The NCSF Personal Trainer Blog is a professional media outlet that addresses current topics and issues facing the Personal Training Profession. Blog topics cover a variety of content domains that fall under the scope of professional practices of the Certified Personal Trainer. The blog entries are created by subject matter experts and are designed to engage both practicing and aspiring personal trainers. Subscription is optional and entries are added on a regular basis. The organization encourages you to participate and hopes you find the NCSF Personal Trainer Blog assistive in meeting your professional needs.
Would it help consumers if they could actually make an educated decision on what to eat at restaurants? Would people actually select a breakfast muffin if they knew it had 600 kcal? Unlike cooking at home, diners are subject to menus without complete transparency. While the restaurant industry looks to implement new rules requiring chains with 20 or more locations to post caloric content information, wouldn’t it be reasonable for all restaurants to provide consumers with the nutritional content of their products? With the new federal rules approximately 50% of the nation's restaurant locations but will be exempt from review requirements. To underscore the real concern, researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University analyzed meals from independent and small-chain restaurants. They found that on average, per portion size, caloric density was two to three times the estimated calorie needs of an individual adult at a single meal and 66% of typical daily calorie requirements.
According to the American Heart Association if you cannot run or jog you can just as easily lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by taking a brisk walk. Recent findings reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology suggest that when walking and running are matched for energy expenditure, the benefits for disease prevention become similar.
Many health conscious consumers already remove the yolk from the high-protein whites of eggs (between 5-7g per serving depending on size) to reduce the fat and cholesterol content. Recent findings suggest that there may be additional benefit to consuming more egg whites; specifically the positive effects it may have on blood pressure. University professors presented their findings at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The increased popularity of social interaction in guided exercise instruction has allowed personal training to take on an expanded role into small group coaching. This training style allows participants to enjoy instruction from a qualified professional, which in turn provides a greater reach to client markets who otherwise would be unable to participate due to lack of resources or an interest in the one-on-one model. The added benefit, documented from data on participation rates, suggest that the small group model may be superior in terms of retention, weekly participation and overall motivation. There seems to be a matrix between professional instruction, social interaction/inadvertent competition, and the collective motivation of the combined peer and instructor support. This bodes well for all stakeholders and defines an important evaluative component of one’s program. Ensuring it meets these criteria warrants an audit of weekly participation rates, participant perceived value (enjoyment and motivation), as well as the average tenure of participation.
Inherently the fitness industry is subject to trends, as exercise enthusiasts tend to gravitate toward novel products and activities. Not surprisingly, when the minimalist trend in shoe wear hit the retail stores many runners and cross trainers quickly hopped on the bandwagon. The popularity of the new shoe features created a rapid market shift with minimalist shoes now making up 15% of the $6.5 billion running shoe market.
Similar to the case of androstendione found in Mark McGwire’s locker, the media surrounding Ray Lewis’ miraculous recovery of a normally season-ending injury, due to a simple spray of deer antler extract, once again has stimulated huge attention to a performance supplement. In the case of McGwire, the prohormone was likely being used to mask the later admitted steroid use as research indicated no efficacy and actually an unintended side effect of increased estrodiol among males. Currently the jury is still out on whether the deer antler provides any benefit as a performance enhancing agent, purported to heal cartilage and tendon injuries more quickly while boosting strength and endurance.
During the first few months of any new year many struggle to maintain their exercise compliance. Initial motivations are not sustained to support the demands of lifestyle changes. Commonly, the main complaint is not the exercise but the minimal time available to keep up their “ideal” exercise regimen. This perception is often is due in part to the real and perceived occupational, family and social factors that affect our daily lives. For those citing a lack of time as a true determent to fitness, newly-published research may provide some comfort as well as solutions.
As schools continue to cut physical education from the mandatory curriculum to reduce costs, research is progressively showing the importance of daily physical activity in the development of young children’s cognitive abilities.
At one time or another, most people have trained with a friend or colleague who was in better physical condition and found themselves achieving impressive results. Common sense suggests that this is due to the motivation to “keep up” with the experienced individual by the weaker counterpart. The mental aspect of falling behind drives them to push harder than they would when left to their own accord. Scientists cite different drivers of motivation including negative/positive reinforcement, support, the availability of spotting assistance, or the sense of accountability and camaraderie that comes with working out in pairs. New research from Kansas State University reinforces this assumption by demonstrating that the key to motivation are the feelings of inadequacy experienced by the less-fit individual.
People suffering from Type 2 diabetes have chronically high blood glucose due to insulin resistance. The exact cause of Type 2 diabetes is not known, but research commonly attributes it to obesity and a lack of activity. Recent research estimates that 6.4% of the world population is diabetic. By 2030, the estimate is projected to reach 7.7%, with developing countries experiencing the most significant increases. Complications from Type 2 diabetes include blindness, dementia, gum disease, cardiovascular disease, and a greater risk of lower limb amputations. Furthermore, sufferers typically have a 10-year shorter life span than the general population. A new study conducted by University of Southern California (USC) and University of Oxford research teams indicates that consuming large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be one of the major contributing factors associated with this rising global epidemic of Type 2 diabetes.
It is common for health-conscious individuals to maintain their exercise regimen throughout the majority of the year only to find themselves struggling to stay on schedule during the holiday season. Numerous articles have identified this annual behavioral shift where many in America will gain ‘holiday weight’. For most this will be a 1-2 kg increase from pre-November weight, for others the ranges will double. The unfortunate outcome is the well-documented annual accumulation average of approximately 0.5-1 kg each year. Over the span of ten years, even minimal weight gain during the holidays can make for a considerable difference in one’s body composition. This ends up being starkly noticeable when observing Holidays past captured in pictures of one’s yesteryears.
New research funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has led to the development of a new algorithm which ranks foods based on a continuous numerical score. Higher scores identify healthier foods and lower scores represent foods to avoid.
For many, Thanksgiving represents a day in which family and friends get together to enjoy each other’s company over a large meal (or number of meals). The holiday is centered on social eating and drinking, creating the perfect environment for the overindulgence of high-calorie food and drink. Often, refusing food is a challenge, because the mindset of the day supports savoring simple joys and giving thanks for the food on the table and friendships made over the years. Turning down second or third helpings, or a taste of a special holiday dish “made just for you,” can easily result in offense, depending on the familial and cultural dynamics present in the household. Even in this environment however, there are a few simple steps that one can follow to minimize overconsumption of calories while still enjoying Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
The use of energy drinks have increased exponential in recent years. Marketing has associated the use of the beverages (or shots) with performance weight management, and in the case of the Five Hour Energy ads, the two o’clock crash. Whether real or perceived, many consumers associate the beverages with an improved degree of alertness, increased ability to focus on tasks and the potential to increase the intensity of physical activity. Others use energy drinks to improve their focus and concentration during cognitively challenging tasks like studying or testing, to replace sleep or as an additive to alcohol to counteract the ‘downer effects’. Many energy drinks on the market contain proprietary blends that are potent in their neurostimulant content and many contain various herbal compounds with the potential for synergistic effects. Demographics including teenagers are easily swayed by the constant barrage of advertisements that imply energy beverages will improve their level of excitation, making life more engaging.
It has been well-documented that employees who engage in exercise-promoting fitness gains demonstrate higher levels of productivity and experience a reduction in absenteeism. Based on this information, it seems that these individuals should be rewarded for their efforts, and according to Cleveland State researcher Vasilios Kosteas, they are already benefitting from their work ethic. In his research, Kosteas suggests that exercising three or more times a week leads to, on average, a 6% pay increase for men and a 10% increase for women. According to his findings, the pay hike is due to exercise-induced productivity, which is unique from the well-established link between obesity and lower earnings. Such information implies that fit individuals are believed to work harder due to their participation in fitness-based activities. Additionally, people who engage in routine exercise are likely to maintain better control of their weight than those who are sedentary, ultimately reducing the risk of obesity-linked compensation adjustments.
In the past two decades, sleep has been noted as a relevant factor in the risk of weight gain, but new findings over the last ten years suggest it is not simply hormones in the gut that are affected. In fact, sleep exerts important modulatory effects on several neuroendocrine functions, including glucose regulation. However, human behaviors have changed significantly, reflecting an ever more industrialized nation. Consequently, people are sleeping less and less. Interestingly, this trend toward shorter sleep times has occurred over the same time period as the dramatic increases in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
It’s hot across the wire – the NYC Board of Health has put a ban on sugar-sweetened beverages. The ban is an amendment to the New York City Health Code, prohibiting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums, food carts, and other venues throughout New York City. What some are calling the Bloomberg ban extends to any beverage with more than 25 calories per 8 ounces, including some sodas, coffees, teas, smoothies and lemonades. It excludes drinks such as milkshakes, drinks that are more than 70% fruit juice, and alcoholic beverages.
Lack of physical activity has been cited as a primary contributing factor to the nation’s health problems. Most jobs do not offer adequate physical activity during the day, and the majority of Americans do not fulfill minimum movement requirements in their free time. In an effort to motivate the country to engage in more physical activity The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) is encouraging Chief Executive Officers (CEO) to pledge to provide their employees with a workplace culture that promotes and supports employee health and wellness through physical activity. People succeed in lifestyle behavior modifications with appropriate structure, motivation and support. The CEO Pledge provides American business leaders the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to physical activity in the workplace by acknowledging that senior management support is the cornerstone to a successful employee wellness program.
One of the requirements for re-certification of the NCSF-CPT credential is proof of valid, current CPR. Knowledge into the techniques is not difficult to attain, but can be very relevant in a professional environment. Certainly the occurrence of an emergency event of this nature is not an everyday situation but the possibility of such an event warrants preparation and appropriate readiness. In a clear example of how important the competency is to a fitness environment, Anna Henson, an employee of Charter Fitness of Bloomington, IL saved the life of a club member after he went into cardiac arrest last month. While sitting on a bench in the club the member suddenly passed out and fell to the floor. Taking immediate action Henson called 911, retrieved the club's defibrillator and began CPR, keeping the member alive until paramedics arrived. The member later recovered at the hospital. In a statement from Bloomington Fire Department, Captain Brad McCollum wrote, "The patient's survival from this event was due in large part to the quick action of the employee.”
As the Olympics continue through the final days of competition, the whole world is watching classic battles take place among the global superpowers, supporting their homegrown heroes along the way. With the greatest media reach ever, observers have been enthralled by what could be called the largest reality television program of its kind. The networks create the drama that unfolds during competition; we focus on the athletes who have devoted their lives to getting to this stage, cheering as they rise to the occasion or sympathizing if they miss the mark they have hit so many times in practices and prior competitions. We adore our greatest athletes and vilify those who beat our favorites by nanoseconds. Watching and supporting the best athletes in the world generates powerful emotions among viewers, and without a doubt the Games encourage even casual viewers to contemplate their own physical capabilities and potential.
The fitness industry is often criticized for the lack of competency displayed by many of its professionals. Unlike the allied health fields, there are no regulations defining the different roles of the fitness professionals, nor a required education or practicum common of clinical jobs. Therefore it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to dictate the competency requirements, as they are the ones who are placing these individuals in the position to serve the public. If an individual works independently then the responsibility falls upon them to become properly qualified for the services they offer. Whether an individual goes through formal schooling and earns a degree, goes the vocational route to become educated enough to pass a valid credentialing exam, or simply goes online and takes any illegitimate certification they are all technically potential hires for fitness facilities. This is where the hiring business needs to decide on the qualifications they will require for job entry and the protocols they will use to develop the new hire into an effective employee.
Think screening and evaluations prior to exercise are simply an annoyance? Consider this: according to a recent CDC report, nearly half of U.S. adults have not been receiving key preventive health services. When someone over age 45 hires a personal trainer to lose weight and “get in shape” the likelihood that they have pre-existing health risks or special considerations is surprisingly high. More concerning is that this risk increases significantly with each passing decade. In fact, most people over 65 have one or more diseases. And while many Americans are not seeking medical assistance in the prevention and treatment of common diseases, even those who are may not be in compliance with the recommended behavior modifications and therapies.
We’ve all had days when we’re hungry and tired, short on time, and just want something quick and healthy to eat. Most fitness enthusiasts know to avoid fried foods, oversize portions of bagged carbohydrates, and drive-thru meal deals - so what to eat? The shelves of almost all convenience stores provide the quick answer via an assortment or protein-stuffed energy bars, as has the walk-thru smoothie bars that sometimes dominate the diets of those with busy lifestyles. While by themselves, and at the right time, these foods may serve as decent options; living on protein bars and smoothies is not a good idea. Not only can smoothies and bars get expensive, they’re not often representative of a healthy dietary goal. These foods can be relatively high in saturated fat and simple sugars; two categories of nutrients that most Americans should be avoiding. The label of Powerbar Triple Threat, for example, verifies that the product contains 230 calories while providing 10 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 16 grams of sugar. Many Proteinplus bars contains 20 g of sugar and 20g protein.
The proliferation of functional equipment and related devices provide personal trainers with greater opportunities to challenge their clients through engaging activities. These products offer added diversity in movements and oftentimes allow for training in environments that previously presented limitations and obstacles. Fitness entrepreneurs now commonly have a trunk full of equipment that can turn any park or playground into a viable training zone. Suspension devices, battle ropes, kettlebells, and the like all add to the exercise selection both in and outside the traditional gym setting. This is particularly helpful for trainers or clients that do not have access to facilities, or for trainers that schedule clients on Monday at 6 pm.
While the quest for the highly visible “six-pack abs” is in the minds of most exercisers the likelihood of the achievement is similar to a high school athlete earning a Division I scholarship in collegiate sports. Some elite athletes with the right genetics and work ethic will reach it, but most will not even come close. Part of the mystique behind the attractiveness is the idea that anyone can get lean enough to see the definition of the rectus abdominis. This is evident by the inundation of infomercials touting spot reduction from the latest fitness fantasy gimmick. According to the television experts if you flex your trunk enough times the abs will come right out as inches of fat disappear. While it seems laughable to anyone who is educated, preying on the ignorant is unfair and demonstrates the level of consumer protection afforded to Americans.
According to the reports, it was likely your friends that made you fat, and now your social networking habits may be wreaking havoc on your body image. Researchers at the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore found that 51 percent of Facebook users said that seeing photos of themselves and others on the popular social networking site made them more conscious of their overall appearance. Only 25 percent of survey respondents indicated they are happy with their bodies, and 12 percent indicated they have or have had an eating disorder. The national survey of 600 Facebook users ages 16 to 40 also revealed there are additional issues associated with the popular media outlet.
Children and young adults between the ages of five and 20 often participate in sports or physical activity without incorporating training regimens into their routine. Clearly, the body is naturally capable of performing strength- and power-based activities, so why is it so unusual to see a 60- or 70-year-old surfing, water skiing, or mountain climbing. Why don’t we see more older adults playing kickball, basketball, soccer or other activities commonly associated with the youth? Unfortunately, we tend to experience declines in strength and power, but this can be slowed with the introduction of resistance training for older individuals. Activities that promote muscular strength and power can help maintain these important components of fitness and performance, while engaging in frequent physical activity allows older people to maintain their cardiovascular fitness (CRF). And while they may not appreciate it now, optimizing cardiovascular fitness during the early stages of maturation will also benefit the young as they age.
Travel the country and enter any fitness facility; there are likely two guarantees: the first is the facility will employ professional trainers whose role and responsibility is to provide expert advice and assistance to members, and the second is that a large number of members can be observed exercising with poor form and incorrect technique. Why the disconnect? Professionals trained to teach exercise properly, standing among those who are exercising improperly. Why is it that only a limited number of members take advantage of the certified personal trainers for advice and education? And on the flipside, are there steps fitness facilities need to take to ensure their patrons exercise properly? It certainly is not due to the lack of recognition of the professionals. In addition to the pictures hanging on the wall, most trainers are very noticeable by the distinct badge across the back or front right pocket of their attire. The shirt easily identifies their role and should signal their ability and willingness to assist.
Like it or not, most residents of the United States find themselves having to “spring forward” an hour come March. While clocks on the wall are easily changed, the biological clocks that control our circadian rhythms do not adjust as easily. Research suggests these rhythms, which generally take about 24 hours to reset, may take even more time than usual when we lose that hour versus the “fall back” of autumn.
In March 2010, the federal government placed a mandate on restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to provide nutritional information to consumers. The federal health reform law requires the restaurants and fast food chains to list calorie data and additional nutritional information for menu items and self-service foods. The obvious idea was that consumers would be able to make educated decisions on the food choices and in effect reduce their risk for western culture disease. A new Columbia University School of Nursing (CUSON) study in the Journal of Urban Health (2012) analyzed the calorie counts for 200 food items on menu boards in fast food chain restaurants in a New York inner-city neighborhood. New York was one of the first cities to initiate a nutrition awareness program in restaurants dating back to 2006. According to researchers, "Although most postings were legally compliant, they did not demonstrate utility." In many cases, the listed individual components require math skills to determine the totals.
It is well documented that the human body is designed to manage a certain amount of external stress. It seems that moderate levels of stress applied with some level of consistency are handled very well, whereas high levels of stress create an environment of consequential neuro-endocrine and immune responses. Research related to telomere (RNA) erosion and subsequent premature aging links intense exercise, chronic stress, and lack of recovery. Interestingly, there is also a connection with the stress energy metabolism plays as well. Research has indicated that the number of calories one consumes is linked to lifespan and those who consume conservative amounts of food often enjoy a longer life. To add to the notion that less is better, new research from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that consuming more than 2,100 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in later age. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer's disease. The study is slated will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21-28, 2012.
Imagine going to make a purchase and you had to abide by the following rules:
Would you make the investment?
With obesity rates and health care costs spiraling out of control among the wealthy countries worldwide, many governmental agencies are implementing novel and aggressive measures to offset these costs and push consumers to reconsider unhealthy (disease-promoting) food choices. In a recent paper published in Health Affairs (2012) researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and University of California, San Francisco suggest a tax on sugary beverages would do the country a world of good. The researchers’ findings suggest, based on data from 2003-2006 NHANES and dietary survey, that a penny-per-ounce tax would reduce diabetes, save 100,000 from cardiac events and stroke, and cut down on premature death. These predictions come from the fact that Americans consume roughly 13 billion gallons/year of sugary beverages. That equates to about 42 gallons per American or 5,376 ounces. At 3 grams of sugar per ounce American average 16,128 grams of sugar/year (64,512 calories/18 lbs fat). This is an obvious problem.
New research from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business investigated the means by which to use exercise variety (or a lack thereof) for improving exercise compliance, motivation and achievement of clients’ fitness goals. The results will be in “The Dynamic Impact of Variety among Means on Motivation,” to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research in April 2012. Authors applied personal training insight to analyze how consumers choose weight-management products/activities to attain their goals. Investigators examined a simple programming pattern which consistently promoted steady motivation and goal accomplishment. This pattern involved beginning with high exercise variety during the initial stages of training, and then progressing to less exercise variety while sticking to specific activities that the client favors and is willing to work hard on.