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The Cumulative Effect of Activity

Many people are put off from starting an exercise routine because they are overwhelmed by the time commitment they feel is necessary.  Fitness magazines, exercise experts, and everything on youtube preaches–

–30 minutes of cardio three times a week

–45 minutes of strength training twice a week

–150 minutes of exercise per week

Most of this well-intentioned advice is wrong.  Nearly everyone can derive significant benefit from short bouts of fitness activity that are performed on a consistent basis.  Walk for five minutes twice a day.  A simple routine of two strengthening exercises will take no more than five minutes.  Climb the stairs in your home three times once a day.  Practice getting up and down of the floor.  Stay consistent with a routine of short exercise bouts and you will be healthier and stay independent for a lifetime.

More research has demonstrated the beneficial effect of short exercise sessions interspersed throughout the day.  Read the March 28, 2018, New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds, Those 2-Minute Walk Breaks?  They Add Up.  View the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/well/move/walking-exercise-minutes-death-longevity.html

Mike O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Americans are far behind the rest of the world when it comes to the number of steps we take in a day.  The body mass index numbers and mortality rates of our fellow citizens are rising in direct proportion to time spent seated.  Human physiology operates optimally under the physical demands of a significant amount of standing and walking.  Much of the now rampant obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome can be linked to our species sudden fall into sustained sitting.  Standing for most of your workday and a daily habit of walking pays huge health and fitness benefits.

We are de-evolving into a nation of sitters.  Between internet, television, driving, and computer work, it is not uncommon for many of my physical therapy patients and fitness clients to sit for ten hours a day.  Unfortunately, you cannot train away the metabolic and physical damage created by prolonged sitting with a few 45 minute exercise sessions every week.

Seventy years ago, the London Transit Workers Study provided the initial scientific insights into the powerful health benefits of sitting less and standing more.  Take the time to read the recent *article by Gretchen Reynolds in the March 23, 2017 edition of the New York Times.  Ms. Reynolds’ provides some valuable information on the benefits of standing up and moving as much as possible.  Now go for a walk and then Google Varidesk.

–Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

*Should 15,000 Steps a Day Be Our New Exercise Target?, Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, March 23, 2017

Read the article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/well/move/should-15000-steps-a-day-be-our-new-exercise-target.html

 

Intensity Know How

Exercise Intensity Is a Mystery For Most Fitness Clients

Cheryl trained in the gym three days a week and went to yoga class twice a week.  At the gym she used the elliptical machine for thirty minutes and did the “ab circuit”.  The yoga classes lasted an hour and she was always very tired after a session.  Despite six months of this program, she had not lost any fat and her blood pressure remained elevated.  After recovering from a heel pain problem, Cheryl began training at Fenton Fitness.  After her first session, it was evident what was stopping Cheryl from reaching her goals.  She had no idea what constitutes effective exercise intensity.

Cheryl’s problem is not an uncommon one.  Many fitness participants overestimate how hard they are exercising.  What they perceive as a moderate or intense work level is actually a low exertion level.  As the body accommodates to the same exercise stress repeated day after day, the intensity level falls even further.  A recent article by Gretchen Reynolds in the June 12, 2014 issue of the New York Times discusses a recent study on the overestimation of exercise intensity.

Many fitness clients and rehab patients are not comfortable with being uncomfortable.  They stop an exercise activity well before they reach a level that will produce a training effect.  They require guidance and reassurance that the feelings they get when heart rate and body heat elevate are normal and necessary.  Heart rate monitors are often the solution for these clients.  Gradually introducing ten second intervals of exercise at 70% of age adjusted maximums on a bike or treadmill followed by a fifty second recovery will get the client accustomed to the feeling of more intense exercise.  Having the client wear a heart rate monitor while walking and monitoring sensation while making an effort to push up the rate with faster paces and uphill walks is effective.

Cheryl felt lightheaded and short of breath during her first five exercise sessions but, after using a heart rate monitor and becoming accustomed to the intensity of each session, she started feeling better.  Four months later, she was able to stop taking one of her blood pressure medications, and she had lost eight pounds.  Cheryl now knows what mild, moderate, and intense exercise sessions feel like and no longer uses her heart rate monitor.

To view the New York Times article, click the link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/judging-badly-how-hard-we-exercise/

Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

How Less Is More

Get Bored And Get Better At A Few Basic Exercises

The weight room at my high school was small and had only basic equipment.  It consisted of two Olympic weight set, some mismatched dumbbells, a squat rack, and a chin up bar.  In the gym, we had a pegboard and a rope for climbing.  No bench press, curl bar or pulldown machine.  It was the ultimate blessing in disguise.  We did not have the temptation of exercise variety for varieties sake.  What we did have was solid instruction on basic lifts.  We performed the same exercises repeatedly and became more proficient at squats, hang cleans, overhead presses, and pull ups.  Four simple activities performed consistently with an effort to add weight to the bar on a regular basis.  The results were magic.

The television fitness gurus have brought forth the latest craze of “muscle confusion”.  You change your exercise activity often in an attempt to stimulate a greater adaptation response.  The problem is that you never get the chance to practice the exercise long enough or with enough resistance to get stronger.  Getting stronger is the performance parameter that preserves muscle mass, speeds up your metabolism, and makes you more durable–less likely to get hurt.
I never want any of my muscles, nerves, joints, or any other part of my body to be “confused” when training.  I want the bodies of the athletes I train to perform better at every session.  My suggestion is that you pick five or six exercises and set a goal of getting better at each of them over the next six months.  The exercises you chose do not have to be a barbell or dumbbell exercise.  Bodyweight exercises will work just as well and are a better choice for most fitness clients.  Keep a record of your performance and work on improving the number of inverted rows, pull ups, or push ups you can perform.  Single leg strength training is a good choice for nearly everyone and works wonders for athletes. Athletes should choose exercises that not only improve strength but also mobility—front squats.  Long term dedication to the mastery of an exercise will reward you with better body composition, enhanced mobility, less pain, and the strength you need to perform in athletics and daily activities.

This training approach requires mental toughness and a willingness to at times be bored.  Toughen up and get after the challenge.  Read this recent article in the New York Times.   Better yet go out and buy the book Starting Strength.

Read the NY TIme’s article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/opinion/sunday/fitness-crazed.html?_r=0

Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

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