Saturday, February 27, 2021

Benefits of HIIT Training


Here are eight reasons why you can spend less time exercising with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and still get great results:

1. Anaerobic interval training uses the body’s reserves of energy and, after a workout, metabolism stays elevated and continues to burn calories for hours after the workout. This is due to something called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. With HIIT, you not only burn a lot of calories during the workout, but because of the high intensity you will continue to burn calories as your body replaces energy and repairs muscle proteins damaged during exercise.

2. Not only does your body metabolize fat for fuel during the workout, during the post-exercise recovery period after HIIT exercise the body will tap into fat stores for the energy required to restore it to its normal resting state.

3. Your body burns calories at a rate of 5 calories per liter of oxygen consumed. In general, using exercise to increase the oxygen demands on your body will increase total caloric expenditure both during and after the workout. Short intervals of extremely high-intensity exercise involving a lot of muscle mass require a tremendous amount of oxygen, during both the work interval and the recovery periods.

4. HIIT produces a significant amount of metabolic waste, including hydrogen ions and lactic acid. The major reason for an active recovery interval is to remove these waste products to allow the involved muscles to perform the next high-intensity bout. As a result, HIIT workouts train your body to tolerate and quickly recover from periods of high-intensity exercise.

5. HIIT can promote a number of physiological benefits, such as increased mitochondrial density, improved stroke volume, improved oxidative capacity of muscle and enhanced aerobic efficiency, which was previously thought to occur only as a result of long, slow distance (LSD) training protocols.

6. HIIT places a significant amount of metabolic stress on muscle tissue. As part of the repair process, the body will produce elevated levels of human growth hormone, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 to repair damaged muscle proteins, which lead to increases in muscle volume and definition.

7. Many health clubs and workout studios are applying this science to develop group fitness programs that feature HIIT workouts in formats that are 30 minutes or less. These formats enable you to do more work and receive numerous health benefits in less time.

8. Exercise intensity can be measured with a scale of perceived exertion, where 1 is low intensity and 10 is the highest intensity you can tolerate. For the greatest benefits, HIIT should be performed at an eight or higher for periods lasting 30 seconds or less (or to the point of breathlessness). Recovery intervals should be as long or slightly longer than the work interval (or until breathing is quick, but under control). An effective workout should have a five- to seven-minute warm-up period to elevate heart rate, a minimum of five high-intensity work intervals and a four- to six-minute cool-down period to help start the recovery process.

One of the most common misperceptions about exercise that it is necessary to spend hours busting your butt and sweating buckets to obtain benefits like weight loss, muscle growth and improved overall health and well-being. Instead of working longer, work smarter by using short intervals of extremely high-intensity exercise. HIIT is extremely effective, but it can place a tremendous amount of stress on the body. Therefore, it should only be performed two to three times a week with at least 48 hours between exercise sessions to allow a full replenishment of energy stores and to repair of involved muscle tissue. It is still possible to exercise the day after a HIIT session, but it should be a low- to moderate-intensity activity and use different muscle groups or movement patterns than those used in the high-intensity workout.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Benefits of Spending Time Alone

Benefits of Seeking Solitude

1. Solitude allows you to reboot your brain and unwind. Constantly being "on" doesn't give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It's an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.

2. Solitude helps to improve concentration and increase productivity. When you remove as many distractions and interruptions as you can from your day, you are better able to concentrate, which will help you get more work done in a shorter amount of time.

3. Solitude gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice. When you're part of a group, you're more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which aren't always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own.

4. Solitude provides time for you to think deeply. Day-to-day responsibilities and commitments can make your to-do list seem as if it has no end. This constant motion prevents you from engaging in deep thought, which inhibits creativity and lessens productivity.

5. Solitude helps you work through problems more effectively. It's hard to think of effective solutions to problems when you're distracted by incoming information, regardless of whether the source is electronic or human. 

6. Solitude can enhance the quality of your relationships with others. By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you're more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around. You also may come to appreciate your relationships more after you've spent some time alone.

Despite knowing these benefits, it can be a challenge to find time alone in a world that seems to never sleep. Here are a few ideas to help you find more time to spend with yourself.

Disconnect. Set aside some time each day to unplug from all the ways you connect with others. Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your Internet. Turn off your TV. If you use your computer to create, such as by writing, then write without all the bells, dings, and beeps that come along with being connected to the Internet. You'll be amazed at how much more you can get done when you're not distracted.

Get up or Get in Early. Wake up a half hour or an hour earlier than everyone else in your house, and use that time to create, produce, problem solve, meditate, or whatever makes you happy. This strategy also works if you can get to work before everyone else arrives, and before the phones begin to ring.

Close Your Door. It's simple, but can be very effective. A client who owns a community-based magazine puts a sign on her door when she wants alone time. The sign reads "I'm editing or writing. If the police are here, the office is on fire, or George Clooney calls or stops by, you can interrupt me. If not, please hold all questions until my door opens." She said that she decided to put up the sign after she realized that her presence in the office was a stimulus for questions. "Whenever I was in the office," she said, "it seemed like there was one question after the next. I was constantly getting interrupted, and it was hard to get my work done. Then I noticed that on the days I was working on a story outside the office, my phone hardly ever rang, even if I was out the whole day. Apparently, whatever questions came up somehow got handled without me. It made me realize that just by being in the office, I was a magnet for questions. So I put up the sign, and it works like a charm."

Use Your Lunchtime. Don't spend your lunchtime working at your desk. Don't spend it running errands. And if you regularly go out to lunch, don't think that it always has to be with others. Once a week, or even just a couple of times a month, commit to spending lunch with yourself. Walk. Sit in the sun outside. Go to a park and eat. Enjoy the time you have alone.

Schedule solitude. Literally. Mark off time in your day planner or calendar for spending alone with yourself. If you can make time for all the little extras you fit into your day, like stopping at Starbucks or picking up something at the mall, you can schedule time in your calendar for solitude. It doesn't have to be long. Any time that you can spend alone with yourself to reboot, meditate, focus, relax, create, produce, and/or think deeply is better than no time.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

What is Brown Fat? Can It Help With Weight Loss?


If you are among the millions of Americans trying to become healthier and shed unwanted pounds, you probably aren’t wondering if one type of body fat is better than another. But many studies show that brown fat in your body might be a secret weapon for weight loss.

Brown fat, also called brown adipose tissue, is a special kind of body fat that helps you produce heat when you get cold. It’s why you normally don’t freeze to death when playing in the snow or walking in an icy wind.

What makes brown fat special is that it contains many more mitochondria than white fat. These mitochondria are the "engines" in brown fat that burn calories to produce heat. Numerous studies have shown that cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat that is present in the body, thereby potentially increasing the number of calories a body burns.

Can brown fat help you lose weight?

Brown fat has generated much interest among researchers because it appears to use regular body fat as fuel. This is especially true if a person is doing physical activity, because studies show exercise stimulates the hormones that activate brown fat to work its magic.

While research is ongoing, and we still need more understanding of how brown fat is activated to burn calories, scientists are hopeful. In the future it's possible that harnessing the calorie-burning power of brown fat, as well as developing medications that trigger the body’s creation of more brown fat, will be promising options for new, innovative weight-loss therapies.

But fat is fat, right?

Not exactly. Most of us have both white fat and brown fat in our bodies. Very simply, white fat stores energy and calories while brown fat burns energy and calories.

Because brown fat burns calories to generate heat, it is often referred to as the “good” fat. Infants have a lot of brown fat, but the levels of brown fat decrease as we become adults. Adults who have comparatively more brown fat tend to be younger and slender and have normal blood sugar levels.

But white fat isn’t all bad. As mentioned, it stores calories we need, helps protect our internal organs by providing a cushion, and (like brown fat) it secretes beneficial hormones (more on that below). But an excess of white fat, especially in the belly area, can cause health problems that lead to an increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and other diseases.

Hormones and fat

Far from simply storing calories and releasing energy, both white fat and brown fat play an important part in endocrine function by producing certain hormones that help regulate glucose, cholesterol and metabolism.

There have been many studies in the recent past (mostly on mice) and more are underway (on people, too) that examine several types of hormones that are secreted by, or work closely with, fat cells — especially brown fat. Many of these hormones play key roles in maintaining health or causing disease. Here is just a sampling of some of the research.

In a study of morbidly obese mice from the mid-1990’s, researchers discovered the mice didn’t have a hormone called leptin, which is secreted by fat cells. Without leptin to regulate their appetite, the animals were always famished and grew to nearly twice as large as control mice.

A 2012 study found that hormones produced by the heart, called cardiac natriuretic peptides, caused regular energy-storing white fat cells to turn into energy-burning brown fat in mice. When the mice were put into a cold environment, they created more of the heart hormone, which turned on the brown fat, causing it to burn more calories.

A study from 2016 showed that exercise may aid in weight control and fend off diabetes by improving the ability of fat cells to burn calories, by boosting levels of a hormone called irisin, which is produced during exercise. Research think irisin may help turn ordinary white fat tissue into much more metabolically active brown fat; irisin essentially helps white fat mimic brown fat’s positive effects.

In 2018, researchers from Germany and Finland found that brown fat interacts with a gut hormone called secretin that tells the brain the body is full during a meal, which helps control food intake. Basically, when brown fat and secretin work together, the brain stops feeling hungry.

If ongoing studies show the same results in humans, fat tissue and hormones may hold a very important key to effective weight loss.

Do we know yet how to activate brown fat in humans?

While numerous studies have shown cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat that is present in the body, which translates into the body burning more calories, it’s still unclear how much cold a person has to be exposed to in order to increase his or her body’s levels of beneficial brown fat.

It might be another decade before there is concrete research showing how to increase and activate our brown fat stores with cold, but in the interim, researchers already know one thing: exercise is most likely key. If you want to start activating your own brown calorie-burning machine, start by sticking to an exercise routine.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Is Your Water Safe?

Surprisingly high levels of PFAS chemicals have been found in several popular brands of bottled water in the United States, according to a Consumer Reports Investigation. Though none of the brands tested exceeded the levels for tap water suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many experts and state regulators claim that limit is not acceptable.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalky substances,  are compound chemicals often called “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down and there is no known way to destroy them. They are found in many consumer products, including food packaging, nonstick materials (like Teflon), paints, and cleaning products.  

Of the nearly 50 brands of bottled water tested for four heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury) and 30 PFAS chemicals, it was the sparkling water where higher levels of PFAS were detected. All had traces of heavy metals well below the legal limit, but only two of the 35 non-carbonated waters had PFAS that exceeded 1 part per trillion (ppt) compared to seven of the 12 carbonated waters testing over 1 ppt.

Topo Chico topped this leaderboard with a PFAS level of 9.76, followed by Polar at 6.41, and Bubly at 2.24 with Canada Dry, Perrier, La Croix, and Polar Spring all coming in just over 1ppt. Only one brand came in at concerning levels of arsenic: Whole Foods’ Starkey Spring Water at 9.53 ppb.

There are currently no federal limits for PFAS in drinking water, but some states require routine testing and have set their own limits. The EPA’s current guidelines state that PFAS levels should be below 70 ppt, but scientists and environmental groups say this is too high and 1 ppt is a more safe level for humans. While the EPA says it is working on proposals for regulating bottled water, according to Ryan Felton, an investigative journalist who worked on the CR report, it could take years before this becomes law.

Currently, it is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that is responsible for regulating bottled water, and though it is investigating the exposure of people to PFAS through food and drink, it does not currently offer any guidelines or advice for a limit in bottled water.

PFAS have been linked to adverse health effects in humans, from increased cholesterol and different cancers such as kidney, testicular, pancreatic, liver and bladder to name a few.  It also affects infant birth weights and the immune system, according to the EPA. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences includes “altered metabolism, fertility, reduced fetal growth, and reduced ability of the immune system to fight infections.”

The Customer Reports investigative team heard back from all the companies with bottled water that tested above 1 ppt – except Bubly. Although most made the point their products did in fact fall well under current requirements, and La Croix and Polar challenged how CR arrived at their findings and multiple other companies including Coca-Cola (Topo Chico) and Nestle (Polar Spring and Perrier) said they supported efforts for federal limits.  

The CR report states that the level of PFAS found in some sparkling water shows the need for science-based federal limits in both tap and bottled water. 

“The fact that so many brands had total PFAS below 1 ppt shows it is feasible to get to more protective levels,” Brian Ronholm, CR’s director of food policy, said.