The science of fitness — from a very fit scientist


Noted researcher Dr. Paul Arciero has devoted his career to helping people get more active and eat more natural, healthier foods.

Naturally, it all started in the dirt of a community garden.

“Some of my fondest childhood memories come from tending that garden with my mother,” Arciero said, recalling the hot summers harvesting in rural Connecticut. “Going there with her, tending to the earth, getting dirty – that was my introduction to healthy nourishment.”

He’s made the most of that early lesson, spending 25 years at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he is a professor of nutrition and exercise science and director of the Human Nutrition & Metabolism Laboratory.

Arciero has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific journals, but his education in the world of healthy living didn’t all come from the classroom or the laboratory.

Paul Arciero (left) with his brother, John. (Photo courtesy of Paul Arciero)

Paul Arciero (left) with his brother, John. (Photo courtesy of Paul Arciero)

He was also a top tennis player as a youth, in college – and even in recent years, when he and his brother John were ranked No. 12 in the United States Men’s 50 & Over Doubles. Arciero is also a triathlete who has coached hockey and tennis, among other athletic feats.

“My research has examined and explored the lifestyle strategies of physical activity and exercise training, combined with healthy eating,” he said. “It’s based on human science, not computer science. Having an understanding of the human experience is something I pride myself on.”

An important part of that experience has been family.

Arciero, the fifth of seven children, grew up gathering around for healthy meals and excelling in sports at school.

“My mother was ahead of her time, knowing that eating well is linked to how you feel and how you are,” he said.

In college at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, Arciero and his brother John were on a three-month tour with the European Satellite Tennis Circuit when his interests in exercise, nutrition and academia all snapped together.

“John helped me develop the ability to be more appreciating and conscious of the power of your mind,” Arciero said. “He was a tipping point of understanding my intellect.”

From there, Arciero went on to receive two masters of science degrees, from Purdue University and the University of Vermont. He earned a doctorate from Springfield College and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

The key themes of fitness and family continue with some of Arciero’s latest work as well. He recently developed a new app, with help from his son Nick, a developer and coder. The GenioFit app lets you know what you should eat when, and when you should exercise, Arciero said. He leads exercise videos in the app, as well as guided meditations.

“GenioFit embraces all the fundamental premises and mission of the research I’ve done, the organizations I represent, and who I am,” Arciero said. “It’s imperative that we engage in lifestyle strategies that engage healthy eating and exercise. There’s a synergy that lets us derive a significantly greater benefit when the two are together.”

When he’s not at work, Arciero can often be found – naturally – working with his wife Karen in the large garden in his yard that helps feed them and their three sons.

Source: news.heart.org ~ By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Ten Habits Of Incredibly Happy People


We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”

While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.

The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.

Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:

1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.

By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.

2. They exercise.

Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.

3. They spend money on other people.

Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.

4. They surround themselves with the right people.

Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.

5. They stay positive.

Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

6. They get enough sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.

7. They have deep conversations.

Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.

8. They help others.

Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.

9. They make an effort to be happy.

No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.

10. They have a growth mindset.

People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

 Source: forbes.com ~ By: Travis Bradberry

If You Can’t Hold This Pose For 50 Seconds, You Might Be Prone To Serious Health Problems


Are you looking for a specific exercise that will provide you with immense fitness and medical benefits? Are you looking for the most efficient exercise to shred your abs, strengthen your core, and improve your posture? If so, the plank exercise is right for you.

Most people think of our abdominal muscles when we discuss our core. These muscles are a significant component, but there are also other muscles that serve an integral role in the strength of our core. The muscles in our lower back, glutes, and hips play an important role to our core as well. Knowing this, we should all embrace the plank exercise because, if you can’t hold this pose for at least 50 seconds, then you might be prone to some serious health problems.[1]

What is the plank exercise?

Before we discuss some of these health concerns, let’s first take a look at what exactly the plank is. Proper form is important for maximizing this exercise. Learning how to perform the plank will help you improve your core, glutes, hamstrings, balance, posture, and overall fitness.

To start a plank, enter the push-up position and hold your body off the ground. You should form and hold a straight line and follow the following steps:[2]

  • Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders; place wrists in line with your elbows.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles, squeeze your glutes and thighs (don’t forget to breath normally).
  • Hold the plank in the proper form. Beginners should shoot for 20-30 seconds; however, your goal should be at least 50 seconds.
  • Avoid dropping your head, shoulders, or hips.

A weak core will lead to poor posture.

Poor posture is a telltale sign of a weak core. You have all seen people with poor posture and there are a multitude of factors that can lead to this. Some of these factors include: stress at home, stress at work, slouching at a desk, and even staring down at your phone.

Our lower back and abdominal muscles assist us in stabilizing our spine. If our muscles are weak, this will cause us to slouch. Here are some quick tips to improve your posture:

  • Perform the plank exercise daily.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Pull your head back and up.
  • Move your cellphone to eye level.
  • Wear a posture belt.

Lower back pain is a telltale sign of a weak core.

A sure sign of weakness in our core is lower back pain. The curvature of our lumbar spine is negatively affected with a weak core. Lower back pain is one of our most common sources of pain.[3]

Failure to improve your core can lead to serious health conditions. Here are a few tips to strengthen your core and lower back: exercise (such as the dynamic lumbar stabilization exercise), improve your posture, sleep in an optimal position, improve your flexibility, and of course, perform the plank exercise.

Poor balance is a sign that you may have a weak core.

If your core muscles are weak, then how do you expect them to stabilize your body? Poor balance is not easy to identify. How we maintain our balance is a function of our senses along with coordinated movement from different areas of our body.[4]

Here is a quick option for a balance test. Use the following steps and test your balance:[5]

  • Step 1: Extend one leg forward.
  • Step 2: Extend the same leg sideways.
  • Step 3: Extend the same leg backwards.
  • Step 4: Flex the same knee at a 90-degree angle.

The inability to hollow your stomach is a sign of a weak core.

An easy sign of a weak core is the inability to perform the stomach hollowing test. When you conduct this exercise, the intent is for your stomach to cave inwards when your abdomen contracts. You do this by taking a natural breath, pulling your abs in toward your spine, and holding it. If you lack the ability to do this, then you possess a weak core. See the image below for a visual representation of this exercise.

Overall weakness in your core muscles will lead to serious health conditions if not properly rectified. One guaranteed exercise that will improve every condition discussed in this article is the plank exercise. The benefits of performing the plank exercise are amazing. Not only will you strengthen your core, but you will also strengthen your lower back and upper body, improve your chances of avoiding injury, significantly improve your posture, and shred your abs!

Most importantly, planks can be done anywhere. You do not need a gym membership, a personal trainer, or any equipment. Heck, do your planks naked if you want! Two things will happen when you embrace the plank – your fitness will improve and so will your overall health.

So, what are you waiting for? Drop right now and start planking!

Source: lifehack.org ~ By:

The 7-Minute Workout That Science Says Actually Works


By now you’ve probably heard about the Scientific 7-Minute Workout that blew up a few years ago. If not, allow us to fill you in.

A recent study laid out exactly how to work out to get the maximum results in the minimum amount of time with just your body weight, a chair, and a wall. The trick is to strategically order the exercises so you’re working different major muscles groups (upper body, lower body, core) each time. This allows for one major muscle group to rest while you work the next muscle group, resulting in a super-efficient, super-effective routine. The workout takes just seven minutes, can be done in the comfort of your own home, and can improve your health and decrease body fat—according to science.

 

Although this is a great way to work out fast, the routine isn’t a miracle worker. High-intensity interval training is not designed to be done every day, so be sure to allow for at least one rest day between workouts. Exercising for seven minutes a few times a week is not going to totally transform your body, but when done correctly, it’s better than zero minutes (duh!), and you’ll likely see some health benefits—for example, being able to run up the stairs without getting winded. As always, check with your doctor before beginning any high-intensity exercise routine.

How to use this list: Perform each exercise below at a high-intensity effort for 30 seconds. For static exercises such as Wall Sit and Plank, hold the position for 30 seconds. For exercises that target two sides (such as your legs), alternate each side for 30 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds between each exercise. This circuit can be repeated 2-3 times if desired.

1. Jumping Jack

It’s a gym classic—but you’ve gotta move fast! Stand with feet hip-width apart. Jump feet open as you raise arms up to form an X. Jump feet back together as you lower arms to sides.

2. Wall Sit

Stand with back to wall. Walk feet away from wall as you slide back down wall, lowering body until hips, knees, and ankles are at 90-degree angles. Engage core to keep low back pressed against wall.
Start in high plank, wrists under shoulders, core engaged. Lower chest to floor, keeping legs, hips, and back in a straight line. Press into palms to lift back up. For more details on how to do a push-up, click here.

4. Crunch

Lie faceup on floor with knees bent and arms reaching straight out. Press low back into floor and engage core to lift shoulder blades up off the floor and slightly forward.

5. Step-Up

Stand facing chair (or stool) and lift right foot onto seat. Press into heel of right foot to lift your body weight onto chair, balancing on right leg. Slowly lower back down to floor. Switch legs and repeat. Continue to alternate.
Stand with feet just wider than hip width, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles. Hinge at hips then send hips back and bend knees to lower body. Keep chest lifted and lower to at least 90 degrees. Rise and repeat. For more details on how to squat, click here.

7. Triceps Dip

Sit on edge of chair and place hands on edge just outside of hips. Walk feet out a few steps, slide butt off chair, and straighten arms. Bend elbows and lower body until arms are bent at about 90 degrees. Press down into chair to return to starting position.

Place hands directly under shoulders. Engage core and squeeze glutes to stabilize body. Keep neck and spine neutral. Head should be in line with back. Hold position. For more details on how to plank like a pro, click here.

9. High Knees

Stand tall with feet hip width. Engage core and use lower abs to lift and lower one knee at a time as if running in place. Bring
knees to same height as hips, thighs parallel to floor, and try not to lean back. Stay on balls of feet and alternate legs as fast as possible.

Stand tall. Take a big step forward with right leg and lower body until right thigh is parallel to floor and right shin is vertical (don’t let knee go past right toe). Press into right heel to drive back up to starting position. Repeat on other side. Continue to alternate legs. For more details, click here.

11. Push-Up With Rotation

Start in high plank and lower body then press back up to perform a push-up. From high plank, shift weight to left arm and rotate body to left side. Hold side plank for one count keeping hips high. Return to starting position, perform push-up, and repeat on right side. Continue to alternate.

12. Side Plank

Lie on one side with legs and feet stacked on top of one another. Lift hips to prop body up on elbow, keeping feet stacked. Press forearm into ground to keep torso and hips in a straight line. Hold.

The Key to Work-Life Balance? Integration of Those 2 Concepts.

Want to change into Lycra tights and take a 5-mile bike ride at lunch? That’s absolutely fine, if it helps you produce brilliant work that afternoon.

The realities of maintaining a work-life balance have always been challenging. But, better integrating the two concepts is the solution. Managing the way we work both inside and outside of our traditional working day is not only possible, but ultimately beneficial, for most people. And, because of technological advancements and changing attitudes in work-life balance, we’ve actually become wired for integration.

Generally, these are all good things, if you consider the creatively oriented thinkers, makers, advisors and managers staffing industries these days. On the whole, their reaction to a higher degree of autonomy has been a greater commitment and productivity: Combining work and life in more free and flexible ways has become the path to happier employees and stronger businesses.

Yet, we still have to be cautious, because integration and the means for achieving it is a personal issue — what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. That’s why, as the CEO of a global organization, I’ve encouraged not only innovation and productivity, but also better integration. Here are the steps I recommend:

Introducing integration

Change of any kind can be tough on companies and their employees. Reactions such as lethargy, unwillingness to try something new and phrases like “we don’t do it that way” are poisonous. This is especially true when you’re trying to build a company culture that embraces integration.

That’s why the work environment must be built on trust and space. The goal here is simple: to ensure that your company is a place where output and results are judged above time served. This type of workspace usually includes:

  • Strong communication: There is no such thing as over-communication if you’re trying to move a business through a period of transformation. The path to encouraging integration should feel collaborative. Nor does it need to include everyone. Start with a small group of standout employees who have a history of affecting change, and make them your advocates. That will allow a more organic cultural change. If you don’t communicate and instead try to do it all yourself, you’ll have no chance.
  • Constant empowerment: As a CEO, I’m empowered to recognize what my company needs, to ensure that everyone is productive and effective. However, enabling that same degree of empowerment in others is a management skill in and of itself, and a cultural asset, especially when your’re trying to achieve better work-life balance.

It’s amazing how quickly cultures can morph to embrace diverse working practices. We’re not still in school, after all. If you want to change into some Lycra tights and head out for a 5-mile bike ride at lunchtime, go for it.

And if that ride enables you to produce brilliant work in the afternoon, it’s better that you’re lapping Central Park than grumpily chewing a bagel at your desk. By breaking work-life balance norms and building flexible cultures, businesses like Netflix, Zappos and Uniqlo have all thrived through the employee empowerment they’ve offered.

Saving time

I personally have three points of focus to better maximize my time that could also benefit employees looking for better integration.

Email: I keep regular office hours, but also spend time at the beginning and end of a working day dropping off and picking up my kids from school. To do that, I check and respond to emails outside of the office at dedicated time slots. One might involve a quiet coffee on my own in the morning, when I prioritize emails needing my response, or 30 to 60 minutes at the end of the day.

I also believe in the time-quality dynamic when it comes to responses. I’ll accept a response back of “Yes,” “Sure, I’m on it” or “No way we can make that, sorry.” A three-day time lag that ultimately produces a three-paragraph excuse for the slow reply and an equally lengthy explanation? Incredibly unhelpful.

Office time management: Whatever it takes to avoid meeting fatigue, I’m game: standing meetings. 15-minute meetings. Meetings with no written notes. Walk-in-the-park meetings. I haven’t formally instituted these practices across our entire agency, but I was inspired by Percolate’s 6 Meeting Rules, which were created as that company grew from a startup to a success. Rule number one, for example, is, “Do you really need a meeting?” Asking that question in advance has produced remarkable results.

Travel and remote work: Our business runs across 24 offices and every time zone, which means an integrated schedule for me and other employees who travel frequently. I am always prepared to spend a night on an airplane to get home to have breakfast with my family, or take a 10 p.m. conference call with colleagues in Hong Kong to be around for bath time and stories with my kids. These compromises and so many others, are the mark of an integrated life.

Just “let them get on with it”

By introducing integration, your message to employees becomes: “You’re great at what you do. We know you want to be better. You’re here because you have a lot to add to the business and to your colleagues. Get to it.”

A company invested in improving work-life balance should support its employees and enable them to manage their work and personal lives to the best of their abilities. By adopting integration, companies lay down a challenge that people will accept. Those companies should also be identifying employees who don’t, won’t or can’t work without that type of empowerment. That’s fine, too.

David Abbott, the British ad man who built one of the very best creative businesses of the last 50 years, said it best: “Hire good people and let them get on with it.”

If you — or your systems, processes, promotion and reward assessments and 196-page “employee policy” documents — don’t allow those employees to customize their own path to create a more flexible relationship between their work and personal lives, then you may as well not have “good people” in the first place.

The keys, once again, are trust and integration.

Source: entrepreneur.com ~ By: Toby Southgate