From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Get Fit Now!

Great article from American Heart Association News. It’s never too late to get in shape, but don’t put it off too long!

Middle age isn’t too late to get moving and improve your future health. But don’t wait too long. 

Putting it off until well into the 60s could bring exercise benefits, but research has found the reversal of heart damage won’t happen.
“If that aging process goes unchecked, you’re unlikely to change the structure of the heart and blood vessels,” said Dr. Benjamin Levine, a sports cardiologist. He’s director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a collaboration of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

study(link opens in new window) by Levine’s team published in the journal Circulation in January 2018 sought to find the “sweet spot” in middle age for restoring the elasticity of the heart through exercise. Study participants were in their early 50s on average.

Heart stiffness, a potential precursor to heart failure, decreased for those who engaged in two years of the right kind and right amount of exercise.

Think of the difference between an old, stiff rubber band that’s been sitting in a junk drawer and a new rubber band pulled from a fresh pack, Levine said. The new one is more flexible.

“You stretch them, and they snap back,” he said. “That’s true for the heart and blood vessels as well.”

Participants who took part in a training program of high- and moderate-intensity exercise four to five times per week showed improvement in heart elasticity and in how their bodies used oxygen. 

Levine said exercise each week should break down into these segments:

  • One high-intensity workout, such as an aerobic interval workout that boosts the heart rate for four minutes at a time in several spurts during the session. 

  • An hour-long moderate-intensity workout doing something you find fun, such as tennis, biking, walking or Zumba.

  • Two or three more moderate workouts per week that might make you sweat, but still allows you to talk with someone. 

  • A strength training session.

Getting physically active is one of Life’s Simple 7, measures and actions identified by the American Heart Association as having the most impact on heart health. The others are eating healthy, managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, losing weight and quitting smoking.

A Chicago-based study in 2017 using several Life’s Simple 7 metrics found that middle-age people with no major heart disease risk factors lived longer and had more years without chronic illnesses. They also had lower health care costs later in life.

Overall costs of cardiovascular disease in the United States were $555 billion in 2016. By 2035, that number is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion. Heart failure costs alone are more than $30 billion each year nationally.

Heart disease prevention and living a healthier life can be exercise motivators in their own right. Unfortunately, many people “just get overwhelmed by life” by middle age, Levine said.

To make physical activity a priority, he advises making exercise part of your daily routine, like getting dressed or brushing your teeth.

“Exercise needs to be part of your personal hygiene. It’s not something that you just add on,” he said.
Walking is an easy, inexpensive and safe way to start an exercise plan in middle age. Cross-training, which avoids performing the same movements day in and day out, can help guard against repetitive stress injuries in joints, Levine said.

There also are outside sources of support, including employee incentive programs that encourage workers to maintain good health like a discounted gym membership. Medicare offers a SilverSneakers(link opens in new window) program that provides free access to gyms and fitness classes.

The key is getting in the exercise habit, especially by late middle age.

“It’s critical to your health,” Levine said. “It can change the structure of your heart and blood vessels. That’s a really powerful tool.”

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Feeling Bad About Your Body?

If you live in Fort Lauderdale, or South Florida for that matter, you know that it is an "image culture."  Beaches, bathing suits and hot bodies seem to be the order of the day.  But what if you don't fit the stereotypical mold?

This article, written by Kelly Tatera, explores body image and weight dissatisfaction.  It's worth a read!

Accepting your body is the first and most important step to getting healthier.

The way you feel about your body might have an even greater impact on your health than your actual weight, according to a number of scientific studies. The research isn’t meant to tone down the health risks associated with being overweight, but the findings reveal that feeling bad about your body could be harmful to your wellbeing, both physically and mentally.

In a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, a survey of over 100 female college students found a link between negative body image and a “generally diminished quality of life.” Other studies have linked weight dissatisfaction to higher blood pressure, glucose levels, and body-mass indexes (BMIs), as well as a greater risk of metabolic disease, disordered eating, and lower self-esteem.

A more recent study in 2014 found that weight dissatisfaction was linked to an eventual onset of type II diabetes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be an issue that’s going anywhere anytime soon, as another study revealed that feeling dissatisfied with body image is a growing problem.

Multiple studies have found that people who are satisfied with their bodies tend to exercise more often, so part of the problem may simply be that people who like their bodies take better care of them. In general, people who aren’t happy with their bodies exercise less and put on more weight, according to research.

“Weight dissatisfaction may actually discourage people from engaging in healthy behaviors,”Christine Blake from the Arnold School of Health in South Carolina told Quartz’s Harriet Brown. “They might be less likely to respond to programs that encourage health, saying, ‘Ah, forget it.’”

So what’s the best way to go about tackling weight issues? Instead of jumping to diets and rigid exercise schedules, Blake suggests that the first necessary step is to help people with body image issues gain a sense of self-acceptance and body positivity. Focusing on weight issues can often lead to stress, self-loathing, or other unhealthy behaviors, so before an individual can make genuine progress, he or she must let go of negative self-inflicted thoughts.

Managing weight-related issues can obviously be guided by doctors, but parents can also make a difference. A study back in 2009 looked at adolescents from 24 different countries and found strong links between body dissatisfaction and problems with parent-child communication, so healthy relationships at home could have a significant impact on feeling good about our bodies.

These studies certainly raise an interesting point since most people jump to the conclusion that the biggest issues when it comes to weight-related health risks has to do with, well, actual weight. But it appears that there’s an even more important issue to smooth out before all else, and as cliché as it sounds, accepting yourself must come first. You may roll your eyes hearing the whole “accept and love yourself” shpiel from your mom or in an inspirational Instagram post, but now even science confirms the importance of accepting your body.