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

7 Habits of a Happy Brain


1. Remember that you have power to build new pathways in your brain. (But it takes more persistence and courage than you may expect, because your old pathways are already well developed and connected to your pleasure and pain centers.)

2. Remind yourself that your frustrations are just electricity flowing down the path of least resistance in your brain. (You can give your electricity a new place to flow if you focus on a positive new choice every day for 45 days without fail.)

3. You can turn on the excitement of dopamine by taking a step toward an expected reward. (Of course rewards are unpredictable in the real world, but you can always adjust your expectations and take another step.)

4. You can enjoy the safe feeling of oxytocin by taking small steps toward social trust, often. (The mammal brain rewards you with a good feeling when you create social trust, but it makes careful choices because it’s not always safe to trust.)

5. You can stimulate the nice feeling of serotonin by focusing on what you have instead of what you lack. (The mammal brain makes social comparisons because that promotes survival in the state of nature, but you can find ways to feel good about yourself without putting others down.)

6. Laughing triggers the joy of endorphin, so make time in your life for laughter. (You may not laugh at what your friends think is funny, so let your own sense of humor be your guide.)

7. Stop what you’re doing when your cortisol turns on, because it makes everything you do look bleak. (Cortisol is designed to alert you to potential threats, so you will see plenty of threats until you give your body a couple of hours to metabolize it.)

Source: womenworking.com ~ By: Loretta Breuning, Ph.D.

Fasting For Just Five Days A Month Linked To Health Improvements

Participants lowered their body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

(Reuters Health) – Following a diet that mimics fasting may reduce risk factors for disease in generally healthy people, according to a small study.

Dr. Min Wei of UCLA’s Longevity Institute and colleagues tested the effects of the fasting-mimicking diet on various risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, cancer or other conditions.

The diet (FMD; brand name ProLon) is low in calories, sugars and protein but high in unsaturated fats. Forty-eight study participants ate normally for three months while 52 ate FMD for five days each month and ate normally the rest of the time. After three months, the groups switched regimens. Although all participants were considered healthy, some had high blood pressure, low levels of “good” cholesterol, and other risk factors.

A total of 71 people completed the study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine. Body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol improved with FMD, but mainly for those who were already at risk. Side effects were mild, including fatigue, weakness and headaches.

Wei and Dr. Valter Longo of the University of California, San Diego, said in an interview published in the journal that while “the great majority” of participants had one or more risk factors for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer, “FDA trials will be necessary to demonstrate whether periodic FMD is effective in disease prevention and treatment.”

Dr. Joseph Antoun, CEO of L-Nutra, Inc., which produces FMD, told Reuters Health by email that FMD “is intended for use by individuals who want to optimize their health and wellbeing, by overweight or obese individuals who want to manage their weight in an easy and healthy way, and by people who have abnormal levels of biomarkers for aging and age-related conditions.”

That said, Antoun acknowledged that if you have common conditions associated with overweight and obesity such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, you should not use FMD without a doctor’s approval.

The product also should not be used by children under 18 or pregnant or nursing women. And it’s not for you if you have certain metabolic diseases, liver or kidney disorders that may be affected by the very low glucose and protein content of the diet, or if you have nut or soy allergies. What’s more, it “should never be combined with glucose-lowering drugs, such as metformin or insulin,” according to Antoun.

Registered dietitian Ashlea Braun of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus pointed out that researchers compared the fasting-mimicking diet to participants’ usual diet. “Therefore, we don’t yet know how this diet stands up against long-standing approaches already shown to be beneficial, such as the Mediterranean or DASH Diet.”

“It’s not clear if (FMD) enables individuals to consistently meet all micronutrient requirements,” she told Reuters Health by email. “It’s also not known how this type of restrictive diet affects muscle mass in the long term, and what impact this has on various indicators of health.”

“Although there is some evidence showing these type of restrictive diets can help ‘jump start’ people considering lifestyle changes, more research is definitely needed before this is recommended for individuals,” Braun concluded.

SOURCE: huffingtonpost.com ~ By: Reuters/Marilynn Larkin 

6 Easy Tips for Eating Healthier at Any Restaurant


Whether it’s happy hour with coworkers, a birthday dinner with friends, or a big family outing, there’s something special about going out to eat. You have no responsibilities except to enjoy your company, order a glass wine, and eat really good food. (Ah, the beauty of no dishes to clean.) While we’re all about ordering the rich pasta over the fish and veg dish, research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAAND) found that 92 percent of meals from large chain and local restaurants had more calories than recommended for the average eater.

While we’re not calorie counters, the new year has us motivated to clean up our eating a bit. If you’re with us and need help navigating menus and making healthier choices when you dine out, we’ve compiled a slew of advice and research-based tips about how to eat healthier in restaurants.

1. It starts with restaurant selection.

Making healthy choices starts with where you’re eating. Menus from three of the most popular cuisines in the U.S.—American, Italian, Chinese—had the least healthy options, according to the JAAND study. When deciding where to go for dinner, opt for cuisines centered around whole grains, veggies, fats, and lean protein (Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Greek, and Indian typically have better-for-you options).

Also, put restaurants with menus that change seasonally on your radar, which indicates a focus on fresh, local produce. Not only does that make it a more veg-heavy meal, but you’ll notice how much better it tastes too.

2. Think leftovers.

If the Italian joint on the corner is the only place your S.O. wants to go, we have a solution for that too. And it’s not just telling you to order the Caprese salad. How you order is as important as what you order.

Portion sizes have grown by as much as 138 percent since the 1970s (just look at the sizes of sodas now vs. 40 years ago). So instead of passing on your favorite cacio e pepe and ordering a “meal” from the appetizer section, take advantage of the growing portion sizes and order the decadent entrée that you’ve been eyeing with the mindset that half of it will come home with you. The best leftovers are ones that won’t suffer from reheating or hanging out in your fridge for a day. Think: rich risotto; creamy pasta dishes; or big, meaty steaks. Plus, when you have leftovers, you’re getting a two-for-one deal, and man, do we love saving money.

3. Put the phone away, guys.

Whether you’re preoccupied with texts and Snaps or watching the game on a television behind the bar, distracted eating can lead to eating too much. A report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when you’re not paying attention to your meal, you’re not tuned in to the signs that you’re full (or truly enjoying what you’re eating). The report also found that paying attention to a meal was linked to eating less later in the day. So do that trendy thing and be more mindful when you eat.

4. Eat all day long (sort of).

How’s that for advice? If you know you’ll be dining at a restaurant that serves rich food and huge portions, one of the best ways to avoid overdoing isn’t to “save up” for dinner, but to eat throughout the day. You’re not you when you’re hungry, so don’t deprive yourself. Aim to eat a filling, healthy breakfast; a lighter lunch; and a small snack before dinner. If you don’t, it’ll likely be harder to resist the more indulgent (see: fatty, fried, and sweet) dishes on the menu.

5. Dine out in smaller groups.

We know you’re popular, so this might be tough, but you might consider curbing the number of people in your party if you’re trying to be a bit healthier. Several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the more people you dine with at the table, the more you eat. “Meals eaten with one other person present were 33 percent larger than meals eaten alone, whereas 47, 58, 69, 70, 72, and 96 percent increases were associated with two, three, four, five, six, and seven or more people present, respectively,” says study psychologist Jon de Castro.

6. Do your research.

Part of the excitement of going out to eat is studying the menu front to back ahead of time to see what it has to offer. While you’re browsing, plan your order. When you get to dinner, you won’t be swayed by what your friends are having. Diners tend to mimic the food choices of fellow diners. So if you’re prepared to select a healthier option, maybe your friends will too.
Source: greatist.com ~ By: Coleen Rush

Here’s A Week’s Worth Of Belly-Fat-Busting Workouts

Since there’s no such thing as spot reduction, simply planking like your life depends on it won’t help you lose belly fat. Combining cardio and strength work in the form of high-intensity interval training, however, will, says Elyse Miller, the certified personal trainer who created these routines. (Miller is all about quick, no-equipment fitness—aka our kind of trainer.) Research shows that when your exercise sessions include bursts of all-out work, you lose more belly fat (in addition to all-over body fat) than if you’d worked at a lower but steadier intensity. And did we mention that these workouts take about 10 minutes each? You’re welcome, time-crunched women of the world!

Doing HIIT every single day isn’t recommended (your muscles need some R&R so they can properly rebuild, and doing intense exercise every day can increase your risk of overuse injuries), so Miller suggests capping your HIIT sessions at four per week, plus two steady-state cardio sessions and a rest day.

Here’s your schedule:

Monday/Day 1: Workout 1
Tuesday/Day 2: Workout 2
Wednesday/Day 3: 20- to 30-minute jog, or speed-walk
Thursday/Day 4: Workout 3
Friday/Day 5: Workout 5
Saturday/Day 6: 20- to 30-minute jog, or speed-walk
Sunday/Day 7: Rest!

For the Workouts
Do each exercise for 20 to 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds then move on to the next exercise. (When you’re doing a single-leg, or single-side, move, do 20 to 30 seconds on each side before moving on to the next exercise.) Repeat the entire circuit two times. You can bump up the intensity by moving faster, while still maintaining good form, of course.

 

WORKOUT 1

High Knees

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Run in place, bringing your knees up high and pumping your arms.

Mountain Climbers

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Get in a plank position, with your feet hip-distance apart. Pull one knee in toward your chest and continue to quickly alternate knees while keeping your upper body in a steady plank position—don’t let your lower back sag toward the ground.

Make it harder: Do a cross-body mountain climber, bringing your knees across your body as though you’re trying to touch your opposite elbow.

Lunge with a Twist

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Lunge forward, bending your front leg to 45 degrees and keeping your back leg straight and your back flat. Your hands should be in front of your chest in prayer position. Twist from your core and reach your hands toward the outside of your front foot. Rise back to starting position and repeat.

Front/Back Frog Hops

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart; squat down, pushing your butt out behind you, and touch the ground between your legs. Then hop up and forward, repeat the squat-floor touch, hop up and back and repeat. As you’re going through the move, don’t let your back arch or round when you try to touch the floor in the squat. Hinge forward from your hips instead.

Make it easier: If this is too hard on your knees, take the hop out and simply squat, touch the floor and repeat.

Bicycle Crunches

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Lay on your back with your legs straight and your hands behind your head. Raise your legs so your feet hover just above the floor. Bring one knee up and in toward your chest, lifting your shoulders off the floor and twisting your torso so your opposite elbow and knee meet. Alternate side-to-side. Your lower back should feel glued to the floor. If you feel it starting to arch, lift your legs higher off the floor.

 

WORKOUT 2

Squat Jacks

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Jump your feet out wide and squat down, pressing your butt and hips back out behind you. Jump your feet back together and straighten your legs, then repeat.

V-Up Abs

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Lay on your back with your arms over your head. Engage your core to raise your legs and upper body simultaneously, reaching your hands toward your toes so your body forms a “V”. Lower your legs and upper body back to the floor and repeat. You want to keep your lower back in contact with the floor throughout the move—keep your legs raised a little higher off the floor if you need to.

Make it easier: Keep your feet on the floor with your knees bent and perform a standard crunch while reaching your hands toward your heels. Make sure your abs are doing the work (not your neck) by lifting your chest up to the ceiling as you crunch.

Tuck Jumps

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet together. Hop straight up into the air while swinging your arms up to add momentum. Tuck your knees into your body in the air (let them naturally separate to hip-width-distance apart as you jump), then land back on the ground with knees slightly bent and feet together. Repeat.
Make it easier: If the tuck is too much, just do the jump, as if you’re jumping rope.

Curtsy Lunges

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet together, hands on your hips. Take one large step forward so your legs are crossed as though you’re about to do a curtsy. Lunge down in that position, rise back up to starting position and repeat.

Side-to-Side Wood Choppers

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet together and hands directly overhead, palms together. Hop to the right with feet together, lowering your hands and reaching to touch the outside of your right foot. Hop to the left, reaching your hands overhead, then lowering your hands to touch the outside of your left foot.

 

WORKOUT 3

ABCs (Abs, Buns, Chest)

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Lay on your back and do two crunches, lifting your chest to the ceiling to avoid straining your neck. Roll forward and up a to standing position with your feet wide and do two squats. Place your hands on the ground and pop your feet back into a plank. Do two pushups (lower to your knees if you need to). Hop back to standing and do two squats before lowering your back to a flat position, where you’ll start the sequence over again. Don’t rush this move—go slowly until you get the hang of it, then gradually speed up once you’ve got your form down.

Make it harder: Instead of a regular squat, do jump squats, where you hop up into the air between reps.

Marching Farmer Squats

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet together and your arms hanging at your sides. Press your hips back and squat down, trying to touch your fingertips to the floor. Rise up, by pressing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Lift one knee to hip height, return your foot back to the floor and drop back down into the squat. Rise up and lift the opposite knee to hip height and continue alternating knees as you squat.

Plank Jump-Ins

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Get into a plank position. Hop both feet forward toward your hands, so you’re in a crouching position, with hands still on the ground. Immediately spring back into a plank position and repeat.
Make it easier: Hold a strong, stationary plank instead.

Star Jumps

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Drop into a slight squat and spring up into the air while extending your arms and legs outward into a star shape. Land softly, knees slightly bent, with legs back together and arms at your sides. Repeat.

Side-Plank Hold

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Get into a side-plank position, with your elbow directly below your shoulder. Try to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet, so that your hips don’t drop.

Make it harder: Add outer thigh lifts by raising your top leg up and down while holding the plank.

 

WORKOUT 4

Jump-Switch Lunges

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Get into a standard lunge position, with both knees bent at 90 degrees and your back knee an inch, or two, off the floor. As you rise out of the lunge, jump up and switch legs in the air then land with the opposite leg in front. Lunge again and repeat. Don’t let your front knee go past your toes in the lunge position.

Make it easier: You can take the hop out and simply do continuous lunges on one leg before switching to the other side.

Skater Jumps

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand in an athletic position with your knees slightly bent. Jump to the right, landing on your right foot, and cross your left leg behind your right ankle, softly tapping the ground with your left foot. Repeat the movement to the left, naturally pumping your arms for momentum as you jump back and forth.

Squat with Thigh Kick

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with legs slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Squat down, pushing your butt and hips back, so your knees are bent to 90 degrees. Rise up, pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Lift one leg up and out to the side. Bring your leg down and squat again. Repeat, alternating legs for the side lift.

Burpees

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower down into a squat, place your hands on the floor in front of your feet and kick your legs back into a plank position. Do one pushup (go to your knees if you need to). Hop your feet forward, stand up and jump straight up into the air. Repeat.

Make it easier: Take out the pushup or the jump.

Make it harder: Jump into a star position (arms and legs extended out to your sides) instead of a straight jump.

Seated Leg Lifts

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ELYSE MILLER

Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you and your back completely straight. Hug one knee into your chest and lift the other leg about 12 inches off the ground. Slowly lower the leg, lightly tapping your foot to the ground, and repeat. Try not to let your upper back hunch forward.

Source: huffingtonpost.com ~ By Emma Haak