Tag Archives: exercise

Report: Lexington least-active city in U.S.

Summer is the season for kicking back and doing nothing, which means it’s always summer in Lexington, according to Men’s Health magazine.

In fact, folks there didn’t need to lift a finger to be named America’s Most Sedentary City, since movement of any kind means you’re not a committed couch potato.

Now, Men’s Health doesn’t doubt the Lexington work ethic — it’s the workout ethic that’s in question.

Men’s Health looked at where and how often people exercise (Experian Marketing Services); the percentage of households that watch more than 15 hours of cable a week and buy more than 11 video games a year (Mediamark Research); and the rate of deaths from deep-vein thrombosis, a condition linked to a lot of sitting (CDC).

And since some people define “exercise” loosely, Men’s Health gave credit for any physical activity in the past month (CDC).

Lexington ranks the lowest on the list of 100. Indianapolis is 99, Nashville 93, Louisville 81, Cincinnati 76, St. Louis 63, New York 33, Chicago 31.

The most-active city is Seattle. Ranking 2 to 10 are San Francisco, Oakland, Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Reno, Portland (Maine), Atlanta, Denver and Minneapolis.

 

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Check out health club memberships before joining

New gym memberships are always popular around the holidays, but do folks really know what they’re getting into?

Signing a health-club contract, like signing any other contract, requires some due diligence, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.
 
You can easily get the physical activity you need from home gyms, fitness DVDs and exercising outside, but you may find the perks of joining a fitness center to be more beneficial during your first steps toward leading a healthy lifestyle.

Gyms and health clubs offer members the opportunity to discover which activities they enjoy most. The quality and diversity of equipment far exceeds machines designed for home use, and most gyms offer a wide range of cardio classes. Helpful staff and personal trainers are usually nearby to answer your questions and offer advice. Plus, the opportunity to meet other fitness-conscious members can be motivating.

Not all gyms are created equal. Before investing in a membership, make sure to consider convenience, equipment/fitness classes, price and staff.

According to the American Council on Exercise, your fitness routine should include aerobic exercise, muscular strength/endurance conditioning, and flexibility. Some gyms offer more general equipment and classes incorporating all of these components while others might focus more on the aerobics or strength training.

Equipment should be clean and well-maintained. Fitness classes should be safe and effective, not an opportunity for the instructor to get his/her workout in. You may want a gym that offers other activities, such as swimming, basketball, martial arts or some other sport that you enjoy.

The cost of a gym membership can be ambiguous. Usually the price is quoted as a monthly rate. Additionally, some gyms charge initiation fees, monthly maintenance fees and cancellation fees, as well as costs for towel and childcare services. Take advantage of specials and discounts, but be cautious against purchasing lifetime memberships.

One third of heart attacks experienced outside of homes or hospitals occur at gyms or health clubs according to the American Heart Association. Staff should be CPR certified and familiar with AED devices.

Personal trainers and fitness instructors should be certified by a reputable organization. You need to work with professionals who are knowledgeable about the safest and most effective approaches to fitness, not someone who attended a weekend workshop.

According to Medical News Today, 80 percent of 40 million Americans who have bought gym memberships are not using them. Find out the ratio of inactive to active (visiting the gym at least once a week) members at the gym you are considering. A ratio of 2:1 is a good sign, while 10:1 indicates that the gym is better at selling memberships than keeping members satisfied.

If a large percentage of members find reasons to stop going, you probably will, too, although many people who quit do so because of laziness, or loss of interest.

Take a break at your desk — do the pretzel

Here’s a good way to reduce tension in the upper back, neck and shoulders. It can be done at your desk after long hours of sitting in front of the computer, or talking on the telephone.

Warning: You may feel twisted like a pretzel.

Sit upright toward the front edge of a sturdy chair. Place your feet below your knees, hip-width apart. Hook your left elbow over your right elbow and wrap your forearms, pressing the palms of your hands together as much as you can. Inhale and raise your arms as you arch your upper back. Pause for a few breaths.

On an exhale, bring your chin in toward your throat, bend at the waist and move your elbows down toward your waist. Pause with your back in this C-curve position.

Feel a deep stretch in your entire back and across the back of your shoulders. Inhale, raise your arms to repeat the arch and exhale again to repeat the C-curve.

Return to center, then switch your arms and repeat

Exercise may fight depression

 At his research clinic in Dallas, psychologist Jasper Smits is working on an unorthodox treatment for anxiety and mood disorders, including depression. It is not yet widely accepted, but his treatment is free and has no side effects, according to a story in Time Magazine.

Compare that with antidepressant drugs, which cost Americans $10 billion each year and have many common side effects: sleep disturbances, nausea, tremors, changes in body weight.

This intriguing new treatment? Exercise.

That physical activity is crucial to good health — both mental and physical — is nothing new. As early as the 1970s and ’80s, observational studies showed that Americans who exercised were not only less likely to be depressed than those who did not but also less likely to become depressed in the future.

In 1999, Duke University researchers demonstrated in a randomized controlled trial that depressed adults who participated in an aerobic-exercise plan improved as much as those treated with sertraline, the drug that, marketed as Zoloft, was earning Pfizer more than $3 billion annually before its patent expired in 2006.