Category Archives: fitness

Just how short a workout can you do and gain benefits? Would you believe 4 seconds?


You might find that ridiculous, but if you read this, you might change your mind.

I have been doing what is known as “greasing the groove” while working at home during the pandemic. I have noticed getting stronger. As well, I stretch at least once a day, and I have found I have become more flexible too.

You will not get in the same shape as someone who works out 30-60 minutes every day. Get yourself some weights or even some heavy objects. Or go over to a site like darebee and get a 1 minute workout. After doing it for a few weeks, you will achieve more than you imagined.

Give it a shot.

(Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

In a Hurry? Try Express Weight Training

Weight training has many benefits. If you have been considering it but balking, you likely have multiple reasons for not getting started. One reason might be: you have no time. Well, if you have thirteen minutes, you can do a weight workout. As noted here, In a Hurry? Try Express Weight Training – The New York Times, you can get stronger no matter what. Of three groups tested for strength gain: 

One group was asked to complete five sets of each exercise, with about 90 seconds of rest between sets. Their total time for a session at the gym was almost 70 minutes. A second group was asked to complete three sets of each exercise, requiring they work out for about 40 minutes. The third group had to finish only one set of each exercise, meaning that they were done after a brisk 13 minutes. Each volunteer performed his given workout three times a week for eight weeks and then returned to the lab to repeat the muscle measurements. After the two months, all of the young men were stronger, a finding that, by itself, is beguiling, since it suggests that people can continue to gain strength even if they already are experienced at resistance training. But more interesting and surprising, the strength improvements were essentially the same, no matter how many — or few — sets the men completed. The men who had stopped after one set gained as much strength as those who had done five sets or three.

As with anything, your results may vary. But if you want to get stronger with the least amount of time put in, consider this.

Three links to help you get back into some kind of fitness routine.

I keep searching for information on fitness, trying to motivate myself to get there. These seemed good to me. If you are in the same slump, check them out:

  1. Just try anything, 3x a week.
  2. Some new fitness routines to try.
  3. Some fitness myths that may be stopping you from exercising.
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Lighten your mental load by lifting a physical one: lift weights to lift depression

You may hate lifting weights, but if you struggle with depression, even from time to time, then you should consider it.

More details, here: Resistance Training May Help Relieve Depression (Time)

What are you looking at in terms of exercise? It says:

He recommends following the guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine: doing strength training at least two days per week by performing eight to 12 repetitions of eight to 10 different strength-building exercises each time.

Sounds hard, but it isn’t. And if you need some exercise routes, go to Darebee and find some routines you need.

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Eight easy workouts while staying at home during the pandemic

I am guessing that

  • your exercise routine has died (if not, kudos!)
  • you feel like you should do some form of exercise
  • you are feeling worried about doing workouts outdoors

If this is true, you need some workouts to do at home. Now you might be thinking that you don’t have room or equipment or even the energy to workout at home. Think again: these eight workouts below can be done by most people. There’s a combination of things to make yourself more active during the day, from stretching to exercising:

  1. Morning Stretching
  2. Morning Workout
  3. Energy Boost
  4. Reset Stretch
  5. Mini workout while watching TV
  6. Or while playing video games
  7. Office Yoga
  8. Simple workout before bed

All these workout comes from the DAREBEE website, which has an impressive and excellent database of exercises. You can find all the workouts here, and they are all easily searchable. You can find a workout for pretty much anything.

These days of staying at home during the pandemic are hard days. Being inactive can make it harder. Try lightening things up with a bit of physical activity.

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How should you exercise as you get older?

Like nutrition advice, exercise advice seems to change as often as clothing fashion changes. It can be hard to keep up, and easy to get skeptical that any advice is solid. However, if you want to keep up and are not skeptical, read this: How Smart Exercise Keeps You Younger for Longer.

My take, which is a variation of this, is simple: do a range of exercises, from cardio, to strength, to stretching to balancing. A fitness routine that includes all this is better than a fitness routine that just focuses on one or two areas. And any fitness routine is better than no fitness routine.

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An alternative way to get stronger that is both counter-intuitive and something you could use

The alternative is explained here: How to ‘Grease the Groove’ and Exercise Easy – The Atlantic.

If you don’t know anything about getting stronger, you should read this. You should also read it if you are someone who knows about sets, reps, leg day, and other such things. It may not be the way to reach peak bodybuilding, but it could be just the thing for people who can’t seem to find a good way to get stronger.

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How to get unstuck from your fitness routine (25 ideas)


If you fitness routine is stuck or worse, then I highly recommend you read this:  How to Stay Fit Forever: 25 Tips When Life Gets in the Way.

You should find something in that piece to help get you unstuck and get going again. So grab a towel and a water bottle and get moving!

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If you need a workout or a change in your routine, you need DAREBEE

Seriously. They have a workout for everyone. Short, long, general, focused…all kinds. Even the supervillian workout, show above!

Find them here: DAREBEE – Fitness On Your Terms.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson at age 60 and what that means

This piece is a must read for anyone trying to maintain their fitness later in life. It’s not easy, even for legends like JBS. Take solace in seeing how even the greats adjust as they get older, and read this:  How a great marathoner — Joan Benoit Samuelson — keeps going at age 60 – The Washington Post

 

4 behaviors that may cut the risk of cancer by 30 percent

Everyone wants to lower their risk of cancer. This piece can help with this: 4 behaviors that may cut the risk of cancer by 30 percent – Vox. The main point of the piece was that:

… people who never smoked or smoked for only a few years and people who drank no or only small amounts of alcohol (one or fewer drinks per day for women and two or fewer for men). It also included people with a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, and people who exercised vigorously for at least 75 minutes per week or moderately for 150 minutes…

…were at a lower risk of getting cancer than people who did not do these things.

Smoking and drinking are easy for you to monitor. If you want to track your BMI and fitness level, consider getting a digital scale and a fitness tracker. I use the Fitbit Aria scale to track my BMI and my Apple Watch to monitor my exercise. Of course you can monitor those things just as well with a simple scale, a watch, a pencil and a notepad. Regardless of how you do it, I encourage you to take action in the New Year to lower your risk of cancer.

How to get in shape, in two steps

There are only two steps to get in shape: 1) lose weight 2) exercise. Of course, those can be big steps. You need help to take both. These 15 links can provide you with some of the help you need.

1. Lose Weight

  1. Intermittent Fasting 101 – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
  2. The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
  3. Michael Pollan’s Simple Rules for Eating
  4. Scarsdale Diet – Moms Who Think
  5. Becoming Strong & Healthy as a Vegan : zen habits
  6. How Chef Nate Appleman Lost 85 Pounds with Really Good Food | Healthyish | Bon Appetit
  7. How I Lost 75 Pounds in 120 Days – Medium
  8. My Personal Fat-Loss Plan : zen habits

2. Exercise

  1. What Keeps Me Running | Runner’s World
  2. How Running and Meditation Help the Depressed — Science of Us
  3. The Beginners Guide to Orangetheory Fitness | MyFitnessPal
  4. How to Build Your Own Workout Routine | Nerd Fitness
  5. Total Body Training With Only A Pair Of Dumbbells.
  6. The 14 best beginner’s exercises to do at home – Men’s Health
  7. Beginner Body Weight Workout – Build Muscle, Burn Fat | Nerd Fitness

Two simple ways to get fitter, easier

Stairs
Getting fit can seem like a big production, and for people who haven’t been exercising, that can be all it takes to prevent them from getting fitter. Speaking from experience, I know this to be the case.

What I think you need is something that will a) get you in the habit b) be so low key you have no real excuse to get started.

If you agree then I think these two pieces are just what you need to get started on your way to being fitter.

  1. 10 Minutes And Some Stairs Are All You Need To Get More Fit — Science of Us
  2. Yoga for Everyone: A Beginners Guide – Well Guides – The New York Times

As for the yoga, if you don’t want to do all 10, then pick a few just to get started. Even doing 2-3 at first should get you started.

Good luck!

P.S. For more on simplifying exercise, check out this piece in Vox.

If Ruth Bader Ginsburg can workout like this, so can you

Ruth Bader Ginsburg 2016 portrait

An interesting article: Ben Schreckinger from Politico Did Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Workout. It Nearly Broke Him. If you want to see what the 80+ year old judge does to keep in shape, or be inspired to keep in shape yourself, I’d recommend reading it.

It can get too easy to forgo exercising when you get older. One reason people stop is because they think they are too old and cannot do it. Or if they do exercise, they will harm themselves.  Her trainer cautions against that, and says:

“Do something. If you’re not doing anything then I advise you do something. It doesn’t matter what you do. You find out what is your niche and do something. Your body is made to move.”

Good advice. Maybe your fitness routine is long walks. Or cycling. Or yoga. Or benchpressing hundreds of pounds. Whatever you do, do something. And read the article. I hope it will  inspire you to get fit. Whatever your age.

(Image linked to on Wikipedia)

Looking to run a marathon or half-marathon? Then you need my race schedule spreadsheets to plan out your training runs

If you are planning to run a marathon or half-marathon this year, then one of the first questions you will ask yourself is: do I have enough time to train for it? Two things that can help you answer this question are here: blm849/Bernie-s-Race-Scheduling-Spreadsheets: My Race Schedule Spreadsheets to plan out my training runs.

With my spreadsheets, you enter a date, and it will give you a 16-20 week schedule you need to follow to get ready for a marathon or a half-marathon (or a 21K, as I like to call it).

Since they are spreadsheets, you can adjust them in any way you see fit. Add weeks, change the mileage, etc. If you have any other changes you would like to see, let me know.

In praise of the 5K and other (non-marathon) races

The marathon is great race, and if you are aiming to run your first in the new year, it is a great thing to accomplish.

That said, you can also get a great sense of accomplishment out of running races less than 42.2 kilometers. To see what I mean, I highly recommend these two articles that praise the 5K:

  1. The 5K, Not The Marathon, Is The Ideal Race | FiveThirtyEight
  2. 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome | Runner’s World

After reading them, I had a much greater appreciation of that race. (I think the same argument could be made for the 10K.)

As for me, I am a fan of the half-marathon. The only thing I don’t like about it is the name: it implies you haven’t done something great, when you have. Perhaps it needs to get rebranded as a 20K: not half a marathon, but twice a 10K!

Regardless of the distance you run, and how often you run it, enjoy your athleticism and take pride in it.

(Chart is a link to the image from the FiveThirtyEight article)

Should you take St John’s wort for depression, and other advice on supplements

This is a wonderful interactive chart that shows you how worthwhile (or worthless) certain supplements are, based on evidence (as opposed to anecdote or worse): Snake Oil Supplements from Information is Beautiful.

If you are a fan of a certain supplement, you can use this chart to discover what it is good for. And if you have a certain health concern, you can use the chart to determine what may work and what’s a waste of money.

If you like this, check out more of the charts on the information is beautiful site. They have lots of good charts.

Are you in terrible shape? Not so terrible but bad enough shape? Do you need help? Here you go

Like most people — for instance, me — , you may need to get in better shape. In doing some research on it, I came across the following links that I found interesting, inspiring, and useful. I hope you do too:

Some links to support your new year’s resolutions

If you’ve decided to become more fit, work better, or be better generally, then consider these resources to support you as advance towards achieving your goals:

Good luck!

Thinking of getting fit this summer? You need my fitness link pack

Are you thinking of getting fit this summer? Or do you like to read about people getting fit while you drink your favorite cocktail and sit under the shade? Either way, here’s a bunch of interesting links you’ll want to read

Runner’s World | What Will It Take to Run A 2-Hour Marathon: fascinating. Right now men are closing in on this number, but this article shows how hard it will be to achieve that time. Even people who don’t run marathons will find this worth a look.
Weight loss and habit forming — Let’s not pretend we have it all figured out — Medium. For those of you struggling with their weight, this will be of some comfort.
Your Body is All You Need: The World’s Oldest Training Method (and a 1% Workout) | Arnold Schwarzenegger. Do you think you need fancy equipment to get fit? Think again and listen to Arnold.
Take off that Fitbit. Exercise alone won’t make you lose weight. – The Washington Post. Not just for fitbit users, but anyone trying to lose weight. You need to cut back on eating to make gains (though with enough exercise over time, you can lose that way too).
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Eats About 821 Pounds Of Cod Per Year | FiveThirtyEight. On the other hand, here is an extreme example of what massive amounts of exercise can do to your diet. The Rock eats alot. ALOT. See for yourself.
The Rise of the Spornosexual. Finally, this post is a good one on anyone who wants to go from blah to fit. (The image above is from this piece.) It’s a spartan life to get that way, but it is within the range of the possible for anyone dedicated. Like you, perhaps?  (And yes, they use a bunch of tricks to make the After photo look fitter than the Before photo, but still, the dude is fitter.)

 

The pros and cons of FitBits and other wearable fitness devices (plus my own thoughts)

Here’s two recent pieces on the pros and cons of wearable fitness devices.

Pro: Wearables and Self-Awareness (Personal) – NYTimes.com.

Con: Science Says FitBit Is a Joke | Mother Jones

I tend to agree with Krugman’s pro views in the NYTimes.  In a nutshell, Krugman’s view is that having a tracker like a FitBit makes it harder to lie to yourself about your fitness. A FitBit will let you know and help you track when you are active or sedentary, just like a scale will tell you when you are eating too much or too little.

The Mother Jones article has good points, too. FitBits have limits. They aren’t for all kinds or exercise, they may not be precise, and some apps on a smartphone can do just as good a job. That said, their title is a joke and their article is misleading. For example, trackers start at much lower than $100. As well, for people walking or running, carrying a smartphone is not always a good option. FitBits are more accurate than the article let’s on, and the readings that they provide is a reasonably close measure of your activity. The limits to wearable fitness devices are real, but Mother Jones overstate their case.

Do you or I need any of these devices? No. Based on my fitbit, I can walk a mile in about 2000 steps. If I were to sit down with a free service like Google maps, I could easily plot out a 5 mile walking route that, if I walked daily, would mean I would  hit at least 10,000 steps a day. (10,000 steps is my daily goal). Or I could just go for an hour walk and not worry about a route at all. (It takes me around that time to walk 5 miles if I walk it at a good pace.) Either way, a map or a watch can easily replace a wearable device. If you can’t afford or don’t want a wearable device, just use a map, a watch, and a log book, and you will get similar benefits.

Why I like my FitBit is that it does the work for me. I can walk anywhere I want, for as long as I want, and it will keep track of all that for me. Plus it keeps a ongoing record I can look up when I want. Finally, like Krugman noted, it prevents me from lying to myself about how active I am.

A wearable device is an aid, and like any aid, it helps you achieve your desired outcome. If you don’t need such an aid, don’t use it. As for me, the fitbit helps me meet my fitness goals and I am glad I have it.

Are you a couch potato? Do you want to get in better shape? Then read what former couch potatoes did

I don’t think highly of lists that supposedly help you to get in shape. I am happy to make an exception for this one: 15 Former Couch Potatoes Share Their Best Tips For Getting In Shape.

It’s not so much a list as it is 15 different stories. Each person has a different approach to getting in shape. What worked for one person may not work for you, but there is a good chance that out of the 15 stories, there will be more than a few new ideas that you can steal and use.

I also liked that it is not a list of advice from people who were athletes or people who were in good shape already. The people on this list were out of shape, and they lost weight and became fit using the sensible approaches they took.

I don’t usually recommend Buzzfeed articles, but this one is a very good exception.

If getting in shape was one of your resolutions for the New Year, this is a good thing for you to read now.

One way to keep your fitness New Year resolutions? Use the Pact app. Here’s how it works

If you have made a commitment to getting fit in 2015, that’s good. If you think you can manage it, that’s better. But if you think you might have troubles with it, then consider the Pact app.

It works like this, according to Pact:

  1. Make a commitment – Make a weekly Pact to exercise more or eat healthier. Set what you’ll pay other Pact members if you don’t reach it.
  2. Meet Your Goals – Use the Pact app to track your progress.
  3. Reap the rewards – Earn real cash for living healthily, paid by the members who don’t!

For more info, see their site: Pact – Commit to you.

I have no idea how well it works, but it sounds interesting.

Thinking of getting a fitness tracker? Consider getting this app first

There are a number of devices out there to tracking your movement, sleep and other things. But you may own such a device already: it’s your mobile phone. If you combine this with this:  Moves – Activity Tracker for iPhone and Android, then that may be all you need to get started.

If you are going to get it, look at the comments here, first: Swissmiss | Moves App. As you can see, there are some limitations to it. My recommendation: try this app first. If you find it useful, consider getting a standalone tracker from someone like Fitbit or Nike.

Anything that helps get people moving, fitter, and healthier is a good thing.

 

A workout for those that travel alot (that can also be used if you don’t travel)

The folks at RealSimple.com have put together an On-the-Go-Workout that can be done anywhere. Obviously good for road warriors, but good for those that stay close to home, too.