Dr. Phil Shares: Lifting Weights Could Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Lifting Weights Could Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A whopping 30 million North Americans have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes — and more than 84 million more have higher than normal blood glucose levels (called prediabetes) and are at risk for developing the disease. Obesity is the leading risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.

The rising rates of Type 2 diabetes also mean increased potential for developing serious health complications ranging from heart disease and stroke to vision loss and premature death. Exercise could be the antidote.

THE IMPACT OF EXERCISE ON TYPE 2 DIABETES

Several studies have found exercise can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes; some research has shown a 58% risk reduction among high-risk populations. While much of the research has looked at the impact of moderate-to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise, a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings examined the potential impact of strength training on Type 2 diabetes risk. The data showed building muscle strength was associated with a 32% lowered risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Study co-author Yuehan Wang, PhD, notes resistance training may help improve glucose levels by increasing lean body mass and reducing waist circumference, which is associated with insulin resistance — and achieving results doesn’t require lifting heavy weights or spending countless hours in the gym.

“Our study showed that very high levels of resistance training may not be necessary to obtain considerable health benefits on preventing Type 2 diabetes,” Wang says. “Small and simple resistance exercises like squats and planks can benefit your health even if you don’t lose any weight.”

Think twice before abandoning the treadmill or elliptical trainer for the weight room, advises Eric Shiroma, ScD, staff scientist at the National Institute on Aging.

As part of a 2018 study, Shiroma and his colleagues followed more than 35,000 healthy women for 14 years and found women who incorporated strength training into their workouts experienced a 30% lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes but women who also participated in cardiovascular activities experienced additional risk reduction.

“When comparing the same amount of time in all cardio, strength [training] or a combination, the combination had the most Type 2 diabetes risk reduction,” Shiroma explains.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Researchers are still unclear about which type of exercise could have the biggest impact on reducing your risk. Wang suggests erring on the side of caution and following a workout regimen that blends both pumping iron and heart-pumping cardio, explaining, “Both strength training and cardiovascular aerobic training are important for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.”

The biggest takeaway, according to Shiroma, is any amount of exercise is beneficial for reducing Type 2 diabetes risk so do pushups or take a walk around the block as long as you get moving.

by Jodi Helmer

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 6 Must-Dos After Every Walking Workout

6 Must-Dos After Every Walking Workout

While walking is an excellent low to moderately intense workout that’s easy on the joints, you’ll still need to recover properly to improve fitness and avoid injuries. Here, seven steps to include in your post-walk recovery routine:

1

COOL DOWN

Whether you’ve gone for a long endurance walk or thrown in some intervals, it’s important to take time to let your body cool down before you head back inside. This allows you to slowly lower your heart rate and get rid of any lactic acid that could potentially cause soreness and a heavy feeling in your legs. A 10-minute walking cool down or completing a few yoga poses are great options post-workout.

2

REHYDRATE

One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of recovery is hydration. Even during low-to-moderate intensity workouts, the body loses fluid through sweat that needs to be replaced. If you don’t, recovery takes longer and your performance for your next workout will be negatively affected. In the hour that follows your walking workout, drink plenty of water. If you’re doing long distance training for a walking marathon or have completed a particularly intense workout in hot weather, an electrolyte replacement drink might also be needed. If you’re unsure exactly how much fluid you’ve lost during exercise, weighing yourself before and after workouts is one way you can gauge how much fluid you need to drink to rehydrate properly. You can also track your hydration with an app like MyFitnessPal.

3

REPLENISH YOUR ENERGY STORES

Consuming healthy, nutrient-rich food after a walk is a must to allow your muscle tissue to repair and get stronger. Skip processed, sugary foods and load up on leafy greens, lean protein like chicken, fish or even a post-workout protein shake.

4

STRETCH

Stretching as soon as your workout is finished and while your muscles are still warm can help reduce muscle soreness and improve your flexibility — both of which can help you improve your overall fitness and decrease your chances of injury. If you don’t have a ton of time to go through a series of stretches, concentrate on your weak spots. For example, if hamstring tightness is normally an issue, put most of your attention there. When you have the time, try this seated routine that targets many of the common sore spots for walkers.

5

REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS

While nutrition and stretching are big pieces to this puzzle, there are other things you can do to help prevent soreness so you can feel better and work out more frequently:

  • Massage: This helps improve circulation and relax aching muscles.
  • Recovery tools: If you don’t have money or time for a professional massage, try recovery tools like foam rollers, lacrosse balls or a Theragun to loosen up sore spots.
  • IceTry taking an ice bath or simply icing any sore spots like your knees, lower back or shoulders post-walk.

6

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Setting goals and tracking your progress is an important part of the big picture. Instead of waiting and possibly forgetting about it all together, upload your workout info to your favorite fitness app shortly after you’ve finished your walk. This allows you to see the work you’ve put in and can provide a mental boost when you realize how much you’re progressing.

by Marc Lindsay

Shared By Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How Long Should Workouts Last?

How long should a workout last? It seems like a question that should have a straightforward answer, but the truth is, there isn’t one. You could spend as little as four minutes on a workout: “There is no minimum,” says Marie Urban, regional group training coordinator for Life Time. “You can get a great workout no matter how much time you have.” Or, you could grind away for hours.

How long you spend working up a sweat is entirely dependent on your goals, personal preferences and the time you have available.

How long you spend working up a sweat is entirely dependent on your goals, personal preferences and the time you have available. Even if you take your goals into consideration, it can be tricky to determine a set workout length, as there are benefits to exercising for any length of time.

SHORT DURATION, HIGH INTENSITY

For example, if you’re trying to build aerobic and anaerobic fitness, you can accomplish that in only four short-but-intense minutes of work. How? Through a popular form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) known as Tabata training.

Tabata training involves performing a cardio-focused exercise (e.g., sprints or burpees) as many times as you can for 20 seconds before stopping for a 10-second rest, and repeating for a total of eight rounds.

In 1996, researchers found performing a Tabata workout five days per week was more effective for building aerobic and anaerobic fitness than steady-state cardio.

Even traditional strength training offers benefits in the briefest of sessions. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reveals young men who lifted weights for only 13 minutes per session three days per week made similar strength gains in eight weeks as men who spent 68 minutes in the gym three days per week. The only catch: Subjects performed all sets to failure, or the point at which they couldn’t do another rep with good form. So, there was no slacking here.

It’s worth noting this study included only 34 subjects, and the men had previous experience with strength training; whether the results would apply to new lifters, women or older adults remains to be seen.

GO LONGER FOR MORE RESULTS

In addition, the shorter training sessions weren’t as effective for increasing muscle size (also known as hypertrophy) as the longer sessions. As researchers note, higher training volumes are key for achieving muscle hypertrophy, and higher training volumes require a greater time commitment.

Still, the group that did 13-minute sessions gained some muscle, suggesting you may be able to get away with a quick workout from time to time. However, you would have to continue adding sets, reps and/or exercises if you wanted to continue seeing progress. According to the findings of a 2017 meta-analysis, adding one set each week was associated with an increase in the percentage of muscle gain by 0.37%. As you continue adding sets, reps and/or exercises, your training sessions inevitably take longer to complete.

If you’re training for a specific event (e.g., marathon, bodybuilding competition), your training sessions will likely vary in length as you near your event date, and may include sessions that err on the longer side (60 minutes or more). In these instances, it’s a good idea to work with a fitness professional and/or follow a quality training program, as opposed to trying to come up with your own workouts.

DAILY ACTIVITY MATTERS

By the way, your daily activity level is perhaps more important to your overall health than working out for a set period of time. Research even shows being sedentary can limit the positive effects of exercise. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there’s a strong relationship between sedentary behavior and risk of death from any cause, as well as death from heart disease.

Urban recommends squeezing activity into your day wherever you can: Park far away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do pushups while you microwave food and crank out some situps during commercial breaks. “Having an active lifestyle is more important than working out for an hour every day,” she says.

by Lauren Bedosky

Shared by Dr. Phil; McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Do This Daily For a Healthy Spine

Do This Daily For a Healthy Spine

If you’ve ever hurt your lower back, you know how much it can affect your life. Whether you’re getting up from a chair, carrying groceries or hoisting a barbell overhead, your lower back is involved in nearly every movement.

While lower back injuries should be treated with the help of a doctor or physical therapist, many cases of lower back pain can be avoided with simple exercises that strengthen the core muscles and teach proper movement of the spine. Stuart McGill, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo and the world’s premier authority on spinal health, designed exercises to build a healthy spine.

McGill’s research has been pivotal in helping people understand core training for a healthy spine should focus on stability exercises like planks. Movements that bend the spine like crunches and situps, could even contribute to lower back injuries if performed incorrectly or too often. McGill’s “big three” exercises can be combined into a daily routine that requires no equipment and can be done at home or in the gym.

If you’ve been injured and your doctor has cleared you to work out again, or if you’re perfectly healthy and want to give yourself the best chance to keep your spine pain-free, try these three simple exercises to start building a more resilient spine for all of life’s activities.

MCGILL CURLUPS

Back pain can often be traced to two simple culprits:

1. The lower back itself moves too much.
2. The joints around the lower back (e.g., hips and upper back) don’t move enough.

The McGill curlup teaches you to stabilize your lumbar spine (lower back) using your abs, while moving through the thoracic spine (upper back). The act of pushing the lower back into the floor is how you properly “brace” your abs, so remember how that feels because you should be using it for just about every other exercise you do.

The move: Lie on the floor, face up to the ceiling. Bend one knee until your heel is flat to the floor, a few inches away from your butt. Keep the other leg straight and dig the heel of that foot into the floor, pointing your toes to the ceiling. Place your hands under your lower back and actively push your lower back into your hands to engage your abdominal muscles. Bring your chin toward your chest but keep your head on the ground. Continue to push your lower back into the floor to gently lift your shoulders off the ground. Make sure not to curl your chin toward your chest or let your lower back leave the floor. Perform all your reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 reps per side, holding each rep for 3–10 seconds (hold each rep longer to make these more challenging)

BIRD DOGS

The McGill curlup teaches you how to brace your abs, now it’s time to put that stability to the test with bird dogs. This teaches you how to move your arms and legs around a solid core position without moving from your lower back.

The move: Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Flatten your back by bracing your abs much like you did with the curlup, but instead of pushing your lower back into the floor, tighten your abs as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Reach out with your opposite arm and leg until both limbs are parallel to the floor. Be careful not to arch your lower back — imagine keeping your leg long and low. Repeat with the other arm and leg, making sure to brace your abs on every rep.

If you feel like a fish out of water when doing bird dogs because you’re not quite coordinated enough yet, try them with just your legs first. Once you’re able to lift your leg parallel to the floor without arching your lower back, add in your arms, too.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 reps per side, holding each rep for 1–5 seconds (hold each rep longer to make these more challenging)

SHORT SIDE PLANK

Curlups and bird dogs mostly work your ab muscles on the front of your body: the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis. But we can’t forget the important oblique muscles, your “side abs.” The short side plank builds strength in your obliques to prevent unwanted twisting and side bending of the spine.

The short side plank resembles a traditional side plank but leaves your bottom knee on the floor for added stability. Think of it as a more user-friendly side plank so you can learn how to properly use your obliques to support your spine.

The move: Lay on your side with your bottom elbow and leg on the floor. Bend your knees until your upper and lower leg form a 90-degree angle. Tuck your bottom elbow tight to your side, squeezing your bottom fist. Lift your bottom hip off the ground while leaving your bottom knee and elbow on the floor. Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your glutes to keep a straight line from your head to your knees. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for the duration of the exercise. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 seconds per side. Even though 10 seconds may seem quick, exhaling forcefully (like you’re blowing up a balloon) can make even just 10 seconds seem challenging.

by Tony Bonvechio

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Can You Lose Fat Through Exercise Alone?

Can You Lose Fat Through Exercise Alone?

One of the hardest parts about starting a fat-loss program is knowing you won’t be able to eat a lot of the foods you enjoy. At least, not in the same quantities. For this reason, some people try to achieve their fat-loss goal through exercise alone, hoping they’ll burn enough calories during their workout to make up for poor diet choices.

WHY EXERCISE ISN’T ENOUGH

First of all, exercise tends to increase appetite, says Tiffany Chag, RD, a sports dietitian at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. If you’re not paying attention to what and how much you’re eating, you could take in more calories per day than you were getting before you even started your exercise program. “We don’t really realize we’re doing it,” Chag says. Over time, this could lead to stalled results or even weight gain.

HORMONES

In a recent study, a group of lean, overweight and obese women followed an eight-week exercise-only program. Not only did the women see zero fat reduction, but appetite hormone levels increased significantly in overweight and obese participants. These hormonal changes could explain the lack of fat-loss results, according to researchers.

THE CALORIES PARADOX

In addition, exercise only burns a small percentage of calories in the overall scheme of things. A vigorous 30-minute strength session, for example, only burns roughly 223 calories for a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Health. That’s the approximate equivalent of a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or a protein bar.

Granted, exercise — and strength training, in particular — will have you burning calories long after your workout is over, but it may not be as much as you think. “People often get a false sense of how many calories they’re actually burning [during exercise],” says Steve Moore, MS, lead physiologist and health coach with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing LiveWell Fitness Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

All too often, we assume we’re burning more calories than we actually are, which makes it easier to reach for higher calorie foods. In fact, we can overestimate the calories burned by as much as four times the actual amount, leading us to eat 2–3 times our caloric expenditure from that workout, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.

In other words, just because the display on the treadmill or elliptical says you burned 300 calories, doesn’t mean you actually did: “Those [machines] are notorious for being wrong,” Moore says.

THE BOTTOM LINE

You might lose fat through exercise alone, but you’ll have far greater success if you pair your exercise with a healthy diet.

In a study published in Obesity, overweight and obese postmenopausal women who followed a combined diet and aerobic exercise program lost more weight over the course of one year than women who followed a diet- or exercise-only program. Still, the women who followed the diet-only program lost significantly more weight than the exercise-only group (8.5% versus 2.4%), and only slightly less than women who followed the combined program (8.5% versus 10.8% for the combined approach).

Don’t think you have to completely overhaul your diet or add crazy amounts of exercise to see results. Set achievable goals, like adding one extra serving of vegetables per day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and focus on meeting those goals for a few weeks before adding in other changes, Chag says. “[Your goal] has to be something that’s measurable, but set the bar so low that you can’t fail.”

by Lauren Bedosky

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 7 Exercises To Avoid

7 Exercises You Should Never Do Again

The next time you go to the gym, take a look around: you’ll probably see all kinds of exercises, some good and some not-so-good.

The unfortunate truth is that not all exercises are created equal. Some are incredibly effective at building muscle and melting fat; others are ineffective and can even do more harm than good. (Worse, the bad ones are sometimes very popular.)

Read on for our list of the worst exercises — the ones you should avoid at all costs. If you currently have them in your exercise routine, try our alternatives, which are far more effective and take your body to the next level.

1. SITUPS AND CRUNCHES

Situps and crunches are as old-school as it gets: You see them in PE class, boot camps and military training around the world. But get ready for some big news because these tummy exercises aren’t effective or good for you.

Your core — which consists of your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, etc. — is designed to help your body stabilize and brace against twisting and bending (not generate it).

Situps and crunches, however, eliminate the bracing and put your body into bad positions: You pull your neck forward, round your shoulders, flex your spine and put a lot of stress on your lower back. (It also goes without saying that you should avoid the situp machine too for those reasons.)

Instead, choose ab exercises that help you maintain a good posture throughout the exercise. If you want to take your core strength to the next level and get washboard abs, try our super effective 14-day plank challenge: It uses many different variations to blast your midsection from different angles to test your muscles (and your mind).

2. SMITH MACHINE EXERCISES

With the exception of the inverted row, avoid all exercises on the Smith machine. It seems safe because the bar has a lock that activates when you let go, but it puts your body in unnatural positions because the bar only moves in a straight, rigid line, which is not how you move in real life.

Also, because the bar follows a straight path, you don’t get to improve your stability or balance and you won’t get the same muscle gains you’d like. Researchers found that free-weight squatsand free-weight bench presses activated more muscles than doing the same exercise on a Smith machine.

Stick to the free-weight version of your exercise: barbell squat, dumbbell bench press, etc. You’ll get more overall benefits and build more muscle and strength.

3. SEATED TWIST MACHINE

Remember what we said about how the core is supposed to move? Well, the vertebrae of your spine at your lower back can only twist 13 degrees in each direction, which is tinier than one hour on a clock. But the seated twist machines actually crank your body well beyond that range-of-motion.

If you want to improve your rotational strength, try the kneeling Palloff press. Get on both knees and set a cable handle to chest height. Facing perpendicular to the cable, bring the handle to your chest, and push it straight forward. Do it facing both ways. You have to brace your trunk to resist twisting and turning, which fires your core and keeps your spine in a safe position.

4. SUPERMANS

You might see these done in gyms or even physical therapy centers in an effort to “strengthen” your lower back. But the problem is it cranks your lower back into hyperextension while putting tremendous load and compression onto your lumbar spine. (Most people have a lower back that’s already too extended, which creates something called “lordosis.”)

Substitute supermans with another exercise if it’s a part of your current fitness program. Instead of directly targeting your lower back, focus on strengthening your entire trunk — back, abs, obliques, etc. — with core exercises where you maintain great posture throughout.

Try the single-arm farmers carry: Grab a heavy dumbbell in one hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, then walk. Maintain a neutral lower back and don’t arch excessively.

5. BACK EXTENSIONS

The back extension machine tries to strengthen your lower back by repeatedly flexing and extending it, which can cause problems. Worse, a lot of people hold a weight plate behind their head or at their chest, which further increases the stress on your spine.


READ MORE > 10 ESSENTIAL BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES 


6. UPRIGHT ROW

This popular exercise targets your shoulders and traps. Unfortunately, it’s one of the worst exercises you can do for your shoulders because it impinges your shoulder joints. The upright row actually forces you to internally rotate your shoulders and pull a heavy weight while in a poor position, which can lead to all kinds of problems.

Instead, to build strong and wide shoulders, replace upright rows with the dumbbell overhead press. It targets your upper body without adding unnecessary (and impinging) stress to your shoulder joint.

7. BEHIND-THE-NECK LAT PULLDOWNS OR BEHIND-THE-NECK PRESSES

Avoid any upper-body exercise where you pull or push from behind your neck because it puts tremendous strain on your shoulders. In a behind-the-neck position, your shoulders are almost at their maximal limit on extension in those positions — throwing weight on top of it just adds more strain to a fragile area.

Always do lat pulldowns, chin-ups, pullups, etc. toward your collar bones; if you’re going to press a weight overhead, start with the barbell at your collar bone or use dumbbells or kettlebells.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Thanks to My Fitness Pal

Dr. Phil Shares: 14 Exercises for Lower Back Pain

14 Exercises for Lower Back Pain

As with bedbugs and the national deficit, the source of lower back pain can be hard to trace. Sometimes it’s a sudden, jarring injury. Other times it’s due to long-term over- or underuse. Often the simple act of sitting (which most office workers do for an estimated 10 hours a day) is to blame for lower back pain, particularly if it emanates from around L1-L5, the vertebrae between your rib cage and your pelvis.

Unfortunately, strength and flexibility only do so much to prevent it.

“There are people who can twist themselves into a pretzel who have back pain because they lack endurance,” says neurophysiologist Chad Waterbury, author of Huge In a Hurry. “And there are people who are very strong who get back pain because they lack mobility, especially in the hamstrings, core, glutes, and hip muscles.”

The key to preventing lower back pain, says Waterbury, is building a combination of moves that improve your mobility and endurance so you can get some relief from the lower back pain you have—and avoid more of it in the future. That’s exactly what the moves below—broken into three escalating levels of intensity—are designed to do.

A few quick caveats: If your pain is intense (read: getting out of bed feels like you’re going one circle deeper into Dante’s Inferno), get cleared by a doctor before doing any type of exercise—these moves included.

If given the OK, avoid anything that causes or exacerbates pain in your lower back. This includes twisting or bending forcefully and sitting for hours on end. If you can, get up from your chair every 20 minutes, or better still, get a desk with a stand-up option.

If you feel pain doing the exercises below, shorten the range of motion or perform the moves more slowly. Still hurting? Follow the “if it hurts” modifications alongside each move. And if none of these changes help, save that move for another day. Remember you’re trying to alleviate your lower back pain… not make it worse!

14 Exercises to Help Relieve Lower Back Pain

LEVEL I: When your pain is acute, use these easy moves to gently mobilize — increase the pain-free range of motion — in your back.

Child’s Pose

Gently relieves tension in the lower back.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Yoga Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. On a mat or blanket, kneel down, and, if possible, sit on your heels.
2. Lean forward, extending your arms in front of you, and rest your head on the floor in front of you.
3. Hold the position for 30 seconds to two minutes.

If It Hurts:
Cross your arms on the floor and rest on your forearms.

 

Cat/Cow

Easy stretch for forward and backward movement along the entire spine.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Pilates Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an all-fours position, hands under shoulders, knees under hips, back in a natural arch, head in alignment with your spine.
2. On an exhale, slowly round your back towards the ceiling, lowering your head fully towards the floor.
3. Reverse the movement.
4. Keeping your arms straight, inhale as you arch your back, bringing your chest and belly towards the floor, your shoulder blades together, and your head up.

If It Hurts:
Reduce the range of motion and move more slowly.

 

Front-to-Back-Shoulder Squeeze

Increases range of motion in shoulder blades, helps reduce slouching.

Source: Ho’Ala ke Kino

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an athletic posture with your feet in a shoulder-width-and-a-half stance.
2. Keeping your back straight throughout the movement, cross your left hand over your right, press your palms together, straighten your arms, and point your fingertips towards the floor.
3. Press your palms together and round your upper back as if trying to touch the fronts of your shoulders together in front of you.
4. Hold for ten seconds.
5. Unclasp your hands, then interlace your fingers behind your back, straighten your arms and lift your chest high.
6. Hold for 10 seconds.
7. Alternate these two positions a total of 3-4 times.

If It Hurts:
Don’t stretch as deeply.

 

Clam

Supports healthy hip movement, which takes pressure off the lower back during everyday activities.

Source: Total Body Solution, Lower Back

To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your left side with your knees bent 90 degrees in front of you and your feet stacked.
2. Keeping your feet together and your hips vertical, lift your right knee as far away from your left as possible.
3. Hold for a moment, return to the starting position, and repeat for 15 reps.
4. Turn onto your right side and perform 15 reps.

If It Hurts:
Make sure your lower back doesn’t twist throughout the movement and limit the move to a pain-free range of motion.

 

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Restores proper positioning of the hips, taking tension off the lower back.

Source: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, Hammer Conditioning

To Do This Exercise:
1. Kneel on a mat or pad and step your right foot flat on the floor in front of you.
2. Keeping your torso upright and your back in its natural arch, lunge forward towards your right foot.
3. Press the top of your left foot into the floor behind you.
4. Hold the stretched position for 30–45 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

If It Hurts:
Contract your abs and flatten the lower back as much as possible throughout the stretch. Also try shifting your hips back and coming out of the stretch a bit.

Downward Facing Dog with Alternating Heel March

Extends and loosens hamstrings, calves, and upper back.

Source: Ho’Ala ke Kino

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume a push-up position: facedown, hands and balls of your feet on the floor, body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
2. Keeping your arms and legs straight and your lower back in its natural arch, fold at the hips and press your hips into the air.
3. With your feet parallel, slowly bend your right knee until you feel a deep stretch in your left calf, then hold for ten seconds.
4. Straighten your right knee, then repeat on the other side.
5. Continue alternating sides for a total of three reps per side.

If It Hurts:
Hold the downdog position without the heel march.

 

LEVEL II: Use these moves when your lower back pain is less severe. They can help strengthen and stabilize the core.

Bird Dog

Tones extensor muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and glutes, while teaching back musculature to work with greater coordination and ease.

Source: Tai Cheng, Function Test

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an all-fours position on the floor, hands directly below your shoulders, knees directly below your hips.
2. Slowly extend your right leg behind you as if kicking something with your heel.
3. Simultaneously extend your left arm forward, straight and parallel to the floor.
4. Hold for 10 seconds, slowly lower your right left and left arm, then repeat the sequence using your left leg and right arm.
5. Perform 3–6 reps per side.

If It Hurts:
Contract your abs and flatten your back as much as possible throughout the move.

 

Glute Bridge

Increases tone in the glute muscles.

Source: INSANITY: THE ASYLUM, Back to Core

To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Flex your feet so the balls of your feet lift off the floor.
3. Drive your heels into the floor, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips as high as you can.
4. Pause for a one-count, return to the starting position, and repeat for 20 reps.

If It Hurts:
Limit the movement to a pain-free range of motion.

 

Plank with Forearm Run

Tones the six-pack muscles, relieving lower-back pressure.

Source: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, 10 Minute Ab Hammer

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume a plank position: facedown, forearms and balls of the feet on the floor, body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
2. Keeping your hips down, bring your right knee towards your chest.
3. Reverse the move and repeat on the other side.
4. Alternate sides for 15–30 seconds.

If It Hurts:
Slow the movement down. Perform the move from the push-up position (arms extended). Perform a static plank position (no movement in the legs).

 

Side Plank and Knee Up

Tones the core muscles on the sides of your torso, which help you to bend and twist more easily.

Source: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, 10 Minute Ab Hammer

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume a right-side plank position: right elbow and forearm on the floor, feet stacked with the outside edge of your right foot on the floor, body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
2. Place your left hand behind your head and point your left elbow towards the ceiling.
3 Draw your left knee up and towards your chest.
4. Reverse the movement, then repeat for 12–15 reps.
5. Turn over and repeat the movement on your other side.

If It Hurts:
Hold the side plank position without movement.

 

LEVEL III: Use these moves when you’re feeling good to develop more spine-sparing mobility and endurance and help prevent future lower back pain.

Front Fold

Relaxes and increases range of motion in your hamstrings, calves, lower and upper back.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Yoga Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an athletic posture with your feet in a shoulder-width-and-a-half stance.
2. Inhaling deeply, slowly extend your arms directly out to the side.
3. Keeping your back flat and your knees slightly bent, slowly hinge forward at the hip joints as far as you can.
4. Cross your arms in front of you, slowly round your back forward.
5. Hold the rounded-forward position for 20–30 seconds.

If It Hurts:
Avoid the rounded-forward position: hinge forward at the hips and return to the starting position for 3–5 reps.

Trunk Twist

Increases rotational range in rib cage, allowing you to turn and twist more comfortably.

Source: P90X3, Eccentric Lower

To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your left side with your bottom (left) leg extended and your right knee bent towards your chest, inside of your right knee on the floor.
2. Extend your arms straight out in front of your chest, left arm on the floor and palms together.
3. Keeping both arms straight, your right knee and your left arm and shoulder blade on the floor, lift your right arm up towards the ceiling.
4. With your eyes on your right hand, rotate your right arm back towards the floor behind you as far as you can without pain.
5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 15 repetitions.
6. Lie on your right side and repeat.

If It Hurts:
Place a pillow or block underneath the knee of your top leg and always rotate only as far back as you can without pain.

C-Sit Tap:

Increases strength and endurance in your six-pack muscles and improves rotation in your upper back.

Source: 21 Day Fix, Pilates Fix

To Do This Exercise:
1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat.
2. Lean back so that your torso forms a 45-degree angle to the floor and extend your arms in front of you, palms together.
3. Keeping your torso long, lean back slightly, rotate your right arm and shoulder back, and tap your right hand to the floor.
4. Reverse the movement, return to the starting position, and repeat the movement, this time turning to your left.
5. Alternate sides for 15 reps on each side.

If It Hurts:
Hold the “up” position without moving.

Lunge to Hip Extension

Strengthens glutes and lengthens hip flexors to improve posture and lower body strength and stamina.

Source: Active Maternity, Get Stable

To Do This Exercise:
1. Assume an athletic posture: feet shoulder width and parallel, knees slightly bent, shoulders square.
2. Step your right leg about two feet directly back.
3. Keeping your torso upright, bend both knees until your right knee comes close to the floor.
4. Reverse the move and return to the starting position.
5. Shift your weight onto your left foot, contract your right glute, and lift your right foot off the floor behind you.
6. Lower your right foot back to the floor and repeat the movement for 10-12 reps.
7. Switch your legs and repeat on the other side.

If It Hurts:
Lower your back knee only about halfway to the floor and keep your back foot on the floor throughout the movement.

BY:  @ Beachbody.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 7 Secrets to Sticking with Exercise

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7 Secrets of Sticking With Exercise

 

Staying fit is a super power, wellness-wise. Exercise can improve your energy levels, sleep quality, body composition, and overall health. While these perks are great, hectic lives can make sticking with an exercise program tricky. Simple shifts in your behaviors can help minimize these barriers, making reaching and maintaining your fitness goals almost as easy as pushing play.

Set reasonable goals. Start with activities that seem attainable and reasonably challenging, then set a goal to engage in that activity at least a few times per week. Most wellness perks, according to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, kick in if you do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately-intense exercise per week. That’s just over 21 minutes a day.

Schedule it. Prioritize workouts in your calendar like anything else. Schedule routine sessions at times that make the most sense within your lifestyle. Many people find it’s easier to stick to an exercise routine in the morning while others find they have more energy in the afternoons. But neither is ideal if the time isn’t convenient for you. Experiment with various options until you find one that works.

Get the gear. Ideally, your workouts won’t require a lot of equipment. Regardless, stock up on whatever you need to get started and choose quality gear, especially when it comes to particularly important items, such as athletic shoes. Wearing colors and textures you enjoy may also help keep you motivated to suit up and head out.

Plan ahead. Prepare your gear ahead of time to prevent skipping workouts. If you schedule your workouts for the morning, set your fitness attire out the night before. If you plan to exercise on your way home from work, pack a workout bag in advance and bring it with you.

Buddy up. Most everything is more fun with friends. Use the buddy system for increased workout accountability and enjoyment. If showing up or making time to exercise is your biggest challenge, having someone to be accountable to could be all you need.

Sleep and rest well. Quality sleep makes for effective exercise, and helps ensure that you have the mental gusto to show up. Cultivate a healthy sleep schedule, and stick to routine sleep and waking times as often as you can.

Cut yourself some slack. Aiming for perfection can work against you. If you miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, consider it a rest day and get back on it the next day. If you find yourself unable to stick to your goals, reassess. It’s better to work out at a lower intensity or for less time for a while than not at all. If you’re still struggling, seek guidance from a qualified sports trainer or one of the Beachbody experts. Doing so doesn’t show weakness, but strength.

By August McLaughlin @ Beachbody.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health in Guelph