Category Archives: Health & Fitness

FITT-SPF: Fitness and fun in the sun.

People who exercise are probably familiar with FITT—frequency, intensity, time, and type—the basic principle behind almost all fitness programs. The FITT principle applies to everything from running to weightlifting to yoga. For people who exercise outdoors there are three more letters that are important to know, especially in the summer: SPF. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

woman running on beach

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Go for a walk while you fly!

If you travel for work or have vacation plans this summer that may mean spending time on planes and in airports. It usually also means a lot of sitting. But it doesn’t have to. In fact, you can easily find ways to include physical activity in your air travel plans. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

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Exercise: It’s about the people you do it with as much as it is about the workout.

Most people who exercise have a reason why they do it. For some, it’s all about improving fitness or trying to lose weight. For others, exercise is a way to prevent disease or recover from an injury. But many people exercise for social reasons, too. For them, exercise is about the people as much as it is the activity.

Exercising with others is a great way to increase your motivation and enjoyment. This makes it more likely you will stick with your exercise program, leading to better fitness and health. This can be as simple as having a partner to walk with, going to an exercise class at the gym, or joining a running group in the community. But there are additional benefits to exercising with others that may help you get started and continue your fitness program. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

Boot camp workout


Exercising with others provides a level of motivation and accountability that is important, especially for people who aren’t self-motivated. Knowing that you are meeting a friend for a walk or meeting a training partner at the gym makes it less likely that you will find an excuse to skip a workout. While guilt isn’t the best reason to exercise, for many people it is the one thing that will get them moving.

Exercising with others can also help you get a better workout? It’s true. When you are exercising with another person or a group you can get feedback on your technique. Doing exercises properly can reduce the risk of injury and improve your gains strength, endurance, and flexibility.

You can also get ideas for new exercises and training techniques that can make exercise more enjoyable and less monotonous. Many people find that having a friend to walk or run with makes the time seem to go by faster. The friendly “competition” that can come from a partner or group can push you to train harder, making the exercise more beneficial.

A group dynamic is an important component of many popular exercise classes and programs. At the gym, participants in classes from aerobics to Zumba and spin to yoga benefit from the support and motivation of exercising with others. And programs like boot camps, CrossFit, and F3 are popular largely because of the camaraderie of the other group members.

Exercise can also be for other people. Many community running or walking events help raise money for local or national charities. Sometimes people will train for and complete in an event with a specific person in mind. These “I’m running for” events can help provide inspiration for the runner and awareness for others.

Some workouts are done as memorials for others. In CrossFit, there are a collection of workouts inspired by and named for American soldiers who have died in combat. Often done in groups, these “Hero WODS” tend to be intense tests of fitness and motivation. One such workout is called Murph. Many people around the world will complete the Murph challenge on Memorial Day to raise awareness and money for the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

In case you are curious, Murph consists of a mile run, then 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats, followed by another mile run, all while wearing a weighted vest. For many people who participate, Murph is as much about the people—the heroes you are exercising for as well as the group you are doing it with—as it is about the exercise.

So, if you are struggling to find motivation to exercise, consider doing it with or for other people. You will find inspiration and accountability, helping you meet your fitness goals and enjoying yourself along the way.


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Juiced! Why juice isn’t the same as fruit, and sometimes isn’t really fruit at all.

Nutrition information is often confusing and conflicting, making healthy food choices a challenge. Fortunately, there are some recommendations that are consistent. Among these is eating more fruit. But what if the way you were consuming fruit meant that you were missing some of the nutrients that make it so healthy?  This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

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Why kids (and adults) should tri!

Triathlons are often regarded as the ultimate test of endurance. Combining swimming, cycling, and running, a triathlon requires a high level of fitness, endurance, and dedication. This is especially true for the Ironman triathlon, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. The best athletes in the world take about eight hours to complete this event!

 

An Ironman is out of reach for most people, but almost everyone can benefit from training like a triathlete. Incorporating aquatic exercise, cycling, and running (or walking) in an exercise program leads to significant health and fitness benefits, the development and maintenance of important motor skills, and variety that can make exercise more enjoyable.

 

This is especially true for children. Participating in diverse activities is important for developing strength, endurance, balance, and coordination. Swimming, bicycling, and running are good ways to meet physical activity guidelines and develop a love for exercise. Children can benefit from the fitness and motor skills they develop from these activities when they play sports and adults can maintain fitness, prevent injury, and improve health and wellbeing.

The benefits of training like a triathlete for children and adults is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

triathlon swim

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Is chocolate healthy? That depends on what you mean by chocolate. And what you mean by healthy.

 

If you pay attention to nutrition news you may get the idea that achieving good health requires depriving yourself of foods you enjoy. Fortunately, this is not always the case. For example , eating certain types of chocolate has been linked to some health benefits.

The idea that chocolate may be healthy is no doubt welcome news for chocoholics. But it may leave you wondering if eating chocolate really is healthy. The answer depends on what you mean by chocolate and what you mean by healthy.

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Your park prescription for outdoor activity this summer.

You probably know that exercise is good for you and that daily physical activity—going for a walk, for example—is associated with improved health. A lower risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers are among a long list of positive health effects of physical activity. Lesser known benefits include improved mental health, cognitive function, and greater feelings of well-being.

What you may not know is that where you exercise matters, too. Exercise outdoors, especially in nature, can be particularly beneficial. This is not surprising given that being active in a natural environment has been shown to have an impact on mental health. Indeed, activity outdoors leads to enhanced feelings of energy and diminished fatigue, anxiety, anger, and sadness compared to similar activity conducted indoors. Additionally, some research suggests that outdoor activity may improve attention in adults and children. I have written about outdoor exercise in the past, but now that it is summer, an ideal time to get outdoors, this a good time to revisit some the benefits of being active in nature.

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