – for you and your child!
Children who are active tend to stay active throughout their lives.  Staying fit can help maintain a healthy weight, improve self-confidence and decrease the risk of certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, in addition to keeping their minds sharp as they age.

So, play with your kids!  Your children will have fun and so will you!

To learn how Fitness for Health helps children improve their cognitive abilities through exercise, visit or call 301-231-7138 to schedule a free tour of our facility.

Monday, May 19, 2014

U.S Kids Failing Fitness Report Card

Is the Internet, parents’ busy schedules and a lack of walking/biking to school causing American children to be less fit?

“Only one quarter of children aged 6 to 15 meet the current guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day,” said Dr. Russell R. Pate, chairman of the non-profit National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) Alliance, which issued the first U.S. report card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.
The report is based on public data and provides a snapshot of the state of youth physical activity in America. The 2014 grades were the worst yet.

NPAP evaluated 10 key indicators, from overall physical activity to organized sports participation, and the number of children who cycle or walk to school. It found that since 1969, the proportion of elementary and middle-school students walking or cycling to school dropped from 47.7% to 12%.
Additionally, “Kids who come from higher incomes are participating (in sports),” said Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and chairman of the research committee that issued the report card.  “Lower economic groups are not participating. There’s a lot more work to do to make these activities available to everyone.”

How can parents encourage their children to be physically fit while celebrating the beautiful spring weather and having fun with low-cost activities?  Play outdoors.  I believe that parents need to make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family.  The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime.” 
Here are a few ideas that I love and suggest to the parents of the children who attend my fitness facility, Fitness for Health:

    • Reenact Wimbledon using homemade racquets.  Bend a wire hanger into an oval, cover the oval using old pantyhose, and then duct tape a wooden paint stirrer to create a handle.  Crumple a used piece of paper to create the “ball” or “birdie” and play tennis in your own yard.
    • Go bowling in your yard.  Before you recycle, gather empty water or juice bottles to use as pins.  Add a ball and you’ve created a personal bowling alley!
    • Play baseball using a homemade bat.  Wash and dry an empty 2-liter bottle. To make the bat more durable, use an18-inch wooden rod or a stick.  Place the rod in bottle and duct tape the remaining portion of the rod to the bottle opening. Use with Wiffle balls, wadded socks, crumpled paper – anything you can imagine!
Families need to work – and play – together to enhance physical fitness while building stronger relationships.  With an integrated, team-building approach, parents, grandparents and children can create fun, recreational games that also increase self-esteem – and help families bond. 

To learn about fun, fitness programs designed specifically for children and teenagers, visit or call 301-231-7138 to schedule a free tour of Fitness for Health’s children’s fitness facility.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Playgrounds Aren’t Just For Kids

Now that spring has finally sprung, I wanted to repost a blog that I originally posted on September 12, 2013.  Enjoy!

Ok.  I’ll admit that playgrounds are primarily designed for children’s enjoyment, but that doesn’t mean that an adult cannot create a fun workout while acting like a kid again.  Why not enjoy the beautiful, spring weather and take your workout outside?

The DC area has many great parks that feature amazing playgrounds.  So, the chances are good that there’s a playground near you.
First, let me advise that you may feel silly working out by a swing set – especially if families are playing nearby.  You may want to use the facility early in the morning before the kids arrive to play or later in the evening after the children have gone to bed.  This will ensure that you’re not commandeering the equipment away from a 5 year-old who wants to play King of the Hill.

A playground workout requires out-of-the-box thinking and a lot of creativity.  The only limit to this kind of workout is your imagination. 
Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Work your arms.  Grab the chains of a swing, lean back, make your body tight and straight, and use your back and arm muscles to pull yourself up.  Then, grab the ladder to the slide and make your body into a tight plank.  Again, use your arms to pull yourself up. (15 reps of each)
  • Tighten your core.  Hang from the monkey bars, and flex your abs.  Use your core to pull your knees up into your chest. (10 reps)
  • Strengthen your legs.  Hold onto the side of the slide and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.  Bend your knees and go as low as you can go while maintaining a straight back, but make sure that your knees don’t extend beyond your toes.  Then, “sit” in the same position for 30 seconds.  (10 reps each)
  • If you want a challenge that works your arms and core, try a swing push-up.  Carefully, place your feet on the swing and place your arms on the ground in a push-up position.  Because your feet will be unstable, this will force you to use your core muscles to balance.  (10 reps)

After you’ve depleted your imagination – and your energy – it’s time to cool down and stretch.

This is a great workout if you go to the playground with your child.  As your child is playing, you can take the opportunity to fit in a great workout while spending bonding time with your family.
Have fun and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Are you ready to take your athletic training to the next level?  Visit Fitness for Health at to learn how we can help you become stronger, faster and more explosive.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Exercise Snacking

Are you insulin resistant?  Have you heard of exercise snacking?  You will.

A recent study published on May 8, 2014, in Diabetologia found that, in patients with insulin resistance, brief periods of high-intensity exercise before breakfast, lunch and dinner improved blood sugar control for the day of exercise and the day after, compared to one prolonged period of moderate exercise before dinner.
Researchers believe that these brief exercise periods  - also known as "exercise snacks" - can help prevent diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases (heart disease and conditions that affect the body's metabolism).

Exercise snacking involves six, one-minute periods of walking on an incline treadmill at near maximum heart rate (90% heart rate) 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner. The study findings showed that exercise snacking decreased the participants' blood sugar levels by 13 percent at three hours after breakfast and by 17 percent at three hours after dinner compared to a single session of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (in which the heart reached 60% of its maximum beating rate). On the day of exercise, exercise snacking lowered post-meal blood sugar levels by 12 percent.
The idea of breaking up exercise makes sense.  Research has shown that even people who meet the recommended daily 30 minutes of moderate physical activity still spend most of the remaining minutes of the day relatively inactive. And intense activity, especially before meals, may be the key to kicking the body’s fat- and sugar-burning mechanisms into functioning at their best.

What a genius idea to make your snack “exercise.”  It’ll boost your metabolism, curb your hunger and give you energy throughout the day.
So, not only is exercise great for your heart and muscles, it is also wonderful for your pancreas!

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person's individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to increase your metabolism?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a child at heart, Fitness for Health can you help you achieve your fitness goals.  Visit to learn about our exercise and sports programs.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Can You Be Too Old to Begin a Walking Routine?

Can you ever be too old to begin a walking routine? No!

You're never too old to increase your level of physical activity and exercise!  Any exercise that gets the heart pumping may reduce the risk of dementia and slow the condition's progression once it starts, reports a Mayo Clinic study published in October 2011 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Also, according to a new study in the journal, Circulation, people in their 60’s and 70’s who regularly engaged in physical activity, such as walking, had the healthiest hearts.

“Modest physical activity, such as the distance and pace of walking, is important for the heart’s electrical wellbeing of older adults,” states Luisa Soares-Miranda, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the Faculty of Sport at the University of Porto in Portugal who led the new research. “In our study, older adults who increased their walking pace or distance had a better heart rate variability when compared with those that decreased their walking pace or distance.  Heart rate variability is a sign of a healthy heart that can respond readily to changing demands and is often used as a measure of fitness for adults of any age.”
Are you overwhelmed by how to begin an exercise routine?  Maintaining physical fitness can be easy – and fun!

·    Include your grandchildren in your new active lifestyle. Play catch or walk to the playground and push your grandkids on the swings.

·    Have a pet?  Taking your four-legged companion on a brisk walk is a fun way to increase your heart rate and improve circulation.

·    Do you think you’d get bored taking a walk? Listen to your favorite songs and get motivated to walk an extra lap around the neighborhood.

·    Exercise is always more fun with a friend.  Invite a companion to take a stroll with you to view the spring blossoms.

·    Be mindful of spring showers.  If the sidewalk is wet, take extra precaution when walking.  Slippery sidewalks could boost your likelihood of a fall.  If you do go for a walk in the rain, consider taking your cell phone with you in case of an emergency.

Regular exercise – especially walking - is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
To learn more about Fitness for Health’s customized fitness programs for senior citizens, visit or call 301-231-7138.

Do you have additional tips to share re: senior fitness?  I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Do You Warm Up Before Working Out?

I’ve been a Certified Athletic Trainer for more than 20 years.  All too often I’ve heard, “I only have 30 minutes to work out and I don’t have time to warm up” or “What’s the point in warming up”?

A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury.  
According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) James Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, here are 10 vital reasons for starting out with a warm up and not taking shortcuts.

  1. Increases degradation of oxyhemoglobin. In lay person's terms, warming up helps break down the chemical complex of oxygen, which enables it to separate from the blood and enhance its delivery to the muscle.
  2. Increases body temperature. Warming up reduces the potential for muscle and connective injuries.
  3. Increases blood flow to exercising muscles. The more blood that reaches the muscles, the easier the delivery of nutrients required for energy production.
  4. Increase blood flow to the heart. More blood to the heart means a reduced risk for exercise-induced cardiac abnormalities.
  5. Decreases muscle viscosity. Hey, if viscosity is bad for your car engine, it's not any better for your muscles. Warming up enhances the suppleness of the muscle.
  6. Help promote sweating. Remember: sweat is good. Sweating reduces the amount of heat stored in the body. Your body spends more energy cooling itself than through any other activity.
  7. Enhances the speed of transmission of nerve impulses. Motor faculties improve greatly when you're warmed up. Need proof? Get out of bed and run to the front door. You'll probably bump into something, or worse, fall down. If you walked to the front door, and stretched. You could run like Forest Gump.
  8. Increases the blood saturation of muscles and connective tissue. Sounds messy. In reality, the more blood reaching the muscles, tendons and ligaments, the better the elasticity of these tissues. This means better performance and reduced chance of injuries.
  9. Prepares the cardiovascular system for impending workload. Helps the heart and blood vessels adjust to the body's increased demands for blood and oxygen.
  10. Prepares muscles for impending workload. Warming up may reduce the likelihood of excessive muscle soreness.

Additionally, a proper warm-up can increase blood flow to the working muscle which results in decreased muscle stiffness, less risk of injury and improved performance.  Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental because it helps you physiologically and psychologically prepare yourself.
Taking a few minutes to warm up is a good time to mentally prepare for exercising because it can help to clear your mind, increase your focus, give you a chance to remind yourself about the skill of the action and review your fitness strategy. Also, research has shown that positive imagery can help to relax you and build concentration.

The perfect warm up is a very individual process that refines itself with practice, experimentation and experience. Try warming up in various ways and at various intensities until you find what works best for you!
Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person's individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic skills?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a child at heart, Fitness for Health can you help you achieve your fitness goals.  Visit to learn about our exercise and sports programs.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Do You Have Orthorexia?

Eating healthy is good for you, right?  Maybe not. 

Have you ever heard of “Orthorexia”?  “Orthorexia Nervousa” affects a small number of people who become obsessed with the "perfect diet.”  These individuals fixate on eating foods that make them feel pure and healthy — to the extent that they avoid foods with any artificial colors/flavors/preservatives, pesticides/genetic modification and unhealthy fat, sugar or added salt.
Experts believe, including Dr. Steven Bratman, the doctor who first described and named this disorder after his own experiences, there is a distinct difference between eating healthily and being Orthorexic.  Orthorexics find themselves being unable to take part in everyday activities – like eating outside of their own home because they cannot be sure that the “proper” food techniques or ingredients were used.  They isolate themselves and often become intolerant of other people's views about food and health.

Is Orthorexia an eating disorder?  According to the Mayo Clinic, no.  Although, many health professionals believe it should be classified as a mental health disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia since it involves a compulsion to follow rigid, food guidelines that affect self-esteem.
How do I know if I have Orthorexia?  NEDA Feeding People (The National Eating Disorder Association) suggests that you ask yourself these questions to determine if you may have an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy.  Their Web site states, “The more questions you respond “yes” to, the more likely you are dealing with Orthorexia.”

  • Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality?
  • Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving?
  • Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?
  • Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?
  • Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
  • Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?
  • Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?

For an additional, in-depth questionnaire, visit
Is there treatment for Orthorexia?  According to Ashely Hensaw and Tom Iarocci, MD, of, the answer is yes.  They suggest:

  • Nutrition consultations: Those with this disorder often see a nutritionist who can help them find foods that give them a balanced, healthy diet. The key here is helping the individual to see that their food choices are providing inadequate nutrition and to assist them in finding healthy, wholesome foods which give them a more well-rounded diet.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Going to therapy can be extremely useful for someone with Orthorexia because it addresses the underlying mental causes of the disorder. A therapist can help identify and deal with these issues while also offering solutions and support for the individual.
  • Medication: In some cases, the obsessive-compulsive behaviors often associated with Orthorexia can be successfully treated with certain prescription medications.
  • Medical attention: Those who are suffering physically due to the extremely limited diet they have been following may need medical help for their condition. Those with Orthorexia may need to undergo physical examinations to evaluate their health at the time of diagnosis.
If you think you or someone you know may have Orthorexia, it’s important to speak to a nutritionist or doctor. These health professionals can assist you in successfully conquering the physical and mental challenges of overcoming your fixation on healthy eating and help you create a more balanced lifestyle.

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 to learn how we can help you.