Monthly Archives: August 2020

Low-Impact vs. High-Impact Exercise: Which is Better?

When you think of high-impact exercise, activities like running or aerobics may come to mind, while exercises like walking or cycling are considered low-impact activities. The difference is that low-impact exercise is easier on your joints than high-impact activities. Both types of exercise are important to overall fitness, but determining which one is better is really a matter of your personal needs and abilities as well as your fitness goals.

Low-Impact Exercise
Any types of exercise or activities that are gentle on your joints and involve more fluid movement and keeping one foot always on the ground or on equipment are considered low impact. Examples include walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, Pilates, and using an elliptical machine.

Low-impact exercises are great for beginners, those with joint problems or arthritis, and for athletes who are recovering from an injury. Some people like to participate in low-impact exercise on days when they’re taking an “easy” workout day to aid in recovery from harder, higher-impact workout days.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you can still burn fat with low-impact exercise just as you can with higher-impact exercise. The key is to perform low-intensity activity for a prolonged period of time. As opposed to high-impact exercise that burns fat in short, intense sessions, to get the same benefits from low-impact exercise, you’ll need to do longer sessions. Working out a steady pace at 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate for 30 to 60 minutes will get you into a fat-burning zone with low-impact workouts.

High-Impact Exercise
High-impact exercise is harder on your joints and involves both feet leaving the floor at the same time. Examples include running, jumping rope, and plyometrics (exercise that involves repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles ). High-impact exercise is one of the best ways to burn fat—your heart rate is naturally up because you’re jumping around more, which gets your body into fat-burning mode faster.

This type of exercise also improves fitness levels, strengthens your heart and lungs, and strengthens bones. However, it can also lead to injuries more easily or be painful for people with joint problems or arthritis. High-impact exercise may also be harder for people who are overweight or obese.

If you are trying to lose weight, high-impact exercise will yield faster results than low-impact training, but it’s not for everyone. Some people don’t enjoy the jarring nature of running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and some people’s joints cannot handle that much impact.

Which is Best?
Deciding whether low-impact exercise or high-impact exercise is best for you is a matter of personal preference as well as your fitness levels and any health issues you may have. Those new to exercise should definitely start more slowly with lower-impact workouts until fitness levels improve to reduce the risks of injury, as well as to make it more enjoyable and sustainable.

Once you’ve been exercising for a while, working in some days of high-intensity activities will likely produce better weight loss results if that is your goal. It will also improve your fitness level. Alternating days of low-impact and high-impact activities can be a good way to vary your workouts and reduce not only your risk for injury but also reduce boredom, which will make you more likely to stick with a regular exercise routine long term.

The Pros and Cons of Using Body Mass Index (BMI)

Anytime you go to the doctor, one of the first things you do is to step on the scale. Your body weight and height is then calculated to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI), which has long been considered the gold standard in determining if you are at a healthy weight or if you may be at risk for potential health problems.

BMI is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening to determine excess weight that may lead to health problems. However, many doctors and scientists have questioned the usefulness of the BMI and its accuracy in determining overall health risks.

According to Robert H. Shmerling, MD, senior faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing, BMI is still a useful starting point in predicting a person’s risk for certain health conditions that are more likely to occur when a person is overweight or obese. But it’s also important to know there are limitations to BMI.

How is BMI used?
BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems in adults. However, to determine if excess weight is a health risk, a doctor would need to use the BMI along with further testing such as skinfold-thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family medical history, and other health screenings.

How is BMI calculated?
BMI is calculated (using a mathematical formula) by dividing an individual’s weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703.

Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5” (65″)
Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)²] x 703 = BMI = 24.96

There are many on-line calculators that will calculate BMI by simply plugging in your height and weight.

What do the BMI numbers mean?
For adults 20 years old and older, BMI is explained using standard weight status categories that are the same for all ages and for both men and women.

The standard weight categories associated with BMI ranges for adults: a normal BMI is between18.5 and 25; a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight; and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. A person is considered underweight if the BMI is less than 18.5.

Someone with a BMI of 26-27 is about 20 percent overweight, which is generally believed to carry moderate health risks. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing additional health problems.

For adults, what are the health consequences of being overweight or obese? 
Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

What are the limitations of using BMI?
BMI on its own is not a measurement of health or a measurement of a physiological state (such as taking your blood pressure) that shows the presence or absence of disease.

There are people who have a high BMI who are healthy, and there are those with a normal BMI that are unhealthy. For example, someone with a low BMI who smokes and has a strong family risk of heart disease or cancer may have a higher risk of early death than someone with a higher BMI who does not smoke and is physically fit.

Just as blood pressure or cholesterol numbers should not be used as a single measure of overall health, neither should BMI be used solely to identify cardiovascular disease or other illnesses. BMI is just part of a bigger picture your doctor can use when assessing your health and disease risk.

Smarter Lunch Choices

Liven Up Your Lunch

Are you stuck in a lunch rut? Do you tend to eat the same lunch day after day or rotate between just a few types of meals? Whether you are currently working in an office and regularly bring your lunch from home or currently working from home, coming up with healthy and easy lunch ideas can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’re pressed for time. Nutritious and delicious lunches that are easy to make are possible. It just takes a little preplanning and creativity.

Sandwiches and soups are go-to lunch choices, especially if you’re taking your lunch from home to the office, and they are quick and easy to make. Liven up your lunch routine with some of these healthy and satisfying recipes.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a classic lunchtime staple. They’re easy, quick, and filling. But there are only so many ham and cheese sandwiches that you can eat! Up your sandwich-making game with these nutritious alternatives:

Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad Sandwich
This variation of plain chicken salad uses rotisserie chicken combined with tangy cranberries, walnuts, and celery on pumpernickel bread.

Prosciutto, Arugula, and Tomato Sandwich
An Italian version of the BLT uses prosciutto in place of bacon and vitamin-packed arugula instead of boring iceberg lettuce. Top with a juicy tomato and serve it on ciabatta bread.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry, and Honey Sandwich
A twist on the classic PB&J, this sandwich uses fresh strawberries in place of jelly with a sprinkle of honey and hint of mint. Serve it on 100 percent whole wheat bread for a complete healthy meal.

Roast Beef Sandwich
Make your own version of a deli favorite with roast beef, pickles, cucumbers, and mayo on a Kaiser roll.

Soup

Soup is also an easy lunchtime choice. You can buy premade soups, but there are many healthy soups that can be made at home and taken to work in a plastic container to heat up in your office microwave. As we head into fall and the weather begins to cool,  soups can be appealing as a lunch option. Be prepared by experimenting with some of these nutritious and hearty soup recipes:

Chickpea and Potato Soup
A protein-packed soup with potatoes, spinach, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
A combination of fresh spinach, sausage, beans, and pasta make a filling meal. 

Italian Vegetable Beef Soup
A variation on the classic comfort food, this veggie soup features beef, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. You can add in any vegetables you choose, either fresh or frozen. 

South-of-the-Border Chicken Soup
This thick, hearty chicken soup mixes mashed and diced potatoes, seasoned with fresh lime juice, and topped with avocado.

Broccoli-Chicken Parmesan Soup
This healthy soup can be made with chicken for a protein-rich meal or made vegetarian-friendly by leaving out the chicken, using veggie broth, and adding more spinach.

The Importance of Routines in Times of Uncertainty

Beginning with the nationwide lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more people have found themselves working from home and will likely be doing so for the foreseeable future. And with many schools around the country announcing plans to begin the school year with online learning, more families will find themselves still stuck at home this fall.

All of the disruptions the pandemic has caused have drastically changed many people’s daily routines, which can make it even more difficult to deal with the extreme stress and anxiety this crisis has created. Hours and days start to blend together, and before you know it, all you’ve accomplished is binging a full season of your favorite show on Netflix or scrolling through social media on your phone.

While binge-watching is a great stress reliever, you don’t want to fill all of your days being a couch potato. Maintaining a regular daily routine can help you feel more in control during this time when all other aspects of our world feel so uncertain.

Benefits of structure and routine
Sticking to a daily routine can have great benefits for mental health. Not only can routines help you better manage stress and anxiety, but they can also lower stress levels and have a calming effect, help you maintain good daily habits, encourage you to take care of your health, and help you feel more focused and productive. Having a daily routine allows you to complete necessary tasks, such as work or home duties so that you can then find time for exercise and other leisure activities. A routine can help to make your situation feel more predictable and controllable.

Creating a routine
Your daily routine may look very different right now if you’re working from home or temporarily unemployed, or if you have children at home. Create a routine that adds structure and a sense of predictability to your day. Your routine might vary on different days, but sticking to a basic schedule of when you sleep, wake up, eat, work, exercise, and do other activities will help you manage stress and feel that you have accomplished more day to day.

An easy way to create a schedule is to make a list of all the things you must get done during the day. Write down everything from work to household chores to childcare. Once you have identified all of the basic tasks that you need to get done, you can make an outline of a schedule that would work for you.

In addition to all of the tasks and chores, you must accomplish daily, remember to include time for activities that you enjoy so you have something to look forward to every day. Things such as reading, watching TV, taking a hot bath, calling a friend, or playing with your kids can help you stay positive while you’re completing the essential tasks of your day.

A routine that works for you
It’s important to be flexible and find a routine that works for you and your family. Some people may thrive with a structured routine that is basically the same every day, while others may do better making a daily to-do list and prioritizing that list each day. If you have young or school-age children at home, it’s very important for them to have structure to their day, especially if they are participating in online schooling.

Routines are even more important during times of stress and chaos, such as what the U.S. is experiencing right now. Daily rituals can offer you some control and some certainty in a situation that has neither.