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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.
With Valentine’s Day upon us and love in the air - let’s take a quick moment to recall how to love our own hearts. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among men and women. What might come as a surprise is that many factors related to risk are actually modifiable. It is true that unavoidable elements such as your age, sex (males have a greater risk) and family history have a part to play, but every person still has control over various life habits which increase one’s risk for early progression of the disease. Show your heart some love by providing the care it deserves.
Most understand the potential benefits of a protein-rich diet for weight loss and the prevention of age-related reductions in muscle mass. Some dietary plans state that lean animal protein is the best way to go for optimal benefits as they contain all of the essential amino acids and purportedly provide a greater sensation of fullness (satiety). However, new research from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports suggests that meals based on legumes such as beans and peas can actually provide greater satiation following a meal than meats such as pork or veal.
It is estimated that more than 29 million adults have Type I or Type II diabetes in the United States, with Type II diabetes accounting for about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that of the nearly 30 million with the disease about 25% are unaware of their condition. Of added concern, another 86 million US adults are estimated to be pre-diabetic with the CDC reporting about 90% of these individuals being unaware of their risk. Clearly, greater knowledge and education is needed to combat further increases in the prevalence of Type II diabetes - as experts project nearly 1 in 3 adults could be diabetic by the year 2050. This is a growing concern both from a health and economic perspective as diabetics experience 6x the health costs as normal weight non-diabetics. The CDC estimates that taking part in structured lifestyle changes surrounding exercise, weight loss, and nutrition can reduce one’s risk for developing type II diabetes by more than half. Specific to exercise, for every 500 kcals expended per week via physical activity, the risk for type II diabetes is reduced by about 6%.
Anabolics, or compounds purported to increase lean mass, are one of the most popular categories of dietary supplements amongst bodybuilders, athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike. Legal compounds purported to increase muscle mass have experienced a “mixed bag” of results in the literature. Some authors and critics argue the type of resistance training employed has been inconsistent across studies further creating difficulties identifying efficacy among compounds. Research methodology, small sample sizes, differing populations, and lack of scrutiny to contributing factors add to the problem. While caloric sufficiency, appropriate energy balance and timing, and specific training methodology are all consistently important for lean mass development and maintenance some substances may be additionally beneficial. Of interest it seems the properties that exist in the body seem to be the most relevant factor in predicting changes to muscle size.
Stability balls can be used to increase balance, coordination and proprioceptive demands during numerous exercises. Standard exercises such as crunches or push-ups can gain completely new training stimuli when done on the ball due to the changes in neuromuscular requirements.
Human caffeine consumption is by no means novel, dating back almost 5,000 years - but todays’ on-the-go society certainly thrives on the stimulant. From waking up to making it through the 2 pm work drag to pre-exercise readiness and late-night study alertness, caffeine does indeed provide a number of health and performance benefits. Caffeine can deliver consumers a cognitive and physical edge during the rigors of a long and demanding day. It originates naturally in over 60 species of plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans and kola nuts. When consumed with carbohydrates it can improve concentration, response speed and the performance of complex cognitive tasks - making it a desirable compound for most busy individuals from business leaders to world-class athletes alike.
A2 milk is currently marketed as a heathier choice over “regular milk”. It is purported to provide explicit benefits including easier digestion for those who are lactose intolerant and reduced risk for several disorders. But what is the difference between these products and are the claims actually true? It all comes down to the breed of the cow from which the milk came from, and consequently the type of casein protein(s) found in the product. Casein is the predominant form of protein in milk (constitutes about 80%), and there are several types. One type is beta-casein which exists in at least 13 different forms; the most common include:
The immune system plays a major role in training adaptations, but is poorly understood by most exercise professionals. Part of the reason is medical science has yet to unravel all of the functions, reactions and interactions of this system. For example, various autoimmune disorders and diseases remain untreatable such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and type I diabetes. The immune system is remarkably complex and regulates homeostasis in a synergistic fashion with other intricate components such as the endocrine system; leaving many unknowns even among the scientific elite. As it relates to health professionals, the immune system is involved in tissue recovery and repair following strenuous exercise as well as protecting against potentially-damaging pathogens such as bacteria or viruses (e.g., the flu). The system is designed to quickly recognize and systematically attack foreign materials in the body; in the case of autoimmune disorders, it mistakenly recognizes healthy bodily organs or tissues as internal invaders. Immunological processes are facilitated via two subsystems with specific functions:
The Olympics often draw attention to some unique story lines; in the case of Brazil there is green water, look-at-me hair styles, and giant spots have made headlines. While the quest for gold by the most recognized faces inclusive of Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt dominate front-page real estate, high profile athletes also draw additional attention around their actions. This year, the bruise marks all over Michael Phelps became a key search on google. The marks were caused by cupping, an ancient Chinese technique that uses suction to promote blood flow to the targeted area, but questions persist about the efficacy of the latest recovery trend.
Purpose: The single-leg stability ball leg curl is an excellent exercise for improving gluteal activation and endurance, hamstring strength balance, lumbo-pelvic coordination as well as trunk stability.
Surprisingly, some consumers still have difficulties properly deciphering the information on food labels when making optimal choices related to their nutritional needs. In some cases, such as in restaurants, limited or no information is provided which makes choosing healthy meal options a true guessing game. A new study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing showed once again that if consumers have clear and accurate data, they tend to make healthier choices when compared to being left in the dark. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania added color-coded “traffic-light” and/or numeric calorie-count labels to online food ordering systems and found consumers ordered meals with about 10% less total calories when compared to a menu featuring no labeling.
Function: The single-leg RDL to hip flexion with rotation exercise can be used to improve high hamstring/gluteal activation and flexibility, pelvic stability, multi-planar mobility, kinetic chain connectivity, and lower body proprioception.
Purpose: The DB Bench Swing to Stand is a functional abdominal exercise that also serves to improve force transfer through the full kinetic chain.
According to new research presented at ENDO 2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston, anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) abuse is associated with severe increases in blood pressure. “The results provide scientific evidence that anabolic steroids cause systolic blood pressure increase and hypertension that may be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” states the lead study author Jon Bjarke Rasmussen, MD, doctoral fellow in the Department of Internal Medicine of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. The researchers found day and night blood pressure values to be considerably higher among the ongoing AAS abusers when compared with both former abusers and non-users. “Anabolic steroids are increasingly used in the broader population, and some studies suggest that approximately 20% of men who do recreational strength training have experience with anabolic steroids,” Rasmussen added.
The FDA recently released a public warning concerning imported dietary supplements and nonprescription drug products. According to Cariny Nunez, M.P.H., a public health advisor in the Office of Minority Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary supplements scammers often target advertising to people who prefer to shop at “nontraditional places” such as ethnic or international stores. The aforementioned consumers often are purchase motivated by magazines, infomercials, flea markets or online marketing; especially those who have limited English proficiency and access to health care information. “These scammers know that ethnic groups who may not speak or read English well, or who hold certain cultural beliefs, can be easy targets,” Nunez says. For example, some Native Americans, Latinos, Asians and Africans may have a long tradition of relying on herbal or so-called “natural” remedies for ailments. Many advertisers put the word “natural” somewhere on the package, knowing it inspires trust in certain groups.
Knowledgeable personal trainers are able to modify almost any exercise to provide challenges for clients with differing aptitudes and training needs. There are many ways an exercise can be modified such as changing the position of the load, movement plane(s) involved, stability or coordination requirements, and total muscle groups/body segment involved. Often exercise modifications are applied within the exercise prescription just for the sake of novelty to reduce boredom - but in most instances a trainer will want to provide alterations to mastered movements that match the client’s intended goal(s). In the following we will examine two potential exercise modifications, and how these movement modifications create new challenges and potential improved adaptations.
There are many fad diets that become popularized through health and fitness magazines. The gluten-free diet has gained a lot of attention recently even by those who are not truly gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease. This trending nutrient focus has been amped by celebrity testimonials and hyped by news coverage. The gluten-free diet surrounds an effort to limit gluten protein intake found in grains such as wheat, rye, oats, and barely. Some physicians warn that going gluten-free is definitely not for everyone; it is not necessarily healthy nor does it inherently promote weight-loss. In fact, many physicians advise that only people with diagnosed gluten sensitivities adopt this special diet. What is interesting about many who end up following a gluten-free diet is not the gluten affect but rather that they end up cutting out a lot of processed grains, starches and poorer food choices - which may in itself help reduce gastrointestinal issues and inflammation over time.
The popularity and effectiveness of employee fitness and wellness programs has greatly increased in recent years. 70% of US employers now offer some form of employee wellness program, up from 58% in 2008 according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Despite this trend and the benefits wellness programs can provide to productivity and workplace moral, many companies will face new challenges in 2016 related to such programs. In the following we will summarily address some of the prominent trends related to fitness and wellness program development anticipated to take the lead in improving employee health in 2016.