Archive for the tag - exercise

How to Sit Less at Work: 7 Tips!

Dear Davey,

I’m an engineer and it means that I spend 6 to 8 hours a day sitting at my desk. You mentioned that sitting has been linked to early death, even for people that exercise. Since I feel so chained to my desk, what are some tips for sitting less at work?

From,
Alex

dynaflexballchairHey Alex,

It’s true. Researchers have found a link between sitting and early death – even in otherwise healthy folks who exercise regularly. Our bodies are clearly meant to move.

The good news is that there are a few simple changes that you can make to reduce your daily sit time.

  1. Pace or walk while on the phone. Take calls on your cell phone or wireless headset. Use that time to pace the hallways of your work or even your office/cubicle. If you don’t have much room, simply stand and shift your weight from side to side. It’s better than sitting.
  2. Stand at your computer. If you have a laptop, place it on top of a set of filing cabinets or on an elevated desk. If you’re really committed, you can even purchase a standing desk.
  3. Take the long way. Whether it’s walking to the printer to trekking to the bathroom, take the scenic route. Maybe even opt for a bathroom on a different floor. Whenever you can, sneak in a few extra feet of walking time.
  4. Replace chairs with exercise balls or other exercise equipment. Silly as it sounds, inflatable exercise balls make for great chair alternatives. You can even purchase a wheeled base for the exercise ball. Because exercise balls require balance, your muscles will fire constantly to help keep you stable. They’re also really fun to take bounce breaks on. Alternatively, I’ve seen people use other types of exercise equipment – even stationary bikes or treadmills – as chair alternatives.
  5. Walk to lunch. Instead of eating at your desk, get off your butt and walk to a nearby park or cafeteria. Not only when you help keep your body moving, but the change of scenery can be refreshing and rejuvenating.
  6. Walk more. Call and email less. Instead of communicating over the phone or electronically, opt for face time. Walk to your coworkers’ offices or cubicles if you have a question. While these 30 or 40 second walks may seem insignificant, they add up over time.
  7. Take a five minute break and turn your chair into a workout station. Don’t believe me? Try my 5-minute chair workout.

I hope these tips help cut some of your sit time. And if you have any additional tips, please sure them in the comments below!

5-Minute Awesome Chair Workout!

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 4.44.15 PMOf all the uses for a chair, sitting in one is the least conducive to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, studies show that sitting more means dying sooner – even if you exercise.

So let’s turn the tables on chairs (pun intended) by putting them to work for us! To that end, I put together a quick, 5-minute chair workout that you can do from the comfort of your home. While it may not leave you looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it will certainly get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. Cheers to chairs!

Can You Get Fit Without a Gym?

Dear Davey,

I’m new to working out and want to build my muscles.

Here’s my question: Can I get fit without a gym? Thousands of years before gym existed, there were strong warriors and athletes. So is it possible to achieve a muscular build with just push-ups, pull-ups and so on?

Thanks,
Tarooj

Hey Tarooj,

Actually, gyms did exist in ancient times. The Greeks are credited with inventing gyms; they were state-of-the-art facilities in which their athletes trained for public games.

Having said that, there are many great exercises that require no gym equipment. These bodyweight exercises – combined with cardiovascular exercise – can yield some fantastic results for beginners and avid exercisers alike. In fact, my Jock Workout is an equipment-free workout that anyone can use at home. These bodyweight exercises are great for a lean, ripped and defined look.

However, bodyweight exercises do have their limitations. For one, building your muscles necessitates increasing the amount of resistance you’re working against. At a gym, for example, it’s very easy to progress to a heavier dumbbell. But with a push-up, you’re always working against your own body weight.

In other words, it’s harder to make the same gains with bodyweight exercises. If you want to add a serious amount of muscle to your frame, having access to equipment, dumbbells and barbells will result in faster, more efficient gains.

Since you’re new to working out, you’ll likely see some amazing gains doing bodyweight workouts. But, if you feel like you’ve reached a plateau, I’d recommend incorporating some dumbbell, barbell and equipment exercises into your workout. Many exercise enthusiasts – myself included – enjoy routines that include both bodyweight exercises and gym equipment.

Love,
Davey

Does Exercise Make You Smarter?

Nerd Alert: New research explains how exercise may boost brain performance.

We all know that exercise improves muscle performance, but how does it impact your brain? A new body of research published in American Journal of Physiology explores the question.

It’s no secret that regular exercise increases the number of organelles called mitochondria in muscle cells. Since these mitochondria create energy, an increase in their quantity can help explain increases in strength and endurance. But according to new research, the increase in mitochondria isn’t just limited to muscle cells. Data suggests that regular exercise also increases the number of mitochondria in brain cells.

Researchers divided mice into two groups. One group exercised one hour per day on an incline treadmill (sounds like the next viral YouTube video), six days a week. The other group was sedentary, and remained caged during the exercise hour. Otherwise, the mice experienced identical conditions.

Not surprisingly, the fit mice showed increased mitochondria in their muscle cells. But quite surprisingly, the fit mice also showed “several positive markers of mitochondria increase in the brain.”

If these findings apply to humans, researchers speculate that increased mitochondria in brains cells may boost exercise performance by reducing brain fatigue. But it also means that exercise could become an effective treatment for psychiatric disorders, genetic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.

According to the study’s authors:

These findings could lead to the enhancement of athletic performance through reduced mental and physical fatigue, as well as to the expanded use of exercise as a therapeutic option to attenuate the negative effects of aging, and the treatment and/or prevention of neurological diseases.

In short, it’s yet another reason to get off your butt and give your body the gift of movement.

Why You Should Do More of The Exercises You Hate the Most.

All of us have certain exercises that we don’t like. For me, it’s doing squats. Take a minutes or two to think of your most dreaded exercises.

Why don’t you like them?

For most of us, it’s because we’re not naturally good at them. As someone that is trying to build the musculature of his legs, my lower half is definitely my weaker half. So, when I do squats, I struggle to keep the bar level and to maintain proper form. And I get frustrated when the gym-goers around me are able to use heavier resistance.

Let’s face it: We don’t like doing things that we’re not good at.

We don’t like those challenging exercises that make us struggle. But those exercises that make us struggle are precisely the exercises we need to do the most; they’re targeting areas in which we need improvement. And the only way that we can hope to improve is by doing more of it.

The bottom line: If you don’t like it, it’s usually a sign that you need to be doing more of it. Don’t give up, and don’t be tempted to skip over it. Stick with it, and as you become better at it, you’ll probably start to like it more, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Is Love the Secret to Being Healthy?

Is "love" the secret ingredient to a healthy lifestyle?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and so love is definitely in the air. When we think about love, it’s usually in the context of our boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives. But what does love have to do with a healthy lifestyle? In my opinion, a lot.

If you add the secret ingredient of love into your relationship with your body, it changes everything. If you love your body, you’re much less likely to make decisions that are destructive. Loving your body means making decisions that honor it. Suddenly, McDonald’s seems like a less tempting choice. Healthier foods are more appealing. And as our bodies also crave movement, going to the gym can be an expression of love.

Most of us have a hard time loving our bodies. We don’t always like what we see when we look in the mirror. But I think it’s okay to start small:

  1. Start by loving your body for the functions it performs. Loving your body for how it looks may be a big leap, so start by loving your body for what it does. It’s the vessel through which you’re able to experience this world, and it tirelessly breathes, moves and functions so that you can experience it all. Surely, you can love your body for that. Express gratitude for all that your body does.
  2. Use kind, uplifting and loving words to describe your body. Catch yourself when you say,”Oh, that’s a terrible picture of me.” Or, “I feel so fat and ugly today.” These words are powerful, and they are charged with a great deal of energy.
  3. Dedicate time or gifts to your body. In Diane Petrella’s spiritually-rich The Inspiration Diet (which I strongly recommend), the author speaks to the importance of making gifts to your body. These gifts need not be grand or expensive, and instead can be quite simple and small. Like sipping on a cold glass of ice water, and dedicating the experience your body. Or taking a walk. Or my favorite, a candle-lit bath.

You can approach a healthy lifestyle one of two ways. You can make changes in your life from a place of discontent and frustration (which is what most people do). This approach comes from a place of weakness. Or, you can make changes in your life that are driven from love. This approach comes from a place of power.

It’s up to you. But it seems to me, a little love can go a long way.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Music & Exercise: Working Out to a HOT Beat!

Dear Davey,

I’ve been an avid gym-goer for over a year now and have been successful in shedding the title of skinny boy by putting on some 30 pounds of muscle and counting. However, I’m terrible with selecting music to work-out to and it’s becoming a problem. My limited selection of music is getting old and repetitive and I find myself needing to spice it up.

Would you care to share your work-out playlist? Or even, perhaps, solicit your other blog buddies for their input.

Many thanks and kind regards,

Will

I have seen the headphoned masses, but you may be surprised to learn that I’m not among them. I don’t exercise to music.

At most, I’ll tune into a television while doing cardio – but in all honesty, I find music to be distracting. I prefer being fully present with my body, and being aware of the exercises that I’m performing.

I’m not great at doing two things at once – if my mind is on the music, I probably won’t be 100% focused on my body’s movements.

Having said that, I do know that a great number of people enjoying working out to their tunes. And in all honesty, I did go on a brief audiobook/podcast kick when I first received my iPhone. It certainly does up the fun factor! But exercise isn’t really about fun for me. It’s 90 minutes for me to spend honoring my body with movement, breath, and energy. It’s almost a waking meditation for me.

But… if I did listen to music at the gym, it would obviously be Scotty Dynamo’s amazing beats.

So, I turn to you, blog buddies: What music could you recommend for Will?

Exercising When Sick

Davey,

I’m home sick with a cold. Is it a good idea to workout when you are sick with a cold or flu? Part of me wonders if the energy expenditure would take away from the immune systems that are working to get rid of it. I’ve recently lost nearly 60 pounds and don’t want to diminish my current fitness level that I’ve worked hard to achieve.

Brenon

Dear Brenon,

First, congratulations on releasing 60 pounds through a healthier lifestyle. That’s fantastic!

To answer your question: STAY HOME! In fact, working out while sick is one of my Top 12 Gym Mistakes. There are two pieces to this.

First, it’s incredibly inconsiderate to your fellow gym goers. The gym is already a breeding ground for nasty germs and bacteria. So, please do us a favor and don’t snot on the dumbbells. Things are already gross enough, thank you.

Second, your body needs the rest. Some people have crazy notions that you can “sweat” out a sickness – but that’s just not how the human body works. The immune system fights the germs internally – it doesn’t push them out through your sweat glands.

Moreover, our immune system is most effective when it is not under stress. Researches have found that even a single exercise session can cause significant stress to the immune system (though, overall, exercise helps build a stronger immune system).

And exercising too soon during recovery can even cause a relapse of the sickness – causing a bigger impact in your exercise program.

Don’t worry about missing a few days at the gym – it won’t be enough to significantly derail your fitness routine. A few days won’t make a difference. The power of exercising is its cumulative effect. It would take several weeks before you noticed a measurable external change in your body.

Whether it’s coughing, aches and pain, fever or even an upset stomach, do your body (and the rest of us) a favor by staying home!

20 Best Small Changes for a Healthier Lifestyle.

And don't forget to drink your milk!

With the elevators currently out of order in my building, I’ve been forced to take the stairs. It got me to thinking about how all of us can make relatively small changes that add up over time. Cumulatively, they can have a big impact on our lives.

Unfortunately for me, I’m on the 41st floor. But here are are few simple and small things that all of us can do:

  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  2. Use BBQ sauce or ketchup instead of mayo.
  3. Use low sodium soy sauce.
  4. Steam your vegetables.
  5. Replace one non-water beverage with water, each day.
  6. Eat an apple before you go out to eat – it cuts your appetite.
  7. Run, jog or swim an extra three minutes at the gym.
  8. Pop your own popcorn.
  9. Don’t salt your fries.
  10. Use egg whites.
  11. Snack on nuts and berries instead of candy or chips.
  12. Eat breakfast.
  13. Park your car in the farthest spot – it will make you walk more.
  14. Walk your dog five minutes longer.
  15. Blot your pizza to remove the grease – it saves 50 to 100 calories.
  16. Do calf raises when waiting in line.
  17. Eat angel food cake instead of regular cake.
  18. Eat chocolate pudding instead of chocolate.
  19. Order sorbet instead of ice cream.
  20. Use leftovers instead of cold cuts – deli meats are high in sodium and a source of nitrates.

What small changes would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!