Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Three Important Facts to Help You Start a New Exercise Habit

ThinkstockPhotos-186871442-1.jpgIndividuals who are new to regular exercise, or those who are considering recommitting after a long hiatus, may have preconceived notions about what it takes to effectively reap the benefits of a new routine. For this reason, I want to establish a number of foundational principles and debunk some common myths surrounding fitness. Reworking your current schedule to include exercise can seem like a daunting task, but starting with a foundation of knowledge may help to quell the discouraging thoughts that make starting a new exercise habit so difficult.

Following are three important evidence-based facts about exercise and fitness.

1. Reaping the benefits of exercise does not require a large time commitment.

If your idea of exercise is a monotonous jog around the block or on the treadmill, you need to start defining exercise in broader terms. Long walks or runs are great if you enjoy them enough to complete them on a regular basis, but there are endless activities that can lead to similar benefits while requiring less exercise time. Vigorous-intensity exercise (exercising at 77 to 94% of maximum heart rate*) has been shown to have positive effects on cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness in bouts as short as 10 minutes. (*The Gelish equation to estimate maximum heart rate is HRmax = 207 – [0.7 x age].)

Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include sprinting, swimming, boxing, jumping rope, dancing, bicycle sprinting, and a number of other exercises that can be performed at a gym or fitness center.

2. Working out at a gym does not require any more than basic knowledge and can lead to drastic results within weeks.

The benefits of consistent workouts are created by bodily adaptations triggered by a stimulus—the activity that you performed. While experienced weightlifters and endurance athletes require more advanced and intricate stimuli to produce more adaptations, those who are sedentary can expect to see significant gains in strength or aerobic capacity in a short amount of time when they start exercising regularly. This can make for an excellent motivating factor when starting an exercise habit.

3. There isn’t one type of exercise that’s mandatory in order to achieve positive results.

Purposeful exercise generally falls into one of two categories: resistance or endurance. However, many different activities straddle the lines between these two forms (such as CrossFit, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT), boxing, gymnastics, and various other sports). All types of exercise have the potential to improve overall health.

Benefits of resistance training include increased resting metabolic rate (faster metabolism), improved insulin sensitivity, lower body-fat percentage, increased bone density, potential for slower cognitive decline, improved balance, and improved strength, mobility, and self-esteem. Endurance exercise has the potential to produce many of the same benefits while having a slightly more robust effect on cardiovascular health. This shows that even without choosing a specific activity, you can realize the rewards of exercise.

***

Careful planning can be important for effective habit change, but sometimes too much thought can hinder your ability to implement change. The mind always seems to have a way of creating obstacles. Remember that physical activities can produce benefits in just a few short sessions per week, even when performed with just basic knowledge and in an unorganized way.

Hopefully this new knowledge will help you smash through your barriers and get moving!  Looking to add exercise to your workplace, click below for how to get started.  

Download Now

Topics: exercise habit high-intensity workouts resistance strength workouts

The Confusing World of Nutrition Bars

ThinkstockPhotos-614978722.jpgThere are so many nutrition bars out there that I am sure it can be a challenge to pick one that is the best. So how do you know if the bar you are choosing is the healthiest option for you?

With anything, when it comes to your food and nutrition, the key is moderation and balance. You should be choosing a bar that you like the taste of and that works for your schedule and habits. The goal is to try to eat as many whole, fresh foods as possible and decrease the packaged foods with giant ingredients lists of things you might have trouble pronouncing. However, these bars can be a nice backup for snacks to keep in your purse, car, gym bag, or desk drawer for those times when you need fuel and don’t have other options.

Choosing a Nutrition Bar

Here are some good rules of thumb to follow when it comes to these convenient bars.

Protein: Choose one with at least 5 grams and no more than 15 grams. This will help keep you full and is what makes these bars have more staying power than a regular granola bar or candy bar. Too much protein will make the bar have an unpleasant taste, or more ingredients will be added to cover the added protein taste. Also, this bar is intended to be a snack to hold you over until mealtime, and not to replace the quality protein you should be getting from meals.

Fiber: Choose one with more than 3 grams. Fiber is another thing that will help keep you full, so choosing a bar with staying power will help keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Fat: Choose one with mainly heart-healthy fat. Check the label and make sure the saturated and trans fat content is low and the majority of fat is coming from mono or polyunsaturated fats like you would find in nuts.

Carbohydrates: Choose one with mostly whole grains and 15 grams or less of sugar. This can be tricky because a lot of bars have added sugar to make them taste better. Try to steer away from the ones that are a fancy candy bar and choose one that is lower in sugar.

The Most Nutritious Bars

Here are a few bars that meet these requirements:

Was your favorite not on the list, or did it not meet the requirements? Remember, if you are choosing a nutrition bar occasionally, it can fit into a balanced diet and complement your healthy eating.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: nutrition snacks healthy eating fiber protein

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” To Make Healthy Changes: Part 3

Part 2 of this blog series focused on the importance of scheduling time to exercise and practice healthy eating. This scheduling involves setting aside time not only to exercise but also to prepare healthy meals. I also stressed how important it is to stick to the schedule as often as humanly possible.

But what do you do if you are simply dreading exercise? Or if you are dying to take a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of doing meal prep?

TIP: Write Out the Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking a Healthy Action

Contemplating the advantages and disadvantages of a decision is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique that serves as a great reminder of why you were motivated to make healthy changes in the first place. The following represents an advantage/disadvantage square. In my experience, people who fill these out often decide to make positive, healthy choices. And with practice, you can easily do these in your head!

motivation square.jpg

As you can see, the advantages of exercising before work far outweigh the disadvantages. Sometimes, simple reminders like this are all you need to feel a bit more motivated. And if you happen to have a day where your disadvantages are greater than the advantages, this is a sign that you may need to take the day off to focus on other things (which is okay…it happens to EVERYONE).

The Bottom Line

You have the power to influence your motivation levels, so don’t wait until you feel motivated to make a positive change.  

Receive more blogs like this one straight to you inbox, subscribe by clicking below.

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: motivation healthy eating goal setting exercising healthy choices