Tag Archives: exercise

Healthy competition leads to weight loss success By Caleb Radford

WORKPLACE rivalry and mobile technology are proving to be successful tools for battling obesity and heart disease.

pexels-photo-large (1)A three-year study by researchers at Flinders University in South Australia found that exercising in groups, particularly co-workers, helped provide the motivation required to lose weight.

The study, in collaboration with corporate fitness company Stepathlon, involved almost 70,000 employees from 64 countries including India, Australia and the United States.

Participants were organised into worksite-based teams of five and issued with Stepathlon hi-tech pedometers. Mobile technology was then used to calculate results globally.

Teams were given a 12-month program, which included healthy meal plans and mini-fitness challenges to prepare them for a 100-day “race”.

The race is the foundation of the program and has individuals competing in a virtual world where they are set the daily challenge of 10,000 steps (about 6.5 km).

Flinders University Associate Professor Anand Ganesan said Stepathlon participants increased their average step counts by about 3500 steps per day and reduced sitting time in the workplace by 45 minutes per day.

He said participants lost about 1.5 kg each during the 100-day challenge.

“The unique thing about this program was that it was delivered on a very large scale using mobile device technology,” he said.

“All the participants in previously published studies have all been from high-income countries and none of them have been on any scale that’s comparable.”

Assoc Prof Ganesan said the motivating factor that led to successful Stepathlon campaigns was social reinforcement.

“The use of social camaraderie and teams to encourage physical activity and improve people’s lifestyles is really important and effective,” he said.

Assoc Prof Ganesan said the use of mobile phones and the internet to increase fitness incentives could also be applied to participants from low and medium income countries.

“It’s very hard to engage people to change and modify their behaviour. Physical inactivity and bad dieting are clear drivers of cardiovascular disease around the world,” Assoc Prof Ganesan said.

“The numbers of people that are physically inactive and overweight is way in excess of the numbers of people that can be reached through conventional clinic means.

“What this study demonstrates is that you can use mobile technology and the internet to reach large numbers of people and encourage them to change their behaviour in terms of physical activity and weight.”

In 2011-12, circulatory diseases affected an estimated 3.7 million Australians, including about a million people with cardiovascular conditions such as stroke and heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death among Australians in 2012, with almost 45,000 deaths recorded.

The study, International Mobile-Health Intervention on Physical Activity, Sitting, and Weight: The Stepathlon Cardiovascular Health Study, is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

It was also presented April 3 at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Scientific Session & Expo in Chicago, USA.

South Australia’s capital Adelaide has three-long standing public universities, theUniversity of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, each of which are consistently rated highly in the international higher education rankings.

Ask the Anytime People; Grant and Cathy Pritchard

Expert answers to your health and wellness questions by Grant & Cathy Pritchard

Question: How do you manage healthy eating while on vacation?

Bring your own snacks

Bring your own snacks

Answer: There’s no doubt that eating healthy can be very tricky when you’re on vacation. Whether you’re short on time or you want to experience all of the different foods available, it can be difficult to stick to a particular diet plan. And you may not be as familiar with the local foods, so knowing how nutritious they are becomes a real challenge. If you’re traveling by car, you can certainly bring your own snacks for the ride. This may help you avoid the need to pick-up costly convenience foods. If you’re traveling by plane, asking the flight attendant for low-fat or heart-healthy options can also help. It might be wise to book hotel rooms that have kitchenettes, and if that’s the case, you can always visit the local grocery store to get some fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthful items. And if the hotel has a continental breakfast, you can try to fill up on fruits or yogurt before you head out on the town. Be sure to visit sit-down restaurants instead of fast food establishments, since servers are generally better equipped to educate you about the food they’re serving. But in the end, just do the best you can, and remember that you’re on vacation. If you do deviate from your normal eating habits, just be sure to get back on track once you return home.

Question: Is it alright to start an exercise program at the age of 50, and if so, what types of exercise would be advisable?

exercise anytime fitnessAnswer: First of all, it’s clear that individuals may need to do different exercises depending on their activity levels and overall health. And the sooner you start exercising, the more beneficial it will be in the long run. Being active can increase bone strength, improve cardiovascular function, and prevent numerous chronic diseases. Structured exercise can also increase mobility and stability, which can help prevent falls as you age. If you’re just beginning a workout program, it’s important to start slow and begin with the basics. It is also important to listen to your body. If you start to sense physical pain, make sure to stop immediately. And don’t forget to do a proper warm up and cool down. Keep in mind, it will take older individuals a bit longer to recover between workouts. As a result, light to moderate intensities are recommended. I would advise resistance training 2-3 times a week, along with some basic aerobic exercise as well. Walking and jogging are certainly reasonable exercise options, but swimming and biking will put less stress on the joints. In the end, it may be best to speak with a personal trainer so that he/she can create a customized workout program for you.

Question: I have trouble remembering to stretch after my workouts. Is it really that important, and if so, what am I missing by not doing it regularly?

Answer: Yes, stretching is a very important part of an overall fitness routine. In fact, it’s just as important as strength training and cardiovascular conditioning, though many individuals don’t adhere to a regular program like they do with these other forms of exercise. Stretching offers numerous benefits, including injury prevention, an increased efficiency of movement and improved blood flow and nutrient delivery to the joints. It also improves muscle coordination, overall balance and postural alignment. It can even help to alleviate muscle soreness and stress after a workout. These are pretty impressive results for just a few minutes of relaxation. Unfortunately, people always seem to be crunched for time, and stretching is usually the first thing to go. In order to make it a consistent part of your training regimen, you need plan for it. Reserve the last ten minutes of your session for stretching, and try not to let your schedule get in the way. After all, you wouldn’t normally cut your lifting or cardio sessions short, would you?

Be sure to visit sit-down restaurants instead of fast food establishments, since servers are generally better equipped to educate you about the food they’re serving. But in the end, just do the best you can, and remember that you’re on vacation. If you do deviate from your normal eating habits, just be sure to get back on track once you return home.

About the author: Grant & Cathy Pritchard are the club owners at Anytime Fitness in Buckley & Orting.To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at grantp@anytimefitness.com.

Financial Incentives for slimming down

weight lossLosing weight isn’t easy.  The decision to change your eating and exercise habits is difficult to make.  An even harder choice, is finding the best way to go about it.

HealthyWage is a company that can help you make that tough decision to implement a lifestyle change.  In 2012, HealthyWage contests assisted more than 1,300 locals shed 16,700 lbs.  The dangling carrot, monetary compensation.  And it works.

Making the decision to lose weight is the easy part of the equation.  The rest is sheer willpower and that’s where cash based incentives come in to play.  Since we all think on different levels and our motivational process aren’t always the same, there are several challenges to fit individual needs.  If a group effort with continual support, positive peer pressure and team building works for you, then The Matchup might be your best fit.  Sign up, join a 5 member team, lose the most weight collectively and split $10,000.  That’s a sweet carrot.

Employees that are healthier, cuts down on absenteeism and healthcare costs, both in the company and across the board.  If you are interested in joining a team at work, current participating companies in the Seattle / Tacoma area are Eddie Bauer, Tacoma Public School and The City of Tacoma.  If you would like to bring it to the attention of your employer, here is the link with more information.

If you are interested in any of the other challenges there are two options.  The BMI Challenge, which pays up to $1000 for a healthier weight after one year.  To qualify for the BMI Challenge, you have to start with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30.  This challenge is completely free to join.

The 10% Challenge costs $150 to be a part of, lose 10% of your weight and get paid $300.  That’s a great incentive, double your cash for meeting your weight loss goal.  HealthyWage is all about helping lose the weight.  There are management techniques and advice on their blog; healthywage.wordpress.com and they are currently working on a program to assist with maintenance following your weight loss success.

To find out more about this contest in the Seattle/Tacoma area, please visit Healthywage.com.  Not convinced yet?  Follow the link to their “press” page and read what Today, NBC News, Consumer Report, Weight Watchers, Time, CNN and many more have to say about their techniques and the success of the contestants.



Expert Answers to Your Health Wellness Questions; Ask the Anytime People

Authors:  Grant & Cathy Pritchard

Expert answers to your health and wellness questions

Question: Does cooking food in a microwave cause nutrient loss?

microwaveAnswer: This is a great question because microwaves are pervasive throughout society. In fact, they’re a staple in almost every kitchen. Despite their popularity, many people are convinced that radiation from microwaves destroys nutrients. Thankfully, research does not back this up. The primary determinants of nutrient loss are cook time, cook temperature, and the amount of liquid used. In other words, any form of cooking can lead to nutrient loss, but microwaving is actually a BETTER option. Microwaves do a great job of heating your food very quickly, and microwaves heat at temperatures that are lower than most other forms of cooking. The water-soluble vitamins, B-complex and C, are easily the most susceptible to heat, and are commonly found in beans, fruits, and vegetables. Bottom line—use the microwave as often as you need to, but try to avoid using water in the cooking process to avoid leaching of those water-soluble vitamins.

Question: I’ve never been the best sleeper. Is this having a negative impact on my overall health?

sleepAnswer: Unfortunately, yes, it probably is! There is a lot of emerging research revolving around sleep (or the lack thereof) and its associated health implications. There’s some data now indicating that those who get just one night of poor sleep end up with abnormal lab values indicative of pre-diabetes. That’s right, pre-diabetes!! Folks with poor sleep cycles can end up with suppressed insulin secretion after a meal, which leaves them with elevated blood sugar levels for far too long. They also have lowered resting metabolic rates, which could ultimately contribute to weight gain as well. Other researchers have discovered that hundreds of genes get disrupted after just one week of suboptimal sleep, thereby impairing the body’s ability to heal itself. Chronic sleep problems have been associated with heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and obesity for years, but now we’re starting to see direct observations in the laboratory setting. In the end, optimal sleep is just as important as your fitness level and your nutritional status when it comes to overall health, so try to get at least 8 hours a night, and more when you can.

Question: I lift 5 days per week consistently, but my strength gains have flat-lined. How do I continue to get stronger?

anytime-fitness-logoAnswer:  Despite not having much information to go on here, let’s see if I can provide some insight. First of all, there’s the distinct possibility that you’re working out too much. Maybe your volume (the combination of sets and reps) is too high—a common problem for those looking to gain strength as quickly as possible. And how long has it been since you’ve taken some time off to allow your body to fully recuperate from the stress of exercise? Some much-needed rest may do the trick, and amazingly, people often come back even stronger. I also wonder if you’re changing up your workouts enough. Many people get into the habit of using machines or free weights, but then never gravitate toward other forms of exercise. Cables, tubing, bands, kettle bells, medicine balls, and even bodyweight exercises can all increase strength, so you should try to vary up your routine regularly. Lastly, you have to remember that strength doesn’t just increase exponentially on a continual basis. There is a threshold that you’ll reach at some point, and you could be there already. If you feel like you need help with your current program, talk to a certified personal trainer.

About the author: Grant & Cathy Pritchard are the club owners at Anytime Fitness in Buckley & Orting. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at grantp@anytimefitness.com.

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