Arthritis & Exercise
Many classifications of arthritis have been identified and one thing remains constant about them all – it can be debilitating. I receive countless inquiries about including exercise, especially resistance training, into an arthritic person’s program. Many people believe they should avoid exercises of any kind if they are afflicted with arthritis. My experience has shown that nothing could be further from the truth. (Please understand, each case is different, and everyone should check with their physician before beginning an exercise program.) Presently, over 65% of my clients suffer from one or more forms of arthritis. Each one of them has seen the incredible benefits made possible by incorporating resistance training into their daily lives. Some of these benefits include: greater strength, increased joint range of motion (greater flexibility), better muscle tone, greater balance, reduction in postural changes, and most important to each of them – reduction of pain.
These are not the only people who have seen the benefits of resistance training, nor am I saying that all people with arthritis will experience all of the incredible benefits mentioned. However, research continues to pile up daily on the positive effects a properly implemented exercise program can have on arthritic conditions. The research is so exciting and the results so positive that the Arthritis Foundation has placed its stamp of approval on resistance training and now recommends it to individuals suffering from arthritis.
There are three things you should do before beginning any exercise program. First, consult with the appropriate health care professionals (i.e. physician, dietician, professional trainer, etc.). Second, determine your goals (weight loss, pain reduction, increased strength, etc.). Third, always exercise at your level – not someone else’s. Too many people get concerned with what other people are doing and then try to perform at their level. I say, “who cares how much someone else does?” Instead, start at a comfortable level and continuously work to improve yourself. Arthritis can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition; however, research is proving that exercise, especially a properly performed resistance training program, can provide some much needed relief from this condition.
If you or someone you know has or believes they may have arthritis and would like more information, you can contact the Arthritis Foundation at 800-283-7800 or visit them on the web at www.arthritis.org. If you have arthritis and are interested in participating in a research study involving resistance training and arthritis, contact Troy Huggett’s Fitness Pros at 269-967-6300.
America Keeps Gaining!
Generally, my title would lead to a story about America improving. Unfortunately, this month I’ll focus on America’s expanding (gaining) waist line and show you the challenges and answers which have allowed people to regain their health, shed fat, and reduce many negative side effects of excess body fat induced diseases.
Understanding the Challenge
- The leisure time activities of most people increasingly revolve around television, movies, and other passive activities. As a consequence, most adults lose ½ pound of muscle per year, which causes a ½ % decline in metabolic rate.
- Two decades of media emphasis on the physical fitness boom has ended in a bust. Millions of people have been injured or received no results from exercise. Statistics show that fewer than 10% of adults do anything classified as vigorous at least three times per week.
- Nutrition Confusion: Fat grams, sugar free, antioxidants, health foods, etc. Such advice has simply confused people. Although we are eating more low fat & sugar free foods than ever before, we’ve compensated by eating more of everything else. As a result, most adults add 1 ½ pounds of fat per year to their bodies, most around the mid-section, hips & thighs.
- Research indicates that most people become drier as they age. This drying occurs throughout the body, skin, hair, internal organs, bones, muscles and even fatty tissues. Even mild dehydration accelerates muscle loss and accumulation of fat.
- More information exists today than ever before on eating & exercise. Unfortunately, bad information is increasing in disproportionately large amounts compared to good information.
The Answer to the Problem
- Loss of muscle mass: Strength training rebuilds lost muscle. It is critical that all Americans begin an appropriate strength training program. The prevention of muscle loss is imperative to living a healthy, independent life. *It is important to consult your health care team before starting any exercise program. It is also advisable to work with a qualified exercise specialist to assure you are performing the exercises safely and effectively.
- Unsafe and unproductive exercises: Any exercise can be unsafe and unproductive. The safest way to strength train is by taking 4 seconds to lift and 4 seconds to lower the weight.
- Nutrition confusion that causes people to overeat and gain fat: Your nutrition plan should be simple, yet specific. If the plan is too complicated or too restrictive, most of us will not stick to it for life. I recommend you consult a registered dietician for an individualized plan or follow the FAST FAT LOSS FOREVER program which has 3 separate meal plans, offering 4 separate choices per meal. Each meal plan leads you through 3 balanced meals and 2 delicious snacks. This nutrition program was developed by Carol Barr, R. D., and teaches portion control, facilitates appetite regulation, and accelerates fat loss.
- Dehydration: Curing dehydration involves a systematic, progressive approach to sipping a minimum of 1 gallon of ice-cold water per day.
- Too many plans: Having a course of action is critical to success. However, we have been bombarded with so many plans it’s hard to know what to do. This is why I continue to research the available programs and repot to you the safest and most effective. I have experimented and tested many programs and the most logical, safest, and quickest plan still lies in my famed Triad Approach:
- Proper exercise (including strength training).
- A balanced diet (appropriate calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat).
- Adequate hydration (1 gallon per day).
Follow the triad and you can improve your physical health, reduce many of the negative (potentially deadly) side effects of excess body fat and gain greater physical independence.
*The information presented in this article is excerpted (with small modifications) from Troy Huggett’s book, FAST FAT LOSS FOREVER. The nutrition information, recommendations and individual meals were developed by Carol Barr, R.D. of the Battle Creek Health System.
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