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Fitness and Nutrition Tips

by: Kerrie Anderson
Wellness Director, Pierpont Racquet Club

Kerrie is a native Californian. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a B.A. in Physical Education/Exercise Physiology. She is Certified in Community Fitness with a minor emphasis in Business. She is also a Red Cross CPR and First Aid Instructor. She has been in the fitness industry since 1976 and has been a part of the PRC since 1986. She is married and has two children. Her hobbies and special interests are running, water sports, gardening and physical fitness and sports for children.

Summer Sun & Safety Tips

Everyone loves sunny days, and with a little effort, it's easy to enjoy them in safety and good health. Below are a few tips to help make your summer days safe days.
  • When packing lunches or picnics, remember that the summer sun and heat can cause food to spoil more quickly.
  • The sun can heat up a car to temperatures above 140 degrees. Check seats, child restraints, and seat belts buckles before anyone sits down inside. Also, never leave children or pets in closed vehicles.
  • Remember! You'll be able to enjoy the summer sun more if you keep health and safety foremost in your mind.

14 Ways To Protect Yourself from the Sun

(submitted by: Alan D. Klein M.D., Dermatology)
  1. Limit outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during daylight savings time) in the summer months. Therefore, play golf, tennis, swim, etc. in the early morning and late afternoon.
  2. If you get minimally sunburned at midday, beware of the further exposure later in the afternoon. The late afternoon cam turn a minimal sunburn into a severe one.
  3. Clouds and particulate matter in the air scatter sunlight. You may receive a surprise sunburn even on a cloudy or hazy day.
  4. Sand, snow, concrete, and water can reflect large amounts of sunlight onto the skin. Increased UV exposure can occur during high altitude activities. The thinner atmosphere at high altitudes absorbs lesser amounts of damaging UV rays than at sea level.
  5. Some drugs and cosmetics may increase susceptibility to sunburn. These "photo sensitivity reactions" also may sometimes be caused by birth control pills. Your physician or pharmacist can advise you about medications that cause problems in the sun.
  6. Wear a hat or long-sleeved shirt whenever possible when in the sun. Tightly woven fabrics offer greater protection than loosely woven ones.
  7. Apply a sunscreen to all exposed body areas one hour before sun exposure. The sunscreen should be reapplied generously every 2 hours while in the sun. Sunscreens labeled with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 provide the best protection. Use sunscreen on your face even if you wear a hat.
  8. Some sunscreens may cause allergic reactions. If a sunscreen irritates your skin, change to another brand or consult your physician.
  9. Always reapply sunscreens after swimming or perspiring.
  10. Men should be sure to apply sunscreens to the tops of the ears and bald scalp areas.
  11. Sun damage is cumulative over a lifetime. Children should be taught to use sunscreen at an early age.
  12. Individuals who are at high risk for skin cancer and degenerative changes (i.e., outdoor workers, athletes and persons who have had skin cancer) should apply sunscreen daily year round.
  13. Tanning booths add further damage to that received from natural sunlight. Tanning booths contain bulbs which emit UV light that can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature aging fo the skin. While a tan provides some protection against sunburn, skin damage continues to occur even in the presence of a tan.
  14. Don't forget about your eyes! Wear sunglasses that provide protection from ultraviolet rays. Consult your ophthalmologist or optometrist concerning proper eye care in the sun for yourself and your children.

Succeeding as a Beginner

Are you eager to try a new type of exercise class or sport, such as weight training, slide or racquetball? Learning new activities helps cross train your body, provides variety to keep you interested in exercise and lets you take reasonable risks that are good for your body and mind.

Despite these benefits, many people shy away from beginning something new because they are afraid of failing. With the proper mind-set, however, you can enjoy being a beginner. Fear of failing is our biggest fear. But what we have to remember is to not pass judgment on our abilities. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Give yourself enough time and practice to adapt. Whether you learn slowly or quickly, you'll go through at least three stages when you are starting a new activity.

When you first begin your body will take note of the demands of the new activity, including energy expenditure, speed, timing and direction. Just remember to have a positive outlook on your efforts and congratulate yourself on taking a risk to move past your comfort level. The next stage is to practice the activity, for it can take a lot of time. Focus on refining and perfecting the movements and you will notice consistency in your movements. You should then move into the proficiency stage. With a lot of practice you can develop the skills that your body will eventually remember. You will stop thinking about the movements and feel confident.

When you are ready to start, keep a few things in mind. Find an instructor who will help you learn the activity. Someone who is patient, positive and personable. Start with no expectations in mind and realize that you will need practice. Finally don't get mad at yourself, accept your blunders and enjoy the process!

Fast Facts on Fat

Did you know that all fats contain nine calories per gram, almost twice the calories in protein and carbohydrates? And that one tablespoon of fat contains approximately 120 calories. To help you cope with fat in your diets start thinking in terms of teaspoons. Dietary guidelines suggest limiting high fat food to six teaspoons per day.

The recommended guidelines for fat: A healthy adult should consume no more than 30 percent of total daily calorie intake from fat. Fats come from both animal and vegetable sources and include such foods as butter, lard, shortening, margarine and vegetable oils. All meats, poultry, fish and shellfish and whole milk dairy products contain fat. Most saturated fat is from animal sources. The exceptions are tropical oils such as palm, coconut and palm kernel oils used in processed foods is high in saturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat comes from vegetable sources, such as safflower, corn, cottonseed, and sunflower oils. Monounsaturated fat comes primarily from vegetable sources. Some examples include canola, peanut and olive oil. Some studies have shown that consumption of monounsaturated fat can lower blood cholesterol. Fat is not cholesterol, cholesterol is not fat: Fat and cholesterol are not the same. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal foods such as whole milk dairy products, egg yolks, meats, poultry and seafood. Vegetable fats such as corn oil, do not contain cholesterol but are still high fat foods.

The key to fats is basically to eat a wide variety of foods in moderate amounts. Limit total fat to 30% of calories per day and try to choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

How Your Heart Calls For Help

Heart Disease is the number one killer is the United States. The number one warning sign of heart disease is a heart attack. Your best chance for survival is knowing the warning signs.
Any or all of the following can signal heart attack:
  • uncomfortable pressure
  • squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes
  • pain spreading to either arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, mid-back or upper stomach
  • chest discomfort with lightheadedness, palpitations, fainting, sweating, nausea, vomiting or shortness of breath.
If you do suspect a heart attack, first call your local emergency medical service ( 911 in most areas). If the victim is unconscious, do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), while waiting for help to arrive.
There is a lot you can do to reduce your chances of having a heart attack:
  • Number one is to stop smoking.
  • Number two is to start a moderate exercise program.
  • Number three is to reduce the amount of fat in your diet.

Remember that if you would like to learn more about heart disease and or CPR please contact either the Pierpont Racquet Club or your local Red Cross Unit.

Stretch for Health

Doing a little bit of stretching every day for five to ten minutes can really make the difference with stress management and muscle soreness.

After a light warm-up you would then proceed with your stretches. Start very slowly with each stretch, stopping just before you begin to strain yourself and hold each position for 10 to 30 seconds. Remember to breathe with each stretch and try to relax the muscle that your trying to stretch. A couple of examples of some good stretches are the hamstring stretch, the calve stretch and the overhead stomach and back stretch.

The hamstring stretch is where you would lie on the floor and extend one leg in the air. With your hands place them behind your lifted leg and pull it lightly toward your chest. You will feel a stretch behind your upper leg or hamstring. Repeat with the other leg.

The calve stretch is where you are standing 2-3 feet from the wall, place your palms against it level with your shoulders. Step forward with one foot, bending at the knee and keeping the other leg straight and extended behind you. Lean forward until you feel a gentle pull in the calve muscle and the extended leg. Repeat with the other leg.

The Overhead Stretch is where you are standing with your fingers locked together, raise your arms over your head. Try to reach for the ceiling and release. Extend arms back up again, feeling the stretch in your shoulders, upper back and stomach muscles.

Remember flexibility training is just as important as cardiovascular or strength training. Stretching improves your range of motion and can help to prevent injuries.

How To Live Longer

There are so many different articles espousing the virtues to the fountain of youth. However, let's just get to the bottom line of how to live longer and better.
Strength training exercises like lifting weights, even once or twice a week, can:
  • keep you from losing muscle and can strengthen your bones
  • protect your knees and other joints
  • lessen arthritis pain and stiffness
  • help you lose weight
  • make you strong enough to engage in other activities.
Aerobic exercise, jogging, swimming, cycling, brisk walking and other cardiovascular activity that can raise your heart rate for at least 20 minutes at least 3 times per week can:
  • reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and possibly colon cancer
  • lessen the pain and stiffness of arthritis.

Finally you should try to accumulate at least 30 minutes a day of any moderate-intensity activity, which could include gardening, housecleaning, raking leaves or playing with your children.

Exercise can cause the biggest jump in life expectancy and is truly the fountain of youth!

How To Judge Proper Bodyfat

A little fat is not all bad contrary to popular belief. Body fat serves as a source of energy for the body. Calories that are not used for growth, repair or activity are stored as fat. A certain amount of fat is essential for normal functioning.

Essential body fat for men is 3-5% and for women is 10%. The average fat ranges for men are 10-20%, overweight would be 20-30% and a man would be considered obese with over 30%. For women a normal range is 15-25%, overweight is 25-25% and obese is over 35%.

Excess fat represents extra weight to be carried by the body. It can impair some types of exercise, and can be detrimental to your health. Fat puts a strain on the heart as well as other organs. The excess weight means more work and therefore, more strain on your cardiovascular system.

Fat weight consists of both essential fat and storage fat. Lean body weight is composed of muscles, bones, organs and other lean tissue. The component of your lean mass most likely to change is your muscle weight. In most cases, lean body mass equals muscle mass.

Remember for health purposes, its not a matter of how much you weigh on the scale but rather your percentage of body fat. You can have you bodyfat measured through various methods; hydrostatic weighing, electrical impedance or through skinfold calipers. It is important to remember to have your bodyfat tested with the same method at least 4 times per year to show any changes over time. Body fat testing is an estimation and your true body fat percent may be 1-3% above or below that value.

Remember when evaluating your body composition, be sure to take your body fat percentage into consideration, not just what the scale may say.

Cardiovascular Training

Aerobic fitness refers to the efficiency of the cardiovascular system. Aerobic exercise utilizes oxygen and stimulates the supply of oxygen to the heart and the exercised muscles. Any activity that utilizes major muscle groups continuously at an intensity high enough to stimulate a change in the body , but not so high that it can't be sustained for at least 20 minutes, is aerobic exercise.

There are two keys factors for aerobic fitness: the range to which your heart should be elevated to improve aerobic fitness and the time period during which this elevated heart rate should be sustained. The target heart range is the range between which you should perform exercises. To calculate your target heart rate, you can use the Karvonen Method Formula:

(220 - age - resting pulse) * .65 + resting pulse.

An example: The target heart rate of a 40 year old man with a resting pulse of 70 would be:

(220 - 40 - 70) * .65 + 70.
That equals (220-110) * .65 + 70. Or (110*.65) + 70. Thus 71 + 70 = 141

To be of aerobic value, an elevated heart rate must be sustained for a period of time. The generally accepted minimum is 20 minutes. This time frame refers to the time at which the heart is at the elevated level. When you are training aerobically is it important to remember to do a variety of activities, or cross-train. If you do use a single aerobic mode to develop cardiovascular fitness, you could be continually stressing the same parts of the body. Continual and repetitive impact can result in overuse injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and knee problems. Cross training reduces total impact forces and spreads the stress of the work to a variety of muscle groups and anatomical structures by changing activities and ways in which the muscles are used, and you are more likely to develop greater muscle symmetry. Well balanced muscle pairs working together allows for more effective and efficient movement, and may eliminate some risk for certain types of injuries.

Stress Management

Stress has been defined as any action or situation that places special physical or psychological demands upon an individual. The stressor itself does not create the response- it is the individual's reaction to the stressor.

There can no longer be any doubt that a relationship exists between personality, stress and disease. Stress may even suppress the immune system, reducing resistance to viral or bacterial infections. Clearly, it can be important to strengthen your coping mechanisms, potentially to alleviate illness and even to prevent death.

Here are three strategies for managing stress:
  • Environmental: Manage stress by controlling your pace of life and major life changes. Seek the social support of others. Don't crowd too much into your schedule and control your circumstances, don't let them control you.
  • Mental: Realize that when confronted by stress, your mind can choose your reaction. So when an event take place you can choose how you will react-you can let the stress take over, with all of its health effects, or you can choose a calmer, more reasoned healthier reaction.
  • Physical: It is easier to deal with stress when your body is healthy from adequate exercise, sleep, food, fresh air and sunshine. Take time to relax it is a very important investment.

For a long time researchers have known that psychological states can have a profound effect on one's health. Studies have shown that being chronically anxious, depressed, or emotionally distressed is associated with deterioration of health. Repressed feelings of loss, depression, inflexibility, anxiety are associated with cancer, heart disease and infection. Depression and fatigue are very common complaints of Americans.

National data has shown that adults who are physically inactive are at much higher risk for feeling fatigue and depression than those who are physically active. Exercise does more than decrease anxiety and depression and elevate mood, self-concept is also improved and has been correlated with exercise.

Are you Overtraining?

You have been juggling work and home responsibilities with rigorous training. You think you have found a busy yet balanced medium when you come down with a cold. You are eating well and although you are training hard you are sure to incorporate rest into your programs. So why did you get sick?

New research has found that overtrained people have decreased immune systems. Overtrained individuals do not recognize the signs of overtraining. Mood changes and lingering general fatigue are the first signs that you have gone over the edge. If you are training as hard or harder than usual but performing worse, or training has become a grind rather than a joy, it is time to back off. If left unchecked, overtraining can interfere with the quality of your workouts and more importantly your life- for months.

The following are signs to look for to distinguish whether or not you are working out too much:
  • No desire to train.
  • Cutting sessions short.
  • Performance going down.
  • Unusual muscle soreness after training.
  • Recovery takes longer
Signs to look for in your life:
  • Increased tension, anger, irritability.
  • No interest in activities you usually enjoy, and not sleeping well.
Signs to look for in your health:
  • Increased infections, colds and other illnesses.
  • Inexplicable weight changes, either up or down.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Elevated morning pulse.
  • Cuts and scars take a long time to heal.

By keeping track of the more general indicators of overtraining and erring on the side of caution, you can prevent most cases of overtraining.

Why Strength Train?

Weight training has been sweeping the fitness field for the last six years or so. Weight training focuses on balanced and complete body fitness. It is true that cardiovascular wellness, enhanced through regular participation in aerobic activity, is important for health. However muscular strength and endurance and flexibility will positively influence one's total health and functioning during daily activities, proving to have a more far reaching impact.

The benefits of strength are several. A certain level of strength is necessary if we are to maintain proper postural alignment. Muscles hold bones in alignment and, together with the skeletal system, provide structural support for our bodies. Proper posture alignment will enhance our endurance during normal daily activities and reduce stresses which can cause us minor pain and discomfort.

For example, sufficient abdominal strength, combined with hamstring flexibility, will reduce stress to the low-back by holding the upper body in proper alignment over the lower body. Good postural alignment also creates a look of health and wellness.

Beyond "looking good" we need strength to impart movement to our limbs. When muscles contract, the bones they attach to move. This allows us to perform functional activities associated with daily living, such as preparing food, carrying a briefcase or running for a bus. Movement is also necessary to enjoy recreational activities, such as cross-country skiing, aerobic dance and other fitness related activities that promote cardiovascular health.

The development of a balanced and well-toned musculature will create a protective shield against a number of stresses placed on the joints during daily life and recreational activities by increasing the stability in and around the joints. The muscular-skeletal systems also serve to house and protect a number of organs vital to our health and well-being.

As we age, the maintenance of strength becomes even more important. With a loss of muscular strength comes a shifting of internal organs and structures downward, giving in to the forces of gravity and compromising the functional capacity of the body systems.

Strength training is indeed the key to a healthy and increased quality of life. It requires a minimum of 20 minutes twice per week to gain the recognized benefits.

Please remember before beginning any exercise program, please seek the advice of your physician and then look for help with a nationally certified fitness professional.