A newsletter for members, family and friends of Welcyon.
Research shows that even low Intensity, relatively brief, regular exercise can improve one's health. That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set the goal for U.S. citizens to engage in a moderate amount of physical activity on most days of the week. In other words, if everyone in America walked, gardened, mowed lawns, shoveled walks, etc. for 30 minutes a day, our citizens would be healthier on average and our country's total health care needs and costs would be substantially less.
What if you could get equal or perhaps even better aerobic health benefits by spending considerably less time exercising? More and more studies are showing this is possible with what is called “High Intensity Interval Training.”
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is done by alternating brief, high-intensity and low-intensity periods of exercise. For example, one pedals a bike at a “very hard” level of intensity for 30 seconds, followed by 4 minutes of “fairly light” exercise. This sequence is repeated 4 to 6 times for a total time of around 30 minutes (including a warm-up and cool-down).
Welcyon now offers grip strength testing. Why? Grip strength is a reflection of the strength of muscles throughout your body. If a person is weak, generally, it is a reflection of decreased physical activity, either from poor lifestyle habits or the result of serious disease or illness. Research also shows that grip strength can predict a number of important things including how strong (or weak) someone is years later in life, the ability to perform activities of daily living, and the risk of becoming disabled.
The grip strength test is quick and easy to do. Your fitness coach will ask you to squeeze a device as hard as you can, 3 times, with your dominant and non-dominant hands. Your strength scores are then compared to people of your gender and age. If you have a weak grip, then you have a great opportunity to improve your strength and fitness level via the Welcyon way. If you are strong, use your Welcyon membership to make sure you maintain your strength. Squeeze away!
That’s a headline you’ve never read. But considering the seriousness of the problem, it’s one that should be printed on the front page of every newspaper. Without doing the right things (outlined below), the average American who lives an average lifespan will have lost roughly 70% of the muscle tissue in his/her arms and legs. That leads to physical weakness and a gradual, progressive decline in the ability to do the day-to-day activities required to live a full, independent life. In fact, the number one predictor of placement in a nursing home is a lack of leg strength. Walter Bortz II, MD, a professor at the Stanford Medical School says, “If you want to avoid the nursing home, you’d better take good care of your legs.” Let us look at the key ways Welcyon helps you do that.
1. Stay physically active. That means doing things such as walking, housework, yard work, going up and down steps and stairs, and yes, any form of exercise (e.g., aerobic, strength, balance, flexibility). Physical activity causes your body to produce and release hormones called growth factors. Simply said, growth factors send the message to your muscles (and other tissues) that you are dynamic and your muscle is needed. On the other hand, no physical activity indirectly sends the message to your muscles that they’re not needed, and they abide by shrinking.
2. Do meaningful strength exercises. The Welcyon way provides you the best strategy to slow, stop, and even reverse muscle loss. Need evidence you are getting stronger? Ask your fitness coach to print your two comparison progress graph, which shows how much your muscle strength has increased. It’s even more exciting to know that if you work out consistently for a long enough period of time, you can actually increase the size of your muscles, regardless of your age! Now, you won’t develop a physique like a body builder, but if you follow the Welcyon workout, you will replace some of the muscle you have lost. Keep in mind that muscles vanish if you don’t use them; never stop being physically active. So, the best way to maintain your muscle is to make strength exercise a regular part of the rest of your life. It is that important.
3. Consume adequate protein. Nutrition and strength exercise research shows that you need enough protein in your daily diet to build and maintain your body’s muscles. In fact, it appears that protein is more important as we age. Immediately before, or after, a strength exercise workout, consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for every 5 pounds of ideal body weight. For example, if someone’s ideal body weight is 150 lbs, it is recommended that they eat 30 to 45 grams of protein within minutes of the workout. The easiest calculation is to take your ideal body weight, divide it by 5, and eat that many grams of protein, or up to half again as much. Each day, aging adults should eat the number of grams of protein equal to one half their ideal body weight. So, for our 150 lb person example, he/she would eat 75 grams of protein per day. To help you do that, Welcyon now offers protein drinks at your Welcyon club. Look in the club for information about this, or ask a fitness coach.
Please don’t vanish! Belong to Strong!
When it comes to answering the question, “How hard should I exercise?” who would have imagined that a little girl in the cottage of three bears would be so prophetic? Goldilocks instructed us, “not too hard, not too easy, but just right!” Time and time again, exercise research has demonstrated the exact same thing; use just the right intensity to safely get really good exercise results.
There are a lot of factors that determine the effectiveness of exercise; how often you do it, how long you do it for, what type of exercise it is, and so forth. But, generally speaking, the most important factor is: how hard do you do it? Exercise too lightly and your body does not receive enough stimuli to undergo significant improvement. Exercise too hard and you risk hurting yourself and can stress your body so much that it struggles to recover from your workouts and improve. This is true for each category of Welcyon exercises; aerobic, flexibility, balance, and strength. To help apply this ‘Goldilocks concept’ to your workouts, let’s review how you can pressure-check to see if you’re working out “just right.”
Aerobic exercise intensity: Once you’ve warmed up and are in the middle of your aerobic workout, keep your heart rate within a ‘moderate’ range. This range can be determined for you by your Welcyon fitness coach. Research shows that using heart rate to guide your exercise is the best way to go. Another good method is, during your exercise, ask yourself, “How hard am I exercising?” You are exercising at a good intensity if your answer is “somewhat hard.” If your answer is “easy,” exercise harder. If your answer is, “hard,” back off a bit. Sounds simple, but it works.
Flexibility exercise intensity: Apply enough force so you feel a comfortable stretch in the targeted body part. Research shows that maintaining this intensity of stretch for 60 seconds is more effective than doing it more intensely for shorter periods of time. On the other hand, applying very light stretching forces will not improve flexibility.
Balance exercise intensity: Think safety first. When doing the Balance Clock, always do the exercise at a level that you feel confident. Take steps that are just the right length that are somewhat challenging, but very controllable. Also move at a rate that is fairly easy to somewhat hard. If you do not feel confident at all about your ability to do the exercise, then skip it.
Strength exercise intensity: First, concentrate on moving slowly on each machine, through your full available range of motion, using very good posture and technique. Also, breathe. Do not hold your breath. While continuously focusing on these things, use enough resistance so that the exercise is somewhat hard or hard during the first few repetitions. The exercise will get harder as you continue, so that by the time you approach your 8th repetition, you begin to struggle somewhat to do more repetitions. At this point, do not cheat by speeding up, jerking, or thrusting your body. Just keep going, focusing on good technique. When you can no longer continue, stop exercising and move onto the next machine. Exercising at this intensity, to a point of momentary muscle fatigue, while using very good form and technique, will result in excellent strength gains and a better physical version of you.
We know that some cannot or should not exercise at a middle-of-the-road intensity. Some need to exercise a bit lighter and some are able to exercise a bit harder for short periods. Your Welcyon fitness coach will help you determine what is best for you. The chances are good they will show you that the proper exercise intensity is “just right!”