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  • Cardio Exercise vs. Weight Lifting – Which is better for my health?

    Back in the early 70’s, Kenneth Cooper, M.D popularized the term “aerobics”, which referred to the types of exercise that focused on cardiorespiratory fitness. This spurred on the jogging, cycling and walking craze which continues today. Aerobic exercise, also known as “cardiovascular” or “cardio” exercise, utilizes major muscles such as those in the arms and legs walking while increasing heart and respiratory rate. Examples of this type of exercise include jogging, aerobic dancing, rowing and bicycling. Since then Dr. Cooper’s Aerobics Center and numerous other researchers have confirmed the health benefits of aerobic exercise which range from increased longevity to reduction in the risk of developing certain types of cancer and heart disease.  At the outset of the aerobics boom, resistance training or weight lifting was thought of as a means to building muscle mass, increasing strength or enhancing sports performance, but it took a back seat in terms of promoting general health. Over the past several years, this previously held perception is being reevaluated, with clear benefits being reported with resistance training in the literature.  This has led to a great deal of confusion among many people who want to do what is best for their health.   Additionally, for those with busy schedules, it is important to be able to get the “most bang for the buck” in terms of their time commitment to exercise.  In today’s health tip, I’ll try to point out some of the confirmed benefits of aerobic (cardio) and resistance exercise and also dispel some of myths surrounding each.

    Effect on hypertension
    Studies have shown that regular cardio exercise can reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) anywhere from 4 to 9 mm (points).  The greatest benefit appears to come from a moderate-intensity exercise as compared to higher intensity workouts.  Some studies have also shown sustained improvement, although not as great as with cardio activity, in people participating in a resistance training program.  When lifting weights, systolic and diastolic blood pressures can actually increase temporarily, indicating the need for caution among individuals with uncontrolled hypertension or heart disease.  Resistance training does not, however, lead to the development of hypertension.

    Effect on blood lipids
    For some time it has been known that cardio exercise can increase the level of “good cholesterol” (HDL cholesterol) and lower blood triglycerides in those with elevated levels.  More recently it has been found that resistance training can bring about similar results.  It appears that the resistance programs that use lower weights with higher repetitions are the ones that are best at improving lipid profiles.  Combining aerobics with resistance training appears to be the optimal way to address elevated blood lipids.

    Effect of oxygen uptake
    In numerous studies, aerobic exercise has been confirmed to improve maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max).  In sedentary persons, an improvement in VO2 max of 10-20% will occur with a minimum of 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done at least 3 days a week.  Exercising at higher intensities will improve VO2 max even more. Typical resistance training programs that utilize “sets” of weight lifting with rest periods between have not demonstrated this same degree of improvement in VO2 max.  “Circuit training” programs, however, in which the individual moves rapidly between resistance exercises with minimal rest, have been shown to produce modest improvement in VO2 max.  These programs may be performed with exercise machines, hand-held weights, elastic resistance, calisthenics or any combination.

    Effect on calorie burning
    Exercise is an essential component of an effective weight loss program.  Aerobic activity alone, keeping caloric intake at the same level, causes weight loss primarily by “burning” body fat.  With diet alone, reduction in weight may occur, but this can be at the expense of lean body tissue (muscle).  A number off studies have shown that sustained weight loss is more likely when a reduced calorie diet is coupled with a regular exercise program. Resistance training programs (particularly those using circuit methods) have shown improvements in body weight and fat mass comparable to aerobic programs.

    Effect on strength
    This is one area where resistance training clearly stands out.  By pitting muscles against resistance, such as  a barbell or weight machine, the muscle cells eventually become larger and stronger.  When beginning resistance training, the initial increase in strength is due to a phenomenon called “neural adaptation.” This means that the nerves servicing the muscles “fire” more frequently and more muscle fibers are recruited to perform the contraction.  Through neural adaptation, you become stronger, but the muscles remain the same size. With continued resistance training, the muscle cells eventually increase in size (hypertrophy).  While aerobic exercise does work the larger muscles of the arms and legs, its primary benefit is to improve heart and lung function.

    Final thoughts
    This Health Tip only touches on the many benefits of these two types of exercise.  The “take home” message is that there are clear and undeniable reasons to incorporate exercise into your life.  An ideal program should include elements of each type.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all Americans should try to receive “30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week) and perform strength training on two non-consecutive days each week.”  From the above discussion, it is clear that there are complimentary benefits from participation in both types of exercise.

    Sources for article:
    Hypertension and weight training: secrets for success from The Cooper Institute
    Exercises to Control Your Cholesterol from WebMD
    How much am I burning? From Mayo Clinic
    ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise from the American College of Sports Medicine

    If you have any questions about exercise, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help, eFitness experts on the Ask a Doc page.

    Mid-winter already!!??

    Wow, time does fly by. Feels like a minute ago, it was everyone “gear up for the Holidays”; “Happy New Year!”; and then January, winter for some of us, catch up on bills for most of us. Time ticks by so fast!

    Every moment counts is a saying for a reason. Staying present to catch the nuances of each event. The smiles and new language of a toddler, the crawl/walk of a baby, the driving lessons of a teenager etc..

    No kids? Make sure to catch the beautiful feelings that nature inspires, the love of a pet when they sleep beside you, the secure warm feeling of snuggling under a blanket with your significant other (or alone) and watching a good movie.

    So much unrest and fear is happening in the world around us, we want to be present for that as well. Counter the fear with action. Stay current and know that together we can all make it to the next phase.

    This is a constant struggle for most of us, to catch ourselves feeling fear and feeling alone in our own little worlds. The Woman’s march and subsequent protests have certainly proved that we are never alone!

    So, catch yourself as quick as you can when thinking negative thoughts. Immediately focus on your present moment; where are you? who’s with you? what’s around you? what can you feel that’s good, peaceful or easy? 



    We’re at the end of another year! Many feelings can crop up at times like these. Negative emotions like Regret, envy and anger as well as the good ones like joy, peace and love. The one important feeling that we need to practice on the most is Gratitude. This should constantly be running through the background of our minds. Being aware of our thoughts and feelings leads to lots of practice in changing our thought patterns.

    Here are 4 practices from Mindful magazine to Foster Gratitude:

    Four Practices to Foster Gratitude

    Changing your thought pattern isn’t easy. If you find yourself triggered by a negative event, stuck in a negative thought loop, or unsure how to begin, try some of the following tips:

    1) Keep a gratitude journal. Each night before you go to bed, take a moment to write down three things that made you feel grateful throughout the day. Robert Emmons’ research demonstrates that keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.

    2) Set an intention to pay attention. Take time to acknowledge all the encounters that make you feel grateful.

    3) Engage a family discussion. If you are a parent with teens, start a family
    conversation by asking: What obstacles are you facing? Or, share a time when you were open to a new experience and you benefited from it. Having your family members express their present moment experiences can help set the stage for more connection, appreciation, and compassion.

    4) Start a class discussion. If you’re an educator, gather your students in a circle and ask them to think about 10 things they’re grateful for. After a few moments of reflection, engage them in a structured discussion by asking: “Share one person that you are grateful for in your life and why.” Student-driven conversations can help build an appreciation for their diverse experiences as well as their common humanity. **

    It may not come easy at first, but the more you express your thanks and gratitude on a daily basis the more natural it becomes. So even if it feels forced, stick with it and commit! Trust me, nothing can stop the flow of life and apparently it has joy, suffering, delight and happiness.

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and your families. Let’s all start the New Year practicing positive thoughts!!!

    What/Who are you grateful for right now???

    Tips for Caregivers

    There has always been a question of how to balance your life as a caregiver. No matter what type of caregiver, whether it’s a parent, child or family member with Alzheimer’s, Autism or Depression, the role is for the most part an unpaid one.

    *There are an estimated 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the US. Most are tending to a relative and nearly a quarter report that their health has suffered under the strain. The total estimated economic value is high, estimated at $470 billion in 2013.

    *Women give up an estimated $324,000 in earnings on average; men lose $284,000.

    *Female caregivers are more likely to stop working (12% vs. 3% for men) or take a less demanding job.

    *Single women caring for their family members are 2.5 times more likely than non caregivers to live in poverty in old age.

    *Scientists have found that culture, gender and relationship dynamics can help explain why some people fare better than others when caring for someone in need.

    *Respite programs, counselors, peer support groups and interventions can all help caregivers manage the challenges of their role.

    *(Scientific Magazine, Nov. 2016).

    In this age of advanced technology, there still isn’t anything that can take the role for a caregiver. Human touch, compassion, empathy; these cannot be substituted. “It takes a village” can be applied here. In the many studies reported in this article, age, gender and race all played a part in how well the caregiver managed their circumstance. Where technology has been and will be exceedingly helpful is allowing access to websites related to each caregivers situation.

    There are websites for Autism (www.autismspeaks.org), Alzheimer’s,(www.alz.org) Depression, Schizophrenia (www.nami.org) and more. Speaking to others (via email or phone) in similar situations provides a release of tension and stress. It allows a sharing of ideas, therapies and relaxation techniques.

    It brings to light just how many people are in this situation and how many more will be very soon.

    As I age and both my parents and my husband’s parents are reaching their eighties, having help from the community will be necessary. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, eating well and exercising will be key to maintaining good health and disposition. When the time comes for us, and it will come for most everyone eventually, reaching out and having a human connection can make the difference on how well we each manage our caregiving.

    Halloween Birthdays

    I’m reflecting back to last year’s picture here. I ended up writing about perception then and instead of re-sending the same article, here’s what came out this year!shutterstock_214805170_halloween_resize

    Do you know anyone personally that was born on Halloween? I do! For some reason, when I became acquainted with this person, Halloween took on a whole new meaning. It wasn’t about how much candy we could grab or how many kids we could scare. It became a Holiday for real!

    Every year since then, a birthday Halloween party has taken place. Costumes are always optional, but became the norm. The results of this change, adults and kids go trick or treating together! As the kids got older, we were blessed to live in a neighborhood that consolidates the celebration over two streets. Anyone can go up , walk around and take part in the atmosphere. Adults dress up as much as the kids do, you should see the faces of the kids when they walk around up there! Priceless. Firetrucks and Police come around to hand out candy and stickers. So many costumes to see!

    We all come home to sing Happy Birthday, have some cake (usually Pineapple upside down) and party a few more hours.

    If you don’t know anyone personally that celebrates their birthday on the 31st, pretend! If that’s not your thing, find out where your neighborhood celebrations are held and soak it in.

    It makes the evening so much more fun when you have a common purpose for the evening. It makes this Holiday an actual holiday instead of sitting it out and only handing out candy. ( or banana ghosts and clementine pumpkins)

    While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that scenario, especially if you never get a break, it couldn’t hurt to try something new!

    Clear away your afternoon fog!

    5 simple ways to boost your energy and get your day back on track.

    Mindful Magazine,October 2016, Claire Ciel Zimmerman

    Are you familiar with the mid-afternoon slump? You know, the fog that rolls in sometime between 2pm and 5pm, without so much as a warning, destroying your will to do anything except curl up in a ball under your desk. You’re not alone. The afternoon slump is a real, biological phenomenon that lots of people experience every single day. In fact, it’s a sign your internal clock-fluctuations in energy and body temperature regulated by our circadian rhythms- is running on time.

    That doesn’t mean the slump has to keep you down! Clear away the haze with a few body-and-brain-boosting tricks- none of which involve pumping yourself full of sugar or caffeine- so you can go forth into the world with a fresh mind.

    1. Stretch

    Stretching for even 20 seconds can have a huge effect on your energy levels- particularly if you’ve been sitting at a desk for hours. Stand up and reach down to touch your toes; bring your hands together and reach above your head; imagine yourself as a cat to deepen your stretch. Just Kidding! (sort of- if you’ve got a good imagination and like cats, it could help!)

    2. Close your eyes for 2 full minutes

    It’s hard to truly comprehend how much time we spend with our eyes widened by the glaring light of our phones, TV’s and Computers. Not only is it physically straining, it’s also mentally draining. Place your hands over your eyes for 2 minutes, reach the time you have to sit still and be with yourself.

    3. Tidy up

    When you create an uplifted environment for yourself, your mind and body follow suit. Take a few minutes to clean up your desk, wash a few dishes or straighten up your coffee table.

    4. Call a loved one and tell them why they matter

    It’s always worthwhile to extend yourselves to others, so pick up the phone and feel your heart swell. It’ll make their day better; it’ll make your day better.

    5. Take a walk

    There’s nothing like fresh air to perk you up when you’re feeling hazy. If you spend your days in an office building, the air can get pretty stale. Get up and get out even if you’ve only git 5 minutes to spare. It’ll get your blood flowing, your muscles moving and will offer your mind a fresh start.

    Watch what you’re thinking!

    Ok, I have been the ultimate believer in Louise Hay and others that teach the connection of emotion to the physical. In other words, what we are thinking in the background of our minds can have a direct affect on the physical body. Knowing this, even practicing this over and over, does not prevent me from actually experiencing it for myself.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m above this mind you, I’ve known this for years, but it happened anyway!!

    Louise Hay’s book “You can heal your life” has been a teaching tool for me and my family. It helps to find the correlation between the dis-eases you may have had or are having now and the probable mental cause. She also teaches how to turn any negative thought patterns into positive ones, so that you can actually train your inner dialogue with Affirmations that you can use for each and every condition.

    Invaluable! I have used this forever and yet a new physical issue showed up and I was thrown. It actually took me a few days to remember to look it up! When I did, sure enough, scary accurate. “Itis” is itself a category and covers whatever ends with it. In the book, this means; “anger and frustration about conditions you are looking at in your life.” Well, yes! that’s exactly right. Without boring you with the details, suffice it to say, my summer was one of freedom, solitude and peace, at the end of which was back to chaos and no privacy.

    As much as I told myself that it was alright, I would be fine, all would be well, in the back of my mind I was actually thinking; Nooooooo! I’m not ready to go back….

    Physically I was feeling pretty sick with pain a good week before my summer ended! I have had to go the route of Doctors and Hospitals to figure out the problem and treat it. I should have known, but there is no knowing is there? Even for those of us that know better.

    I’m home now, feeling normal again, repeating my Louise Hay affirmation; “I am willing to change all patterns of criticism. I love and approve of myself.” every minute of every day.

    Watch what you’re thinking!!

    5 Foods for Healthy Summer Recipes

    Farm stands can provide what you need!
    Check out your local farm stands!

    Hi all!! Welcome to the new ecPathways!

    I found this great little article for the season. Enjoy!

    5 Foods for Healthy Summer Recipes
    How to eat right and still treat your taste buds this season

    By Janet Lee
    July 18, 2016

    Burgers, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, ice cream, potato salad. Those summer classics taste good but aren’t always so healthy because of their high fat and calorie content. But this season brings an abundance of fresh, flavorful fruits and vegetables packed with good-for-you nutrients—and there are many healthy summer recipes that require minimal preparation. Using the five delicious foods below in healthy summer recipes will help you “healthy up” your warm-weather menus.

    1. Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
    A red tomato’s bright color comes from lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. A review of studies in the journal Medicine found that men who ate 9 to 21 mg of lycopene per day (a medium tomato has almost 4 mg) were less likely to develop prostate cancer. Fresh mozzarella is lower in calories and fat than some other cheeses, and the fat it contains enhances lycopene absorption.

    Try it. Serve sliced tomatoes (either fresh or grilled) topped with cheese and fresh basil, or eat the trio on toasted bread.

    2. Beans and Corn
    This duo is low in fat and high in filling fiber, which can help you manage cholesterol and blood sugar. A new analysis of studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat beans regularly are more likely to lose weight even if they’re not trying.

    Try it. Toss beans and corn in a little dressing and any fresh herbs you like for this healthy summer recipe. You can add other ingredients, such as avocado, peppers, and tomatoes. Many recipes call for black beans, which have 8 grams of fiber per half-cup.

    3. Gazpacho
    Tomatoes star in this low-fat, high-fiber chilled soup. Other ingredients can include cucumbers, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. Some recipes even call for watermelon. The soup has lycopene and the amino acid citrulline, which some evidence suggests might improve blood circulation.

    Try it. Blend fresh tomatoes and the other ingredients in a food processor or blender; for creaminess, add avocado. Stir in cooked corn, fish, or shrimp if you like. (Read our special report on pesticides in produce.)

    4. Grilled Fruits and Vegetables
    Grilling and summer go hand in hand, but cooking meat over an open flame can create potentially carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs. But grilling fruits and vegetables doesn’t trigger the same chemical reaction. (Cooking potatoes, on the grill or in the over, to a deep brown, however, can create a compound called acrylamide, which animal studies show can cause cancer.) You can grill almost any produce—even lettuce. It brings out the sweetness in all fruits and vegetables.

    Try it. Nectarines, peaches, and plums are particularly tasty when grilled. And they’re a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth, alone or with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. Slice them in half, remove the pit, and place on the grill, cut side down. Or make kebabs by threading skewers with vegetables or fruits. (Learn how to treat a burn from grilling and cooking.)

    5. Guacamole
    Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, and vitamins C and K. A review of 10 studies in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that using avocado instead of other fats appeared to reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Try it. Instead of tortilla chips, try pairing guacamole with healthier dippers such as vegetables, whole-grain crackers or pita bread, or shrimp. Use it as a side dish or a topping for sandwiches and turkey burgers. You can also add it to eggs, salads, and soups.

    What healthy foods do you eat in the summer?
    Let us know by leaving a comment below.