Thursday May 16, 2013
You might go to the Better Business Bureau if you've had a bad experience with a local retailer, but would you think of going to them for weight loss advice? They weren't on my list of top resources until I can across a blog post on their website this morning. In The 'Skinny' on Weight Loss Advertising, author Melanie Alakkam, provides helpful tips and usable advice about sifting through weight loss claims.
How to Spot Diet Scams
Alakkam, A business standards analyst, explains that weight loss companies are expected to back up any claims that they make about their program's results. She says that business owners should be prepared to provide evidence from "recent and scientific data." Alakkam suggests that consumers ask for the same verification before they invest any money into a diet pill, program or product. Dieters can also investigate the company at www.bbb.org.
Be a Smarter Shopper
Even if you're not on a diet, it pays to question the claims you see on food packages, exercise products and even on diet and health books. It's not uncommon for authors to use scare tactics to sell a book or to slap on a healthy-looking label to sell a processed food. I questioned one book in a review recently because the claims made by the author didn't make sense to me. It probably made me unpopular with the author's fans, but I wouldn't waste my time on a program that doesn't make sense, nor would I recommend it to my readers. Remember that it's your money and your health on the line. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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(photo source: Tara Moore/Getty Images)
Wednesday May 15, 2013
May 13-17th is Bike to Work week around the country. Have you dusted off your cycle yet? It's not too late to take part in the national celebration. National Bike to Work Day, the day when most bike commuters will be out on the roads, is this Friday, May 17th.
Burn More Calories When You Bike
You'll enjoy a wide range of benefits when you bike to work. Riding on two wheels is certainly more relaxing than being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway. And you'll join a supportive community of bike commuters while enjoying fresh air and scenery. But one of the greatest benefits of cycling is the calorie burn. Biking requires that you use large muscles in the lower body and if you structure your ride properly you can complete a full workout before you even sit down at your desk for the day. How many calories will you burn? Depending on your weight and the intensity level of your ride, you can burn between 200 and 500 calories in just 30 minutes.
Proper Equipment and Safety Guidelines
Your ride will be safer and more enjoyable if you follow a few safety guidelines. The League of American Bicyclists provides a downloadable brochure to remind bikers about basic safety rules of the road. Check it out before you plan your ride. And be sure that you are properly equipped, especially if you are a new rider. Review my list of must-have equipment to be sure that you stay safe and healthy.
Tuesday May 14, 2013
Are you ready for the start of summer? In some parts of the country, it was still snowing last week, so I wouldn't be surprised if many of you are still bundled up in parkas and eating comfort food on the couch. I would be if I wasn't in a warmer part of the country. But now it's time to get moving. With just two weeks left until Memorial Day, here are three things you can do to look and feel better by the start of summer.
3 Quick Steps to Slim Down
- Drink water. Get rid of the seven drinks that are most likely to make your body feel puffy and bloated. Drink healthy, flavored water instead. In many cases, drinking a savory, flavored water or a water flavored with fresh fruit can satisfy your cravings so you don't fill up on high calorie snacks and treats.
- Do one long workout per week. Challenge your body to do at least one longer workout during the next 2-3 weeks. This is especially important if you are used to working out for the same amount of time every day. An extended session will challenge your body, burn more calories and help to kick start your metabolism.
- Reduce your salt intake. Put the salt shaker away for the next two weeks. Too much sodium makes your face puffy and your clothes fit tighter. Many packaged foods already contain more than enough salt so adding more isn't necessary. You'll look and feel better quickly by making this simple change.
Of course this isn't a long-term plan for weight loss. But if you're looking for a quick fix for summer, start with these three changes. Then, take the time to invest in a long-term approach to getting healthy and getting fit.
Monday May 13, 2013
People who have been diagnosed with depression may have a new treatment to consider. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have developed specific exercise guidelines for major depressive disorder (MDD). While mental health professionals have previously acknowledged the healing potential of physical activity, this is the first time that a specific prescription for both the type and duration of exercise has been created. The guidelines are presented in the May Journal of Psychiatric Practice.
Treating Depression with Exercise
To achieve an antidepressant effect, researchers Chad Rethorst, PhD, and Madhukar Trivedi, MD recommend that patients participate in aerobic exercise three to five times per week, for 45 to 60 minutes per session. Exercisers should monitor their workload and reach an intensity level of 50-85% of their maximum heart rate. They also suggest that weight training can be effective if patients complete a variety of upper and lower body exercises―three sets of eight repetitions at 80 percent of one repetition maximum (80 percent of the maximum weight that the person can lift one time).
Rethorst and Trivedi note that exercise is cost-effective, accessible, carries little risk and offers other benefits to the patient. But some critics point out that people suffering from MDD are not likely to complete regular exercise sessions.
If you are suffering with depression, talk to your physician before making any changes to your treatment plan. You may be able to combine exercise with other treatments with your practitioner's guidance. Use any of these resources to incorporate exercise into your daily routine:
(photo source: morguefile)