So what is NEAT you ask? It is all the energy used that is secondary to planned exercise and weight training activities.

Last week I talked a little bit about incorporating NEAT (non-exercise thermogenesis) into a weight loss program. So today I will be expanding upon what exactly that means, and what it can do for you. The information for today’s post come from a study published in April of 2015.
So what is NEAT you ask? It is all the energy used that is secondary to planned exercise and weight training activities. For instance fidgeting, singing, walking, laughing, cleaning, standing, and any other movements throughout the day count towards NEAT (also see table at the bottom*). Individually these activities don’t use many calories, however, when combined the NEAT activities can generate a great deal burned calories. In fact, it is estimated that those who are lean and active burn and additional 350 calories DAILY compared to those who are sedentary. For such small changes in what you do on a daily basis those are some big results.
Here are some more highlights taken from the paper that I think you will find interesting:
– NEAT variability can explain the caloric expenditure differences in individuals with similar body types. Variances in work and leisure-time activities in individuals play a fundamental role in NEAT differences.
– By just doing simple daily manual task activities, NEAT can be enhanced throughout the workday and at home.
– NEAT decreases cardiovascular disease mortality and improves metabolic parameters.
– NEAT has good long-term adherence, with positive impact.
Check out the rest of the article at the link below, and I highly encourage you to take a look at the table at the end of this email to see what steps you can take to increase your activity. I think it is also important to remember that the ultimate goal is to create a sustainable healthy practices. There is no need to try and do all of these things at once, but to focus on creating one healthy habit at a time.
TableDaily Activities According to the Amount of Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Activity Calories Burned per Hour
0-50 >50-100 >100-200
NEAT home activity
 Barbecuing/grilling X
 Cleaning X
 Clearing out storage space/garage X
 Cooking dinner X
 Grocery shopping X
 Hanging pictures X
 Ironing X
 Laundry X
 Organizing closets X
 Painting walls X
 Redecorating X
 Sweeping X
 Vacuuming X
General NEAT movements
 Climbing stairs X
 Pacing X
 Pushing a stroller X
 Riding in an automobile X
 Standing X
 Stretch band exercises X
 Stretching X
 Walking (strolling pace) X
 Walking and talking (briskly) X
 Walking around the home/office X
 Walking the dog X
 Walking to work X
NEAT yard activity
 Playing fetch with dog X
 Gardening X
 Mowing lawn X
 Planting flowers X
 Pruning shrubs X
 Raking leaves X
 Shoveling snow X
 Trimming hedges X
 Washing automobile X
 Watering plants X
 Weeding X
Hobbies and other recreational NEAT activity
 Baking X
 Bicycling X
 Bird watching X
 Playing board/card games X
 Bowling X
 Dancing X
 Fishing X
 Playing Frisbee or other outdoor games X
 Hiking X
 Journaling (while strolling) X
 Knitting/sewing X
 Kayaking X
 Playing the piano or another musical instrument X
 Reading (lounging) X
 Reading (standing) X
 Skiing (water or snow) X
 Surfing the Web (sitting) X
 Surfing the Web (standing) X
 Swimming X
 Practicing Tai Chi X
 Playing tennis X
 Watching TV X
 Watching TV on an elliptical trainer X
 Watching TV on a stationary bike X
 Watching TV on a treadmill X
 Playing video games (seated) X
 Playing video games (while moving) X
 Doing volunteer work (setting up/serving meals) X
 Window shopping X
 Practicing yoga X

TV = television.

*Mayo Clin Proc. n April 2015;90(4):509-519 n


The 4 Pillars of Fitness

The 4 pillars of fitness that truly cover the basics of the gym.

This week I decided to go back to the basics. So often I find myself nerding out on scientific articles and the latest trends that I forget what fitness is all about. So this week I am talking about the 4 pillars of fitness that truly cover the basics of the gym. The blog post referenced today was sent to me by a friend, and was originally written by The Fitnessista.
So as you can guess the information shared today is not all inclusive by any means, but when done regularly these guidelines will put you far ahead of the curb. So lets get down to it:
1. Strength – Strength training is a must for all populations. Far too often I have women tell me “but I don’t want to get too bulky.” Well here’s the thing… The people you see who look “too bulky” work very VERY hard to get to that point. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to look like a body builder, so pick up some heavy weights. Why? Well there are many reasons. Aside for getting that toned look, and glamour muscles for the guys out there, lifting weights does a lot more. For instance it is imperative for bone health and maintaining bone density as we age. This means less chance to break bones and maintain independence. Read the blog post to learn more about keeping your weight lifting routine fresh!
2. Cardio – We all know what cardio is, and I’m sure we have all been bored to death while doing it at some point. But this component is extremely important for things like heart health, releasing those feel-good endorphins, and like NEAT it’s a great way to burn extra calories. To decrease your time on the treadmill, you can add in some intervals (like our wonderful new Les Mills Grit series Wednesdays at noon) to boost EPOC (our oxygen consumption post-exercise).
3.  Flexibility – This component is ignored too often. The goal of flexibility is to maintain full range of motion in your joints, prevent movement compensations and injury, and to have healthy posture and blood circulation. The key is to find a modality that you love and stick with it. Read the blog post for some fantastic ideas.
4. Rest – By far the most underrated aspect of exercise is rest. My favorite saying is that muscles aren’t built in the gym, they are built in bed (or the kitchen). The reason is that during exercise we are actually stressing and damaging our body so muscles aren’t able to adequately rebuild and repair themselves without proper down time. Not mentioned in the blog is the nutrition side of things, so I will add in that when we exercise we use nutrients. If they are not replaced then most people end up feeling more tired than they need to. Adequate protein and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) can be obtained through your diet, or via supplements. Not only do I take supplements my self, but I have spent a great deal of time studying the field so please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.

Common Exercise Injuries To Look Out For

One of my passions lies in sports medicine, specifically Athletic Training (hence the ATC/L credentials).

Today’s post features a topic that is near and dear to my heart. This is because one of my passions lies in sports medicine, specifically Athletic Training (hence the ATC/L credentials). With that being said I want to remind everyone that I am not writing the content of these email, but merely sharing tips and tricks of the gym. So I feel I must say that what you are about to read is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone’s specific problem, and if you have any specific questions please visit your doctor 🙂
Okay lets get to the heart of this weeks topic EXERCISE INJURIES!!! Growing up without an ATC at any of my sporting event I had to do a lot of self assessment and treatment which is why I got my undergrad in Athletic Training. This post was written by Linda Melone on website, and features one of my favorite people to follow Dr. David Geier. It is very well written and features 8 injuries that I have seen/treated/experienced many times with excellent suggestions on how to avoid them.
1. Patella femoral overuse syndrome
Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and Runner Knee, this common problem manifests as pain under the kneecap that worsens when running, going down stairs, or sitting for long periods of time with knees bent. Tips to avoid this issue include strengthening the quadriceps muscles, as well as hamstrings and calves..
2. Rotator cuff tear
This injury involves damage to one of the four rotator cuff muscles that keeps your shoulder socket in place. Avoid repetitive overhead motions, and consider seeing a doctor if you modify your workout to minimize pain without improvement for a few days.
3. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear
This issue is more often than not a non-contact injury. It tends to happen when you land awkwardly from a jump, stop suddenly, change directions rapidly, and slowing down while running. There are many prevention programs, and bio-mechanics experts (cough cough) that can aid in preventing these injuries. However, preventative steps include always trying to land softly on your toes with your knees bent.
4. Boxer’s fracture
“Even if you’re not a fighter, participating in boxing classes or other training programs where you punch pads held by a trainer or you pummel a heavy bag can result in a boxer’s fracture.” I see these injuries more often in novice “punchers” and frustrated teenagers who punch the ground. Easy preventative steps include proper protection on your hands and again proper bio-mechanics.
5. Hamstring strain
Also known as a pulled muscle, these injuries can take as little as a few days or a week or two to heal or as much as six to eight weeks or even more! Prevention includes warming up thoroughly and knowing how/when to stretch.
6. Ankle fracture
These nasty injuries, along with ankle sprains, happen when you land awkwardly and invert or “twist” your ankle. Having proper proprioception (hand eye coordination) and making every effort to avoid landing on uneven surfaces are good strategies to avoid these problems.
7. Labral tear (shoulder)
I have had the unique pleasure of suffering, and getting surgery for, this injury myself! Although my injury was from a stiff arm during rugby, the author sums the core issue well as “Falling on an outstretched hand during a cardio class, a sudden pull trying to lift a heavy weight in CrossFit, or trying to stop yourself from falling can all result in this injury, defined as a tear of the cartilage bumper within the socket of the shoulder.” To avoid this injury, use a proper weight and, notice the common theme, use proper bio-mechanics.
8. Stress fracture
These tricky injuries also known as hairline fractures, often happen due to repetitive stress and usually take time to develop. Stress fractures are largely preventable if you stick to a plan that never increases your exercise by more than 10% per week and has varying routines.
I hope this post was informative, and if you want some more detail please read the article by clicking here.

All About Shoulder Strength & Stability

How to maximize your shoulders’ ability to move in a safe and injury resistance manner.

You have a choice. You can either move around in almost any direction, but be at a high risk of injury, or you can be strong, stable, and at a low risk of injury, but you can only move around a little bit. Which choice sounds better to you? Well, if you’re the joints of the hands and feet you chose the latter. But if you’re the shoulder joint, you chose the former. Being such a dynamic joint with a very low level of stability, the shoulder is  naturally very prone to injury. That’s why today’s post is all about how to maximize your shoulders’ ability to move in a safe and injury resistance manner.
How It Works
There’s a lot of moving parts when we talk about getting the arm overhead. There are 12 ribs and their spinal attachments, 10 of which have attachments at the chest. You also have scapular motion through 3 dimensions (to the side, to the front, and rotations), humeral rotation and alignment within the glenoid fossa, AC and SC joint motions or limitations, spinal motion of, at minimum, the 12 thoracic spine segments, and 24 muscles that attach through the thoracic spine, scapula and humerus. In total, there’s motion from 38 joints, making for a whole lot of potential for things to get wonky. By simply raising your arms overhead, a trained eye can tell a lot about what’s going on in the upper body. Take a look at the table below, or this video, to see how important it is for the muscles and the joints of the upper body to be in sync (1).
Inline image 1
What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
One thing that drives the issues seen above is the ever-growing tendency for us to sit! Putting other health issues aside, sitting is bad for us because it drives poor posture. Sitting drives the head forward and bends the spine in a way that makes it difficult for the shoulders to allow the arm to get overhead. It also decreases the flexibility of the big Lats and reduces the strength of the lower traps, rotator cuff, and serratus anterior (2). You may not care about those muscles, but what you probably care about is the fact that these issues can cause problems that include subacromial impingement, rotator cuff tears, glenohumeral inferior instability, sternoclavicular joint pain, acromioclavicular joint pain, glenohumeral osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder syndrome, scoliosis, lateral epicondylalgia, kyphosis, thoracic outlet syndrome, headaches, neck pain, and upper crossed syndrome (3,4). YIKES! 
Inline image 2
What’s The Best Solution?
The best solution always depends on the problem. So what’s your problem? Well, if you have to ask, you may want to seek out a professional to help you find out. In general, most people should work on a few things in particular. If you are fit and looking to do overhead or military presses to get big strong shoulders, you need to work on technique and changing up your mode of training (i.e. using resistance bands with dumbbells, bottoms up training, or changing the plane of motion). If you’re not quite ready for that level of intensity, you should be working on some basics. Essentially, you need to get some scapular (shoulder blade) positional stability and glenohumeral stability. Try to resist rotating the torso, and use a little bit of abs to hold it all together. Here are some great exercises to work on basic shoulder stability (5,6):
Inline image 3
Prone extension – Lie face down with the shoulders resting in 90° and raise the arms up off of the ground
Forward flexion in side lying – While lying on your side with your top arm straight, raise and lower your arm off of the ground
External rotation in side lying – While lying on your side elbow flexed 90°, rotate your arm upward with a towel between the elbow and trunk to avoid compensatory movements
Prone horizontal abduction with external rotation – While lying face down hands by your hips, raise your arms off of the ground and squeeze your shoulders together
Push up plus – While in a push up position against a wall or on the ground, perform a full push up and emphasis on an extra push once the arms are fully extended (bonus points for using an unstable surface)
Plank walking – Hold a push-up position with the feet together and walk the hands sideways while keeping the feet in place making an arch
Bottom Line
To have healthy shoulders, good posture, and lower chances of upper body pain and injury, you need to work on the basics. External rotation exercises are underappreciated by almost everyone. Whether you like to lift heavy weights, or if you simply want to place a can of beans on the top shelf without pain, you need to be working on shoulder health. And while there are many ways to achieve happy shoulders, simply working on the muscles of the back is a good place to start. So, sit up in your chair, roll your shoulders back a few times, and take a deep belly breath. See how easy it is to get started?!
1. Howe, L., & Blagrove, R. (2015). Shoulder function during overhead lifting tasks: implications for screening athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 37(5). 
2. Weon, J., Oh, J., Cynn, H., Kim, Y., Kwon, O., & Yi, C. (2010). Influence of forward head posture on scapular upward rotators during isometric shoulder flexion. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 14(4), 367-374. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.06.006
3. Nagai, K., Tateuchi, H., Takashima, S., Miyasaka, J., Hasegawa, S., Arai, R.. . Ichihashi, N. (2013). Effects of trunk rotation on scapular kinematics and muscle activity during humeral elevation. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology : Official Journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology, 23(3), 679-687. doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2013.01.012
4. Fayad, F., Roby-Brami, A., Yazbeck, C., Hanneton, S., Lefevre-Colau, M., Gautheron, V.. . Revel, M. (2008). Three-dimensional scapular kinematics and scapulohumeral rhythm in patients with glenohumeral osteoarthritis or frozen shoulder. Journal of Biomechanics, 41(2), 326-332. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2007.09.004
5. De Mey, K., Danneels, L., Cagnie, B., & Cools, A. M. (2012). Scapular muscle rehabilitation exercises in overhead athletes with impingement symptoms: Effect of a 6-week training program on muscle recruitment and functional outcome. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(8), 1906-1915
6. de Araújo, R. C., de Andrade, R., Tucci, H. T., Martins, J., & de Oliveira, A. S. (2011). Shoulder muscular activity during isometric three-point kneeling exercise on stable and unstable surfaces. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 27(3), 192.

Water Water Everywhere!

Today’s post is another double whammy! I am talking about staying healthy in the pool, and for those non-swimmers, the delicious healthiness of watermelon.

Today’s post is another double whammy! I am talking about staying healthy in the pool, and for those non-swimmers, the delicious healthiness of watermelon. I figure that in this heat everyone should be looking to use one or both of these things to stay cool 
Watermelon is one of my favorite foods because of how useful it is. Whether you slice it, cube it, freeze it, or make a drink from it, watermelon is endlessly delicious. Better yet, it is HEALTHY! Some of it’s good qualities include:
– Natural hydrator by containing 92% water
– Having heart healthy nutrients such as lycopene and citrulline
– An arginine precursor that can decrease body fat and enhance muscle
– Decrease post-exercise muscle soreness
Now that we know that watermelon helps out so much with exercise, lets take a look at swimming as a way to stay healthy. We all know that swimming is a great way to stay in shape. In fact swimming has been shown to reduce death rates in men, as well as decrease blood pressure. But it is not without its own set of risks for orthopedic injuries of the shoulders, knees, and lower back. So here are a few tips to keep those joints feeling good:
– Work on your stroke mechanics, and correct them before you develop pain
– Use traditional rehabilitation exercises as part of your injury prevention program. Target and strengthen the abdominal muscles, rotator cuff muscles, muscles around the shoulder blade, lower back muscles, and quadriceps and hip muscles (see me for details on how)
– When you are experiencing pain, tell some one and ADDRESS IT!!! Don’t fight through the pain. It drives me nuts when my athletes do this.
I hope everyone enjoyed this weeks post! Be sure to check out the NASM blog post about watermelon to get some great recipes, and check out Dr. Geier’s blog for more info about preventing injuries while swimming.

Stopping DOMS

Today’s post is all about mitigating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Today’s post is all about mitigating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Now I want to be clear that DOMS is neither a good or a bad thing. It is just a part of the exercise experience for all of us. However, no one wants to be disabled the day after a heavy exercise session. So in an attempt to help us all walk normally after leg day, I will do my best to explain what causes DOMS, and how to dampen it.
Speaking of leg day, I think we have all been there. Day 1 you squat. Day 2 you feel tight. Days 2.5-4  you feel like every step, stair, and leg movement will make you cry. Days 6-7 you start to feel better and you do leg day again. This problem is experienced frequently and more severely with the initiation of an exercise program in a previously untrained person or muscle group. There is debate as to the exact cause of DOMS, however it is safe to say that muscle damage plays a large roll in its causation.
Here are a few ways to prevent DOMS when starting a new program, brought to you by the NSCA.
1. Caffeine! That’s right, a cup of Joe can help relieve some of that muscle pain. But the dose and timing make this intervention difficult to nail down. Around 5 mg/kg before a workout is recommended, but that equation isn’t always right for everyone.
2. Cryotherapy – This fancy term for ice bath, is an intervention that has been used for years. But realistically it’s just not practical. No one likes to be dunked in cold water, and especially not for the 10 minutes suggested. But hey, I won’t stop you if you want to turn your self into a Popsicle to avoid a little pain the day after a heavy lift.
3. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) – I am personally not a big fan of this intervention. Research shows that it has modest effects, and there’s no consensus on how much to take or when. For me, the best option is to take a high quality protein before and after exercise. It’s cheaper, tastier, and has a multitude of additional benefits.
4. Aerobic exercise – This should already be a part of your exercise routine, so it should be easy to implement. Doing 10-20 minutes worth of cardio before resistance exercise, or using active rest between sets, can be a great way to off set some DOMS.
I hope you all learned about some new ways to decrease your DOMS. Be sure to check out the full article for more information about each intervention, and to check out some of the science behind it all.

Serape Diem: Functional Core Exercise’s You Should Be Doing

How are you going to translate the force produced from those strong legs to the arms? By utilizing the Serape effect of course!!!!

Imagine your body is made up of two big blocks of meat. You have your upper body and you have your lower body. Now imagine you want to use both of those big blocks of meat simultaneously to do something like throw/hit a ball, dig a hole or golf , push a cart full of groceries, or punch a heavy bag. How are you going to translate the force produced from those strong legs to the arms? By utilizing the Serape effect of course!!!! The Serape effect is basically the use of the core to translate force from the lower body through the arms. There are a variety of “functional” exercises that you can, and should, be doing to make sure you’re not overusing joints which can lead to injury. So now that you have a little background knowledge, let’s dive into today’s post!


The term “functional training” is a bit of a buzzword garbage term. My favorite quote regarding this is from James Fell that says “It’s meaningless. Any time someone says an exercise is functional it means they don’t know what they’re talking about. All exercises are functional. Your mom is functional.” Funny and true. All exercise has function, and a variety of exercise is important to maintain function. For instance, if you exclusively use exercise machines, you may lose the ability to use those strong muscles in a rotational fashion. That’s where the functional aspect of training the Serape comes in. Broadly, the core  can be described as being between the joints of the shoulders and hips.The muscles that attach the pelvis, spine, and rib cage perform many functions. Hip musculature generates the majority of power, then transfers it upward through the linkage to the arms through a “stiffened” core, which creates efficient transfer of forces, and is one of the keys to injury prevention. The Serape involves these features from both ends of the core in a spiral pattern (1). It actually wraps itself around the trunk of the body, perfectly designed for rotating the hips and shoulders in an opposite direction allowing the hips to lead and the shoulder to follow in many ground-based activities such as throwing, batting, golfing, or punching (2). Take a look at the pictures below and/or this video for a good visualization of how it works.

If you’re a nerd like me and want to know what exact muscles are involved, here are some pictures detailing the exact muscles used with the Serape.

Serape Training For Beginners

Training the Serape muscles is easier than it looks. Yes, there are a lot of muscles involved. But remember, we are not isolating any single muscle in particular, we are learning how to use them all in an efficient manner. If you’re not doing so already, you will want to start doing Olympic-style lifts and traditional strength lifts such as squats, bench press, and pull-ups. These are non Serape specific exercises, but if you don’t have strength in the upper and lower body then you won’t have strength to translate through the core to begin with! You will also want to start by training the four basic trunk movement patterns with dynamic and/or static exercises. Beginners should do exercises that train in what we call single-plane basic movement patterns. Single-plane exercises are usually easy to learn and include exercises such as the crunch (trunk flexion), back extension/hyper-extension (trunk extension), Russian twist (trunk rotation), and side bend (lateral flexion) (3).

For those more advanced, you may want to consider multi-plane exercises that target areas you’re not getting with your standard training. This is because there is huge inter-personal variety in terms of which ab-exercises work best for whom (4). By simply extending your arms over your head during a crunch, you can drastically increase abdominal muscle involvement. Take a look at the chart below to get an idea of what exercises work for different parts of the core (the lower the number the better). Before we move on to the last section of this post, I think it’s important to note that any exercise performed for abs will always use all the muscle groups that compose the abdominal wall when done correctly. Proper technique is paramount to all exercise, so make sure that you consult a professional if you are a novice, are unsure of what you’re doing, or experience pain during exercise.

Hard Work Pays Off

While it’s been long proven that abdominal exercises won’t turn a beer belly into a six pack, we do know that core exercises are paramount for a healthy body and for safety during exercises that will get you strong and help you lose weight (5). Core stiffness enhances athletic performance, and guess what your doing at the gym?… performing athletically (6)! So once you have set the foundation of a strong body, you can get into the fun exercises that greatly enhance your athletic performance on and off the playing field, (aka daily life activities). Here are some of the best ways to train the Serape movement pattern:

– Rotating exercises done from a standing position and alternating punching/pressing and pulling

– Utilize various stances, 2-arm and single-arm loading

– Alternating pressing/pulling patterns, as well as different stepping movements

I’ll finish up by reminding you of why we are working on the core and Serape. Muscles of the Serape form a spiraling system that enhances the efficiency of cyclic activity such as walking, together with power and speed activities such as throwing and golf. The stiffened core enables power produced in the lower limbs to transfer to the joints of the upper end of the core (or vice versa) forming a whip. So get of those machines and start whipping yourself into shape!

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  1. Santana, JC., McGill, Stuart M., Brown, LE., (2015). Anterior and Posterior Serape: The Rotational Core. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 37(5), 1519
  2. Santana JC. The serape effect: A kinesiological model for core training. Strength Cond J 25: 73–74, 2003.
  3. Willardson, Jeffrey M., editor of compilation, & ebrary, I. (2014). Developing the core. Leeds: Human Kinetics.
  4. Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies, Fitness- Krafttraining. Die besten Übungen und Methoden für Sport und Gesundheit, 2000
  5. Vispute, S. S., Smith, J. D., LeCheminant, J. D., & Hurley, K. S. (2011). The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(9), 2559.
  6. Lee, B. C. Y., & McGill, S. M. (2015). Effect of long-term isometric training on core/torso stiffness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(6), 1515.

How Much Should You Rest Between Sets?

In today’s post is I’m talking about doing nothing.

In today’s post is I’m talking about doing nothing. Well really I’m talking about how much time should you wait between your sets. As you could imagine, it depends on what your goals are. But for most of us the answer is “as little as possible.”
Well the following information is for those of you looking to lose weight and gain muscle. If these aren’t your goals then this information may not be for you. So here are some reasons why 1 minute is the target rest time for most of us.
 – Compared to a 3m rest, 1m rest intervals cost 36% higher energy expenditure!!!
 – The smaller rest time stimulates greater muscle growth which of course is needed to look toned and trim
 – You shorten your overall time training… and who wouldn’t want to do that?!?!
 – This short rest time, and other forms of HIIT have been shown to be way better than spending hours on the treadmill in the “fat burning zone”.

All About The Heat, Hydration, & Sweat

Let’s take a look at what you should be doing to keep yourself healthy and cool while exercising and looking hot!

Today I wanted to stay on the theme of fluid consumption, so let’s take a look at how to have fun and stay safe during the summer heat. This topic is important to me for many reasons. I am an Athletic Trainer which means I am a health care professional who collaborates with physicians to provide preventive services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. So naturally, I want to keep everyone safe. In addition, I am a super heavy sweater, so I know firsthand the perils of not properly preparing. So let’s take a look at what you should be doing to keep yourself healthy and cool while exercising and looking hot!


Warm Up to The Heat

When it comes to exercising in the heat, you don’t want to go into it cold. And by that I mean, you need to get your body prepared for the extra stress that heat places upon it. Acclimation is the process by which the body adapts to heat stress, and it is a crucial element to heat safety. Because it can take a few weeks to get acclimated, you want to slowly increase the volume, duration, and intensity of your training. The complete process will vary depending on activity, but in general, during days 1-5 there should be light to moderate exercise lasting no more than 1 hour. During days 6-14, increase the exercise load up to 3 hours (1). This process is extremely important and should be taken seriously. It would also be wise to learn about the dangers of heat illness such as heat syncope, exercise (heat) exhaustion, and exertional heat stroke (2). Especially when you’re starting to get used to the heat, it is wise to prepare yourself by adjusting your training sessions, training with a partner, pre-cooling with ice towels before exercise. Try to and have ice vests/towels and even cold-water baths ready in case you need to rapidly cool down.


Sweet Scent of Sweat

Sweating is a normal, expected outcome of exercise. And before we talk about how much you should be drinking, it’s important to know how much you’re sweating. One way to figure this out is to use the simple test of weighing yourself before and after a run to get a sense of how much fluid you’re losing. This way you know how much water you need to be drinking during that time span.

But why do some people sweat more than others? Well, the answer might not be what you expect because it doesn’t have to do with how much body fat you have, or if you’re in great cardiovascular shape (3)! Sweating is a cooling mechanism that aims to dampen your skin. Then the sweat gets evaporated, and that process of evaporation cools you down. So essentially, those who produce more heat will be the ones who sweat more. Acclimation plays a role in this as well because as you exercise more in the heat, your body knows that you will be getting hot, so it starts producing a lot sweat quickly (4). There are other factors that play into how much you sweat. Factors you can’t change include how many sweat glands you’re born with (2 – 5 hundred thousand) and the fact that men sweat more than women (5). Modifiable factors that will make you sweat more include taking stimulants (e.g. caffeine), alcohol consumption, nicotine, and non-breathable clothing such as synthetic fabrics. There are also medical issues that will make you sweat more including hyperhidrosis and anxiety that require a doctor to diagnose.


Hydration, Electrolytes, Cramps, And Other Myths

When it comes to hydration during exercise, and life in general, there are a lot of myths, old wives’ tales, and misinformation thrown around on the internet. This is a bit off topic, but I would like to start by saying you don’t need to drink 8 glasses of water a day regardless of what marketing departments tell you (6). Even though dehydration will decrease your metal abilities, you would need to fight the urge to drink something for quite a while before that takes effect. Up next, coffee does not dehydrate you (7)!!!!!! Drinking coffee in isolation won’t cause dehydration because, guess what, it’s a liquid. The water that comes with the coffee far offsets the increase in sweating that comes with it. Here comes the big shock of the post… hydration and electrolytes have NOTHING to do with cramps during exercise (8)! This widespread misconception is again largely driven by marketing. Cramps are more likely caused by a high intensity of exercise, family history of cramps, and muscle damage (9). The latter point is the most important. Muscle damage caused by excessive heat can be a sign that your body is entering a danger zone. So when you’re exercising outdoors in hot and humid weather, take cramps seriously as a possible sign of heat illness (10).

Now that the myth busting is out of the way, let’s dive into what you should be doing to be safe in the heat. The first tip is to begin with the end in mind. And by that I mean you should come into an exercise session already hydrated. Euhydration is when you’re at an ideal, or slightly greater than ideal, level of hydration. This is important because many people can only drink about a liter of fluid an hour even though they sweat much more than that (11). So how can you tell if you’re at a euhydrated state? Well the answer is in your pee! Check out the chart below to see where your hydration level should be.



There are many hydration strategies out there, but your best bet is to just sip on water regularly throughout your exercise routine. If you don’t like the taste of water, then you can drink something with a little more flavor if you prefer. No matter what you drink, the end result will be about the same. But it’s important to remember that unless you are exercising for more than two hours, sports drinks aren’t going to be beneficial and will only add to your total amount of calories consumed for the day. The most important thing to do is weigh yourself before and after your exercise and drink back what you lost during that time.

Body By Booz: The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Fitness Goals

How does doing 12oz curls can influence your fitness and physique? Whether you’re drinking whiskey, wine, or whatever else you use as social lube, we will dive into how it will influence your waistline.

Happy 4th of July! When I think about the celebration of this holiday, images of barbecues, fireworks, and beer dance through my head. I know that I’m certainly not alone when it comes to this way of thinking, which is why I wanted to write about how doing 12oz curls can influence your fitness and physique. So whether you’re drinking whiskey, wine, or whatever else you use as social lube, let’s dive into how it will influence your waistline.
The Basics Of Imbibing
Alcohol comes in many forms, but in general a unit is typically 12 oz (355 mL) of 5% beer, 5 oz (150 mL) 12.5% wine, or 1.5 oz (45 mL) of drinks with a higher (40%) alcohol content. Most of us drink alcohol because it’s a neuroactive chemical that gets us buzzed. But that inebriation comes at a caloric cost that most forget about. That fire water you’re enjoying contains 7 calories per gram energy-wise, but this does not always correlate well with body weight like the other macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) do. Finally, as you read the rest of this post it’s important to keep in mind that “moderate” drinking is dependent on gender and not ultimately defined, but an upper limit can be placed at 9 units per week for women and 12-14 units a week for men, with no single event exceeding 4 units.
Beer Nuts & Drunk Munchies
If you’re trying to lose weight, or at least not gain a beer belly, you know that you want to consume fewer calories than you expend. Drinking can certainly influence both aspects, but lets take a closer look at the former aspect of the equation. One important thing to consider when it comes to eating under the influence is that alcohol alters your brain activity along with your hunger hormones. In turn, it can influence what you perceive as tasty. We know that increased calorie consumption is not due to a drunken urge to chow down, but rather it’s due to an increased food-related reward when we taste energy-rich foods… like nachos (1). And remember how calories that come from booze don’t always correlate well with body weight? Well that’s because the calories that you get from alcohol have a large individual variability according to the absolute amount of alcohol consumed, drinking frequency as well as genetic factors. For instance, alcohol calories count more in moderate non-daily consumers than in daily (heavy) consumers as well as counting more in combination with a high-fat diet and in overweight and obese individuals (2). Just another reason why counting your calories can be frustrating. Although binge drinking can cause binge eating, it’s safe to say that exercising in moderation while tossing a few back together with a healthy lifestyle won’t cause weight gain (3).
Obviously, not gaining weight is not enough for most of us. If you want to lose weight then you may want to consider altering your drinking habits. This is because drinking is done in social situations, which leads to social eating, which can lead to poor nutritional choices. You should start by tracking your choices on getting tipsy with a drinking journal. From there, you can address where in your lifestyle you need to make adjustments. For more information on how exactly to go about this, you can listen to or read this wonderful information put you by the folks over at Precision Nutrition.
Ethanol & Exercise
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The key theme and take away from this whole post should be that moderation is key. Drinking a brew or two after exercise every once in a while won’t make you gain weight or lose any benefits you get from the bout of exercise. However, over indulging, especially on a consistent basis, will decrease your overall health and stop progress in its tracks. So have some fun if drinking is your thing, but don’t be an Animal House frat boy. This may be the best way to live life to the fullest.
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1. Yeomans, M. R. (2010). Short term effects of alcohol on appetite in humans. effects of context and restrained eating. Appetite, 55(3), 565-573. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2010.09.005
2. Suter, P. M., & Tremblay, A. (2005). is alcohol consumption a risk factor for weight gain and obesity? Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 42(3), 197-227. doi:10.1080/10408360590913542
3. Traversy G, Chaput J-P. Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Current Obesity Reports. 2015;4(1):122-130. doi:10.1007/s13679-014-0129-4.
4. Jiménez-Pavón, D., Cervantes-Borunda, M. S., Díaz, L. E., Marcos, A., & Castillo, M. J. (2015). Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: A crossover study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 26. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0088-5
5. Burke, L. M., Collier, G. R., Broad, E. M., Davis, P. G., Martin, D. T., Sanigorski, A. J., & Hargreaves, M. (2003). Effect of alcohol intake on muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 95(3), 983-990. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00115.2003
6. Ebrahim, I., Fenwick, P., Williams, A. J., & Shapiro, C. (2015). Alcohol and sleep review: Sound statistics and valid conclusions. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 39(5), 944-946. doi:10.1111/acer.12708
7. Steiner, J. L., Gordon, B. S., & Lang, C. H. (2015). Moderate alcohol consumption does not impair overload-induced muscle hypertrophy and protein synthesis. Physiological Reports, 3(3), e12333.
8. Duplanty, A. A., Budnar, R. G., Luk, H. Y., Levitt, D. E., Hill, D. W., McFarlin, B. K., … & Vingren, J. L. (2016). Effect of Acute Alcohol Ingestion on Resistance Exercise Induced mTORC1 Signaling in Human Muscle. Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association.