Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why You Should Think About Your Bone Health

Why is maintaining healthy bones so important? I’m figuring that most of you would guess that building strong bones is important to prevent osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures. You’d be correct.  What you are probably unaware of, however, is that maintaining healthy bones means far more than just preventing osteoporosis. 

Bones play many roles in the body — providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. While it's particularly important to take steps to build strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, you can take steps during adulthood to protect bone health too.
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 affects bone health?
According to the Mayo Clinic, many factors affect your bone health:

  • The amount of calcium in your diet. A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Physical activity. People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more-active counterparts.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use. Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, regularly having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis, possibly because alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Gender, size and age. You're at greater risk of osteoporosis if you're a woman, because women have less bone tissue than do men. You're also at risk if you're extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame because you may have less bone mass to draw from as you age. Also your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
  • Race and family history. You're at greatest risk of osteoporosis if you're white or of Asian descent. In addition, having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk — especially if you also have a family history of fractures.
  • Hormone levels. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. Prolonged periods absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.
  • Eating disorders and other conditions. People who have anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss. In addition, stomach surgery (gastrectomy), weight-loss surgery and conditions such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease and Cushing's disease can affect your body's ability to absorb calcium.
What can I do to maintain my bone health?
  • Exercise.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, physicians’ primary recommendation for strong bones is daily, weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing workouts include walking, jogging, yoga, Tai Chi and weight training or resistance exercise. Activities such as biking and swimming, unfortunately, don’t count in this instance because your weight is supported either by the bike or the water.  Regular, weight-bearing exercise is a signal to the body to deposit minerals in the bones, especially in the hips, spine and legs, where the minerals can be used to fortify the bones.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.  Add several servings of leafy greens and calcium-rich vegetables (like broccoli and kale) to your daily diet. Seafood is also a good source of calcium, especially salmon, sardines and shellfish like clams, oysters and shrimp.
  • Boost your calcium consumption. When most people think bones, they think calcium. This mineral is essential for the proper development of teeth and bones.  (Not to mention it’s a huge helper in proper muscle function, nerve signaling, hormone secretion, and blood pressure.) But calcium isn’t the end-all, be-all bone loss cure. The key might be to help the body absorb calcium by pairing calcium-rich foods with those high in vitamin D. Some studies on postmenopausal women have shown that simply adding calcium alone to the diet doesn’t have a huge effect on bone density (though follow-up studies have suggested the opposite). Foods that are good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheese, milk and leafy greens.
  • Add vitamin D to your diet.  Like I mentioned above, where there’s calcium, there must be vitamin D.  The two work together to help the body absorb bone-boosting calcium. Boost vitamin D consumption by dining on shrimp, fortified foods like cereal and orange juice, sardines, eggs (in the yolks) and tuna.
  • Get sun exposure.  The body also produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun — 10 to 15 minutes of exposure three times per week will suffice. Vitamin D’s importance to bone health has been proven in studies on “seasonal bone loss” — elderly people can lose more bone mass during the winter because of lack of sun exposure.  But, don’t forget to put on sun screen before venturing into the summer sun’s rays.

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.  In fact, Northbrook Star recently highlighted bioDensity for helping to reverse the signs of osteoporosis.

After each session, you’ll also receive an email of your performance evaluation 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.  Read about our pilot study with the Hebrew Home, a living facility for senior citizens, to learn more about the benefits of exercise as you grow older.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

World Cup Workout

Are you jealous of the speed, agility, core stabilization and leg power of your favorite World Cup athletes? Here are a few tips to help you become ready for the soccer field:

  • 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.
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.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Exercising Body and 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!

So, what are you waiting for?

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person's individual fitness goals.  Want to learn how to improve your exercise habits?  Need motivation sticking to an aerobic schedule?  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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why You Should Add Yoga to Your Workout

Did you know that yoga has a ton of health benefits?  Yep.  It helps to improve your balance, flexibility and muscle tone in addition to helping you sleep better.

Here are a few reasons to add yoga to your fitness routine:

·    Boost your immunity.  A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. And it doesn’t take long: The researchers believe the changes occurred while participants were still on the mat, and they were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music.

·    Curb your food cravings.  Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. By causing breath awareness, regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection.  The awareness can help you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings, and yoga breathing exercises can help you slow down and make better choices when cravings strike.

·    Increase your flexibility.  Yoga poses work by stretching your muscles. Therefore, help you move better and feel less stiff or tired.  At any level of yoga, you'll probably start to notice benefits quickly. In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after only 8 weeks of yoga.

·    Improve your muscle tone.  Some styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga, are very physical. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Hatha, can provide strength and endurance benefits.

            Many of the poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog and the Plank pose, build upper-
            body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build
            strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps and abs. Poses that strengthen the lower back include
            Upward Dog and the Chair pose.  When done right, nearly all poses build core strength in the
            deep abdominal muscles.

·    Better your posture.  When you're stronger and more flexible, your posture improves.  Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength, since you need your core muscles to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand "tall." Yoga also helps your body awareness. That helps you notice more quickly if you're slouching or slumping, so you can adjust your posture.

·    Learn to relax.  Yoga helps you realize and practice the mind-body connection by focusing on your thoughts and breathing properly.  This helps to slow your heart rate and your racing mind which helps you sleep better.  When you receive enough restful sleep, you become a more positive person and have more energy throughout the day.

If you think you don’t have time to add yoga to your exercise routine.  Think again.  Consider how often you’re on social media. Checking Facebook, for example, multiple times a day could amount to one or more hours– that’s plenty of time to sneak in a workout!
To learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your mind-body connection utilizing state-of-the-art fitness technology, visit or call 301-231-7138.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Is Size 4 Really the New “Normal”?

Have you heard the buzz about Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl?  She’s the new poster child for a women’s “normal” body.”  But, is she truly “normal”?

Diehl is 5 feet 8 inches tall and wears a size 4.  The average American woman is 5 feet 3 inches and wears a size 12, according to a 2009 survey by Women's Wear Daily. Diehl estimates her body mass index at 18 percent.  The average American woman's BMI is 33 percent, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control.
Is her body more “normal” than many of her fellow Miss USA contestants? Yes.  Although, what worries me is that women – especially young girls and teenagers – watching the pageant and reading the hundreds of Twitter comments may develop a warped sense of body image because Miss Diehl is anything but “normal.”

I hope the take-away from the Miss USA pageant is that people – male or female – need to feel beautiful in their own skin and develop the self-confidence to truly be themselves.
I do applaud Miss Indiana for owning her body type and reiterating that she works hard to maintain to her amazing physique.  She credits eating well and exercising.  That is the real message to women of all ages.  Take good care of your health and don’t worry if you’re a size 14 or a size 4. Social media, magazines and your peers cannot make you feel adequate; only you can make yourself feel beautiful and happy.

For her part, Diehl tweeted about how she had worked hard to get her body in shape for the competition, and that she was proud about how her commitment to health and fitness paid off in the end. 

What do you think?  Is the new “normal” a size 4?  I’d love to hear from you.

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person's individual fitness goals.  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to increase your metabolism?  Want to improve your endurance? 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.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Danger of Exercising in the Sun

I am excited that summer is finally here. But, June is National Cancers of the Sun Month. So, as you show off the buff body that you’ve worked hard to create, keep yourself protected and cover up during certain hours of the day.

Excessive exposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation is clearly associated with a higher risk of multiple forms of skin cancer.  Did you know that skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and outweigh all cancers combined?  Since skin cancer is diagnosed in more than 3.5 million Americans each year (and rising), experts from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the American Academy of Dermatology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and many other organizations are unanimous in strongly recommending that you should reduce your time in the sun.
UV radiation from the sun is especially damaging under certain conditions:

  • 10am – 4 pm  
  • Mid-Spring through mid-Fall
  • Latitudes nearer the equator (for example, Florida)
  • Higher altitudes
  • When there is no thick cloud cover (and clouds only block 20% of UV rays)
  • Near water, snow, or other highly reflective surfaces

Sun damage accumulates over time, so if you find yourself in these conditions often, consistent protection is a must. Remember that besides skin cancer, the sun can also cause cataracts and other eye problems, a weakened immune system, unsightly skin spots, wrinkles and "leathery" skin.
If you are exercising during summer, please try to schedule your outdoor activities in the early morning or later evening in order to stay out of the direct sun.  If you cannot reschedule your fitness activities, wear a hat, sunglasses and dark-colored woven clothes covering your arms and legs to try to keep the sunshine off your body.  Or, exercise in a shaded area.

Don’t forget to wear sunscreen each time you are outdoors. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and use SPF 30 or higher.  Because you will be sweating while working out (or swimming), find a sunscreen that is water resistant which will give you 40 minutes of sun protection and apply it at least every two hours.
Exercising in the sun can be fun and a great change of pace to your regular fitness routine.  For the sake of your health, use common sense and don’t overdo your sun exposure.  Your body will thank you in the years to come!

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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Chemo Brain

If you or a loved one has suffered through breast cancer, you may have heard of “Chemo Brain.”  This is a common term used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment.  After chemo, people commonly feel foggy and cognitive abilities can suffer.

A new study suggests that aerobic exercise can fight the effects of “Chemo Brain.”  The study included 20 women who were on average 53 years old, had been treated for breast cancer within the past three years and had reported cognitive difficulties.  The researchers instructed half of the participants to exercise for six months, while the other half didn't exercise and served as controls for the study.
“The results showed that compared to the control group, the women who exercised had improvements in several parts of the psychological tests, including verbal fluency, visual attention and switching between tasks. They also reported better quality of life and improvements in their thinking and memory,” according to the study that was presented on June 1 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

Additionally, aerobic exercise can combat fatigue in cancer patients and survivors while increasing quality of life.
The American Cancer Society explains how exercise can help during and after cancer treatment:

  • Keep or improve your physical abilities (how well you can use your body to do things)
  • Improve balance, lower risk of falls and broken bones
  • Keep muscles from wasting due to inactivity
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Lessen the risk of osteoporosis (weak bones that are more likely to break)
  • Improve blood flow to your legs and lower the risk of blood clots
  • Make you less dependent on others for help with normal activities of daily living
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Lower the risk of being anxious and depressed
  • Lessen nausea
  • Improve your ability to keep social contacts
  • Lessen symptoms of tiredness (fatigue)
  • Help you control your weight
  • Improve your quality of life

A growing number of studies have looked at the impact of physical activity on cancer recurrence and long-term survival. Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness and several quality of life factors in cancer survivors.  According to the American Cancer Society’s website, “At least 20 studies of people with breast, colorectal, prostate and ovarian cancer have suggested that physically active cancer survivors have a lower risk of cancer recurrence and improved survival compared with those who are inactive.”
If you have been affected by cancer, it is critical that you maintain physical activity.  In the short-term, exercise may be the last thing on your mind and you may feel that you are too tired to begin a fitness program.  In the long-term, if you battle through the fatigue, you will gain energy, achieve better self-image and regain your cognitive abilities. 

Do you need help taking the first step? To learn how Fitness for Health’s one-on-one, exercise programs help strengthen your body and your mind, visit

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Did You Know That Water Improves Your Mood?

Are you cranky? Short-tempered? Have you been drinking your water?

In a recent study in France, 30 people who drank little water each day--less than 1.2 liters--were asked to increase their water intake to more than 2.5 liters for three days. Not only were people getting their thirst quenched, but also participants reported feeling less fatigued, less confused and more satisfied overall with their mood at the end of the study.
Researchers also did the reverse and had 22 people who regularly drank lots of water decrease their consumption. “The reverse happened: Lowering how much water they drank worsened participants' moods, leading to negative effects such as headaches, confusion, and fatigue,” says study author Nathalie Pross, Ph.D.

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 60% 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 to learn how we can help you.