Archive for the ‘Better Health and Fitness’ Category

r-JUMP-ROPE-WORKOUTS-403xFBcreditBy A.C. Shilton for Men’s Journal

Forget any association you had with jump ropes and gym class. The jump rope is a powerful workout tool. It builds cardio fitness, balance, agility and bone strength. It’s also one of the best go-anywhere fitness accessories, fitting easily into even a crammed carry-on.

“It requires a lot of coordination and really works your cardiovascular system,” says Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, the women’s 2014 CrossFit Games winner. She likes to train with double unders, a common CrossFit move that requires you to jump explosively and spin the rope faster to pass it beneath your feet twice. This works your muscles harder and pushes your cardiovascular system towards its upper limit.

To get the most from your workout, make sure your rope is the right size. CrossFit HQ trainer Dave Lipson says that when you hold the rope under one foot, the handles should just reach your armpits. To maximize results, practice good form. “Hold your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock and at waist height. Revolve the rope from the wrists, not the shoulders,” says Lipson.

And if you’re shooting for double unders, we recommend buying a speed rope with bearings. Speed ropes start around $20 and spin faster than inexpensive licorice and beaded ropes.

Now here are seven jump rope workouts — most of which can be completed in a half hour or less — that will have you burning calories and building strength.

High-Speed Circuit
Fitness competitor, former ballerina and coach Dom Spain teaches outdoor bootcamp classes in Miami. She calls jump rope workouts the “no excuses” workout because, “if I have clients that say they don’t have time or don’t have the money for a gym membership, they can always do this.”

This workout is designed to give you just enough rest to keep pushing through all of the exercises, but not enough to let things get easy. It can be done in 30 minutes and requires only a jump rope.

  • Warm up by doing 30 seconds of jumping rope, 30 seconds of air squats, then a 1 minute plank hold. Repeat four times.
  • 1 minute of jumping and 30 seconds of push-ups.
  • 1 minute of backward jumping and 30 seconds of tricep bench dips.
  • 1 minute of side to side jumping (imagine your feet are bound together, and jump rope while hopping from side to side) and 30 seconds of lunges.
  • 1 minute of skipping rope (one foot lands as the other takes off) and 30 seconds of jumping squats.
  • 1 minute of single leg jumping (30 seconds on one leg, then switch), and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.
  • 1 minute of alternating high knee jumps (like the skipping rope move, but pull your knees up as high as you can), and 30 seconds of flutter kicks.

Take one minute of rest, then repeat the entire circuit. Cool down and stretch after two rounds.



It’s 2016. Are you ready? Do you have a plan? Do you know what you are going to do to achieve your fitness goals in the New Year?

Physical fitness is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, inspiring many people to enthusiastically join a gym. But simply saying you’re going to start exercising, however, will not do the trick, as evidenced by the fact that so many abandon their efforts before January is even over.

If you’re tired of wanting to change certain behaviors, such as getting physically fit, but not being able to follow through, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are some specific strategies you can follow for creating an effective fitness plan that you can stick with over the long haul. If you’re ready to finally achieve your goal of getting—and staying—fit and healthy, grab a pen or an electronic device so you can take a few notes as we go through these important points together.


Write down five physical activities that you enjoy or could maybe envision enjoying, starting with the one you like the most.


Make a short list of the fitness- or sports-related equipment available to you at home, work, gym or health club (if you belong to one) or in your neighborhood. Compare your list of resources with your list of enjoyable activities and connect potential matches. For example, if you own a bike, you enjoy biking and there is a biking trail in your neighborhood, that’s a great match. If you can’t find a connection between your two lists, think about what you would need to obtain to be able to proceed with activities you enjoy. For example, if you love swimming but don’t have immediate access to a pool, track down a local public or private pool you could use.


Identify three things that you would like to accomplish in terms of your physical fitness and write them down. This could include establishing a regular fitness routine, finishing a 1-mile walk or doing 5 push-ups. Perhaps you have health-related goals, such as lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels. Either way, be very specific as to the details of your goals, such as how much and by when you want to accomplish these things. Remember, your goals should make sense in terms of what activities you enjoy doing (list #1). If you don’t enjoy running, don’t set a goal of wanting to run a marathon because you probably won’t do it.


All effective fitness plans must include activities to address the complete picture of physical fitness:

  • Cardiorespiratory Endurance
  • Muscular Strength/Endurance
  • Flexibility

To achieve the greatest health benefits, you have to address all three aspects of fitness. Don’t worry if this sounds daunting—the FITT formula can help. The following table includes established fitness industry guidelines for healthy adults who want to improve physical fitness. Feel free to modify each category according to your personal enjoyment, preferences and current level of physical fitness. If you’re new to exercise, you may have to start with fewer or shorter workouts and work up to a higher intensities, frequency or times.


  Cardiorespiratory Muscular Flexibility
FREQUENCY 3–5 days per week 2–3 non-consecutive days per week 3 days per week (minimum)

5–7 days (ideal)

INTENSITY Target exercise zone Weight, sets and reps depending on current fitness status To the point of tension, NOT pain.
TIME 20–60 minutes Depends on number of sets and reps Hold stretches for 15–30 seconds, repeating each stretch 2–4 times
TYPE Examples: swimming, biking, indoor cycling, cardio kickboxing Examples:

calisthenics, free weights, resistance bands

(Note: Be sure to address all major muscle groups.)

Static stretching after workout


To adopt a long-term effective fitness plan, it is vital to make physical fitness a priority in your daily scheduling. If you leave it up to chance, it won’t happen. Depending on your personalized FITT formula, add each particular fitness component in your daily schedule, just as you would any other appointment, and be sure to block off enough time to accomplish the chosen activity. Be realistic; for example, don’t schedule a workout at 11 p.m. at night, when you know you will be tired. If you are currently not active at all, start with fewer days and shorter times, such as three days a week of 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory fitness and slowly build up your plan from there.


Research confirms that people are more successful with their personal fitness plans if they enlist the support of a workout partner or group, have access to music and record what they do (such as a free app or a traditional journal). Is there someone in your life who could be your workout buddy? Have you checked out some helpful fitness apps? Get set up with resources to track what you do on a daily basis. Make appointments with workout buddies and put them in your calendar.


An important tip to remember: Setbacks are part of the process, but an effective fitness plan can help avoid many of them. What will you do when it rains and you planned to run outside? What will you do when your kid’s schedule changes and you can’t make it to your group fitness class at 5 p.m.? Plan ahead for obstacles and identify alternatives. Add these to your FITT formula by adding a row labeled “back-up plan.”


Take action and follow through with the plan you set for yourself. Every day will be a new journey, but it is up to you to take action and follow through.


It is vital to reevaluate your fitness plan on a regular basis and honestly reflect on the following questions:

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What did I do not so well?
  3. What are my barriers?
  4. What is not working that I need to change?
  5. How will I overcome my barriers?

Every successful exerciser has to plan, prioritize and take action each and every day. It is a fluid process that is extremely empowering, inspiring and enjoyable, IF you employ the strategies listed here to maximize effectiveness. Remember, start slowly and don’t get discouraged when you fail—simply move on and refocus on your detailed plan. And always keep in mind the many positive benefits of physical fitness, because it can truly change and save your life.

Dominique WakefieldDominique Wakefield ContributorDominique Wakefield is a passionate, energetic and innovative health and fitness expert, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NWI Certified Wellness Practitioner, ACSM credentialed EIM-1, presenter and writer. Currently, she is Director for University Health and Wellness and Faculty for Public Health, Nutrition & Wellness at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. In October 2011, Dominique Wakefield was awarded ‘Top 11 Personal Trainers to Watch in the U.S.’ by Life Fitness and the American Council on Exercise. In addition to teaching at universities, she has worked as a Fitness & Programs Manager, Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Wellness Coach at fitness centers, in the clinical wellness setting and in the corporate wellness setting since 2001. Dominique is a PhD candidate in Health through the University of Bath, England. Her studies and research center on physical activity, motivation for exercise and behavior change strategies. Visit to learn more!

More Blogs by Dominique Wakefield »

By Katherine Foreman on November 11, 2015

With cold and flu season starting to rear its ugly head, it’s more important than ever to keep healthy and germ-free, beginning with the basics—your immune system. Since all sickness starts with a little (or a lot) immunity deficit, providing your body with the TLC it needs to remain in top shape is essential to keep from coughing and sneezing all over your holiday season. As with anything, it’s the little lifestyle adjustments that make the biggest difference, so we’ve rounded up seven simple, yet powerful, everyday immunity boosters to keep you happy, healthy and prepared to ward off those pesky winter germs.

immunity boosters

1. Don’t ignore your gut feelings

It may feel like your nose and throat are the immune system headquarters (headquarters, see what we did there?), but the majority of it (70 percent!) actually has its home in your gut, where probiotics flourish to help prevent infection. This “good bacteria” is important to keep strong and plentiful, and that can be accomplished through a well-balanced, clean diet, and even eating fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi to build resistance strength.

2. Add a little spice to your diet

Many herbs and spices like garlic, ginger and turmeric have been used for years as anti-inflammatory agents with boosting antioxidant properties and a healthy list of other added benefits. It doesn’t hurt that they make for the perfect dish garnishes, so start implementing more into your daily food intake to maximize the benefits.

immunity boosters


3. Zinc is the answer

While it is ultimately very important to consume a lot of vitamin C when times are tough healthwise, zinc has also been proven to reduce the duration of colds by a few days. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, antibiotic agent can be digested in foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, beans and oysters. Doctors say adding 25 mg of zinc to your diet for a couple of days if you start feeling under the weather is a sure-fire way to ensure you aren’t down and out too long.

4. Antibiotics are not necessarily your friend

For as long as you can, taking the natural route and finding organic ways to fend off germs is actually the most effective way to remain well. Antibiotics often help do the trick, but have also been shown to suppress the normal immune functioning and attack the good bacteria your body needs to stay well. Drinking lots of water—particularly infused with the health-boosting properties of things like lemon, honey and ginger—is an easy and effective way to get the benefits you want without detracting from your body’s natural manufacturing process.

5. Get those endorphins flowing with plenty of exercise

Even exercising as little as a couple of times a week helps to keep stress at bay, improve the quality of your sleep, and strengthen your body. Making the time to get that workout in, especially if it’s outside and can expose you to all that good vitamin D, will be well worth it when you don’t bring the flu home with you.

immunity boosters

Getty Images

6. Sleep, sleep, sleep

We know—the thought of getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night seems like a big laugh in today’s hectic world, but doctors emphasize that budgeting for at least that amount of sleep each night is one of the most integral ways to support a thriving immune system. Along with a host of other benefits, it’s an excellent method of regulating stress levels, which, if too high, seriously impair the immune system’s ability to function properly. If you can’t swing spending that amount of time sleeping each night, try supplementing with 20-minute power naps during the day. You’ll definitely be glad you did.

immunity boosters

Getty Images

7. Lay off the processed foods

Avoiding a large sugar, gluten and processed food intake is essential in keeping healthy and strong throughout the year. Doctors and nutritionists advise making your diet as colorful as possible to boost immunity. Leafy greens, an abundance of berries, sweet potatoes and the like are key elements of the infallible health regimen.

apple, flowers and measurement tapeAccording to Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010, more than two out of every three adults in the United States is considered to be overweight or obese. Increasingly, these individuals are realizing the impact extra weight can have on their health and lifestyles, from increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease to sore joints and limited energy. As such, many individuals struggling with overweight and obesity are seeking solutions to these problems, and turning to health and fitness professionals for help. In truth, fitness professionals are poised to make a bigger impact on public health than ever before. Are you prepared?

The ability to create effective fitness programs and offer the motivational techniques to help clients succeed are just part of the equation. Nutrition can make or break your client’s weight-loss program. While it’s vital to stay within your defined scope of practice as a health and fitness professional, helping clients achieve their goals and maintain those numbers beyond the short term with an expert nutrition plan and tips is always part of a successful program.

The best possible chances for weight-loss success with these 10 essential tips:


We’ve all heard this one and you may already be giving this advice. The truth is that diet is a significant part of the weight loss equation. Your clients should know that rebuilding their bodies into more efficient machines requires a (mostly) healthy diet with adequate calories. This is how they will best achieve their weight-loss goals.


When it comes to weight loss, fruits and vegetables may just be your client’s best friend. These nutrient-dense foods can help clients feel fuller with fewer calories, making them an ideal addition to every meal. Fruits and vegetables also make a great low-calorie “off plan” snack when hunger unexpectedly rears its head. Clients new to a healthy eating plan may want to work closely with a dietitian to explore the best choices and preparations for fruits and vegetables.


Clients exploring a weight-loss program may be unfamiliar with lean proteins that can help curb cravings and keep them satisfied from meal to meal. Skinless, white meat chicken and turkey; fish and seafood; certain cuts of beef and pork; and beans and soy products are all lean choices. Once they get started on a weight-loss program with you, ensure your client’s meal plan includes a source of lean protein with every meal.


We live in a fast-paced world. To grab our attention, many products now include “healthy” buzzwords. These often do not provide the most accurate picture of a product. When it comes to weight loss and health, it’s important to read nutrition facts panels for the most accurate information. In fact, a recent study from the University of Houston looked at the difference marketing buzzwords (such as “all natural”) on packaging made and found “every single product used in this research study that included one of the health-related trigger words was rated as being significantly healthier than the exact same product that did not include those words.” Clients unfamiliar with nutrition labels should work with a nutrition professional to learn the basics of making the best choices for their weight-loss nutrition program.


Most of us have seen how “portion distortion” has played a role in the excess weightmany of our clients are struggling to lose. While reading nutrition labels can help, learning recommended portion sizes and even regularly measuring foods are essential to meeting weight-loss goals. Clients wanting to start a weight-loss program should understand these portion sizes may take time to get used to. The best nutrition programs include easy-to-understand measurements to guide your clients as they relearn portions as part of a healthy eating plan.


Your clients’ weight-loss programs should fit into their lives to ensure that they are successful now and for a lifetime. The most effective weight-loss programs include some flexibility in schedule and meal plan, as well as strategies to navigate social events, busy lifestyles and even restaurant meals. Work closely with clients to identify the weight-loss programs that will work best for them. Dietitians can also help clients navigate this real-world aspect with healthy eating strategies.

When clients are ready to start a weight-loss program, set them up for success with the right information. Working closely with your client to develop the best fitness and nutrition program can help you deliver the weight loss results they want.


Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Evolution Nutrition, a web-based nutrition management system, designed for you, the fitness professional.

rsLogoAnthony Darmiento
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
United States Olympic Committee

As the National Strength and Conditioning Association states in their position statement on youth resistance training, “Strength training youth athletes needs to be safe, effective and enjoyable. In order for strength training to be safe it’s more than the method of strength training, but rather how it is being implemented.”

For example, important factors such as proper form when lifting and moving are overlooked when a coach simply follows a plan on a written document or tries to implement a training program they once performed.  For this reason, Responsible Coaches seek help and guidance from qualified strength coaches to assist in the development of athletes of any level to ensure that strength training is performed in a proper and appropriate manner.  The risks of strength training are similar between youth and adults and strength training is only effective when it is done in a safe environment with proper supervision.

In order for strength training to be effective Responsible Coaches realize that strength training must complement sport training. For example, eliminating practice time to introduce or implement an effective strength program and developing basic movement skills are safe investments. The off-season and preseason are ideal times to implement a strength program. Responsible Coaches recognize athletes need to have the appropriate motor control to perform basic exercises such as a squat, lunge and pushup before progressing to loaded exercises. Although these movements and others may seem rudimentary and common most young athletes lack the ability to execute them with proper form.  Another reason for stressing the importance of such training is that these skills and movements transfer to many different sports and across all levels of sport.

In order for strength training to be enjoyable two very important factors must be considered: Athlete’s must understand and see benefits from the strength program while also training in a fun and enjoyable environment. Any athlete is more likely to continue training when they understand the benefits and see results. This highlights the importance of a sound and effective program. This is especially important considering it may take a few weeks of progressing before performance increases are seen or athletes begin to feel the positive effects of training. Until then it is important to keep training fun and enjoyable by mixing in games or challenges that keep athletes focused. For example, performing walking lunges on a row of printer paper without stepping off could be enjoyable and challenging for younger athletes.

On the other hand older athletes might enjoy keeping a log of their vertical jump height as each athlete attempts to beat their own personal records over time. Setting goals that are both attainable and challenging for the team or each individual is very important when trying to keep athletes motivated and driven. Thus coaches should be prepared with progressions and regressions for different exercises or activities based on ranging abilities of their athletes. If all this is kept in mind it shouldn’t be hard to keep things in enjoyable and fun while still performing strength training in a safe and controlled manner.


Fagenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., et al. (2009). Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 60-79.

Middle-aged Couple Running on the Beach

By: Lisa Best MBA, Ph.D in Holistic Nutrition, CCN

In addition to a enjoying a nutritious diet, we all know that exercise is important for cardiovascular health, weight maintenance, and lymph movement throughout the body. And the most important part about exercising is picking something you like that fits your style, so you will stick with it. Just like fad diets, there are tons of fad exercise programs out there too, and it’s hard to know which ones to try.

But I must confess, interval training is my personal favorite form of exercise, not just because it’s quick and powerful, but because I can still smile while doing it.

I wrestled with writing generically about several types of exercise, but ultimately decided to turn this topic over to an expert, Dr. Al Sears, the doctor whose protocols I both recommend and have followed myself for more than 10 years.

Dr. Sears is a progressive physician in the forefront of anti-aging medicine, natural cures, and optimal heart health. He has written extensively about his formula for interval training called PACE®, which he developed after studying Olympic athletes. Many other physicians and exercise specialists have copied Dr. Sears’ programs over the years, but his was the original.

I was initially attracted to PACE® because of the short 12 minute time commitment, in contrast to the hours I’ve logged running 2-4 miles 4 or more days a week for 30 years prior to switching to intervals. I started PACE® over 10 years ago because it made sense, but I’ve stuck with it because it works.

I usually do PACE® every other day, alternating with strength training (weights) and flexibility exercises (Yoga) on the days I don’t do interval training. I’ve also encouraged nutrition consulting clients, and my whole family to try it, since the benefits are so great and the time required so minimal.

For those of us who have passed the magical half-century mark, it is especially important to minimize the loss of flexibility and strength that can often accompany aging. So I do push-ups, and squats as part of my PACE® workout in addition to sprinting or swimming to add variety. But the magical part about PACE® is you can do it with any type of movement that gets your heart rate up. The choice is yours.

Plus other major benefits I’ve noticed since I started doing interval training, is I don’t feel exhausted from my workouts anymore, and I don’t get exercise injuries. Focus is on short bursts of intense energy instead of prolonged, repetitive stress.

If you are a marathoner, tri-athlete, or one of those mud wrestlers, I’m not trying to talk you out of your sport if you love it, as long as you stay mindful of the stress you are putting on your system. I think the thrill of competition and personal sense of accomplishment are good reasons to do extreme sports short-term if you enjoy them.

But for heart health, long-term health, and long-term injury prevention, interval training is tops.

Even I was worried in the beginning that I might lose strength or stamina by cutting back my running time. So I test it intermittently by doing a 4-mile run every now and then, just to verify I can still do it.

I’ve been amazed to discover that not only can I still do it, but I also have way more energy when I do. Plus, I’ve noticed I rarely get sick anymore, so my immune system has recovered from the stress of running with interval training too.

To tell you about his plan personally, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Al Sears, and an article he’s written on the heart healthy merits of interval training:

Man Dies after Taking Bad Advice

“Dr. Sears, my internal medicine doctor wants me to exercise for an hour a day. Sometimes I get so tired, I feel like I’m going to collapse. How could this be good for me?”

This patient recently asked me this right after I had read about a man who died while driving back from a 2,400 mile bike ride. I began thinking if that’s not enough cardio to protect your heart what will?

Many of my patients report this bad advice. That’s too bad. Traditional cardio actually makes your heart and lungs smaller. Today I’ll show you why PACE® exercise will energize your heart. You can do it in as little as twelve minutes a day.

The Problem with Long Distance Cardio

This man died of a heart attack shortly after riding his bicycle across the continent.(1) He reportedly undertook this extreme durational cardio to re-strengthen his heart.

Yet I’ve been saying for years, long duration cardio will not protect you from heart disease or heart attack. It actually makes your heart smaller and weaker.

To protect and energize your heart, you need to build your heart’s reserve capacity.

Have you ever noticed that long distance runners look thin, weak and out of shape? Watch any marathon on TV and you’ll see what I mean. To compare, watch a track and field event and see how muscular and fit the sprinters look.

The interval training the sprinters practice boosts your heart’s reserve capacity. This is what your heart needs when it gets stressed. A heart attack will hit you when your heart needs extra energy but has nowhere to go. A small heart, streamlined from years of jogging will not have the extra capacity for stressful situations.

The Secret to Heart Attack Prevention

The good news is that interval training takes as little as twelve minutes a day. You can do it on any machine at the gym. You can even run or bike outdoors. Start at a slow easy pace. Then pick up the intensity for two minutes. Afterwards, go back to a slow, easy speed. Repeat this process and increase the intensity each time you do a faster interval.

As you become better conditioned, you’ll be able to exercise in short bursts of intense intervals. After each interval, you’ll actually feel yourself start to pant. This means you’re doing it right. When you pant, you are asking your lungs for more oxygen than they can provide in the moment. This is an oxygen deficit.

This tells your body to increase your lung volume. It also builds the critical reserve capacity you need to prevent heart attacks.

Here’s an added bonus: PACE® exercise is your most reliable way to burn fat. Not only will you protect your heart and lungs, your fat will melt away.

For more information on PACE®, see Health Alerts 28, 58, 147 and 270.

To your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

(1)Associated Press. Heart patient dies after 2,400-mile ride. May 2, 2005.

The best part about PACE® is you can start it no matter what your current level of fitness, since the idea is to slowly add intensity each time you work out. And since you are always increasing your intensity, those nasty workout plateaus are a thing of the past.

You don’t have to buy Dr. Sears’ books or workout tapes to try this concept at home, but he surely makes exercising easy for you if you want to take advantage of his expertise. 

Until next time .  .  .

female athleteKate Carr
President and CEO, Safe Kids Worldwide
Posted: 08/05/2013 9:58 pm

Sixteen-year-old Anna didn’t hesitate when I asked her about her love of soccer. “It’s my life,” she said matter-of-factly, and her reputation backed it up. Through hard work, tenacity and dedication, Anna is one of the top high school soccer players in the Washington, D.C. area with realistic aspirations of a Division I scholarship.

That’s why it’s so sad that our conversation took place when she was lying on a sports rehab table so far from the game she loves. This is her third knee surgery, which is shocking but not as uncommon as you might think among female athletes. In fact, female athletes are three times more likely to have ACL injuries than male athletes.

There are plenty of theories for this discrepancy, ranging from physical differences to hormone levels. Either way, there are stretches and exercises all athletes can do to help prevent these injuries.

I was at the rehab facility to film a video with U.S. Women’s Soccer player Ali Krieger, who you might remember from her game-winning penalty kick in the quarterfinals of 2011 World Cup in Germany. Ali, who was recovering from an ACL (knee) surgery, helped demonstrate seven exercises female athletes can do to help prevent knee injuries.

It’s a must-see for all of the athletes in your life.

Safe Kids Worldwide and Johnson & Johnson are working together to reach parents, coaches and kids with tips that can prevent the more than 1.35 million ER visits that occur as a result of a sports injury. For more information, read our research report or visit

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

For more by Kate Carr, click here.