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Thinking of using an activity tracker to achieve your exercise goals? Here’s where it can help – and where it probably won’t

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/corneel-vandelanotte-209636">Corneel Vandelanotte</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>It’s that time of year when many people are getting started on their resolutions for the year ahead. Doing more physical activity is a popular and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-016-0175-5">worthwhile</a> goal.</p> <p>If you’re hoping to be more active in 2024, perhaps you’ve invested in an activity tracker, or you’re considering buying one.</p> <p>But what are the benefits of activity trackers? And will a basic tracker do the trick, or do you need a fancy one with lots of features? Let’s take a look.</p> <h2>Why use an activity tracker?</h2> <p>One of the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-020-01001-x">most powerful predictors</a> for being active is whether or not <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673621026301">you are monitoring</a> how active you are.</p> <p>Most people have a vague idea of how active they are, but this is inaccurate a lot of the time. Once people consciously start to keep track of how much activity they do, they often realise it’s less than what they thought, and this motivates them to be more active.</p> <p>You can self-monitor without an activity tracker (just by writing down what you do), but this method is hard to keep up in the long run and it’s also a lot less accurate compared to devices that track your every move 24/7.</p> <p>By tracking steps or “activity minutes” you can ascertain whether or not you are meeting the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years">physical activity guidelines</a> (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week).</p> <p>It also allows you to track how you’re progressing with any personal activity goals, and view your progress over time. All this would be difficult without an activity tracker.</p> <p>Research has shown the most popular brands of activity trackers are generally reliable when it comes to tracking basic measures such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.2196/18694">steps</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1123/jmpb.2019-0072">activity minutes</a>.</p> <h2>But wait, there’s more</h2> <p>Many activity trackers on the market nowadays track a range of other measures which their manufacturers promote as important in monitoring health and fitness. But is this really the case? Let’s look at some of these.</p> <p><strong>Resting heart rate</strong></p> <p>This is your heart rate at rest, which is normally somewhere <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/resting-heart-rate">between 60 and 100 beats per minute</a>. Your resting heart rate will gradually go down as you become fitter, especially if you’re doing a lot of high-intensity exercise. Your risk of dying of any cause (all-cause mortality) is much lower when you have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28552551/">low resting heart rate</a>.</p> <p>So, it is useful to keep an eye on your resting heart rate. Activity trackers are pretty good at tracking it, but you can also easily measure your heart rate by monitoring your pulse and using a stopwatch.</p> <p><strong>Heart rate during exercise</strong></p> <p>Activity trackers will also measure your heart rate when you’re active. To improve fitness efficiently, professional athletes focus on having their heart rate in certain “<a href="https://chhs.source.colostate.edu/how-to-target-heart-rate-training-zones-effectively/">zones</a>” when they’re exercising – so knowing their heart rate during exercise is important.</p> <p>But if you just want to be more active and healthier, without a specific training goal in mind, you can exercise at a level that feels good to you and not worry about your heart rate during activity. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/HCO.0000000000000437">most important thing</a> is that you’re being active.</p> <p>Also, a dedicated heart rate monitor with a strap around your chest will do a much better job at measuring your actual heart rate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-020-0226-6">compared</a> to an activity tracker worn around your wrist.</p> <p><strong>Maximal heart rate</strong></p> <p>This is the hardest your heart could beat when you’re active, not something you could sustain very long. Your maximal heart rate is not influenced by how much exercise you do, or your fitness level.</p> <p>Most activity trackers <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/article-abstract/2566167">don’t measure it accurately</a> anyway, so you might as well forget about this one.</p> <p><strong>VO₂max</strong></p> <p>Your muscles need oxygen to work. The more oxygen your body can process, the harder you can work, and therefore the fitter you are.</p> <p>VO₂max is the volume (V) of oxygen (O₂) we could breathe maximally (max) over a one minute interval, expressed as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). Inactive women and men would have a VO₂max lower than 30 and 40 ml/kg/min, respectively. A reasonably good VO₂max would be mid thirties and higher for women and mid forties and higher for men.</p> <p>VO₂max is another measure of fitness that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605">correlates well</a> with all-cause mortality: the higher it is, the lower your risk of dying.</p> <p>For athletes, VO₂max is usually measured in a lab on a treadmill while wearing a mask that measures oxygen consumption. Activity trackers instead look at your running speed (using a GPS chip) and your heart rate and compare these measures to values from other people.</p> <p>If you can run fast with a low heart rate your tracker will assume you are relatively fit, resulting in a higher VO₂max. These estimates are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01639-y">not very accurate</a> as they are based on lots of assumptions. However, the error of the measurement is reasonably consistent. This means if your VO₂max is gradually increasing, you are likely to be getting fitter.</p> <p>So what’s the take-home message? Focus on how many steps you take every day or the number of activity minutes you achieve. Even a basic activity tracker will measure these factors relatively accurately. There is no real need to track other measures and pay more for an activity tracker that records them, unless you are getting really serious about exercise.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219235/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/corneel-vandelanotte-209636">Corneel Vandelanotte</a>, Professorial Research Fellow: Physical Activity and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/thinking-of-using-an-activity-tracker-to-achieve-your-exercise-goals-heres-where-it-can-help-and-where-it-probably-wont-219235">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why you shouldn’t let guilt motivate you to exercise

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-j-turner-489218">Martin J Turner</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/manchester-metropolitan-university-860">Manchester Metropolitan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-miller-679114">Anthony Miller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/staffordshire-university-1381">Staffordshire University</a></em></p> <p>The hardest part of consistently exercising is finding the motivation to do it. But using the wrong type of motivation for your workouts could militate against you – and could even have consequences for your mental health.</p> <p>Our research, which <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640414.2022.2042124">investigated the motivations</a> of 650 frequent exercisers, found that people who believed things like “I am a loser if I do not succeed in things that matter to me” and “I have to be viewed favourably by people that matter to me” were more likely to use self-pressure and wanting to avoid guilt as motivation to exercise.</p> <p>Not only was this group more likely to not want to exercise at all, we also found that those who used guilt and self-pressure as motivation were at greater risk of experiencing poor mental health.</p> <p>The tendency to hold dogmatic beliefs like “I must” or “I have to”, and harmful beliefs about yourself creates a negative and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10413200.2018.1446472?casa_token=ObBghnn3ab4AAAAA%3ATpiEvunYBqKbIqI2_kuC5fM2zMvhhYLP72TVplW3Noc4PYhQUaMBkq1pEabaXXid0hwnE3R5kNYvnA">unhealthy approach to exercise</a>.</p> <p>But the darker side of this mindset is that people who held these beliefs reported higher symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress compared with exercisers who didn’t use self-pressure and guilt as motivation.</p> <p>While it’s possible that people already experiencing poor mental health would be more likely to have negative beliefs about themselves, there’s a deeply reciprocal relationship between mental health and how we think and act.</p> <p>Research shows that extreme, rigid, negative ways of thinking are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26609889/">risk factors for mental health problems</a>. Repeating negative thoughts many times, over many years, can lead to deep self-loathing which can corrode your <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-59628-001">mental health</a> and leave you in a continuous state of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02640414.2022.2042124">stress and depression</a>. It can also make you even less likely to positively change your thinking and <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/tsp/8/3/article-p248.xml">exercise habits</a>.</p> <p>On the other hand, our study found that people who reported lower symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress had significantly less extreme, rigid and negative ways of thinking. These participants were less likely to endorse ways of thinking that involved self-demands (“I must”), magnification (“things are awful”), and self-condemnation (“I am a failure”).</p> <p>These exercisers reported using more useful forms of motivation to workout, such as exercising because they loved the activity and recognised the value and importance of exercise as a part of their identity.</p> <p>These findings show us just how important the thoughts you use to motivate your workouts can be, especially when it comes to your mental health.</p> <p>One solution to these ways of thinking is a psychological approach called <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01423/full">rational emotive behaviour therapy</a> (REBT). REBT aims to understand and challenge deeply held beliefs and develop helpful alternatives. This approach may help an exerciser go from “I have to exercise” and “I’d be worthless if I didn’t exercise” to thinking “I really want to exercise, but if I didn’t exercise, I would be disappointed, but I would not be worthless.”</p> <p>Improving a person’s beliefs about exercise can change their motivation from being centred on self-pressure and guilt to seeing the value and potential enjoyment in working out.</p> <p>There are many <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rational-Practitioner-Performance-Psychologists-Practicing/dp/1032060409">ideas and tools</a> we can apply from REBT even without having to step foot inside a psychologist’s office. So if you find yourself falling into this cycle of self-loathing and losing motivation to exercise, here’s what you can do.</p> <h2>Think critically about your thinking</h2> <p>When you think about exercising, are your thoughts negative, unhelpful and self-pressuring? Be more critical of your thoughts about exercise, and ask yourself whether they make sense – and if they’re helping you.</p> <p>If the answer is no, try to work on adopting thoughts that do make sense and help you achieve your exercise goals, such as seeing exercise as something to enjoy, instead of something you have to do out of guilt. Being able to challenge your own unhelpful beliefs, and learning to harness more helpful ones, can help you <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/sms.12926?casa_token=fbVymZ3SxrAAAAAA:SiNRAlz0Xh11xbeWDUtxjwlP40gDfurptgas5SSHYLtLD9v06uLm8ztlTvi1AnwTSvTReT_u-fdgiJ0h">achieve your goals</a>.</p> <h2>Realise you’re not what you do</h2> <p>As human beings, we’re imperfect. We mess up – but we also do great things. When things don’t go to plan, it’s important to try and accept this. And remember that failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure.</p> <p>Realise that you aren’t <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029222001662">defined by your shortcomings</a>. Recognising that failing does not make you a failure may help you better bounce back from times when you fall short of your goals and expectations and keep on track with reaching your goals and finding solutions.</p> <h2>Harness the power of want</h2> <p>You’re far more likely to stick to your exercise goals if you <a href="https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/1997_RyanFrederickLepesRubioSheldon.pdf">want to do them</a>. Find an activity that offers you something more than just exercise. Perhaps join an exercise group where you can make new friends or rekindle your passion for something you used to do.</p> <p>If you’re only exercising because you believe you have to or to avoid guilt, then you probably won’t stick with it. Nobody likes to be pressured into doing difficult things. Finding an activity you don’t have to force yourself to do may help you move from seeing exercise as something you have to do to something you love to do.</p> <p>Exercise is, of course, important, but guilting yourself into doing it will probably do more harm than good. The best way is by finding things you enjoy, accepting yourself unconditionally if your motivation does wane, and removing “have to” from your thoughts about exercise.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220342/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-j-turner-489218">Martin J Turner</a>, Reader in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/manchester-metropolitan-university-860">Manchester Metropolitan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-miller-679114">Anthony Miller</a>, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/staffordshire-university-1381">Staffordshire University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-you-shouldnt-let-guilt-motivate-you-to-exercise-220342">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Resistance (exercise) is far from futile: The unheralded benefits of weight training

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stuart-phillips-428766">Stuart Phillips</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/mcmaster-university-930">McMaster University</a> </em></p> <p>Everyone can agree that exercise is healthy. Among its many benefits, exercise improves heart and brain function, aids in controlling weight, slows the effects of aging and helps lower the risks of several chronic <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101%2Fcshperspect.a029694">diseases</a>.</p> <p>For too long, though, one way of keeping fit, aerobic exercise, has been perceived as superior to the other, resistance training, for promoting health when, in fact, they are equally valuable, and both can get us to the same goal of overall physical fitness.</p> <p>Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming and cycling is popular because it provides great benefits and with ample <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335">scientific evidence</a> to back that up.</p> <p>What has been far less influential to date is that resistance training — whether that’s with dumbbells, weightlifting machines or good old push-ups, lunges and dips — works about as well as aerobic exercise in all the critical areas, including cardiovascular health.</p> <p>Resistance training provides another benefit: building strength and developing power, which become increasingly important as a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-021-1665-8">person ages</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/843867756" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Video about different forms of resistance training explores how all are effective at building strength.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Building and maintaining muscle strength keeps us springing out of our chairs, maintaining our balance and posture and firing our metabolism, as my colleagues and I explain in a paper recently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1249/FIT.0000000000000916">published</a> by the American College of Sports Medicine.</p> <p>So, if aerobic exercise and resistance training offer roughly equal benefits, how did we end up with so many runners and cyclists compared to weightlifters?</p> <p>It was a combination of timing, marketing and stereotyping.</p> <h2>The rise of aerobics</h2> <p>The preference for aerobic exercise dates back to landmark research from the <a href="https://www.cooperinstitute.org/research/ccls">Cooper Centre Longitudinal Study</a>, which played a pivotal role in establishing the effectiveness of aerobics — Dr. Ken Cooper invented or at least popularized the word with his book <a href="https://www.cooperaerobics.com/About/Aerobics.aspx"><em>Aerobics</em></a>, spurring desk-bound Baby Boomers to take up exercise for its own sake.</p> <p>Meanwhile, resistance training languished, <a href="https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/does-lifting-weights-make-women-bulky/">especially among women</a>, due to the misguided notion that weightlifting was only for men who aspired to be hyper-muscular. <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Atlas">Charles Atlas</a>, anyone?</p> <p>Cultural influences solidified the dominance of aerobic exercise in the fitness landscape. In 1977, Jim Fixx made running and jogging popular with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Complete_Book_of_Running"><em>The Complete Book of Running</em></a>. In the 1980s, Jane Fonda’s <a href="https://www.janefonda.com/shop/fitness-videos/jane-fondas-complete-workout/"><em>Complete Workout</em></a> and exercise shows such as <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268895/">Aerobicize</a></em> and the <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0299431/">20 Minute Workout</a></em> helped solidify the idea that exercise was about raising one’s heart rate.</p> <p>The very word “aerobic,” previously confined to the lexicon of science and medicine, entered popular culture about the same time as leg warmers, tracksuits and sweatbands. It made sense to many that breathing hard and sweating from prolonged, vigorous movement was the best way to benefit from exercising.</p> <p>All the while, resistance training was waiting for its turn in the spotlight.</p> <h2>Recognizing the value of resistance</h2> <p>If aerobics has been the hare, resistance training has been the tortoise. Weight training is now coming up alongside and preparing to overtake its speedy rival, as athletes and everyday people alike recognize the value that was always there.</p> <p>Even in high-level sports training, weightlifting did not become common until the last 20 years. Today, it strengthens the bodies and lengthens the careers of soccer stars, tennis players, golfers <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0486-0">and many more</a>.</p> <p>Rising popular interest in resistance training owes a debt to <a href="https://www.livestrong.com/article/545200-the-fall-of-fitness/">CrossFit</a>, which, despite its controversies, has helped break down stereotypes and introduced more people, particularly women, to the practice of lifting weights.</p> <p>It’s important to recognize that resistance training does not invariably lead to bulking up, nor does it demand lifting heavy weights. As our team’s research has shown, lifting lighter weights to the point of failure in multiple sets provides <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00154.2016">equal benefits</a>.</p> <h2>Strength and ageing</h2> <p>The merits of resistance training extend beyond improving muscle strength. It addresses a critical aspect often overlooked in traditional aerobic training: the ability to exert force quickly, or what’s called power. As people age, activities of daily living such as standing up, sitting down and climbing stairs demand <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s11556-022-00297-x">strength and power</a> more than cardiovascular endurance.</p> <p>In this way, resistance training can be vital to maintaining overall functionality and independence.</p> <h2>Redefining the fitness narrative</h2> <p>The main idea is not to pit resistance training against aerobic exercise but to recognize that they complement each other. Engaging in both forms of exercise is better than relying on one alone. The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001189">American Heart Association</a> recently stated that “…resistance training is a safe and effective approach for improving cardiovascular health in adults with and without cardiovascular disease.”</p> <p>Adopting a nuanced perspective is essential, especially when we guide <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2021.101368">older individuals</a> who may associate exercise primarily with walking and not realize the limitations imposed by neglecting strength and power training.</p> <p>Resistance training is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. It encompasses a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2023.06.005">spectrum of activities</a> tailored to individual capabilities.</p> <p>It’s time to redefine the narrative around fitness to make more room for resistance training. It’s not necessary to treat it as a replacement for aerobic exercise but to see it as a vital component of a holistic approach to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1249/ESM.0000000000000001">health and longevity</a>.</p> <p>By shedding stereotypes, demystifying the process and promoting inclusivity, resistance training can become more accessible and appealing to a broader audience, ultimately leading to a new way to perceive and prioritize the benefits of this form of training for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-105061">health and fitness</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220269/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stuart-phillips-428766"><em>Stuart Phillips</em></a><em>, Professor, Kinesiology, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Skeletal Muscle Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/mcmaster-university-930">McMaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/resistance-exercise-is-far-from-futile-the-unheralded-benefits-of-weight-training-220269">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why are my muscles sore after exercise? Hint: it’s nothing to do with lactic acid

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-andrew-robergs-435390">Robert Andrew Robergs</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samuel-l-torrens-1476404">Samuel L. Torrens</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>As many of us hit the gym or go for a run to recover from the silly season, you might notice a bit of extra muscle soreness.</p> <p>This is especially true if it has been a while between workouts.</p> <p>A common misunderstanding is that such soreness is due to lactic acid build-up in the muscles.</p> <p>Research, however, shows lactic acid has <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physiol.00033.2017">nothing to do with it</a>. The truth is far more interesting, but also a bit more complex.</p> <h2>It’s not lactic acid</h2> <p>We’ve known for decades that lactic acid has <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27409551/">nothing to do with</a> muscle soreness after exercise.</p> <p>In fact, as one of us (Robert Andrew Robergs) has long <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00114.2004">argued</a>, cells produce lactate, not lactic acid. This process actually <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physiol.00033.2017">opposes</a> not causes the build-up of acid in the muscles and bloodstream.</p> <p>Unfortunately, historical inertia means people still use the term “lactic acid” in relation to exercise.</p> <p>Lactate <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1101141">doesn’t cause major problems</a> for the muscles you use when you exercise. You’d probably be <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00114.2004?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed&amp;">worse off</a> without it due to other benefits to your working muscles.</p> <p>Lactate isn’t the reason you’re sore a few days after upping your weights or exercising after a long break.</p> <p>So, if it’s not lactic acid and it’s not lactate, what is causing all that muscle soreness?</p> <h2>Muscle pain during and after exercise</h2> <p>When you exercise, a lot of chemical reactions occur in your muscle cells. All these chemical reactions accumulate products and by-products which cause water to enter into the cells.</p> <p>That causes the pressure inside and between muscle cells to increase.</p> <p>This pressure, combined with the movement of molecules from the muscle cells can stimulate nerve endings and cause <a href="https://www.sportsmed.theclinics.com/article/S0278-5919(11)00099-8/fulltext">discomfort</a> during exercise.</p> <p>The pain and discomfort you sometimes feel hours to days after an unfamiliar type or amount of exercise has a different list of causes.</p> <p>If you exercise beyond your usual level or routine, you can cause microscopic damage to your muscles and their connections to tendons.</p> <p>Such damage causes the release of ions and other molecules from the muscles, causing localised swelling and stimulation of nerve endings.</p> <p>This is sometimes known as “<a href="https://www.sportsmed.theclinics.com/article/S0278-5919(11)00099-8/fulltext">delayed onset muscle soreness</a>” or DOMS.</p> <p>While the damage occurs during the exercise, the resulting response to the injury builds over the next one to two days (longer if the damage is severe). This can sometimes cause pain and difficulty with normal movement.</p> <h2>The upshot</h2> <p>Research is clear; the discomfort from delayed onset muscle soreness has nothing to do with <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=UVjRNSUAAAAJ&amp;view_op=view_citation&amp;citation_for_view=UVjRNSUAAAAJ:J_g5lzvAfSwC">lactate</a> or <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physiol.00033.2017">lactic acid</a>.</p> <p>The good news, though, is that your muscles adapt rapidly to the activity that would initially cause delayed onset muscle soreness.</p> <p>So, assuming you don’t wait too long (more than roughly two weeks) before being active again, the next time you do the same activity there will be much less damage and discomfort.</p> <p>If you have an exercise goal (such as doing a particular hike or completing a half-marathon), ensure it is realistic and that you can work up to it by training over several months.</p> <p>Such training will gradually build the muscle adaptations necessary to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. And being less wrecked by exercise makes it more enjoyable and more easy to stick to a routine or habit.</p> <p>Finally, remove “lactic acid” from your exercise vocabulary. Its supposed role in muscle soreness is a myth that’s hung around far too long already.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214638/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-andrew-robergs-435390"><em>Robert Andrew Robergs</em></a><em>, Associate Professor - Exercise Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/samuel-l-torrens-1476404">Samuel L. Torrens</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-my-muscles-sore-after-exercise-hint-its-nothing-to-do-with-lactic-acid-214638">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Top 80s songs to get you moving

<p class="Default">While the fashion from the 1980s might only come out of the closet for dress up parties these days, the music is still considered some of the best of our time. Especially for music to get you moving.</p> <p class="Default">From dance and pop hits to a little rap and rock, it’s got to be one of the most diverse, eclectic and extravagant decades in recent cultural history.</p> <p class="Default">Here, we have been busy rifling through the tracks to whittle down a decade of music into 40 of the best tracks to move to. From dancing to exercise, if you want to get up off that couch, these are the songs to hit play on.</p> <p>1. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper (1983)<br />2. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar (1980)<br />3. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (1982)<br />4. “Love Shack” by The B-52's (1989)<br />5. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson (1982)<br />6. “Manic Monday” by The Bangles (1986)<br />7. “Let's Dance” by David Bowie (1983)<br />8. “Livin' on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi (1986)<br />9. “I Love Rock N' Roll” by Joan Jett &amp; The Blackhearts (1982)<br />10. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (1982)<br />11. “Faith” by George Michael (1987)<br />12. “Jump” by Van Halen (1984)<br />13. “Don't Stop Believin’" by Journey (1982)<br />14. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina &amp; The Waves (1983)<br />15. “Kiss” by Prince (1986)<br />16. “Holiday” by Madonna (1983)<br />17. “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang (1980)<br />18. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson (1982)<br />19. “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar (1983)<br />20. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics (1983)<br />21. “White Wedding” by Billy Idol (1982)<br />22. “Take on Me” by a-ha (1985)<br />23. “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles (1981)<br />24. “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club (1983)<br />25. “The Tide is High” by Blondie (1980)<br />26. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham (1984)<br />27. “Let's Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams (1984)<br />28. “A Little Respect” by Erasure (1988)<br />29. “Sweet Child O' Mine” by Guns N' Roses (1987)<br />30. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins (1984)<br />31. “Wild Thing” by Tone-Loc (1989)<br />32. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell (1981)<br />33. “Borderline” by Madonna (1983)<br />34. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston (1987)<br />35. “Just Can't Get Enough” by Depeche Mode (1981)<br />36. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley (1987)<br />37. “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes (1983)<br />38. “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by New Kids on the Block (1988)<br />39. “It Takes Two” by Rob Base (1988)<br />40. “Down Under” by Men at Work (1981)</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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Squats and lunges might help you avoid knee surgery

<p>Whether it’s another round of squats and lunges, or a longer wall sit, researchers say working those quads could help lower your risk of a knee replacement.</p> <div> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/musculoskeletal-conditions/contents/arthritis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about 9% of the population</a> has osteoarthritis, a condition known to lead to hip and knee surgery in severe cases. About 14 million Americans suffer from knee osteoarthritis, about half are expected to face knee replacement surgery. </p> <p>But new research offers hope, finding stronger quadricep muscles could play a role in avoiding knee replacement surgery.</p> <p>A study presented to <a href="https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/rsna/newsroom2023.cfm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">annual meeting</a> of the Radiological Society of North America, offers hope to people with arthritis, finding stronger quadriceps could help in avoiding a knee replacement.</p> <p>The two most important muscles in the knee are the extensors or quadriceps, and the hamstrings. Quads are the strong muscles located at the front of the thigh, which play a key role in gait. Hammies at the back of the thigh, are essential for hip and knee flexibility.</p> <p>The two muscles act as opposing forces, allowing physical activity while also protecting the knee. An imbalance can change the body’s biomechanics, and may progress to osteoarthritis.</p> <p>Using MRI scans – from the time of surgery as well as 2 and 4 years prior – researchers analysed thigh muscle volume in 134 participants from a national study called the Osteoarthritis Initiative. </p> <p>Using artificial intelligence to compute muscle volume from the MRI scans, the researchers compared 67 of the cohort who had a total, single knee replacement with 67 control participants who had not undergone knee replacement surgery.</p> <p>They found patients who had a higher ratio of quadricep to hamstring volume had significantly lower odds of a total knee replacement. Higher volume hamstrings were also associated with lower odds of surgery.</p> <p>The results suggest strength training – focusing on the quadriceps – may be beneficial, both in people with arthritis as well as the general population.</p> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <em><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=289325&amp;title=Squats+and+lunges+might+help+you+avoid+knee+surgery" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" />Image credits: Getty Images</em></div> <div> </div> <div><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/squats-and-lunges-might-help-you-avoid-knee-surgery/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/petra-stock/">Petra Stock</a>. </em></div>

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How 22 minutes of exercise a day could reduce the health risks from sitting too long

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>People in developed countries spend an average of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2022-106568">nine to ten hours</a> a day sitting. Whether it’s spending time in front of a computer, stuck in traffic, or unwinding in front of the TV, our lives have become increasingly sedentary.</p> <p>This is concerning because prolonged time spent sitting is <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451?s=09&amp;int_source=trendmd&amp;int_medium=cpc&amp;int_campaign=usage-042019">linked to a number of health issues</a> including obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. These health issues can contribute to earlier death.</p> <p>But a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2022-106568">new study</a> suggests that for people over 50, getting just 22 minutes of exercise a day can lower the increased risk of premature death from a highly sedentary lifestyle.</p> <h2>What the researchers did</h2> <p>The team combined data from two studies from Norway, one from Sweden and one from the United States. The studies included about 12,000 people aged 50 or older who wore wearable devices to track how active and sedentary they were during their daily routines.</p> <p>Participants were followed up for at least two years (the median was 5.2 years) during the study period, which spanned 2003-2020.</p> <p>Analyses took several lifestyle and health factors into account, such as education, alcohol intake, smoking status, and previous history of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All this data was linked to national death registries.</p> <h2>A 22 minute threshold</h2> <p>A total of 805 participants died during follow up. The researchers found people who were sedentary for more than 12 hours a day had the highest risk of death (a 38% higher risk than people who were sedentary for eight hours).</p> <p>However, this was only observed in those who did less than 22 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. So for people who did more than 22 minutes of exercise, there was no longer a significantly heightened risk – that is, the risk became generally similar to those who were sedentary for eight hours.</p> <p>Higher daily duration of physical activity was consistently associated with lower risk of death, regardless of total sedentary time. For example, the team reported an additional ten minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day could lower mortality risk by up to 15% for people who were sedentary less than 10.5 hours a day. For those considered highly sedentary (10.5 hours a day or more), an additional ten minutes lowered mortality risk by up to 35%.</p> <h2>The study had some limitations</h2> <p>The team couldn’t assess how changes in physical activity or sedentary time over several months or years may affect risk of death. And the study included only participants aged 50 and above, making results less applicable to younger age groups.</p> <p>Further, cultural and lifestyle differences between countries may have influenced how data between studies was measured and analysed.</p> <p>Ultimately, because this study was observational, we can’t draw conclusions on cause and effect with certainty. But the results of this research align with a growing body of evidence exploring the relationship between physical activity, sedentary time, and death.</p> <h2>It’s positive news</h2> <p>Research has previously suggested <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1499">physical activity may offset</a> health risks associated with <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.02.031">high sedentary time</a>.</p> <p>The good news is, even short bouts of exercise can have these positive effects. In this study, the 22 minutes wasn’t necessarily done all at once. It was a total of the physical activity someone did in a day, and would have included incidental exercise (activity that’s part of a daily routine, such as climbing the stairs).</p> <p>Several studies using wearable devices have found short bursts of high-intensity everyday activities such as stair climbing or energetic outdoor home maintenance activities such as mowing the lawn or cleaning the windows can lower <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">mortality</a>, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/43/46/4801/6771381">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2807734">cancer</a> risk.</p> <p>A recent study using wearable devices found moderate to vigorous bouts of activity <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(23)00183-4/fulltext">lasting three to five minutes</a> provide similar benefits to bouts longer than ten minutes when it comes to stroke and heart attack risk.</p> <p>Several other studies have found <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2596007">being active just on the weekend</a> provides similar health benefits as <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2794038">being active throughout the week</a>.</p> <p>Research has also shown the benefits of <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2795819">physical activity</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2809418">reducing sedentary time</a> extend to cognitive health.</p> <p>Routines such as desk jobs can foster a sedentary lifestyle that may be difficult to shift. But mixing short bursts of activity into our day can make a significant difference towards improving our health and longevity.</p> <p>Whether it’s a brisk walk during lunch, taking the stairs, or even a short at-home workout, this study is yet another to suggest that every minute counts.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216259/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-22-minutes-of-exercise-a-day-could-reduce-the-health-risks-from-sitting-too-long-216259">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine: what’s the best option for cardio at home?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-ingram-1427671">Lewis Ingram</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saravana-kumar-181105">Saravana Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, refers to any form of rhythmic physical activity that increases your heart rate and breathing so the heart and lungs can deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Essentially, it’s the type of exercise that gets you huffing and puffing – and fills many people with dread.</p> <p>People often do cardio to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30003901/">lose weight</a>, but it’s associated with a variety of health benefits including reducing the risk of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481017/">heart disease</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30191075/">stroke</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27707740/">falls</a>. Research shows cardio also improves <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29334638/">cognitive function</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26978184/">mental health</a>.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization</a> recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio per week.</p> <p>There are many ways to do cardio, from playing a team sport, to riding your bike to work, to going for a jog. If you’re willing and able to invest in a piece of equipment, you can also do cardio at home.</p> <p>The treadmill, stationary bike and rowing machine are the most popular pieces of cardio equipment you’ll find in a typical gym, and you can buy any of these for your home too. Here’s how to know which one is best for you.</p> <h2>The treadmill</h2> <p>In terms of effectiveness of exercise, it’s hard to look past the treadmill. Running uses most of your major muscle groups and therefore leads to greater increases in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1334197/">heart rate</a> and energy expenditure compared to other activities, such as cycling.</p> <p>As a bonus, since running on a treadmill requires you to support your own body weight, it also helps to build and maintain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26562001/">your bones</a>, keeping them strong. This becomes even more important <a href="https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/exercise-your-bone-health">as you get older</a> as the risk of developing medical conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis – where the density of your bones is reduced – increases.</p> <p>But the treadmill may not be for everyone. The weight-bearing nature of running may exacerbate pain and cause swelling in people with common joint conditions such as osteoarthritis.</p> <p>Also, a treadmill is likely to require greater maintenance (since most treadmills are motorised), and can take up a lot of space.</p> <h2>Stationary bike</h2> <p>The stationary bike provides another convenient means to hit your cardio goals. Setting the bike up correctly is crucial to ensure you are comfortable and to reduce the risk of injury. A general rule of thumb is that you want a slight bend in your knee, as in the picture below, when your leg is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.</p> <p>While cycling has significant benefits for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21496106/">cardiovascular</a> and metabolic health, since it’s non-weight-bearing it doesn’t benefit your <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0026049507003253">bones</a> to the same extent as walking and running. On the flipside, it offers a great cardio workout without stressing your joints.</p> <h2>Rowing machine</h2> <p>If you’re looking to the get the best cardio workout in the least amount of time, the rowing machine might be for you. Because rowing requires you to use all of your major muscle groups including the upper body, your heart and lungs have to work even harder than they do when <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32627051/">running and cycling</a> to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8325720/">deliver oxygen</a> to those working muscles. This means the energy expended while rowing is comparable to running and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3193864/">greater than cycling</a>.</p> <p>But before you rush off to buy a new rower, there are two issues to consider. First, the technical challenge of rowing is arguably greater than that of running or cycling, as the skill of rowing is often less familiar to the average person. While a coach or trainer can help with this, just remember a good rowing technique should be felt primarily in your legs, not your arms and back.</p> <p>Second, the non-weight-bearing nature of rowing means it misses out on the same bone health benefits offered by the treadmill – although there is some evidence it still can increase bone density <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7551766/">to a smaller degree</a>. Nevertheless, like cycling, this drawback of rowing may be negated by offering a more joint-friendly option, providing a great alternative for those with joint pain who still want to keep their heart and lungs healthy.</p> <h2>So, what’s the best option?</h2> <p>It depends on your goals, what your current health status is, and, most importantly, what you enjoy the most. The best exercise is the one that gets done. So, choose whichever piece of equipment you find the most enjoyable, as this will increase the likelihood you’ll stick to it in the long term.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213352/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-ingram-1427671"><em>Lewis Ingram</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, Lecturer in Exercise Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saravana-kumar-181105">Saravana Kumar</a>, Professor in Allied Health and Health Services Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treadmill-exercise-bike-rowing-machine-whats-the-best-option-for-cardio-at-home-213352">original article</a>.</em></p>

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7 ways to create realistic financial goals that you'll actually stick to

<p>Establishing robust financial habits not only fosters comfort but also alleviates anxieties about the road ahead. A positive change in our financial circumstances commences with a shift in our money mindset. When you shift to creating lasting change, you can achieve more than you believe is possible. </p> <p>When creating financial goals that you’ll actually stick to, parallels can be drawn between achieving physical and financial fitness. Let’s take a look.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Precision in Goal Setting</strong></li> </ol> <p>Just like any other endeavour, the path to financial well-being requires setting clear objectives that are both quantifiable and feasible. Whether it's building an emergency fund or saving for a major purchase, your goals need to be well-defined and measurable.</p> <p>Just as a fitness regimen consists of various exercises targeting different muscle groups, your financial goals should cover different aspects of your financial life.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>The Inaugural Step</strong></li> </ol> <p>The hardest part is starting – there will always be competing priorities.   Think of it as taking one step at a time.  Starting your financial goals might feel overwhelming due to competing priorities and uncertainties.</p> <p>Start small and build momentum gradually. Establish a budget, track your expenses, and save a modest amount regularly. </p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Avoiding Extreme Measures</strong></li> </ol> <p>Remember, lasting change comes from sustainable actions. Financial quick fixes like waiting for bonuses or tax returns won't foster healthy habits and can lead to financial fatigue. Instead, embrace gradual progress; small efforts compound over time.</p> <p>The allure of crash diets can be tempting, but they rarely yield lasting results. Instead, opt for consistent, manageable actions. Focus on building sustainable habits, like making regular contributions to savings or investments.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>The Power of Knowledge</strong></li> </ol> <p>Equip yourself with information. Education is a powerful tool in achieving financial well-being.  Understanding the options available is pivotal to making informed financial decisions. Gain a comprehensive understanding of your financial options.</p> <p>Research investment opportunities and strategies that align with your goals. Knowledge empowers you to navigate the complex landscape of personal finance confidently.</p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Exploration of Strategies</strong></li> </ol> <p>Just as someone might prefer running over cycling, finding financial strategies that resonate with you enhances your chances of long-term success. Experiment with diverse approaches to identify what resonates best, reducing stress and enhancing commitment.</p> <p>Opt for strategies that resonate with your values, minimise stress and amplifying commitment.</p> <ol start="6"> <li><strong>Consistency </strong></li> </ol> <p>Success lies in cultivating steady habits over time, ensuring enduring benefits. Just as regular workouts lead to improved physical health, cultivating small, consistent financial habits over time leads to enhanced financial well-being.</p> <p>Set up automated transfers to savings accounts, make incremental increases in contributions, and avoid overspending.</p> <ol start="7"> <li><strong>Intermittent Rewards</strong></li> </ol> <p>Occasionally treat yourself.  Sporadic indulgences can enhance well-being and acknowledge hard-earned victories. Rewarding yourself for achieving financial milestones enhances your commitment and prevents financial fatigue. It's essential to strike a balance between frugality and enjoyment.</p> <p>By embracing these principles, we not only engineer realistic financial objectives but also cement a commitment to achieving them. That’s the key to lasting financial prosperity.</p> <p><strong><em>Amanda Thompson, author of Financially Fit Women, is a sought-after speaker and qualified financial adviser.  As the founder of Endurance Financial, Amanda is driven to support women to have a great relationship with money and own their own financial success. For more information visit <a href="http://www.endurancefinancial.com.au">www.endurancefinancial.com.au</a></em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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5 bizarre – but true – things regular exercise does to your body

<p><strong>You feel like someone is stabbing a knife into your ribs </strong></p> <p>Experts don’t know exactly what causes those sharp, fleeting pains called side stitches, but many believe they’re due to diaphragm spasms triggered by rapid breathing, says Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and author of <em>Beat the Gym</em>. Eating too close to your workout may play a role. And side stitches occur more frequently in novice exercisers.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: To stop a stitch, slow your pace and take deep breaths while contracting your abdominal muscles. Stretch your arms overhead or to the side. To prevent a stitch: Eat light pre-exercise meals, and wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you work out. Always warm up for five to ten minutes; gradually increase workout intensity.</p> <p><strong>Your nose is suddenly a dripping tap </strong></p> <p>Exercise, especially in cold, dry air, can trigger a runny, congested nose, a condition known as exercise-induced rhinitis. “Increased nasal breathing during exercise dries out the nose’s mucous membranes, which makes the nose secrete more mucus to protect the nasal airway,” says Dr William Silvers, an asthma, allergy and immunology specialist .</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: If your nose is really interfering with your workout, ask your doctor to prescribe a nasal spray, and use it at least 30 minutes before you exercise. Pack plenty of tissues in your pockets.</p> <p><strong>You have to go to the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Badly. It’s called runner’s trots, but don’t be fooled by the name: Even walkers can experience loose bowels, especially when logging long distances. During exercise, your body directs blood flow away from your gut to working muscles, which can trigger diarrhoea, Holland says. Dehydration and pre-race anxiety may exacerbate the problem.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: Don’t eat anything for two hours before exercising. Skip high-fibre and high-fat foods, caffeine and artificial sweeteners, all of which can make things worse. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. Begin your workouts after bowel movements, and make sure you have access to a restroom.</p> <p><strong>Your face turns as red as a stop sign </strong></p> <p>Blame your capillaries, small blood vessels near the skin’s surface that dilate during exercise to help you stay cool. People with sensitive skin may flush more and stay red longer.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: Spritz cold water on your skin frequently or switch to activities in air-conditioned locations. The flush usually disappears about 30 minutes after you stop exercising, but if you have persistent redness, you may have rosacea, a skin disease that causes flushing, redness, bumps and pimples. It can be treated with oral and topical medications.</p> <p><strong>You break out in hives</strong></p> <p>Yes, you really could be allergic to exercise. Urticaria is often triggered by sweating and an elevated body temperature.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>What to try</em></span>: See a specialist to rule out other conditions. If it is urticaria, your doctor may recommend taking an antihistamine treatment before exercise. Working out in cooler conditions may help.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/5-bizarre-things-exercise-does-to-your-body" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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The 10 step process to get moving and keep moving for a healthier you

<p>Looking at the <a href="https://mind.uci.edu/research-studies/90plus-study/">research</a>, especially around longevity, the answer to a healthier you lies in the way we live. It’s really about the choices we make every day and the little things we do that accumulate to form the larger picture.</p> <p>If we look around, our lifestyles are full and quite sedentary. We run busy schedules, we work long hours and have many commitments that leave us with little to no time to be active. We spend all day at a desk to then go home and relax, sitting some more, this time on the couch. </p> <p>We need to move more. It is really that simple. Life quality goes hand in hand with being (and keeping) active. When I work with my clients to help them uncover their inner athlete, I follow a 10 step process that helps them shift perspective and move from a short term fix to a framework that lasts the test of time. At the heart of this process is the belief that everyone can learn these steps and create their very own formula, embracing what works for them and them alone. Let’s take a look:</p> <p><strong>1) Rediscover</strong></p> <p>Think back to a time when being active was second nature to you, something you would just do. Follow the clues that lit you up to understand where your passions lie. Your past is the teacher that can help you rekindle your love of movement.</p> <p><strong>2) Driving Forces</strong></p> <p>Your beliefs, your values as well as those little things that warm your heart and make you smile carry great power and meaning. They can ignite a spark in you so use them to drive change.</p> <p><strong>3) Athletic Mindset</strong></p> <p>What goes on between your ears is the difference between being active and letting gravity pull you back down to the couch. Look at your mindset, the way you talk to yourself and the questions you ask. The aim is to remove internal hurdles to help you stay on track.</p> <p><strong>4) Your Why</strong></p> <p>Think of who you want to become and why. Your why will give you strong roots to weather the storms and a reason to keep moving.</p> <p><strong>5) Realistic Goals</strong></p> <p>When you work towards a realistic goal you automatically bring order into your life. Structure fosters change and tightens our priorities.</p> <p><strong>6) Energy Boost</strong></p> <p>To bring about change you require energy. There are 5 elements you can tweak (one at a time and gradually) to boost your energy: food, sleep, breath work, timing and movement.</p> <p><strong>7) Maximum performance</strong></p> <p>It takes time to develop the skills that go hand in hand with an active lifestyle. The secret is to make your movement incremental, follow your pace (slow burn it) and be deliberate in what you do.</p> <p><strong>8) Rituals and routines</strong></p> <p>How you greet the morning determines the flavour of every day. Slowly build habits that keep you hungry for more and align with the person you want to become.</p> <p><strong>9) Recognise Progress</strong></p> <p>Recognising your progress helps you shift perspective and understand that every journey has its setbacks. In life’s transitions you are still moving forward and your focus is now the long game.</p> <p><strong>10) Celebrate the Wins</strong></p> <p>Take time to pat yourself on the back, celebrate you and how far you’ve come. Lightness and laughter are key ingredients in building momentum.</p> <p>There will be bumps along the way. Nothing is a straight line. Moving challenges every aspect of your being: the physical, the emotional and the cognitive. But to make the change you have all you need inside of you. Enjoy the ripple effects that moment brings into your life. Be playful, creative and make it your own.</p> <p><strong><em>Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a sought-after speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and find their mojo so they can live their best life. To find out more about Dr Brett’s programs, go to his website www.brettlillie.com </em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p style="margin: 0px; font-stretch: normal; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue'; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000; min-height: 12px;"> </p>

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4 bad exercise habits & how to stop them

<p>Finding the time and motivation to exercise amongst the business of life is already a feat on its own. If you’re being active and keeping at it, take a moment to pat yourself on the back because you’re doing great. However, we are creature of habits and with time, even with our best intentions, we fall into traps that can work against us.</p> <p>No matter how hard we train, at one point or another we reach a plateau, a comfortable spot where if we don’t take action we can actually start undoing all the amazing work put in so far. You might feel like you’re not progressing, your focus is just not there anymore and you can’t even remember why you’re exercising in the first place. Time for a little “shake up”. Let’ look at how to do it.</p> <ol> <li><strong>You are on autopilot</strong></li> </ol> <p>It is quite easy to fall into a lull: your body follows a routine like it’s second nature, the mind is turned off and you find yourself running the same 5km track on autopilot. What you don’t necessarily know is that when your body does the same exercise every time, it is actually de-conditioning. Thankfully, you only need a few tweaks to wake up from the trance and progress again.</p> <p>Pick one thing in your exercise routine that you can rejig and give it deliberate attention: it could be run a different route (or change directions), walk somewhere different, join a different class, exercise with a friend, increase your time once a week or your distance. Keep it fresh so you can wake your mind and body.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>You are overcommitted</strong></li> </ol> <p>It’s only human to want something, to want it badly and to want it now. So we throw ourselves at it 110% with great expectations and enthusiasm, but life is hectic and often we can’t sustain it all. The secret to overwhelm is to ‘slowburn’, find your own pace. Ask yourself if your expectations and exercise goals are realistic and achievable with what is on your plate at the moment.</p> <p>Ultra marathon runners are the kings of slowburn, they think long term, they train incrementally, they know they can only go the distance if they build their skills and condition bit by bit, over time. Think of training as a long term game, something you want to keep doing forever.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>You are out of sync</strong></li> </ol> <p>Our external world can be pretty fixed as far as time goes: we work 9-5, we eat at 12:30pm, we exercise around those times, when we can fit it in. Our body though has an internal clock that runs to its own beat and so it is easy to get out of synch. The research on circadian rhythm has now mapped out when it’s the best time to exercise: too early in the morning and you’re not quite ready yet, too late in the evening and you can disrupt your sleep.</p> <p>The early afternoon is when activity levels, coordination and power are at their peak so that’s the ideal time to train. If you are restricted by fixed working hours, maybe take your lunch break a little later and exercise when you’re more in synch with your internal clock.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>You are not investing in recovery</strong></li> </ol> <p>If you’re exercising chances are you follow a routine, or at least you try to stick to a regular schedule. You have days when you are active and “days off” when you can rest. Truth is, those quieter days in between are more than just times when you can take a break, they are your recovery days, a key aspect of your training. Recovery means exercising in a lower gear and with less load so you can work on nuances of your performance and reinforce good habits.</p> <p>As we get older your recovery days become a greater priority to help maintain muscle strength and continue to progress without using all your precious resources. So if you love cycling for example, have a spin day as recovery: you’ll still be doing the same movement turning your legs over but at different intensity. If you are a runner maybe go for a walk or hike on terrain, even the beach.</p> <p>No matter what exercise habit you inevitably fall into, just remember that going back to the reason why you are exercising will always steer you back in the right direction. It could be for health reasons or because you want to be the best for your family.</p> <p>It could be because you want to challenge yourself or bring a bit of change into your life. Your why is gold because it resonates with you, because it is you, and will always make you focus on what really matters.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><strong><em style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; caret-color: #212529; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji';">Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a sought-after speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and find their mojo so they can live their best life. To find out more about Dr Brett’s programs, go to his website <a style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #258440; text-decoration: none; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out 0s;" href="https://www.brettlillie.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.brettlillie.com</a></em></strong></p>

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How to set realistic exercise goals you’ll actually stick to

<p>We often think that exercise goals need to be huge mountains, feats that are big and hard to achieve. But when your goals are unobtainable you fall into the New Year's Eve cycle, where the excitement you feel at the beginning wavers after just a short time.</p> <p>The same goes if your goals are too small: you will only feel the sweet taste of success after a bit of hard work. Exercise goals need to be realistic. They need to stretch you enough so that you can become more than who you are at this moment without breaking you. </p> <p>Here are the top tips from Dr Brett Lillie – author of <em>Rediscover Your Athlete Within</em> – on how to set realistic exercise goals so you can achieve them on your own terms:</p> <p><strong>1. <span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Follow the Principles</strong></p> <p>Designing your goals begins with the core principles; be specific, clarify your destination, make it measurable, in bite size action steps that are achievable in a clear time frame. The goal posts. </p> <p><strong>2. Start where you are</strong></p> <p>Be truthful about where you are right now. On one hand think about your body and be realistic about your physical capacity. On the other, have fun, be creative, get curious. What do your exercise goals make you feel? At the end of the day, we're only as old as we feel. It’s easy to fall into the “I’m too old, I can’t possibly do that” trap: get out of that thought and jazz it up.</p> <p><strong>3. Make your goals compelling</strong></p> <p>Bob Proctor is famous for asking, ‘Is it big enough and scary enough’ to pull you out of your present circumstances and not playing small? A realistic goal doesn’t need to be climbing mount Everest, but it does need to stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone. The more meaning you give your goals, the more why you attach, the more realistic they become, the more they excite you and get you out of bed before the alarm.</p> <p><strong>4. Find the balance</strong></p> <p>When you set goals, they are really signposts along your life journey, “in between” destinations that you are moving in the right direction. There are times where it is spring, and everything just seems to be going your way, heading into summer, you’re ticking boxes, only to head into Winter where nothing seems to be happening. No need to feel discouraged. As the change of the seasons, exercising needs balance too. Make rest and recovery part of your goals.</p> <p><strong>5. Stay on track </strong></p> <p>Once you start exercising, the beginning bit is relatively easy, it’s the honeymoon period. The closer you get to your goal, the greater the effort, the more distractions begin to appear. This is the time you smile to yourself, you stick to your promise, you know your goal is just over the next ridge about to appear. Remind yourself you’re still progressing even if it doesn’t quite feel like it. You are still moving forward, and you have momentum. </p> <p><strong>6. Set yourself up to win</strong></p> <p>Setting yourself up to win is about removing the clutter in your life, both mental and physical. When you’re young you just juggle the growing kids, a career, responsibilities and you multi task like a pro. However, it is putting your attention on the one thing that makes the big things that matter happen. Deliberate attention will give you the greatest success. So think: What is crowding your mind? And your environment? Are there worries or piles of unfinished projects cluttering your world? Clearing the decks is making way for the new. What is your one thing?</p> <p>Making an exercise goal realistic is about deciding what is truly important, then actually writing it down and turning it into a priority in our life. It is in our PM years where the views and values we hold tend to change, we look for the deeper meaning, more heartfelt fulfilment and think about the legacy we are creating. Recognise that setting exercise goals that are realistic is you taking the time to decide what is most important to you and why, setting a promise in place. Look for the wins, acknowledge the progress and celebrate your life every day.</p> <p><em>Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a sought-after speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and find their mojo so they can live their best life. To find out more about Dr Brett’s programs, go to his website <a href="https://www.brettlillie.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.brettlillie.com</a></em></p>

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Climb the stairs, lug the shopping, chase the kids. Incidental vigorous activity linked to lower cancer risks

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Many people know exercise reduces the risk of <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2521826">cancers</a>, including liver, lung, breast and kidney. But structured exercise is time-consuming, requires significant commitment and often financial outlay or travel to a gym. These practicalities can make it infeasible for <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/42/11/901">most adults</a>.</p> <p>There is <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">very little research</a> on the potential of incidental physical activity for reducing the risk of cancer. Incidental activities can include doing errands on foot, work-related activity or housework as part of daily routines. As such they do not require an extra time commitment, special equipment or any particular practical arrangements.</p> <p>In our <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2807734">study</a> out today, we explored the health potential of brief bursts of vigorous physical activities embedded into daily life. These could be short power walks to get to the bus or tram stop, stair climbing, carrying heavy shopping, active housework or energetic play with children.</p> <h2>How was the study done?</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2807734">new study</a> included 22,398 <a href="https://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/">UK Biobank</a> participants who had never been diagnosed with cancer before and did not do any structured exercise in their leisure time. Around 55% of participants were female, with an average age of 62. Participants wore wrist activity trackers for a week. Such trackers monitor activity levels continuously and with a high level of detail throughout the day, allowing us to calculate how hard and exactly for how long people in the study were moving.</p> <p>Participants’ activity and other information was then linked to future cancer registrations and other cancer-related health records for the next 6.7 years. This meant we could estimate the overall risk of cancer by different levels of what we call “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33108651/">vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity</a>”, the incidental bursts of activity in everyday life. We also analysed separately a group of <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2521826">13 cancer sites in the body</a> with more established links to exercise, such such as breast, lung, liver, and bowel cancers.</p> <p>Our analyses took into account other factors that influence cancer risk, such as age, smoking, diet, and alcohol habits.</p> <h2>What we found out</h2> <p>Even though study participants were not doing any structured exercise, about 94% recorded short bursts of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33108651/">vigorous activity</a>. Some 92% of all bouts were done in very short bursts lasting up to one minute.</p> <p>A minimum of around 3.5 minutes each day was associated with a 17–18% reduction in total cancer risk compared with not doing any such activity.</p> <p>Half the participants did at least 4.5 minutes a day, associated with a 20–21% reduction in total cancer risk.</p> <p>For cancers such as breast, lung and bowel cancers, which we know are impacted by the amount of exercise people do, the results were stronger and the risk reduction sharper. For example, a minimum of 3.5 minutes per a day of vigorous incidental activity reduced the risk of these cancers by 28–29%. At 4.5 minutes a day, these risks were reduced by 31–32%.</p> <p>For both total cancer and those known to be linked to exercise, the results clearly show the benefits of doing day-to-day activities with gusto that makes you huff and puff.</p> <h2>Our study had its limits</h2> <p>The study is observational, meaning we looked at a group of people and their outcomes retrospectively and did not test new interventions. That means it cannot directly explore cause and effect with certainty.</p> <p>However, we took several statistical measures to minimise the possibility those with the lowest levels of activity were not the unhealthiest, and hence the most likely to get cancer – a phenomenon called “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/reverse-causation">reverse causation</a>”.</p> <p>Our study can’t explain the biological mechanisms of how vigorous intensity activity may reduce cancer risk. Previous <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2017/02000/Brief_Intense_Stair_Climbing_Improves.10.aspx">early-stage trials</a> show this type of activity leads to rapid improvements in heart and lung fitness.</p> <p>And higher fitness is linked to lower <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002934320300097">insulin resistance</a> and lower <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109704017036">chronic inflammation</a>. High levels of these are risk <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109704017036">factors for cancer</a>.</p> <p>There is very little research on incidental physical activity and cancer in general, because most of the scientific evidence on lifestyle health behaviours and cancer is based on questionnaires. This method doesn’t capture short bursts of activity and is very inaccurate for measuring the incidental activities of daily life.</p> <p>So the field of vigorous intensity activity and cancer risk is at its infancy, despite some <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/43/46/4801/6771381">very promising</a> recent findings that vigorous activity in short bouts across the week could cut health risks. In another recent study of ours, we found benefits from daily <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x%22%22">vigorous intermittent lifestyle activity</a> on the risk of death overall and death from cancer or cardiovascular causes.</p> <h2>In a nutshell: get moving in your daily routine</h2> <p>Our study found 3 to 4 minutes of vigorous incidental activity each day is linked with decreased cancer risk. This is a very small amount of activity compared to <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">current recommendations</a> of 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75–150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.</p> <p>Vigorous incidental physical activity is a promising avenue for cancer prevention among people unable or unmotivated to exercise in their leisure time.</p> <p>Our study also highlights the potential of technology. These results are just a glimpse how wearables combined with machine learning – which our study used to identify brief bursts of vigorous activity – can reveal health benefits of unexplored aspects of our lives. The future potential impact of such technologies to prevent cancer and possibly a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">host of other</a> conditions could be very large.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210288/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783"><em>Emmanuel Stamatakis</em></a><em>, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/climb-the-stairs-lug-the-shopping-chase-the-kids-incidental-vigorous-activity-linked-to-lower-cancer-risks-210288">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Can’t afford a gym membership or fitness class? 3 things to include in a DIY exercise program

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-ingram-1427671">Lewis Ingram</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saravana-kumar-181105">Saravana Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>With the rising cost of living, gyms memberships and fitness classes are becoming increasingly unaffordable. But the good news is you can make <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28655559/">just as much progress at home</a>.</p> <p>Cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility are the <a href="https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/publications-files/acsms-exercise-testing-prescription.pdf?sfvrsn=111e9306_4">most important</a> components of fitness. And each can be trained with little or no equipment. Let’s look at why – and how – to fit them into your DIY exercise program.</p> <h2>1. Cardiovascular endurance</h2> <p>Cardiovascular endurance exercise (or “cardio”) forces the heart and lungs to increase the supply of oxygen to the working muscles. Heart disease is a <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death">leading cause of death</a> and cardiovascular endurance exercise helps keep the heart healthy.</p> <p>The best thing about cardio is you don’t need any fancy equipment to do it. Walking, jogging and running are great options, as are cycling, skipping rope and swimming.</p> <p>There are two approaches to maximise cardiovascular endurance:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8897392/">high-intensity interval training</a> (HIIT) – short bouts of hard exercise (around 80% to 95% of your maximum heart rate) interspersed with lower intensity recovery periods (around 40% to 50% of your maximum heart rate)</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26664271/">low-intensity steady-state</a> (LISS) exercise – aerobic activity performed continuously at a low-to-moderate intensity (around 50% to 65% of your maximum heart rate) for an extended duration.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Both are great options. While high-intensity interval training can be more time efficient, low-intensity steady-state training might be more enjoyable and easier to sustain long-term.</p> <p>No matter what you choose, <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">aim for</a> a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise each week. For example, you could try 30 minutes, five days per week of low intensity cardio, or 25 minutes, three days per week of high-intensity activity, or a combination of the two.</p> <p>How do you know if you’re exercising at the right intensity?</p> <p>Smart watches that measure heart rate can help to monitor intensity. Or you can rely on the good old-fashioned <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25536539/">talk test</a>. During low-intensity activity, you should be able to speak in full sentences. Conversely, short phrases (initially) or single words (towards the end) should be all that’s manageable during high-intensity exercise.</p> <h2>2. Muscle strength</h2> <p>Next is muscle strength, which we train through resistance exercise. This is important for bone health, balance and metabolic health, especially as we age and our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30276173/">muscle mass and strength declines</a>.</p> <p>Aim for two days per week of whole-body resistance exercise performed at a moderate or <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">greater intensity</a>. Try to build two weekly sessions that target the major muscle groups. This could include:</p> <ul> <li>squats – lower to the ground from standing by bending the hips, knees, and ankles while keeping the chest up tall before returning to standing by straightening the hips, knees and ankles</li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Hinge">hinges</a> – fold forward at the hips by pushing your bottom back to the wall behind you, keeping your back straight. A slight bend in the knees is fine but aim to keep your shins vertical</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7196742/">push-ups</a> – if a full push-up is too difficult, you can place your hands on a raised surface such as a step or a chair</p> </li> <li> <p>horizontal and vertical pull ups – using something like a portable chin up bar, which you can buy from sports supply stores</p> </li> <li> <p>vertical pushes – pushing an object (or weight) vertically from the top of your chest to an overhead position.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Once you have selected your exercises, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35873210/">perform</a> 2–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions at a moderate to greater intensity, with about 90 seconds rest between each set.</p> <p>As you progress, continue to challenge your muscles by adding an extra set to each exercise, or including dumbbells, changing body position or wearing a backpack with weights. The goal should be to progress slightly each session.</p> <p>However, if you have any underlying health conditions, disabilities, or are unsure how best to do this, see an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.</p> <h2>3. Flexibility</h2> <p>Improved flexibility can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/">increase your range of motion</a> and improve your ability to manage daily life.</p> <p>While we don’t know the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/">best means of increasing flexibility</a>, the most basic and readily accessible is static <a href="https://www.topendsports.com/testing/flex.htm">stretching</a>. Here, we lengthen the muscle – for example, the hamstrings, until we feel a “stretching” sensation. Hold that position for 15–30 seconds.</p> <p>While the precise intensity of this stretching sensation <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26347668/">remains elusive</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29506306/">around 5–10 minutes</a> per week per <a href="https://exrx.net/Lists/Directory">muscle group</a>, spread across five days, seems to provide the best results.</p> <h2>How to stick with it?</h2> <p>The best exercise is the one that gets done. So, whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy it. After all, it’s about creating an ongoing commitment to exercise that will deliver long-term health benefits.</p> <p>It’s also important to ensure you’re ready to exercise, especially if you have any underlying health issues, have been previously inactive, or are unsure how to start. A <a href="https://www.ausactive.org.au/apss">pre-exercise screening</a> can help you to determine whether you should see a doctor or allied health professional before starting an exercise program and for guidance on the next steps. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/206204/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-ingram-1427671">Lewis Ingram</a>, Lecturer in Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, Lecturer in Exercise Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saravana-kumar-181105">Saravana Kumar</a>, Professor in Allied Health and Health Services Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cant-afford-a-gym-membership-or-fitness-class-3-things-to-include-in-a-diy-exercise-program-206204">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Good news for weekend warriors: people who do much of their exercise on a couple of days still get heart benefits

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/raaj-kishore-biswas-1374060">Raaj Kishore Biswas</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Physical activity has <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">established benefits</a> for health. The <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">World Health Organization</a> recommends adults do a minimum of 150–300 minutes of moderate or 75–150 minutes of vigorous activity each week. This can include active transport from place-to-place, exercise for fun and fitness, energetic housework or physical activity at work.</p> <p>These amounts can be accrued by being, as the <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">WHO recommends</a>, regularly active throughout the week, or being a “weekend warrior” who does the bulk of their activity on one to two days only, which don’t need to be consecutive.</p> <p>So far, experts haven’t fully established which of the two patterns is better for overall health. For many people, busy lifestyles may make it hard to be physically active every day. It may be more feasible to squeeze most physical activity and exercise into a few days.</p> <p>Fresh <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2807286">analysis</a> of the large <a href="https://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/">UK Biobank</a> database attempted to compare these two patterns of weekly activity and compare how they reduced cardiovascular risk for heart attacks, heart failure, irregular heart beat and stroke.</p> <h2>What the new study found</h2> <p>Researchers analysed records from 89,573 participants who wore a wrist activity tracker for seven days and were tracked for cardiovascular events for over six years.</p> <p>Those who did less than the WHO recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week were considered inactive. About a third (33.7%) of participants were inactive. Some 42.2% were termed active “weekend warriors” (they did at least 150 minutes and more than half of it occurred within one to two days) and 24% were regularly active (at least 150 minutes with most activity spread out over three or more days).</p> <p>Researchers considered the potential factors that could explain the link between physical activity and new cases of cardiovascular events, such as smoking and alcohol intake. They found both active groups showed similarly lower risk of heart attack (a 27% reduction for weekend warriors and 35% for regularly active people, compared with inactive participants).</p> <p>For heart failure, weekend warriors had a 38% lower risk than inactive people, while regular exercisers had a 36% lower risk. Irregular heartbeat risk was 22% lower for weekend warriors and 19% lower for regularly actively people. Stroke was 21% and 17% lower for weekend warriors and regular exercisers, respectively.</p> <h2>Not so fast. Some study limitations</h2> <p>Although the information was recorded by activity trackers, researchers did not consider on which days of the week the activity was done. Some people may have been active on Saturdays and Sundays, others might have chosen Wednesday and Friday – or different days each week. In that sense, <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2807286">the study</a> examined a “pseudo-weekend warrior” pattern.</p> <p>Despite the many advantages the UK Biobank activity trackers have over <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2596007">questionnaire-based studies</a>, these trackers are not great at capturing strength-training exercise, such as weights or pilates, and other static activities that have <a href="https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/187/5/1102/4582884">established cardiovascular</a> health benefits.</p> <h2>What other research in this area says</h2> <p>There have been several questionnaire based studies in this area in <a href="https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/160/7/636/136697">the past 20 years</a>.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2596007">2017 study</a>, for example, combined data from 63,591 adults from England and Scotland and tracked them over 12 years. We looked at <a href="https://theconversation.com/weekend-warrior-exercise-is-it-good-for-you-70964">risk reductions</a> for death from any cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer causes. We found similar benefits among people who clocked at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity in one to two sessions per week, compared with three sessions or more per week.</p> <p>Our more <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">recent studies</a> used activity trackers and emphasised the flexibility of activity patterns that benefit the heart and circulation. We found doing short one-minute-long bouts of incidental vigorous physical activity three to four times a day can cut the risk of death from cardiovascular causes by <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02100-x">almost half</a>.</p> <p>Similarly, in another study we found just 19 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week was associated with <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/43/46/4801/6771381">40% reduction</a> in the risk of cardiovascular death, with steadily increasing benefits to the maximum amount of vigorous activity recorded (110 minutes a week linked to a 75% risk reduction).</p> <h2>What it means for you and your routine</h2> <p>Taken together, the <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2807286">new study</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2596007">previous research</a> suggest the same thing: if it is difficult to find time to be active during a busy week, it is good enough to plan moderate to vigorous physical activities in a couple of weekdays or in the weekend.</p> <p>That said, there are benefits in being regularly physically active on most days of the week. A good session of aerobic exercise, for example, improves health indicators such as <a href="https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYP.0000000000000196">blood pressure</a>, and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-021-01473-2">blood glucose</a> and <a href="https://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12944-017-0515-5">cholesterol levels</a> for a day or longer. Such effects can moderate some of the long-term health risks of these factors and assist with their day-to-day management.</p> <p>But confirmation that we can be flexible about how physical activity is accumulated across the week for heart health benefits is encouraging. It offers more opportunities for more people to be active when it is convenient and practical for them.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210053/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ahmadi-1241767">Matthew Ahmadi</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/raaj-kishore-biswas-1374060">Raaj Kishore Biswas</a>, Research Fellow &amp; Biostatistician, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/good-news-for-weekend-warriors-people-who-do-much-of-their-exercise-on-a-couple-of-days-still-get-heart-benefits-210053">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Paul Mescal's massive change for Gladiator sequel

<p dir="ltr">Paul Mescal has reaped the rewards of his intensive training after a video of him working out went viral on social media overnight.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 27-year-old Irish actor has been working out in preparation for his role as adult Lucius, the nephew of Roman Emperor Commodus, in the sequel of <em>Gladiator</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mescal impressed fans with his standing dumbbell rows and new look in the clip, as he worked out in just a pair of black shorts and trainers, rocking a beard and moustache, fully embracing his role as Lucius.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This guy’s got to fight and got to be a beast. And whatever that looks and feels like is right for me, is what it’s going to be,” the actor told <em>The Hollywood Reporter</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><iframe title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7247143080187399466&amp;display_name=tiktok&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40letterboxd%2Fvideo%2F7247143080187399466&amp;image=https%3A%2F%2Fp19-sign.tiktokcdn-us.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-useast5-p-0068-tx%2Fa5eae0659f6a4f10a93b40db83730084%3Fx-expires%3D1687503600%26x-signature%3DRNQf9VrXb3NPkoMQOLOEIPiggU8%253D&amp;key=5b465a7e134d4f09b4e6901220de11f0&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p> </p> <p dir="ltr">In the same interview for the outlet, he told them that he doesn’t want the focus to be on his physical transformation, and wants to still look “real”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Sometimes I see films and I’m like, ‘That person doesn’t look real,” he said regarding his transformation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“With films like this and superhero films, there is sometimes a focus on that, which I don’t find that interesting.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Of course there’s a physical robustness required for the character, but past that, I’m not interested,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thousands of fans took to the comment section on TikTok to praise the actor’s transformation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Thank you letterboxd good god almighty,” one fan thanked the outlet for posting the video.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hard work pays off. Looking good man,” praised another.</p> <p dir="ltr">“OMG MY MAN I CANNOT WAIT” gushed another fan.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Paul I’m on my way,” commented a fourth.</p> <p><em>Images: TikTok/ Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

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Sore joints now it’s getting cold? It’s tempting to be less active – but doing more could help you feel better

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-ganderton-1170940">Charlotte Ganderton</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/inge-gnatt-1425767">Inge Gnatt</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-king-1177304">Matthew King</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.health.gov.au/topics/chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-musculoskeletal-conditions#:%7E:text=In%20Australia%3A,stiff%2C%20painful%2C%20swollen%20or%20deformed">One in three</a> Australians has a musculoskeletal condition involving joint pain, and the most common cause is arthritis. Around <a href="https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/1in7witharthritis/">3.6 million</a> Australians have arthritis and this is projected to rise to <a href="https://www.arthritiswa.org.au/arthritis/australians-in-the-dark-with-arthritis-one-of-our-most-prevalent-and-costly-diseases/#:%7E:text=Arthritis%20is%20a%20leading%20cause,to%205.4%20million%20by%202030">5.4 million by 2030</a>.</p> <p>For some people with joint pain, cold weather <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-15-66">seems to make it worse</a>. But temperature <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3959(99)00010-X">is just one factor</a> impacting perceptions of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001776">greater pain</a> during winter. Other factors include those we have some level of influence over, including <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00702-019-02067-z">sleep</a>, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00702-019-02067-z">behavioural patterns, mood</a> and <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1038/s41598-019-44664-8.pdf">physical activity</a>. Emerging research suggests greater pain levels in winter may also be related to a person’s <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0216902">perception of the weather</a>, lack of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2010.05.030">vitamin D</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kel414">fluctuations in their disease</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">Physical activity</a> is one of the best treatments to increase function, strength and mobility – and improve quality of life. It also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">promotes</a> mental and physical health and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1466853X21000304?via%3Dihub">reduces the risk</a> of other chronic diseases.</p> <p>But pain can be a barrier to exercise and activities you’d usually do. So what can you do about it?</p> <h2>Our brain tries to protect us</h2> <p>When it comes to pain, our brain is very protective: it’s like an inbuilt alarm system and can warn us about impending danger or harm that has occurred so we can respond.</p> <p>But it’s not always a reliable indicator of actual damage or trauma to the skin, muscle or bone, even when it feels like it is. In some instances, this warning system can become unhelpful by setting off “false alarms”.</p> <p>Joint pain and stiffness can also appear to worsen during colder weather, prompting <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/26335565221100172">fears</a> we could <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jor.25151">make it worse</a> if we undertake or overdo movement. This <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbspin.2017.07.007">can result in</a> people avoiding physical activity – even when it would be beneficial – which can worsen the pain.</p> <h2>We tend to exercise less when it’s cold</h2> <p>Seasons <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2016.07.007">affect</a> how much physical activity we get. Summer months bring warmer weather, longer daylight hours and people get outdoors more. Warmer weather also tends to elicit a positive outlook, a lift in mood and burst of physical activity to fulfil New Year’s resolutions.</p> <p>Cooler months can mean a decline in physical activity and more time being cosy indoors. A reduction in movement and less exposure to light may evoke higher levels of joint pain and can be associated with a reduction in our overall sense of well-being and mood.</p> <p>This can create a cycle where symptoms worsen over time.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/526947/original/file-20230518-19-gzmuv8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Older woman exercises with weights" /><figcaption></figcaption>But with the right knowledge and support, people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2022.2126473">can remain engaged in an active lifestyle</a> especially when it’s aligned to personal values and goals. Health professionals such as physiotherapists and GPs can assess any concerns and provide strategies that are right for you.</figure> <h2>How to motivate yourself to stay active in winter</h2> <p>When looking for an approach to help you stay active during the cooler months and beyond, it can be helpful to become aware of the many <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">interconnected factors</a> that impact you. They include:</p> <ul> <li>biological (your genes, other illnesses you have)</li> <li>psychological (how you think, feel and behave)</li> <li>social (your relationships and social support).</li> </ul> <p>Starting with the end goal in mind can be beneficial, but this can feel overwhelming. Try creating smaller, achievable steps to help get you there, like climbing a ladder. For example, park a short distance from the shops and increase this incrementally to increase your exercise tolerance.</p> <p>A little bit each day can often be less tolling on your body than a big effort once a week.</p> <p>Create goals that are personally meaningful and encourage you to celebrate success along the way (for example, catching up with friends or a healthy snack). Then, as you climb your “ladder”, one rung at a time, you will likely feel more motivated to continue.</p> <p>If you’re not sure where to start, talk to a friend or health provider to help you determine what is realistic and right for your situation. That way you can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1191">work towards your goals in a safe, non-threatening environment</a> and avoid developing fear and avoidance. They can also help you establish goals that align with your aspirations and pain experience.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/200911/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-ganderton-1170940">Charlotte Ganderton</a>, Senior Lecturer (Physiotherapy), <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/inge-gnatt-1425767">Inge Gnatt</a>, Lecturer (Psychology), Provisional Psychologist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-king-1177304">Matthew King</a>, Lecturer, Research Fellow, and Physiotherapist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/sore-joints-now-its-getting-cold-its-tempting-to-be-less-active-but-doing-more-could-help-you-feel-better-200911">original article</a>.</p>

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Should your workout routine change as you age?

<p>We all know how hugely important exercise, movement and an active lifestyle are for our health and longevity.</p> <p>But even the most workout-honed bods are not immune to the ageing process, and for those of us who don't have a regular fitness regime, the changes Mother Time wreaks on our bodies are even more noticeable.</p> <p>"Unfortunately, we all age and the tell-tale signs cannot be stopped," says Simon Bennett, owner and head strength and conditioning coach at TRI-FIT Endurance Performance Centre on Sydney's Northern Beaches.</p> <p>"Our metabolism slows down leading to unwanted weight gain, we produce less testosterone leading to decreased libido and our energy and mood levels aren't what they once were. Our bodies become more susceptible to injuries and we spend more money on posture related treatment like chiropractic and osteopathic care. In our late years we are at high risk of muscular and bone degenerative diseases unless we exercise regularly."</p> <p>Bennett shares the most important inclusions and changes we should make to our exercise routines as we reach 40 and beyond.</p> <p><strong>Strength/ resistance training</strong></p> <p>It's usually during our mid-30s that we typically begin to lose muscle mass and function, with physically inactive people losing as much as three to five per cent of their muscle mass with every passing decade. All too commonly, this loss of muscle mass is replaced by fat, which is why resistance training is essential as we get older.</p> <p>"Strength training not only builds strong muscles, it also develops bone mineral density which will reduce bone related diseases like osteoporosis," explains Bennett. "Strength training will also help with testosterone production, something that's important for both males and females."</p> <p>Bennett advises that there's something for everyone when it comes to strength training, ranging from powerlifting and body building for those who really want to push themselves and lift heavy weight, to cross-fit and TRI-FIT classes "for those who enjoy lifting weights but also want more. Basic strength training is a large part of the program but they have a more functional and athletic approach."</p> <p>For those who prefer light weight lifting, Bennett recommends F45 circuit training and body pump classes, "and for those who simply don't want to lift any weights, then bodyweight strength training like TRX and callisthenic training are fantastic".</p> <p><strong>Yoga</strong></p> <p>As we age, the neuromuscular connections that help keep us upright slowly decline, resulting in poorer balance. But the good news is those nerve pathways can be kept in check or even reclaimed by specific daily attention.</p> <p>A good habit to get into is to practice standing on one leg like a stork each morning while you brush your teeth. From an exercise perspective, Bennett recommends yoga to "lengthen the muscles, improve joint mobility and stretch and strengthen all the tendons that attach your muscles to the bones".</p> <p>He advises, "Yoga comes in many styles, much like strength training, so find a local yoga centre and discuss what will suit your needs based on age, restrictions and goals."</p> <p><strong>Endurance/Cardiovascular training</strong></p> <p>Maintaining good cardiorespiratory health is vital, especially as we get older.</p> <p>"With a strong heart and lungs, we can rest assured that our vital organs are in good health," says Bennett. "Go for a run, swim some laps in the pool, surf, ride a bike, even a fast paced walk will elevate your heart rate enough to burn some kilojoules, improve blood circulation and strengthen the heart."</p> <p><strong>Conditioning/H.I.T.T Training</strong></p> <p>Keeping a handle on our weight (or avoiding developing handles in the first place!)  is notoriously more challenging once we get past 40, and Simon says the H.I.I.T revolution is the most time-efficient way to halt middle aged spread in its tracks.</p> <p>"H.I.I.T training style allows us to spike the heart rate to near max efforts in short sharp frequent bursts leaving our bodies to continue to burn kilojoules for up to 36 hours post exercise – more kilojoules burnt in less time basically. Now people can be in and out of as gym in under 45 minutes which suits the fast pace of modern life."</p> <p><strong>Foam rolling and mobility training</strong></p> <p>As we age, our tendons and muscles tend to get tighter, and our risk of injury – tendinitis, in particular – increases. Daily stretching is essential later in life, and foam rolling is a great addition to this.</p> <p>Explains Bennett, "You should spend at least 10 minutes prior to any exercise performing a variety of drills and movements using foam rollers, massage balls, broom handles and resistance bands.</p> <p>"These movements allow for greater range of motion in our joints, the release of tight and overactive muscles from day to day activities and the breakdown of any adhesions that occur in the fascia, the fibrous connective tissue that surrounds our muscles. If this is tight then the muscles can't be used efficiently, meaning added stress on tendons that will place you at a higher risk of soft tissue injuries."</p> <p>While maintaining a fitness regime throughout life is ideal, it's never too late to start a fitness program. Bennett has this advice for people who've had a long time between gym visits:</p> <p>If you have any illnesses or injuries that may inhibit you from physical training, see a physician to get medical clearance.</p> <p>Begin light and build into it. Start bodyweight training before advancing to more challenging styles of training.</p> <p>Ensure a variety of styles of exercise. Doing the same thing will lead to training plateaus so mix it up.</p> <p>How do you exercise in tune with your body? Let us know in the comments below.</p> <p><em>Written by Zoe Meunier. First appeared on <a href="http://Stuff.co.nz" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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9 ways to exercise your brain

<p>While many people can say they are dedicated to keeping their bodies in shape, exercising applies to more than just the muscles, bones and fat in our bodies. We should all be working out the neural pathways and connections in our brains too. So whether you’re trying to get your brain back into shape or you just want to keep it as strong as it is now, below are some top tips on how to help exercise your mind to good health.</p> <p><strong>1. Read as much as you can</strong></p> <p>Whether it’s a newspaper, magazine or book, reading is a fantastic basic brain exercise. Remember, the more challenging the reading material is the more of a workout you are giving your brain. Like with any new exercise regime, start small and work your way up to a level that you find challenging.</p> <p><strong>2. Learn new words</strong></p> <p>Increasing your vocabulary is a great way to exercise the language portion of your brain. A word-of-the day calendar is a great way to ensure you keep on top of this throughout the year.</p> <p><strong>3. Put pen to paper (not fingers to a keyboard)</strong></p> <p>From fictional stories to keeping a journal, writing is a good workout for the brain, as it requires lots of thinking. A study published in the Human Brain Mapping journal found that both planning and writing a story by hand combines handwriting and cognitive writing processes, which are predominantly associated with memory and integrating information from diverse sources.</p> <p><strong>4. Do puzzles</strong></p> <p>Easy to fit into your daily schedule, simple puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku help to get your brain doing some basic work, while more complex puzzles will give your brain a stronger workout. So although more complicated puzzles may take days to solve and complete, they’re worth the effort as these types of games can help keep you sharp, as well as slow memory loss and mental decline.</p> <p><strong>5. Switch to your non-dominant hand</strong></p> <p>While this might sound like an odd one, switching to your non-dominant hand from time to time has been shown to stimulate the parts of the brain that control your muscles. Experts also say that using your other hand helps your brain to better integrate its two hemispheres.</p> <p><strong>6. Get talking</strong></p> <p>For a basic brain workout, get chatting! Next time you catch up with family or friends try talking about more challenging topics (such as politics, religion etc.) where you engage in deep discussion – without arguing. It’s a great way to keep your mind active while having fun, get to know others better and to share your thoughts.</p> <p><strong>7. Back to school</strong></p> <p>Education has obvious benefits and going back to school is a great way to get your brain working again, to challenge yourself and to do something satisfying. You don’t have to sign up for a whole degree, there are many free short courses as well as certificate courses that you can do online.</p> <p><strong>8. Eat well</strong></p> <p>Just like with the body, when you exercise you need to give your brain the right fuel so it operates at optimal health. The Open Training Institute says, “Skipping breakfast can reduce thinking skills by 40 per cent, as your brain is starved of that much needed sugar hit”.  Furthermore, certain foods are good for improving brain function like dark chocolate, which increases blood flow to the brain increasing alertness and clarity. “Blueberries for example pack a powerful punch of antioxidants and can improve memory, while green leafy veggies and fresh herbs are full of vitamin K, which improves cognitive function.”</p> <p><strong>9. Exercise</strong></p> <p>Being active doesn’t only keep your body healthy it can also make you more alert. The Open Training Institute says, “Low-intensity exercise like yoga or walking can dramatically reduce sleepiness, amp up energy levels and attention span.” And the benefits of keeping active don’t stop there. “More intensity can even improve cognitive function by five to 10 per cent.”  </p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em><strong>For information about the Open Training Institute and the courses on offer, or to simply ask a question, call 1300 915 692.</strong></em></p>

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