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Learn how to keep your spinal stabilizers strong by performing side planks.  Mike O’Hara explains this in his article, “Learning to Lean”, and includes video demonstration and explanation of the importance keeping your stabilizers strong to stand up to the demands of daily life. It’s time for another Fenton Fitness Love Your Jeans Challenge–see page 3 for more information. In his article, “The Periodization of Nutrition”, Jeff Tirrell gives tips on optimizing dietary intake.

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Think About This

The Latest Science on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s

Over the last 30 years, more than two hundred experimental drugs have failed to produce any success in the fight against Alzheimer’s.  It does not appear we are going to have a pharmaceutical for the treatment of Alzheimer’s any time in the near future.  A recent *article in the April issue of Scientific American discusses a treatment option that does appear to work.  This is currently our only hope in the fight against this terrible disease.  The good news is the treatment that prevents cognitive decline helps with so many other problems.

The study’s researchers demonstrated that an interventional program of exercise, proper nutrition, and cognitive training produced significant improvements in brain function.  The **Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER study) enrolled 1260 men and women between ages 60 and 77.  Over the course of two years, participants demonstrated improved cognitive test scores in processing speed (up 150%), executive function (up 83%), and complex memory (up 40%).

The exercise program in this study was not complex or time consuming.  The routines were developed by physical therapists and performed four or five days a week.  The exercise sessions involved strength training, balance skills, and aerobic activities.  As the participants became fitter, their training regimens were progressed–more challenging activities, more resistance, and/or more volume.  The time spent in training was four to five hours a week.

If your goal is to maintain or improve cognitive capacity and remain independent, then the prescription is a consistent routine of exercise.  Take the time to read the article, lace up your sneakers, and make a progressive program of fitness a lifelong habit.

* A Rare Success Against Alzheimer’s, Scientific American, April 2017

** The FINGER study, Alzheimer Prevention. Download the article here: http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEViMTIfZYurkAQNsnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1492554131/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.alzheimersprevention.org%2fdownloadables%2fFINGER-study-report-by-ARPF.pdf/RK=0/RS=fHWCrTAi9LEEDrH5jWfmRvAI7LU-

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Advice from the Experts at Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#2—Throw out your bathroom scale.

shutterstock_214236508Weighing yourself on a daily basis is a counter-productive, and possibly unhealthy, activity.  It does nothing to enhance health and tracking the number on the scale tells you very little about your ability to move, your overall health, or your level of fitness.  Body dysmorphia issues start early and can generate habits that are harmful to your health.

The numbers from the bathroom scale are often misleading.  A great program of exercise will add a few pounds of muscle and subtract a few pounds of fat, so the number on the scale will not move.  The client will be stronger, fitter, have a faster metabolism but still becomes discouraged because the scale numbers have not gone down.  A horrible program of exercise removes equal amounts of muscle and fat.  It produces a weaker body with a suppressed metabolism, but the client is pleased with lower scale numbers.  In many ways, the perseveration on bodyweight numbers sets you up for failure.

-Mike O’Hara, Physical Therapist for the last 32 years.  Fitness coach and board certified orthopedic specialist 

See what advice Fenton Fitness member Bruce Walker has to give here: https://youtu.be/pOH6XQva2wE

To read the article, click on the link below:


A Little Realistic Reasoning

Worst:  I want to lose weight.
gym photoMost people are not successful in losing weight with exercise.  The ones who are have generally been diligent in following a disciplined nutritional regimen and this was the reason the numbers on the scale went down.  Now whether the reduction was good—fat loss, or bad—bone and muscle loss, we do not know, but exercise alone is generally a poor method of weight loss.  Not losing any weight is a primary reason people stop participating in an exercise program.

Best: I want to stay healthy.
Two thirds of the American population get no regular physical activity.  The adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle have been proven.  Physical inactivity is far more debilitating than most of us realize.  One way or another, you will end up spending time and money on your health.  Spend it up front with exercise and proper education, or spend it later on medical tests, disease treatments, and doctors’ bills.  The good news is you get to choose.

Worst:  I want six pack abs.
This is probably not going to happen no matter how hard most of us train.  Body fat levels have to get down to well below 12 percent to see an outline of the abdominal muscles.  Twelve percent for men is low and for women it may be unhealthy.

Best:  I want my brain to function at high levels.
Lots of new research has been done on exercise and its effect on the brain.  The animal and human research subjects that perform the most physical activity have the best scores on brain function tests.  Read the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Dr. John J. Ratey.  I would rather have a pumped frontal cortex and a jacked hippocampus than chiseled abs.

Worst:  I am making up for eating like an idiot.
You can’t out run a cookie.  It is much easier to ingest more calories than burn them off with exercise.  The damage caused by a diet filled with bad food, alcohol, and tobacco cannot be magically counter balanced with an hour on the elliptical or a step class.  Success with exercise has a huge psychological component.  Several studies have shown it is difficult to stay consistent with exercise if you mentally approach it as punishment for bad behavior.

Best:  I want to feel good for a long time.
Move well and you feel well.  If you can maintain the capacity to get off the floor, squat, lunge, and rotate, you will be far less likely to have pain.  Rarely do I evaluate a patient with shoulder, neck, knee, or lower back pain and not find a glaring loss of mobility or strength.  Maintaining the ability to move should be a lifelong pursuit for anyone interested in staying active and independent into old age.

-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

The holidays offer ample opportunity to eat, drink, and be merry with family and friends. Unfortunately, this may not be in the best interest of our health or our waistline. We will continue to feature nutrition tips over the next few weeks to help minimize the damage during the holiday season and avoid feeling so guilty come January 1st.

Bring a dish and skip the condimentsimages

We all know that our family and friends are not always as health conscious as we are. An easy way to take control of what is available at your next holiday feast is to bring something yourself. Opt for something that is traditionally higher in calories and make it using lower calorie alternatives. For desserts, calorie free sweeteners such as Splenda or Stevia can be used. Instead of using butter or oil to grease a pan, use calorie free cooking spray instead. Every calorie you spare on a dish you bring will help to offset your intake. Avoiding condiments and dressings is huge as well. While many don’t contain too many calories in a serving, most of us tend to eat far more than the suggested serving of 1-2 Tbsp. If you insist on dipping or pouring something on your food, opt for things that have mustard or vinegar as a base as these items are both calorie free.

-Jeff Tirrell, B.S., CSCS, Pn1

The amount of time modern medicine can add to our lives may be at its peak. Scientists have been searching for the lifestyle habits that help humans live longer and maintain health. As Yogi Berra says “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Select populations of people all over the world regularly live many years longer than the rest of us and maintain a vital lifestyle. “Blue Zones” is the name given to these communities, and they represent a very diverse background with some common behaviors.

If you have twenty minutes, take the time to watch the Ted Talk given by Dan Buettner. I have also included a link to an article by Eliza Barclay on Blue Zone diets. So many of the common beneficial Blue Zone behaviors are simply daily habits that pay huge benefits.

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS



Small Steps Can Lead To Big Changes

Nutrition Basics by Sarah Hall, B.S.

Nutrition, like many things in life, is not black or white. There are few things that we know fairly certainly like, trans fats are bad, but Omega-3 fats are good. Aside from that, the information that we are bombarded with from magazines to television shows is full of contradictions and it is always changing. From the grapefruit diet, to cleanses, even the cotton ball diet (what?!), all promising the same thing: immediate, easy weight loss and an instant six pack.

In reality, there is no magic diet and what works for some may not work for others. It is important that you are your own best advocate and don’t fall victim to trends that end up doing more harm than good. Whatever your health goals are, whether it’s gaining muscle mass, losing weight, or simply maintaining, your nutrition plays a large role.

Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall leads a small group training session at Fenton Fitness.

With this blog, I hope to give some insight into the big world of nutrition with snippets on the latest research, recipes, and helpful tips that will allow you to be your best. It doesn’t have to be an extreme change in your lifestyle to see results. Small successes will add up along the way to a healthier and stronger you.

A great place to start making small changes is with the snacks that we eat in between meals. Your next meal isn’t for a few hours, but you are already hungry. Instead of reaching for that bag of potato chips, have your fridge stocked with pre-washed and pre-cut fruits and veggies that are ready for you at an instant. Or try this recipe from the American Heart Association that will surely satisfy your hunger pangs.

Grab-n-Go Snack Mix
Cooking spray
1 tsp. canola or corn oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup shelled unsalted pumpkin seeds
¾ to 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
2 cups multigrain or whole-wheat cereal squares with maple syrup and brown    sugar
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries or cherries

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the honey for 2 minutes, or until it just comes to a boil.

Stir in the walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and pie spice. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mixture begins to turn golden, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
Immediately stir in the cereal and dried fruit until well coated, about 30 seconds.

Pour onto the baking sheet, using the back of a spoon to quickly spread in a smooth, thin layer. Sprinkle with the salt. Let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Break into 1-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sarah Hall, B.S.. Trainer at Fenton Fitness & Athletic Center