Tag Archives: healthy lifestyle

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 Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Summer Drinks – Smoothies!

Real Smooth, Smoothie

As summer heats up, many people reach for cool, refreshing fruit smoothies thinking they’re drinking something as healthy as pure fruit. And in some cases, this is true; some smoothies are, indeed, very good for you. Others, unfortunately, are not as beneficial. Here’s our guide to the best and worst options for drinkable fruit.

The Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Summer Drinks - Smoothies!

Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)

At fast food restaurants and coffee shops across the country, menus offer fruit smoothies as a convenient, healthy alternative to other drink meals. However, a smoothie isn’t healthy just by virtue of being a smoothie. Convenient? Yes. Healthy? not so much. Many store- and restaurant-made smoothies actually contain more fat than a Big Mac and more sugar than four Snickers bars.

And the picture is not much prettier at the supermarket, where many choices contain little of the protein, fiber, and vitamins that should make smoothies a healthy option. In fact, Naked Juice, one of the leading supermarket juice and smoothie brands, has been in trouble more than once for falsely claiming the health benefits of its products. In 2013, Naked Juice’s parent company, PepsiCo, agreed to pay a $9 million settlement in a class action lawsuit. In 2016, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) again sued PepsiCo, alleging that its healthy-sounding drinks like “Kale Blazer” actually contain mainly high-sugar apple juice.

Convenient and Healthy Options

If you’re looking for a convenient, healthy way to drink your fruits and veggies, the news is not all bad. Many store-made and bottled juices are as healthy as they claim to be; the key is to always read the label so you know what you’re ingesting. A good smoothie should contain a significant amount of vitamins and fiber, and preferably protein to prevent hunger pains from hitting too soon. It should contain minimal sugar and very little fat. Check out some of the healthiest options here and here.

Best Option: Make Your Own

When it comes to smoothies, it’s all about the ingredients. You can create your own, mixing and matching fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts, and seeds:

  • Acai
  • Almond milk
  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Banana, peeled and frozen
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Coconut water
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Ground ginger root
  • Ground turmeric
  • Hemp seeds
  • Honey
  • Kale leaves
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein powder
  • Raspberries
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Rolled oats
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina
  • Strawberries

Krazy for Kombucha!

Fermented beverages at work? Sure, but not the alcoholic kind. Kombucha, a fermented black tea and sugar beverage, is all the rage among many health-seekers and trend-followers.

Kombucha is fermented with a combination of bacteria and yeast called a SCOBY health drink kombucha(symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), which forms a mushroom-like pancake on top of the tea during the fermentation process. The yeast eats the sugar, and the bacteria work with the enzymes in the tea, creating a fizzy, sweet-and-sour drink in about ten days. The beverage can then be bottled and sold, although many people enjoy making their own.

Kombucha is usually made with black tea, although green tea works as well and makes a lighter brew. Many Kombuchas are infused with fruits or herbs, giving them a wide range of flavors. Although the taste can be startling at first, many people enjoy the tangy, effervescent flavor. The fermentation process generally results in alcohol contents of under .5%. However, sometimes fermentation can continue in the bottle, resulting in higher alcohol levels: up to 3%! Some bottled Kombucha was recalled in 2010 until manufacturing changes could address this problem.

As is common with food trends, many people are hailing Kombucha as a wonder drink, a panacea for everything from cancer to the effects of aging. Indeed, the fermentation process does create probiotics, which have been shown to help with digestion. It also creates antioxidants, which some claim can help boost the immune system. However, evidence for these claims is anecdotal, with no scientific evidence to back them up.

Although bottled Kombucha is generally safe for non-immunocompromised people, the “brew-your-own” method has some risks associated with it. The primary problem is that the exact properties of the final drink are difficult to control, so different batches will have different attributes. In 1995, two women were hospitalized with excessive lactic acid after drinking Kombucha from the same SCOBY for two months. Although a definitive link to the home-brewed Kombucha was never proven, the FDA issued a warning about the beverage. Further, the fermentation process is vulnerable to contamination under non-sterile conditions. Dangerous molds can enter the beverage, which would not harm a healthy person drinking a small amount, but could be fatal to someone with a compromised immune system.

While the scientists work out the details of home-brewing Kombucha, you might be better off trying it in a bottle first. It has less sugar than soda, and the tangy flavor makes a nice change. Cheers!

Celebrate National Walking Day on April 2, 2014

The American Heart Association has declared April 2 to be National Walking Day, with the goal of encouraging everyone to take 30 minutes and get up and walk.  The event intends national walking dayto both raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and to encourage participants to start walking as a healthy habit.

Research has shown that walking 30 minutes per day can help:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke,
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels,
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity,
  • Enhance mental well-being, and
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.

Walking is also a great fitness activity because it has a low dropout rate.  Because it’s easy to get started, it’s easier to stick with it and incorporate walking as a healthy habit.

To get your community or company up and moving, the American Heart Association provides tools to help you plan a rally or event at your workplace.  On April 2, consider encouraging employees to walk for 30 minutes.  Another idea is to invite employees to wear sneakers to work on National Walking Day.  Alternatively, try holding at least one walking meeting, which can help you tackle a work problem and work on improving your health at the very same time.