5 Tips to Improve Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Let’s face it, there are plenty of ideas circulating around that you could try to use in your everyday life that may potentially help you become more healthy. But what are the best things to try and how should you implement each into your lifestyle so they eventually take hold and become a habit? Here are a few ideas that I have tested that may be just what you need in order to become a healthier 2.0 version of yourself!


“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be”
John Wooden, former UCLA Basketball Coach


  • Try a yoga class. Keep in mind, that it may take time to find the right class and instructor that ends up working for you and your body. Personally, I have not found any activity that hits on all three areas of mind, body and spirit better than yoga. It’s simple, you will continue to lose joint range of motion, mobility and flexibility as you age and yoga can help bridge the gap between health and disability. After you leave a class – all three (mind/body/spirit) feel like they have been re-energized. Research continues to demonstrate that a regular yoga practice can improve everything from back pain to depression.
  • Focus on both mobility and strength training.  The majority of people focus on one or none. They are both critical in the aging process. If you want to maintain functionality as you age you must do both on a regular basis. Think “mobility and strength for life.” Make it a priority adding in mobility work before and/or after – each strength training session. Individuals continue to load their joints and muscles without spending the necessary time on improving mobility. Ever wonder why chiropractors, orthopedic docs and PT’s are continually taking on new patients? Work on mobility to prevent disability.
  • Let technology help. It seems everyday there are new apps coming out that can help make us more aware of our current health status. I actually came across one such app called Welltory that does just that. It basically documents how well your body is handling stress each day and what your energy level looks like. Take a look at this free app for a week or two and see how well you’re doing in those areas. When your body releases too much cortisol (known as the stress hormone), from lack of sleep, too much stress, etc. – you’ll have trouble in other areas, like trying to build muscle. Another cool meditation app that can help reduce stress and improve mood is Headspace. I have previously written about it here and here.
  • Don’t neglect sleep. In my opinion, sleep is one of the key missing pieces of the human puzzle.  Have a few bad nights with inadequate amounts of sleep and you’ll (always) pay the price.  We have become a sleep-deprived society and the evidence supports this; showing that we sleep on an average 6.8 hours as opposed to 9 hours a century ago. About 30 percent of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours per night. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that individuals who got less than 5.5 hours of sleep each night lost 60 percent more lean muscle that those who got adequate sleep. Another study from the University of Colorado showed subjects that got minimal sleep on consecutive nights gained two pounds on average over the course of the study. A third study from the University of Pennsylvania Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory looked at the sleeping and eating behavior of 225 people. They reported in the journal Sleep, when you’re awake between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., you’re more likely to consume extra calories. The group ate an average of 553 more calories, typically choosing foods higher in fat, when they were kept awake until the early morning hours. Make sure you get or catch up on your ZZZZZ’s.
  • Cut back on added sugar. This one tip that hopefully turns into a habit can significantly improve many different facets of your life, including sleep, energy, oral health, body weight and body fat, to name a few. The average American consumes about 40 teaspoons of sugar each day (about 600 calories) and this far exceeds what your body needs. The American Heart Association recommends the amount be cut to a maximum of six teaspoons (100 calories or 25 grams) a day for women and nine teaspoons (150 calories or 38 grams) for men. One study that was completed at the University of California at Davis, found adults who consumed 25 percent of their daily calories from HFCS for two weeks had increase levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, indicators of increased risk for heart disease. And in 2011, researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University concluded that high fructose consumption by teenagers could potentially put them at risk for heart disease and diabetes.


Webb WB and Agnew HW (1975). Are we chronically sleep deprived? Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, vol. 6, p. 47. (82)

National Sleep Foundation, Sleep in America Poll (2003). National Sleep Foundation, Washington, DC, USA.

Nedeltcheva AV, et al., (2010). Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals Internal Medicine 153, 435-441.

Basu S, Yoffe P, Hills N, Lustig RH (2013). The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57873

Stanhope KL, Bremer AA, Medici V, Nakajima K, Ito Y, Nakano T, Chen G et al. (2011). Consumption of Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup Increase Postprandial Triglycerides, LDL-Cholesterol, and Apolipoprotein-B in Young Men and Women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 96(10); DOI: 10.1210/jc.2011-1251

Pollock NK, Bundy V, Kanto W, Davis CL, Bernard PJ et al., (2011). Greater Fructose Consumption is Associated with Cardiometabolic Risk Markers and Visceral Adiposity in Adolescents. Journal of Nutrition, 2011; 142 (2): 251 DOI: 10.3945/jn.111.150219


20 Health and Fitness Facts Based on Research that Could Help You

We are inundated each day with hundreds of adds while online, on our phones, watching TV, or from just about anything else we may read. With that said, there is a great deal of conflicting information and more than one view on just about any health/fitness/exercise topic. I’m always interested in where the content and data are coming from and are they backed by science. Even when it is, there can be times that the information or data collected has been taken from a small sample size or the researcher had a vested interest in the research being done.

Here are a few health and fitness facts for you that come from prominent academic sources involving research that you can hopefully use to improve your own health and fitness.

  • The University of Pennsylvania Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory looked at the sleeping and eating behavior of 225 people. They reported, in the journal Sleep, when you’re awake between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., you’re more likely to consume extra calories. The group ate an average of 553 more calories, typically choosing foods higher in fat, when they were kept awake until the early morning hours.
  • Research published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, show mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi do more than just relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression.
  • Research from the journal Obesity, shows exposure to higher levels of cortisol, an indicator of stress, over several months is associated with people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight. The research involved 2,527 men and women aged 54 and older who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, that looked at data over a four-year period.
  • Dr. Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance, and his colleagues have shown through their research that every additional 150 calories of added sugar consumed above daily requirements was associated with a 1.1 percent increase risk of type 2 diabetes. A second study showed subjects who got 17-21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21% or more of their calories from added sugar (D’Adamo, 2015).
  • “Fat (in our diet) is not the problem,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.” Research from Harvard University published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed subjects over a twenty year period and determined that the food most often associated with weight gain was you guessed it, white potatoes (NEJM, 2011).
  • The fact is that a brain hijacked by a diet high in sugar and flour blocks weight loss. It does this in three ways: (1) sugar and flour raise baseline insulin levels far past what our bodies were designed to handle. The elevated insulin not only sets us up for diabetes, but it turns out its blocking the brain from recognizing a critical hormone: leptin. (2) after eating the average American amount of sugar for just three weeks, 22 teaspoons, the brain’s pleasure receptors do something called “down-regulating.” Essentially, to cope with the excessive stimulation, the brain takes some of its receptors offline. (3) willpower isn’t a dimension of your personality, something some people are born with and others simply lack. Willpower is a cognitive function and we all have about the same amount, fifteen minutes, give or take. Meaning any successful diet MUST expect that your willpower will fail AT LEAST once a day and work anyway (source: Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD).
  • The average American consumes too much added sugar on a daily basis. Americans currently eat about 76 pounds of different forms of sugars every year. Even though we have seen a 15% decrease in added sugar consumption since 1999, according to government data, the typical person still eats about 94 grams (or 375 calories) on a daily basis (U.S. Department of Agriculture).
  • A meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reviewed 49 studies of men ages 50 to 83 who did progressive resistance training and found that subjects averaged a 2.4-pound increase in lean body mass.
  • Approximately three decades of age-related strength loss and two decades of age-related muscle mass loss can be recovered or reversed within the first couple of months of starting a strength training program. (Ivey, 2000).
  • A study in the journal Nutrients suggests a daily intake of 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for older adults who do regular strength training. This is much higher than 0.8 grams/kg/body weight than you may have previously read or been told. This would mean, for example, that a 175-pound man would need about 79 grams to 103 grams a day. If possible, divide your protein equally among your daily meals to maximize muscle protein synthesis.
  • It was reported in Stuart Phillips 2016 paper, Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health, that “evidence suggests that intakes of high quality protein in the range of 1.2-1.6 grams/kilo/body weight is a more ideal target to achieve optimal health outcomes in adults.”
  • The average American spends more than 9 hours a day sitting. Research shows that people who sit the most have a 112 percent increase in the Relative Risk (RR) of Diabetes and a 147 percent increase in the RR of cardiovascular events compared to people who sit the least. Sitting down for a large part of the day has similar mortality rates to smoking (Wilmot et al., 2012).
  • According to research, individuals who did not strength train lost about 5 to 7 pounds of muscle every ten years and a by-product of this was that there was a reduction in their metabolism by about 50 calories a day. As you grow older, the loss of muscle becomes more pronounced and by the time you reach the age of 70, the muscular system has experienced a 40 percent loss of muscle mass and a 30 percent decrease in strength.
  • Strength appears to peak between the ages of 25 and 35 and is maintained or slightly lower between ages 40 and 59 and then declines by 12-14 percent per decade after 50 years of age, according to research published by Doherty in 2001.
  • Research has demonstrated that individuals who use a pedometer take an additional 2,000 steps each day compared to nonusers and their overall physical activity level increases by 27 percent. Looks like its time to break out the pedometer and start to step it up!
  • In a 2014 study in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Australian researchers looked at the relationship between various personality traits and exercise and other health-related habits. The researchers found that people who thought they had control over their lives were more likely to exercise and adopt other healthy steps than those who felt that luck or fate largely dictated their lives.
  • According to Len Kravitz, PhD, a researcher at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, “High intensity interval training (HIIT) adds up to 15 percent more calories to the total calories expended.” That means if you’ve worked off 550 calories doing HIIT, you can reasonably expect to burn at least another 83 calories post-exercise.
Credit: https://sunstonefit.com
  • Research has shown that drinking 17-ounces of water upon waking up in the morning will increase your metabolic rate by about 30 percent over the next few hours. The same researchers believe that over the course of a year, individuals who increase water consumption by just 1.5 liters a day could burn an extra 17,400 calories and experience a five-pound weight loss.
  • Research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School determined that those who skip breakfast are 4 ½ times more likely to be obese compared to people who make time to eat in the morning.
  • According to a Georgia Centenarian Study, individuals who eat breakfast regularly have lower rates of Type 2 diabetes and are less likely to develop heart failure over the course of their lifetime compared to than those who don’t eat breakfast. The study that looked at older Americans, over a 13-year period, suggests that regularly eating breakfast may lead to a longer-than-average life span.


Phillips SM et al., (2016). Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health, Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 41: 565-572

Sarah E. Jackson, Clemens Kirschbaum, Andrew Steptoe (2017), Hair cortisol and adiposity in a population-based sample of 2,527 men and women aged 54 to 87 years. Obesity, 25 (3):539 DOI: 10.1002/oby.21733

Ivana Buric, Miguel Farias, Jonathan Jong, Christopher Mee, Inti A. Brazil (2017). What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Frontiers in Immunology, 8 DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670

Wilmot EG1, Edwardson CL (2012). Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and meta-analysis, Diabetologia. 55(11): 2895-905. doi: 10.1007/s00125-012-2677-z

Poon, L.W., Clayton, G., & Martin, P., et al. (1989). Individual similarities and differences of the oldest-old in the Georgia Centenarian Study. The Gerontologist, 29, 43.

Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC, Jordan J. (2003). Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 88(12):6015-6019

Ivey, FM et al., The Effects of Age, Gender and Myostatin Genotype on the Hypertrophic Response to Heavy Resistance Strength Training. J. Gerontol: Med Sci 55A: M641-M848, 2000.

Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, and Hu FB, (2011). Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. New England J Med; 364:2392-2404.

Thompson SP (2017). There Is A Reason You Can’t Lose Weight

D’Adamo P.J (2015). The Many Consequences of Sugar Imbalance

10 Reasons Why You Should Do More Strength Training and Cardio

300px-Diagram_of_the_human_heart_(cropped)_svgI have been looking back on some of my recent strength training sessions as well as the interval training I have been doing on the cardio side. We have a tendency, with exercise, to judge if it’s working by what the bathroom scale currently reads. But that should not be the case; weight loss does not always depict the full story. With each bout of exercise, we are improving various physiological and psychological aspects of our body that are not visible to the naked eye. For example:

Strength Training:

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15% – so if you’re looking to rev up that slow metabolism and become or stay functional as you age – you need to be strength training at least a few times each week.
  • Prevents Sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10% or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.
  • Plays a role in disease prevention – like type 2 diabetes for example.
  • Improves the way your body moves resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40%).
  • Preserves the loss of muscle during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003)
  • Will offset bone loss as you age – women can expect to lose 1% of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause) – see Strong Women, Strong Bones

Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise will improve your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels – read The Inner Runner by Jason Karp, Phd and Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD
  • Regular cardio exercise like jogging, hiking, jump roping etc will “load” your bones in your lower extremity and make them stronger.
  • Makes your heart stronger, lowers your resting heart rate and enables your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with approximately a 50% reduction in disease risk.


Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. “Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management?” Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 2003; 1(1): 21-29.

How Strength Training Can Prevent Sarcopenia

We are not entirely sure what actually blesses our life with longevity. Yes, we are able to determine some factors via science, plus life expectancy is constantly on the rise, but there still isn’t a tool which can accurately measure our expiry date, or pinpoint the exact time of our death, technically speaking. However, there have been loads of surveys which tell us that almost every single person in the world doesn’t want to know how long it will take him or her to kick the bucket to begin with.

It is that unyielding dilemma which forces us to find ways to extend our vitality as much as we possibly can, so we resort to all manner of methods to keep our skin young and our bodies stout. And what is the first sign of aging? Well, apart from the laugh lines, the crow’s feet, and other hints, there is a medical condition which easily signifies the decline of health – sarcopenia. It is a slow and gradual loss of both skeletal and muscle mass which starts to kick in after the age of 30. Sadly, no one is exempt from this natural physiological change, and it is not pathological like a disease or syndrome, but there are ways to suppress its effects and hold the beast at bay, nevertheless.

You’ve probably seen or heard about elderly people up to the age of 100 who have either finished a marathon, maintained a buff, chiseled body, done an amazing athletic feat, or just defied their impending frailty by tirelessly working on their physique and keeping in shape. Honestly, whenever you witness something like that, the hat goes instantly down. We can all learn a thing or two from such experiences, so let’s see exactly how fitness prevents sarcopenia.

Bone density

The slow decay known as bone loss speeds up for both men and women during mid-life. Now, it is not something you should be scared of, considering that it is a natural occurrence, but you should tackle it head on and postpone its effects instead. Remember, we are talking about your body here, so you have all the threads to pull in your favor. For most women, increased bone loss ensues after menopause, because that is when estrogen levels drop sharply. It is said that women ages 65 to 70 who experience a fracture around the hip-joint are five times more likely to die within a year than women of the same age who don’t experience a fracture around the hip-joint. As for men, well, their skeleton is larger, loss starts later and progresses more slowly, and they do not have a period of rapid hormonal change, but that does not exempt them from the condition.

Muscle density

By the time we reach our seventies, we lose a tad more than half of our muscle mass, which explains why we feel weak and easily tire as we age. This is the main reason why strength training can prevent this occurrence, which not only keeps your muscles active and dense, but it also helps slow down the process of bone loss, too. A study has been conducted showing that postmenopausal women, who took part in a strength-training program for just one year, noticed significant improvement of their spine and hip – something which sarcopenia devours if allowed. Men (and women) who lift steel will experience a rise in testosterone levels, which is crucial for building lean mass and boosting metabolic activity. Working on your physique despite your age can greatly influence your body’s recovery, so do not shy away from breaking a sweat every now and then.

Utilize an effective strength training program and develop a diet

Two types of training are essential while creating your own strength training program. One of them is aerobic exercises, but they are not enough for maintaining an aging adults’ health. That is why resistance exercises or weight training is necessary to complete the program which will help defy aging. Apart from enhancing metabolic rate, such a combination of trainings also improve posture, immune response, and bone strength. There is even a new research which states that working on your body also helps battle cancer and heart disease. So if you want to prepare your body against slow degeneration, make sure to find a routine which suits you first, and just go one step at a time.

Credit: http://youplus.com

Diet is also a necessary part in this battle, because it supplies your body with much needed nutrients which will enable you to endure all your hardships and help improve your results. Remember, the building block of muscle mass is protein, so aim to eat a meal at least once a day which has adequate amounts of this macronutrient, crucial for muscle cell regeneration. Also, do not hesitate to supply yourself with bodybuilding supplements, because they provide you with much needed nutrients that cannot be easily found in everyday meals.


The digital world in which we live right now doesn’t require us to move, to be active, if we are to get some things done. That may be the downside, but it is not all that gloomy. Laziness is a condition that can be easily treated. Some people may just need a good old push to go out and actually do something with themselves and their bodies. Still, technology has enabled us to discuss all manner of things, even if it may be an inevitable little beast like sarcopenia, but at least we can all exchange our experiences and figure out what we can actually do about it. Trainings will pay off if you stay the course and remain diligent. What is most important is to just keep moving and staying alive.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.

The Importance of Regular Exercise as You Age

If you’re an aging baby boomer like me (born between 1946 and 1964), you probably feel, at times, the adverse effects that aging can have on your body. If you’re looking to feel better as you age and help prevent what is commonly referred to as boomeritisthen you need to exercise and be smart about what you’re doing and how long you’re doing it. The variable that most people don’t understand, however, is the volume aspect. When you’re ready to increase the volume of work, do so in a safe, progressive manner (i.e. no more than a 5-10% increase per week) and your body will return the favor by feeling more energized come next workout.

older high hurdlerWith aging, comes the onslaught of body fat and loss of muscle and strength. As you age you lose muscle (known as sarcopenia) and add body fat (it’s inevitable like death and taxes). Consistent exercise, especially strength training will help retard (slow down) the process. Why exercise? Because the average person between age 30 and 60 tends to add about one to two pounds of body weight each year if exercise and nutritional modification are not in the picture. The small weight gain may not seem like a big deal, I know, but that’s an additional 30 pounds or more over that time period. This tends to put more stress on your heart and may negatively effect other parts of the body as well. Couple that with the loss of muscle at a rate of about half-a-pound per year (five pounds per decade) and you have a real uphill battle in front of you. The magic pill that is available for you is exercise, especially strength training. Building strength as you age will not only fight off sarcopenia but will also keep your metabolism elevated and maintain functionality and improve balance. If you’re not currently doing any of this…start now…start slowly…be progressive…and most importantly, be consistent. Here is a great paper I recently re-read on sarcopenia (also read R. Roubenoff).

Effects of Strength Training on Aging

Source: http://www.worldhealth.net

Research from the field of exercise science has shown that we tend to lose roughly half a pound or more of muscle each year starting around the third to fourth decade of life depending on activity level. This may not sound like much to you but after a decade your down five pounds or more of metabolically active muscle tissue. In order to prevent this from happening you need to perform progressive strength training on a regular basis 2-3 times each week for the rest of your life!

Research from the University of Michigan Medical School has shown that through regular strength training, over a five month period, subjects were able to add 2.5 lbs. of lean muscle mass. The meta-analysis looked at 39 different strength training studies than included more than 1,300 individuals who were age 50 or older.

Let me ask you a question. If you knew you were losing muscle mass as you age and that this negtively effected your balance and overall functionality and that a magic pill – strength training – would prevent this from happening…would you give it a try?

Source: NPR Health, Seniors Can Still Bulk Up On Muscle By Pressing Iron, by Patti Neighmond.

Suggested Reading

Yes, Resistance Training Can Reverse the Aging Process, Len Kravitz, PhD

Aging Skeletal Muscle: Physiologic Changes and the Effects of Training

7 Tips from Fitness Expert Michael Wood, CSCS

MW headshot 2 copy 2One of the great things about life is the ability to continue to learn as you get older and this also holds true when applied to your own personal health and fitness. After more than 25 years in the fitness industry I have learned a few tricks of the trade along the way and here are a few of them that I focused on this past year, give them a try.

Challenge Mind and Body with New Activity. You may be into yoga, running, biking, swimming or taking exercises classes and whatever it is that’s great because they all help you clear your mind, burn calories and keep you moving. The key is to stimulate your mind, body and spirit each day with one of my favorite eight letter words: movement, activity or exercise. A few activities that I seem to have gravitated towards during the past year were stand-up paddle board, walking or running stadium stairs and snow-shoeing (with poles). I highly recommend you try them or find a new activity that will engage your mind and challenge your body.

Start Wearing a Pedometer. A pedometer is ideal for helping you increase your daily activity. I have been wearing a Fitbit pedometer since 2009 and really enjoy it. Your goal is to find out what your daily average steps are over the course of 3-5 days, then add 500 to 1000 steps a week (or 10-20% of your average determined from baseline) until you progress to 10,000 steps each day (this is about 5 miles). The average Fitbit user records about 6000 steps a day. Research by Tudor-Locke and Schuna recommend that adults avoid averaging less than 5,000 steps a day and strive to average greater than 7,500 steps a day, of which about 3,000 steps (about 30 minutes) should be taken at a cadence of 100 steps or more a minute. Stanford University researchers looked at 26 different studies and summarized the results in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Their synopsis showed individuals who use a pedometer take 2,000 additional steps each day compared to nonusers and had significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure while overall physical activity level increased by 27%.

Get Strong with Stadium Stair Workouts. Whether you walk or run the stairs it doesn’t matter because in the end the stairs always win. Stair workouts are ideal for improving cardiovascular health and building hip and leg strength. It is also a great supplement with you’re weekly strength training. It engages most of the muscles in your body and the caloric expenditure is high especially if you run. Look for an area high school or college near-by and if you’re in the Boston area give Harvard Stadium a try and don’t forget to wear your pedometer, you won’t be sorry.

Understand Strength Training is for Life. Some things in your training bag will come and go but when it comes to strength training it should be done for the rest of your life! Be consistent, challenge yourself and make it progressive. According to one 1992 study women who did not strength train lost about 7 pounds of muscle every 10 years and a by-product of this was a reduction in their metabolism by about 50 calories a day.

Bring Interval Training into Play. No matter what you’re doing on the cardio side of things add interval-based cardio sessions into the mix on a weekly basis. You can find this type of exercise at a Koko FitClub near you. Here are two FREE (audio-based) cardio sessions to try. You can find interval-based workouts like Tabata and Stadium Stair intervals for all ability levels at Koko FitClub.

You Are What You Eat. All the exercise is great but if you don’t fuel up optimally it will eventually catch up with you. Try this one tip, watch your added daily sugar. If you’re a male eat no more than 150 calories a day (38 grams/day) and if you are female make it no more than 100 calories (25 grams/day). Do this for the next month and see how better you look and feel. A recent study found a correlation between high sugar consumption and type 2 diabetes rate across various countries.

Lengthen Tight Muscles. Perform a quick needs analysis on your body with a goal in mind of finding out what’s weak and what’s tight. Once this is determined, you need to strengthen what’s weak and lengthen what’s tight. I know it sounds easy but most people do not do this and invariably end up compounding any problems they may have had. In regard to the tight muscles, add some of these modalities or activities to your current routine: add a dynamic warm-up prior to exercise, try a yoga class, use a foam roller, get regular massages or relax in a hot tub. If muscles are either too tight or too weak they are basically an accident waiting to happen. Maybe this is one of the reasons why you have low back pain. If nothing else, at least try the foam roller and “roll out” to a new you for the new year!


Tudor-Locke C and Schuna JM (2012). Steps to Preventing Type 2 Diabetes: Exercise, Walk More, or Sit Less? Frontiers in Endocrinology 3(142):1-7.

Bravata DM, Smith-Spangler C, et al. (2007). Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health. Journal American Medical Association 298(19):2296-2304.

Michael Wood, CSCS, has been Chief Fitness Officer of Koko FitClub since 2005. The Koko digital gym currently has more than 130 franchise locations in 28 states. 

Want to Stay Young? Watch These 10 Biomarkers

art-biomarkersBiomarkers are measures of various significant biological states, used to monitor our health. They are also the best way to track the effectiveness of efforts to slow down aging. As this quick review of current biomarker research shows, strength training is the key.

1. Muscle Mass. Muscle mass is the most important of the 10 biomarkers. You lose it at a rate of 0.5 lbs./year or 5 pounds per decade starting at age 40. Strength training can offset this critical loss of lean muscle tissue known as sarcopenia. One study examined the lean muscle mass of master athletes aged 40 to 81 years. The researchers found that those training 4 to 5 days per week had no significant decrease in strength with age and no loss in total lean mass4

2. Strength. As you lose muscle mass, the cross-sectional size of the muscle decreases and balance and strength are subsequently lost. A 12-year longitudinal study by Tufts University found that knee and elbow flexors and extensors lost 20 to 30% of their strength between the ages of 55 and 65 years1. Regular strength training can retard such losses.

3. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). As you age, your metabolic rate declines due to a number of factors including a loss of metabolically active lean muscle. Strength training builds muscle over time and each pound of new muscle requires an additional six calories to maintain (compared to 2 calories per pound of fat). Eating more protein with each meal and drinking more cold water will also temporarily speed up your metabolic rate.

4. Body Fat Percent. The average person adds body fat as they age. Consistent exercise and sound nutritional intake can help offset this change. Strength training is critical for maintaining the appropriate ratio of muscle and body fat. Body-fat levels should be kept below 25% in men and 32% in women. College age (non-athlete) men typically carry 15% body fat while females have 23%.

5. Aerobic Capacity. Aerobic capacity refers to how your body can process oxygen in a given amount of time. Maximum oxygen intake starts to decline at age 20 in men and age 30 in women. By the time both sexes reach age 65, aerobic capacity will be 20-30% less compared to young adults. But your aerobic capacity can improve over time with consistent, challenging aerobic and circuit-based strength exercise. For instance, research demonstrates that 12 weeks of strength training will increase treadmill walking endurance by 38% in women 65 to 79 years old3.

6. Blood-Sugar Tolerance. As we age we have a harder time managing our blood sugar (or glucose) levels because our bodies gradually lose the ability to use the sugar that is circulating in our bloodstream. By age 70, 20% of men and 30% of women have an abnormal glucose tolerance curve2 and this can lead to type 2 diabetes. Strength training helps regulate glucose metabolism, keeping the curve in the healthy zone.

7. Cholesterol/HDL Ratio. Your total cholesterol divided by your good (HDL) cholesterol will give you your ratio and this number should be 4.5 or lower. Exercise, diet and good genes all play an important role in keeping the ratio low.

8. Blood Pressure. High blood pressure can be caused by a multitude of factors including obesity, high intake of fat, alcohol, smoking, hereditary disposition, and too little exercise. One study showed that 16 weeks of strength training by 60-to 77-year-old women significantly decreased heart rate and blood pressure5.

9. Bone Density. As a person continues to age, there is a normal decline in the mineral content of bones. This process ultimately leaves an older person with a weaker, more brittle skeletal system. The average person will lose 1% of bone mass each year2. It is well understood that physical activity improves bone mineral density while building strength and muscle mass in elderly women6. Strength training helps offset this loss.

10. Internal Temperature Regulation. Older people sometimes experience unhealthy lower body temperatures. The good news is regular exercise can help repair the body’s temperature-control mechanism. The key to internal temperature regulation is fluid intake. In other words, as you age, make sure you hydrate.


All ten of these important biomarkers can be improved through strength training. Muscle mass and strength are the primary biomarkers, the lead dominos, so to speak. When they start to topple, the other biomarkers soon follow. On the other hand, when muscle mass and strength are maintained, the other biomarkers are likewise maintained. Aerobic exercise and diet are important, but if you really want to stay youthful into old age, strength training is crucial.

– Michael Wood, CSCS, Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub

This blog post was originally posted on the Koko FitClub Stronger Blog 


– See more at: http://blog.kokofitclub.com/want-to-stay-young-watch-these-10-biomarkers/#more-3472

Benefits of Strength Training and Cardiovascular Exercise

exercise--health benefits of exercise.previewWe have a tendency to judge if exercise and diet are working by what the bathroom scale shows us each time that we step onto it. But that should not be the case. With each bout of exercise, we are improving many aspects of our health and physiology that are not visible to the naked eye. Here are just a few of the benefits that you receive as a result of consistent exercise:

Strength Training:

  • Building muscle mass can increase metabolism by 15% – so if you’re looking to rev up that slow metabolism and become more functional as you age – you need to be strength training at least two to three times each week.
  • Prevents Sarcopenia – which is the loss of muscle mass as you age – you can lose up to 10% or more of your muscle per decade after age 50.
  • Plays a role in disease prevention – like type 2 dabetes for example.
  • Improves the way your body moves resulting in better balance and less falls as you age (you can reduce your risk for falling by 40%).
  • Spares the loss of muscle during weight loss (Donnelly et al., 2003).
  • Will offset bone loss as you age – women can expect to lose 1% of their bone mass after age 35 (and this increases following menopause) – see Stong Women, Stong Bones

Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise will improve your mood by decreasing stress and anxiety levels – read Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto, Phd and Jasper Smits, PhD
  • Cardio exercise like jogging, hiking, jump roping etc will “load” your bones in your lower extremity and make them stronger.
  • Makes your heart stronger, lowers your resting heart rate and enables your body to deliver oxygen more efficiently to your working muscles.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine states that higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with approximately a 50% reduction in disease risk.


Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., Pronk, N., Smith, B.K., Kirk, E.P., Jacobsen, D.J., Washburn, R. (2003). Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management? Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 1(1): 21-29.