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Is Jogging worth it?

Now that cooler weather has arrived in the mid-atlantic region, I see more and more neighbors out jogging around the neighborhood. Presumably most are doing this to improve their fitness levels. Unfortunately for them, that is not the case. Let's look at what really happens when you jog at a steady pace for 45 minutes to an hour:

First, you will burn several hundred calories. However, remember when you are looking at the tread mill computer or the fitness tracker on your wrist, they take into account your basal metabolic rate in addition to the activity. So, if the computer says you have burned 300 calories, you have really only burned 220 to 240 calories above your baseline rate. If your lucky you have not just stimulated your appetite; however, most people do. If you then go home and eat some fruit or a protein bar to counter your hunger, you have completely negated any calories burned during your run!

Second, contrary to popular belief, steady state activity like jogging does nothing for the lungs and very little for the heart. The stimulus is simply not intense enough to improve lung capacity or enhance cardiovascular efficiency. In fact, most "improvements" people make over time are attributed to skill improvement (ex. more efficient stride length, sole strike, arm movement, etc.) The leg muscles can see some initial strengthening but over time this can halt and even reverse (see below).

Third, jogging frequently (meaning about 4 days or more per week) will cause loss of muscle mass. Steady state activity like jogging only uses a small percentage of your muscle fibers. Jogging does not put a high demand on muscles - that is precisely why you can jog for a long time. When you do an activity like jogging excessively, it sends signals to your body to get rid of that excess muscle mass you are not using. Over time, frequent joggers will lose much of their lean muscle mass. For instance, take a look at top marathon runners. Do you see any muscle mass on them? They actually look emaciated. In the long run, this is not good for your health.

Fourth, jogging has a very high injury rate. The high force of the foot hitting the pavement repeatedly over time can cause damage to your feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and back! We have had many clients at Total Results over the years who were runners for years until injuries forced them to stop. In fact, several had to have corrective surgeries and even joint replacement.

I understand the allure of jogging. It is very simple - throw on a pair of shoes and head out the front door. Breathe a little harder. Work up a little sweat. Feel better about yourself. You think you are "getting in shape". However, as mentioned, jogging burns relatively few calories, does not improve cardiovscular health or fitness, can tear down muscle mass and therefore lower your metabolism, and has a high rate of injury over time. All this begs the question, is jogging worth it? Unless you are training for a particular athletic competition, the answer is NO!

So what should you do instead of jogging? First, walking is a great activity to do every day. It burns the same calories per mile as jogging, is great for mental health, and is much safer than jogging due to the lower forces involved. Second, you must lift heavy things once in awhile in order to stimulate the skeletal muscles and the cardiovascular system to adapt in improve. This is our specialty at Total Results. Lastly, you must eat modestly and mostly natural foods in order to have a caloric balance and get adequate nutrition. By following these simple steps, you will improve health and fitness levels more than by running but without the risks associated with running.

Posted October 14, 2017 by Tim Rankin

The Dangers of Too Much Sitting

Over the past century, the American economy and work force have shifted dramatically. What was once a largely agrarian economy gave way to a manufacturing economy, and now we are truly in the middle of the information age. With an internet connection, it is possible for Americans to do business with and work for companies scattered all across the globe. The negative result is that we Americans are spending more time sitting than ever before. We spend much of our sitting time watching television, using other electronic devices, driving to and from work, and sitting at a desk. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, this adds up to between 91 and 105 hours per week, or between thirteen and fifteen hours per day. Teenagers and older adults appear to be the biggest culprits.

The health risks from too much sitting are numerous: increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of Type II diabetes, a sluggish central nervous system (which can lead to greater levels of fatigue), and a gradual weakening of postural muscles. Doesn't sound very appealing, does it? Most people probably realize they spend too much time sitting, but they may not know what they can do about it. So what are some proactive strategies you can use to lessen these health risks?

1. Set an alarm to get up and move every 30 to 60 minutes. No one knows for sure what the optimal frequency is, but the thinking is that if you've been sitting for an hour, that's probably too long. Take a walk down the hallway, step outside for some fresh air (weather permitting), or get up to fill your water bottle.

2. Utilize a standing desk. If it worked for Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway, it can work for you (both men were early proponents of a standing desk). You've probably seen adjustable desks with seated and standing options that are available on the market. I think it's a good investment.

3. Hold walking meetings. Instead of discussing a work topic via phone or email, hold a walking meeting.

4. Strength train regularly. This is the most important thing you can do. One or two Total Results workouts per week will build strength (especially in the postural muscles), improve your cardiovascular conditioning, maintain a safe and functional level of flexibility, and help you to maintain insulin sensitivity (which will lower your risk for Type II diabetes).

It's important to have the mindset of staying active and having purpose. A few simple strategies like the ones mentioned above can make a huge difference in how you look and feel. We can't stop the aging process, but we can definitely slow it down.

Posted October 10, 2017 by Matthew Romans