Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Fitness trends of 2014- help for getting fit and staying fit

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So what did 2014 reveal in the fitness world? Let’s look at a some trends that are gaining in popularity.

The super short workout is in the news, because let’s face it, sometimes, we just want to be done with it as quickly as possible. The caveat is that you will have to do more than break a sweat.  It demands the maximum intensity and effort and may leave you gasping for breath and dreading the next time you have to do it. But if you like this kind of experience, it may be right for you.

In one study, participants walked as fast as they could for 1 minute on a treadmill, then slowed down to a stroll for one minute, and repeated this sequence 6 times for a total of 12 minutes. The results? Their blood sugar stayed lower, and if these interval workouts were done in bite-size pieces throughout the day, subjects maintained lower levels for several hours after their exercise.

Above is a 7 minute workout that uses many large muscle groups for 30 seconds at a time, with only 10 seconds of rest in between. Try it out and see what high intensity interval training feels like.  The shows all the moves, but if you click on this link- it will give you the full routine, along with the timing. . Of course, the workout may not be for everyone, but there are always adaptations that can be made to suit your abilities.  A good alternative is the longer interval workout, where you can get great benefits in 20 minutes to half an hour. You would walk for 2-3 minutes, then walk faster, or run for a minute, and repeat.  You must put forth your best effort during your intense interval, sending your heart rate soaring well into your target range.

Another major trend has been the use of fitness apps on phones, such as MyFitnessPal and fitness buddy. These apps can help you track caloric intake, measure energy burned, keep track of your personalized schedule, and even show you exercise videos.

Personal digital monitors, like the Fitbit, that measure activity level and sleep quality are also gaining momentum. Many people are trying to hit that magic 10000 steps a day milestone, which is roughly equivalent to the recommended 30 minutes a day of walking.  Most people are motivated by seeing their progress measured objectively by numbers.  You can compete against yourself, or compare yourself against others, if desired, to increase incentive.

Basic exercises that use body weight for training with minimal tools are also gaining in popularity.  Cross-fit workouts and boot camp calisthenics are proliferating.  However, many of these workouts put people at risk for injury as they compare themselves to other group members, regardless of differences in age or fitness levels.

Evidence of benefits of exercise continues to increase, with positive changes seen in the following health markers:

  • mitigation of stress and depression
  • improvement of brain function
  • chemically keeping the skin younger
  • protection against age-related vision loss
  • improvement in creativity
  • lower risk of developing heart disease
  • increase the number of good bacteria in your gut
  • increase in pain tolerance
  • increase in telomere length (marker of age) 

As if this wasn’t enough, there are few negative side effects. Some studies looked at drawbacks of exercise, but these were easily avoided. A few studies examined how over-exercising can negatively impact dental health, how big gyms sometimes have poor air quality, and the legitimate fear of injury if exercise is done without good form.

When weighing costs vs benefits, however, it becomes clear that there are no good reasons for NOT exercising. Let the literature guide you.

Can you spare 7 minutes? Try the interval training regimen above and see what happens. What will YOU commit to do in 2015?


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