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Posts Tagged ‘cardiovascular disease’

If you knew that making some basic changes to your daily routines would increase your calorie burn for the day and reduce your risk for developing diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease, would you do it?

That’s what this blog is all about; ideas that will hopefully challenge you to change how you do everyday tasks that encourage more movement and in turn better health.

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Many people I know work primarily behind a desk, sit in meetings and drive from one place to another with limited physical activity. Advances in technology unfortunately encourage a more sedentary lifestyle. If we combine this limited movement with a poor diet, you’re putting yourself at risk for some major health complications. Engaging in some form of physical activity at least 30-45 minutes most days of the week should be everyone’s goal.

Here are some very easy ways to make activity a part of your life, everyday.

1- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. I know we have all heard this one before and that it’s an easy way to get our heart rate up, but don’t just know it, do it!

*A week or so ago one of my clients told me during the cool down portion of our workout that she started taking the stairs at work (she’s a nurse) instead of the elevator. She said it was challenging at first but since performing regular activity and becoming more fit, the stair climb has become a regular part of her day and just gets easier…good job JV!

2- Park at the back of the parking lot and walk. Instead of driving around looking for a parking space close to the doors of the grocery store and becoming frustrated with the crowd, park further away and enjoy an extra long walk.

3- Perform basic exercises like squats or stationary lunges while doing things like blow drying your hair or brushing your teeth. I know this may sound silly, but if you can multi-task in every other aspect of your life why not this one too!

4- Make an activity date with a friend. Go hiking, roller bladding or walking instead of drinking or going out for food. We tend to stick with new routines like exercising if we do them with a friend or a trainer; someone to hold us accountable. And besides, do you really need those high calorie appetizers?

5- Commit to walking or biking to work a few days a week. If this is not possible then at the very least take transit and get off the bus a few stops early to incorporate a 30 minute walk to start off your day. Believe it or not, you will actually feel more energized and happier because of it!

6- Take 30 minutes of your lunch break and head outside for some exercise. Encourage your staff to commit to doing something together a few days a week. Walking or jogging require nothing more than a good pair of shoes and the commitment!

*Another client of mine works in an office where the entire team (6-8 staff) go for a jog two times a week on their lunch break. It’s a great concept that I challenge you to make happen in your workplace.

7- Play at the park with your kids instead of just watching them! Or, if you’re dropping them off at sports practice or lessons use that time for your own health. Go for a walk, jog or hit the gym. Being prepared in advance is key. Keep your runners in the car and use them as often as opportunities present.

8- Purchase a pedometer or ExerSpy (available at Steve Nash Fitness). These devices track your daily activity and how many calories you are burning throughout the day. Using them really helps to keep you focused and motivated.

9- Dust off that home treadmill or exercise bike and get moving. Set it up in front of the TV or other place where you will actually use it.

*My mother-in-law puts 5km’s on her recumbent bike several days a week while watching evening TV.

10- Make it a priority and schedule time to be active. We can find time to connect with friends, do chores, attend meetings and run the kids from soccer to dance lessons but making the time to engage in physical activity should also be on your to-do list!

How do you incorporate regular activity into your day?

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Most of us lead such busy, fast-paced lives that we have trouble finding the time for regular exercise, myself included. Most people want results fast, while exerting the least amount of effort. Although no quick fixes actually exist in terms of healthy weight loss, interval training is a great way to get in shape when your time is limited.

Taking 30 – 45 minutes, 3 – 5 days a week to raise our heart rate through exercise is extremely important. Exercise is helpful for stress reduction, improved self-esteem, improved body image, and provides so many other health-related benefits. That being said, interval training is a great way to obtain all the benefits of cardiovascular exercise and strength training in the least amount of time. Interval training involves quick bursts of cardiovascular exercise (usually five minutes or less), followed by strength training exercises (usually two sets of two different exercises), followed again by cardiovascular exercise; done repeatedly over the course of 30 – 45 minutes.

Some facilities offer something called circuit training and this is essentially the same thing as interval training. There are quite a few gyms nowadays that have a sectioned off area with weight training machines specifically designed for circuit training. The goal is to work all the major muscle groups quickly, while allowing you to do cardiovascular activities like skipping, stair running, burpies, jumping jacks, etc… in close proximity to maximize both time and caloric burn.

Not only does this type of exercise work your entire body but it’s also easy to do anytime, anywhere. Even though I like going to gym to workout, on occasion I must find the motivation to work out at home. I have a set of exercise bands with handles, 10 and 15 pound free weights, a skipping rope, mini-trampoline and exercise ball. It honestly does not take much to get started- with a few pieces of relatively cheap equipment you’re on your way.

In-home circuit training options:
all weight training exercises use stretch tubing, free weights or body weight

* 5 minute warm-up (walking or light jogging)
* 5 minutes (skipping, jumping jacks, rebounding, burpies, running, stair climbing)
* 3-5 minutes (bicep curls, tricep kickbacks)
* 5 minutes (repeat cardio)
* 3-5 minutes (push-ups, standing row)
* 5 minutes (repeat cardio)
* 3-5 minutes (shoulder press, squats)
* 5 minutes (repeat cardio)
* 3-5 minutes (lunges, abs)

Interval training can also be used as part of your cardiovascular workout on its own. Whether you like the treadmill, outdoor running, speed walking, biking or the stair master, try varying your speed, level of difficulty and/or incline every few minutes. By doing this you burn more calories, get a better workout overall, and force your body’s cardiovascular system to work at different rates, making it stronger.

If anything, finding the time to do interval training 3-5 days a week is the perfect way to keep you limber and in shape. Your body will love you for it and you could start to love your body!

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I decided to write this week’s entry on heart disease because unfortunately it touches home.  My father’s side of the family has a long history of heart related diseases.  Believe it or not, cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the number one cause of death in North America, above and beyond cancer.  Cardiovascular disease, also known as CVD, is a class of disease that relate to the blood, arteries and heart.  Although family history plays a role in the development of CVD, so does age.  Men over 45 and women over 55 are at the highest risk.

There are four common forms of cardiovascular diseases: arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension.  I will explain in the easiest terms possible the characteristics of each one.

Arteriosclerosis – This form of CVD is not a single disease but a group of diseases.  It’s characterized by narrowing or “hardening” of the arteries.  Atherosclerosis is a special type of arteriosclerosis that results in a blockage of plaque (fatty deposit) on the inside of the blood vessel.  This plaque is typically composed of cholesterol, cellular debris, fibrin (a clotting material in the blood), and calcium.  This particular disease begins in childhood and symptoms appears later in life.  Over time the debris builds up in the arteries restricting blood flow to the heart, and in turn causing what is known as a heart attack.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) – Coronary artery disease is the result of artherosclerotic plaque that forms a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries.  The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen.  If the flow of oxygen to the heart is impaired this will result in chest pain known as angina pectoris.  CHD is generally brought on by physical activity or emotional stress.  If a coronary artery is blocked by 90-95% the result is a heart attack- also known as a myocardial infraction.  Blood clots form around the atherosclerotic plaque and eventually the blood flow cannot pass through that artery.  A heart attack is basically the death of the heart muscle.

Stroke – A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced for a long period of time.  The main cause of a stroke is a blockage (due to atherosclerosis) in the arteries in the head or neck leading to the brain.  A stroke is similar to that of a heart attack in that it results in the death of brain cells. For best chances of recovery, medical treatment must be received within 2 hours of the stroke.

Hypertension – Hypertension is chronic high blood pressure.  High blood pressure (BP) occurs when the force exerted on the heart is higher than normal (referred to as the systolic blood pressure) or when the pressure of blood on the arterial wall is greater than normal (known as the diastolic blood pressure).  High blood pressure is generally a resting systolic BP of more than 140 mm Hg or a diastolic BP of 90 mm Hg also known as 140/90.  A normal healthy BP is 120/80.

The main factors that influence CVD are lack of physical activity, a diet high in sodium, red meat and dairy, obesity, chronic stress, family history, ethnicity (blacks have a greater risk than whites) and sex (men have a greater risk than women).  That’s why it’s so important to stay active, especially as we age, and maintain a diet low in sodium, cholesterol and fat to keep a healthy heart and body weight.

Get your blood pressure checked and take care of your heart!

This blog was written with the help of the text book “Total Fitness and Wellness” (Canadian Edition), 2006.

In next week’s entry I will discuss how to pick a good personal trainer… I will have just completed my 4 day intensive course to get my Personal Trainer Certificate.

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