How to protect your man's heart

Men who exercise can reduce their risk of heart attack
Source: makezine.com

Valentine's Day is approaching, and I have a fabulous gift idea for your husband or significant other: running shoes.  Not just any running shoes, but a cool pair that will inspire him to get off the couch, leave the computer, and set down his mobile phone.

According to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, men who perform three hours of high intensity exercise each week can reduce their risk of heart attack by as much as 22%.

Your honey isn't a runner?  No problem.  Brainstorm other ways to get his heart pumping: a gym membership, personal training sessions, swimming, rowing, or club sports like hockey, basketball, soccer, and football would all do.

Or perhaps you could register for couples' dancing classes.  This is the perfect time to learn the Tango, don't you think?


The key to habitual exercise: do what you like

Source: rippedandfit.tumblr.com

You probably know interval training, a training regimen that utilizes bouts of high intensity exercise followed by brief recovery periods, is considered the best way to condition your heart.

But what if you find those intervals so loathsome it prompts you to fantasize about scrubbing toilets, repairing the roof, or doing anything else besides working out?

Here's where psychology comes in when we talk about exercise compliance.  There are certainly guidelines for how to get the most out of your workout or individual exercises, but if following them prompts you to discontinue exercise, they really aren't so useful to you.  In some cases, it may be in your best interest to ignore them.  (Yes, I'm giving you an out here.  You're welcome).

Here's an example: this month's IDEA Fitness Journal reports from a motivational standpoint it is best to promote moderate rather than vigorous exercise for women between the ages of 40 and 60.  Why?  Studies have shown the majority of women in that age group hate vigorous activity.  Better to exercise moderately than not at all.

Don't get bogged down by what you feel you should do.  If you've  been struggling to get to the gym, review your routine.  Search for an activity you enjoy (and keep in mind you may find it outside, in a dance hall, on a golf course, on a lake, or atop a mountain).

Those who exercise all the time don't look at it as a chore.  The trick is finding that activity you love.  Don't give up.


Getting kids to beg for vegetables

I know how to get your child to eat her vegetables, and I'm not talking about a couple bites of peas followed by a milk chaser.  I'm talking about devouring a whole sweet potato, beet, or bunch of carrots.

I know.  You are woozy just from the idea of your child downing nutrient dense food, then begging for more.  How can this be?

The answer is simple: make the vegetable in question a chip.  You may already have tried one of my kids' favorites, kale chips.  Now it's time to up the ante.

Enter the TopChips Kit by Mastrad, your new ally in creating quick, easy and healthy food for your family.

The kit contains a rubber tray riddled with holes and a food slicer.  Slice the vegetable or fruit of your choice, lay the slices on the tray, and microwave for 6 minutes (or less if you are lucky enough to have a microwave younger than you are).

The result?  Crispy, yummy chips sans  butter or oil.  Lightly salt and watch the kids dig in.  Here's the proof:



The toning shoe lie

Skip the ugly toning shoe: it isn't effective
Source: Wikimedia Commons

We really got duped.  Last month, Reebok agreed to pay a $25 million fine for falsely advertising the benefits of its ever popular toning shoes.

The FTC slapped the fine on the company, stating, “National advertisers...must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science.”

I never bought the shoes, but I was certainly intrigued by them.  Designed by a NASA scientist who applied the concept of unstable surfaces to recruit muscle fibers, it seemed like these shoes might have some merit.

I guess it's good to know the FTC has our back.  Another benefit?  We can again take to our errands sporting cute flats without feeling guilt for prioritizing fashion over a great butt-blasting workout.

If you bought a pair, never mind.  Consider yourself an inquisitive, health-minded individual who decided to try something new.  The greatest minds try many things: they keep what works and quickly lose those that don't.  Put the shoes away or submit this claim to get a refund.

Now get thee to the store to buy something adorable that puts a spring in your step.  Then start stepping, the good old-fashioned way.


Night owls are more likely to be overweight

Children who stay up late are more likely to be obese

Recent research has made it clear: adequate sleep is an important aspect of leading a healthy and slim life, no matter what our age.

Now there's more interesting information about sleep and its connection to health and weight: a study published in the journal SLEEP indicates when we go to sleep is just as important as how much sleep we get.  Researchers in Australia studied the sleep patterns of adolescents between the ages of 9 and 16.  They found children who were up late at night were more likely to be obese than their counterparts who went to bed early and got up early, even though both groups got the same total amount of sleep.

Why?  The night owls were three times as likely to log sedentary time, usually in front of the television or computer. Hmm...what do you do in the wee hours of the night?

Put your kids to bed early tonight.  Then turn in early yourself, because this is one healthy task the whole family can take on with sheer pleasure.  (You may not enjoy slogging to the gym this time of year, but you'd be crazy to turn down a date with your goose down comforter for a full night of glorious sleep).   


Does your diet lack adequate protein?

Many women need to eat more protein

30% of American women don't get enough protein, says the USDA.  Are you one of them?

Take a look at your dinner plate tonight.  Is it filled with a healthy balance of lean proteins (fish, chicken, turkey) complex carbohydrates (green, red, and orange vegetables, brown rice) and healthy fats (salmon, walnuts, flaxseed)?

If not, you may have fallen victim to a common misunderstanding about what comprises a diet that is not only healthy, but also promotes weight loss.

In an effort to lose weight and cut out fat, many women opt for a high carbohydrate, low protein diet.  Here's the problem: these diets leave us feeling hungry and less satiated than one with more protein and a bit of fat.  The result?  We unwittingly eat more, thus taking in more calories.  In fact, in a study published in the Journal PLos ONE, researchers found people who reduced their protein intake by just 5% increased their calorie consumption by 260 cal per day.  That's a 38 pound weight gain over the course of a year!  (For the record, the USDA recommends 50 grams of protein daily for children over 4 and adults).

The body is smart.  When provided a well-balanced diet, it rewards us with satiety.  Imagine that.


Music can help you keep that pesky fitness resolution

Adele has me grooving in my Pilates studio these days.  Who will accompany you on your next workout?

Investing in a playlist that gets you grooving may help you keep your fitness resolutions this year.  In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers suggest selecting and playing your favorite tunes during a sweat session can positively alter your mood and enhance strength training performance.

I love this idea.  I've long been a proponent of making exercise enjoyable, and this another fantastic way to make exercise a commitment to look forward to. And, of course, it may make your workout more effective.  What else could you ask for?

If you enjoy music, try making a playlist with your favorite tunes, whether it be Brahms or Lady Gaga (I kind of like a mixture of the two).  Play them on your iPod while exercising or take them to your trainer and ask her to blast the tunes while she's working with you.

Explore the power of music when it comes to exercise.  Mix up artists, genres, and beats.  Let your favorite music push, move, challenge, inspire and relax you.

I know.  I can't wait to get started on this task, either.
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