Are you as fit as you should be for your age?

Victoria Hall, Acting Beauty Director for the Telegraph shared that according to Virgin Active’s latest research, 52% of British women between the ages of 25 and 34 would rather look slim and toned in their holiday photos than be fit enough to run a marathon. Those under 25 claimed that ‘looking good’ was the main reason that they worked out. It’s not until we hit our mid-thirties that the majority of us are more motivated to hit the gym for our health.

At the other end of the age-spectrum, those over 55 years tend to spend more time working up a sweat, exercising for around 4.8 hours a week compared to the national average of 4.3. However, it’s not just about the amount of time spent in the gym. Too many of us focus on one type of exercise, such as a weekly run or spin class, rather than having a varied exercise routine that covers strength, stamina and mobility. “Exercise won’t just help keep you slim, it’s also an important step to fighting the effect of ageing and improving your mental and physical,” says Tim Wright, fitness expert and the man behind Virgin Active’s latest service, Beyond Movement, which incorporates Pilates, sports massage and physiotherapy to ensure you are fit and healthy for your age. “Working out regularly has multiple health benefits at any age but becomes increasingly important as we get older.”

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Exercise can help lower dementia risk

The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences shared that new research has found that regular physical activity in older adults could increase brain size and decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

New research has found further evidence to support the positive association between exercise and dementia, finding that regular physical activity in older adults could increase brain size and decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

Carried out by researchers from UCLA, Calif., the team used the landmark Framingham Heart Study to look at an association between exercise, brain volume and the risk of developing dementia.

The Framingham Heart Study was set up to look at common characteristics that contribute to heart disease, but since it started back in 1948 it has also looked at factors that contribute to other physiological conditions including dementia.

For their study the team looked at the physical activity levels from the original group of participants in the Framingham Heart Study as well as their offspring who were age 60 or over.

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Meditation for Better Health

College of DuPage Nursing student Joan Jones shared that according to Richard Miller, PhD in “Let Joy In”, the ways in finding joy can be as simple as accepting and welcoming feelings in. It can’t always be as easy as it sounds, but through this article, meditation and yoga can be a vital tool in allowing joy in regardless of a negative or stressful life event.

Meditation Versus Yoga – People may look at yoga and meditation as a form of a religion or maybe a work-out program that just doesn’t quite entice you. Some of us may be confused as far was what yoga is, or maybe how meditation is incorporated with yoga. Then, another part of us may bring up the financial aspect in how much money it costs to attend a yoga class, or join a gym that gives free yoga classes, or maybe even a gym membership that requires more money in attending their yoga classes. Although this may be true, yoga and meditation can sometimes be separate all together and meditation is the start or the only thing you need to fully understand how joy can be found. But for now, let’s just say that yoga can be the advancement of practicing the art of meditation.

Meditation – Meditation can be identified as the simple act of taking a few moments throughout your day, preferably before we sleep, to take some deep breaths and allow the mind to quiet down and think about happy thoughts. Happy thoughts can be a simple as a walk in the park on a spring day, the voice of the person you love telling you that everything is going to be alright, or maybe just the sweetest sound of your child’s laughter. Taking deep breaths and allowing someone to remind you of these events can be found through guided meditation, which can be found anywhere. Looking up, “guided meditation” on google or downloading an app on, “guided meditation” can be found on YouTube and in any app stores on your smart phone, and can be a useful tool in guiding us to help us stop the mind from over thinking the negatives, and thinking purely on the positives of life. This simple form of meditating can allow our bodies to stop from over thinking about the problems that arose in our day, like the people that may have hurt us and allowed any form of negative stress and doubt into our lives. Linking the joy of simply breathing and slowing down our instinct to stress by focusing on the happy events in life, can allow the mind to accept and turn that stressful feeling into acceptance and simply, letting go.

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Exercise – More Is Not Better
but Something Is Better Than Nothing

Elizabeth Moxley, PhD, RN, BS​​​, and Assistant Professor at the College of Dupage School of Nursing, shared the following great insight about exercise.

The Pandemic of Inactivity – Physical inactivity is a pandemic. It is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and an estimated 40-80% of all people are currently sedentary. The benefits of physical activity have been known since the early 1950s, but the promotion of activity lags with respect to the evidence. Inactivity has become a chronic disease resulting in chronic complications.

The Benefits of Exercise – Exercise has been dubbed ‘the closest thing there is to a magic bullet’. The Nurse’s Health Study revealed the benefits from exercise are lasting; exercise performed during midlife yielded benefits at age 70. Few medications work that well!

The most important question not to ask-therefore, in this day and age is; what do I need to do to for good health, rather; why doesn’t our society exercise enough? Several obvious reasons exist, such as; a lack of time, sedentary lifestyles, diminished resources for which to engage in exercise, not realizing the extent of health benefits, and simply, not knowing where to begin. A ‘too much exercise hypothesis’ has even emerged regarding safe doses of vigorous-intensity and/or high quantities of exercise. The determination of the perfect dose of exercise is not only not clear – it has nearly become a perfect muddle! However, the evidence clearly demonstrates, any exercise is more beneficial than none at all, and some believe more is better.

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Help Protect Illinois’ Daily P.E. Requirement!

The Illinois Alliance to prevent Obesity shared that as the new Illinois legislative session gets underway, we have already seen legislation put forth that threatens the daily physical education requirement. As you know, high-quality physical education (P.E.) is not only a core way of helping kids meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day, but is critical for teaching students the skills, content and knowledge they need for a lifetime of fitness and health.

Contact your legislators today and tell them to protect daily P.E. in Illinois

With one in three children in Illinois overweight and obese and at risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, P.E. plays a critical role in keeping kids healthy. With several advancements in the quality of P.E. programming in Illinois over the last several years, we can’t afford to roll back requirements for schools. Every student deserves a chance to learn the skills and content necessary to be active and healthy throughout their life.

Contact your legislators today and tell them to protect daily P.E. in Illinois

We know active students learn better. Help improve health, academic achievement and in-class behavior by protecting daily P.E. in Illinois.

Regular Stretching May Boost Fitness of Those Who Can’t Exercise

A single 40-minute session of static, whole-body stretching significantly improved arterial function in the upper and lower body for up to an hour in relatively inactive young men, the study found. Repeated stretching may result in long-term arterial changes and be a safe alternative to aerobic exercise, researchers said.

Static stretching refers to slow muscle stretches, which are usually performed in one position and held for several seconds. Recent studies found that static stretching lowered blood pressure and improved blood flow in older patients, but it wasn’t known how long these changes lasted, researchers said.

The study, in Japan, involved 26 sedentary men in their early 20s. Arterial function was measured during 10 stretching exercises involving muscle groups in the arms, legs, neck and trunk. Each exercise was performed three times and held for 30 seconds while sitting, standing and lying on the back and stomach.

A noninvasive technique called pulse wave velocity, or PWV, was used to assess the subjects’ blood-vessel response. Higher PWV is an indicator of greater arterial stiffness, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Read more

10 strategies to save money on the gym

Find a deal on a gym membership, and you can do all three. Here’s how.

Time it right:

According to Consumer Reports, to save money sign up late in the month — any month — when health club sales teams are trying to meet their monthly quotas.

Look for daily deals:

Never, ever join a gym without quickly searching daily-deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social. Gym memberships and other exercise classes are one of their most common offers. There were 534 exercise deals on Groupon when I checked.

Ask work about your workout:

Many employers have negotiated discounts with nearby gyms. If yours hasn’t, why not band together with co-workers and do it yourself?

Negotiate a custom deal:

Speaking of negotiating, it pays to play hard ball. Make sure the gym you want to join knows that you’re talking to other gyms, too, and ask for a price match. Then, see if it will waive the initiation fee.

Planning to use just one location in a chain? Request a discount for that.

Don’t need included services like child care? Ditto.

If you can’t get the gym to give you a lower price for less stuff, try to get more stuff for the quoted price, such as free personal training or massages.

Pay as you go:

Better yet, don’t join at all. Sometimes it makes more economic sense to get an exercise “class card” or pay daily rates as you go, especially if you’re unsure how committed you are. Paying daily or month to month may cost more, but it will save you money if you decide to bail out. I’m not a fan of long-term “future services contracts” that you can get out of only if you can document that you moved away or got injured.

Advanced strategies

Head to the hospital:

You know that failing to exercise can land you in the hospital, but did you know that you can exercise at the hospital?

That’s right, many hospitals have fully equipped fitness facilities that welcome the public. Best of all, most do not require ironclad long-term contracts.

Go to college:

Colleges and universities are another often-overlooked resource. Most now have elaborate exercise facilities to attract students, and many offer memberships to the community.

Exercise your health insurance:

Insurance companies have caught on that keeping people healthy saves them money, so many now include some sort of gym benefit as part of their plans.

For example, Aetna says it offers discounted rates at more than 10,000 gyms. And United Healthcare will reimburse you $20 each month that you visit one of its participating fitness centers at least 12 times.

Additionally, if you are exercising to overcome an illness or injury, some gyms will work with you to submit claims to your insurance company.

Try apps that pay for wellness:

Mobile apps such as Pact and Wellcoin will actually pay you to exercise.

Pact rewards you with cash — paid by other members who didn’t meet their goals. When you use Wellcoin, you earn points you can use to buy products on the site, including gym classes. The payments aren’t huge, but there’s an intangible motivational value that some consider priceless.

Ask for fitness financial aid:

Not sure you can afford a commercial gym? The YMCA offers financial assistance and says it never turns away members who can’t pay.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Jenny Sugar wrote for POPSUGAR that whether it’s the Freshman 15, breakup weight, baby weight, or can’t-stay-away-from-the-dessert-cart weight, losing those extra pounds is not as easy as putting them on. It doesn’t matter if you have five or 105 pounds to lose, here are the top reasons most people abandon their weight-loss goals, and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

It’s Taking Too Long

Just as those pounds seemed to slowly creep on, it also takes time to slowly shake them off; coming to terms with this will make it easier to stick with your plan. Know that to safely lose weight and keep it off, you’ll only drop one to two pounds a week, so do the math and you’ll have an idea of how much time it’ll be before you’re near your goal weight. Find ways to celebrate your smaller goalsand it’ll help keep you on track.

I’m Hungry

Weight loss comes down to simple math: calories in cannot exceed the amount of calories out. If you choose high-calorie foods, you’ll only be able to have a few bites, which will leave your belly empty and unsatisfied. Eat smarter by choosing low-calorie foods like vegetables, high-fiber foods like whole grains, and foods with high water content like fruit. These foods will keep you feeling full, preventing hunger pangs.

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Why Muscles Shake During a Tough Workout

Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

three-kidsAction for Healthy Kids shared that if is too cold or snowy to go outside and play during winter break you can still stay active over the break with Game On’s Health at Home ideas. You’ll find tips for eating better and moving more, especially during the holiday season.

Check out how much fun it is to stay active. Spread holiday cheer with healthy and active parties (such as celebrating the 12 Days of Fitness) to gear up for the holidays.

And … with the holiday season right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about how  kids can stay healthy this season. The holiday season has typically been a season for unhealthy behaviors, weight gain and inactivity. Follow these tips to strat eating healthy and moving more at home over the holidays.