5 Tips for Fitness Beginners

Runner athlete legs running on stairs. woman fitness jogging workout wellness concept.

By: George & Jamie Hess of @NYCfitfam

Summer is here, and headlines everywhere are screaming at us to be prepared.

“Summer Slim Down!,” they shout.

“Get Beach Body Ready!,” they command.

“Learn How to Pick Your Most Flattering Bikini,” they instruct, assuming you feel anywhere near comfortable enough to don a two-piece.

It’s an easy time to feel overwhelmed, especially if you’re an exercise beginner. It’s also easy to feel frustrated by the washboard abs we see all over social media, leading to a feeling of defeat before you’ve even begun.

Fitness should be about how you feel from the inside out. Beauty is about how you show up in the world, and when you feel good, you look beautiful. Summer is the perfect time to start a fitness routine as a beginner because it’s lovely outside, but most beginners need some guidance and motivation to take that first step.

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In the News: Fried Potatoes Linked to Mortality, EpiPen Rival Gets FDA Approval, Marijuana May Treat Period Pain

Fried potatoes may increase risk of death. French fry lovers may have cause for concern: a recent study has found that eating fried potatoes two or more times weekly can double the likelihood of early death, compared with people who don’t consume fried potatoes on a regular basis. On the other hand, potatoes that are not fried during preparation seem to have no bearing on early mortality. With fried potato consumption increasing annually, scientists have been looking for the cause of this alarming link. It appears that trans fats are to blame, as this type of fat raises the bad type of cholesterol, also known as “LDL” in the blood. When LDL levels get too high, it can lead to heart disease, which explains the increased risk of death. Other factors in play include being obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and consuming too much sodium. Need to lower your cholesterol? Add these foods to your shopping cart. (CNN)

Epipen’s cheaper rival gets FDA approval. Mylan, the company responsible for EpiPens, the emergency medication for allergy sufferers, recently came under fire for charging outlandish amounts of money for this life-saving product. While this medication was once $94 back in 2007, after Mylan acquired it, the price shot up to $608 dollars in 2016. These syringes require annual replacement, which only lends itself to more financial burdens. Luckily, a San Diego company called Adamis has come up with a competing product that is more affordable, easier to use, and more convenient to carry around. While they are still looking for distributors which will determine the price, it is expected to be more affordable which is an exciting development for allergy-sufferers across the country. Could you have an allergy without knowing it? Watch this clip to find out. (ABC)

Marijuana may treat period pain. According to recent reports, New York legislators are set to approve marijuana for the treatment of menstrual pain. Period cramps, which are caused by prostaglandins that cause muscle cramps can be treated by oral contraceptives and anti-inflammatory medication, but more and more people are beginning to look for natural alternatives to treat their suffering. In Colorado and California, marijuana tampons have been found to be potentially effective in reducing pain, by blocking the nerves that alert your brain to pain. While it’s not fully clear yet if marijuana will be an effective treatment for cramps, it’s an exciting development nonetheless. Suffering from cramps? Find out what your period reveals about your health. (GUARDIAN)

In the News: Interesting Vegetable Names Make Them More Appealing, One in Ten People Obese Worldwide, Drug Can Create a Tan Without the Sun

Interesting vegetable names make them more appealing. It turns out that the key to getting people to eat their vegetables has more to do with the marketing than the vegetable itself. Stanford University researchers discovered that students were consuming more vegetables in the cafeteria when the names were given an upgrade. The experiment, which lasted throughout the fall semester, involved tracking how many of the 600 diners chose a given vegetable dish. The vegetables were given four different labels: Basic (simply naming the vegetable), Healthy Restrictive (vegetable with sugar-free dressing), Healthy Positive (vitamin C packed vegetable), and Indulgent (citrus-glazed twisted vegetable). As it turns out, 25% more students chose the vegetable with the indulgent name versus the basic one, 41% more people chose the healthy restrictive ones, and 35% more people chose the healthy positive labels. Want to add more vegetables to your diet? Start with these. (BBC)

One in ten people on Earth is obese.  According to a report out of the New England Journal of Medicine, one in 10 people across the globe were labeled obese in 2015, which amounts to 604 million adults and 108 million children. The country with the highest rate of child obesity was the United States coming in at 12.7%, while the country with the highest rate of obese adults was in Egypt at 35.3%. When analyzing these numbers, many point to a change in employment as an explanation. Many countries have switched from physical labor to more sedentary office jobs. Obesity accounted for four million deaths around the world, 70% of which were linked to heart disease. Even scarier, 39% of deaths were from individuals who were overweight, not obese. Want to lose weight? Try the 21-Day Weight Loss Breakthrough diet. (CBS)

Drug that creates a tan may prevent cancer. Love having a sun-kissed look but hate exposing yourself to dangerous rays? It looks like science is now on your side. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital  have found that a drug can fool the skin into producing melanin, even working on redheads, who typically only get sunburnt. When the drug is rubbed on the skin it causes the skin to darken, the way it would normally when exposed to the sun. When examined up close, scientists found that the melanin production was genuine, which is an exciting development in the world of sunless tanning. While many rely on spray tans, airbrush tans, and tan towels to achieve a summer glow, these services have also come into question, thanks to the potentially harmful ingredients inside them. While further research will be required to determine that there are no harmful side-effects, so far this drug is showing a lot of promise. Want to learn how to make your skin look its best? Try this seven second skin care routine. (BBC)

In the News: New Exercise Pill Won’t Replace Gym Time, Social Interaction Critical for Overall Health, Diet May Be Linked to Depression

New exercise pill won’t replace gym time. A drug known as GW501516 has been getting a lot of attention lately, with articles stating that this exercise pill might eliminate the need for the gym. However, this drug was never intended to be a substitute for healthy lifestyle choices, but rather to supplement exercise instead. Often referred to as “Endurobol”, many marketing companies may still try to convince consumers that this magic pill can help them achieve all their weight loss and fitness goals but it is simply not the case. Researchers are currently looking at the effect of this drug on animals before they move on to testing on humans, though that won’t be happening for some time. Want to start a exercise routine? Get all your fitness info here. (ABC)

Social interaction critical for overall health. While we all know that socializing and maintaining friendships is an important part of the human experience, it turns out scientific studies have spent decades proving this very same truth. Social interaction is not just linked to improved mental health, but is linked to longevity too. In a study of 7,000 participants which began in 1965, researchers found that those who were disconnected from society were three times more likely to pass away than the participants with strong connections. As it turns out, the key to living a long and healthy life may have more to it than simply exercising and eating your fruits and vegetables.  (NYT)

Diet may be linked to depression. Recent findings suggest that roughly 300 million people around the world are suffering from depression. While factors like finances, relationships, and work can lead to depression, experts are now taking a closer look at the influence of diet as well. Researchers at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia conducted a 12-week study where they observed 67 individuals with varying degrees of depression. One group was given social support and one group was given dietary guidance, with an emphasis on the Mediterranean diet. The findings were remarkable: 30% of the patients given diet guidelines saw improvement in their symptoms, as opposed to only 8% of the group that only received social support. Want to learn how to eat the Mediterranean way? Check out this shopping list (FOX)

In the News: iPhone Will Soon Block Texts for Drivers, Staying Up Late on Weekends May Be Harmful, Dancing Is Good for the Brain

iPhone will soon block texts for drivers. If you are one of so many people who are guilty of checking their texts while driving, this habit may soon become a thing of the past. As part of iOS 11, Apple will release a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature. When your car is moving or your phone is plugged in via cable or connected via Bluetooth, text messages and other updates will be blocked and your phone screen will be locked. If someone reaches out to you while you’re on the road, the phone can send an automated message to let them know you’re driving and can’t get back to them at the moment. With so many fatalities taking place due to distracted drivers, this new feature should greatly improve the safety of everyone on the road.  (CNN)

Staying up late on weekends may be harmful. For so many of us, the weekend is the time to catch up on socializing and postpone our usual bedtimes. This tendency to stay up late and wake up later than usual is known as “social jet lag”, and researchers have found that it may negatively impact our health. A new study, conducted by Michael A. Grandner, PH.D., director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, found that social jet lag was linked to bad mood, fatigue, sleepiness, and overall worsening health. Most alarmingly, researchers found that with each passing hour, there was an 11.1% increased chance of heart disease. Want to improve your sleep routine? Try these five simple steps. (MN)

Dancing is good for the brain. We already know that dancing is a great form of exercise, but it turns out the benefits extend far beyond just the physical. Research has shown that dancing can improve memory in adults ranging from 60-80 years old, provide a mental escape where the brain can power down and relax, improve cognitive flexibility (something that normally declines with age), increase balance and coordination skills, and even promote creativity as well. Want to find out how to dance off the pounds? Watch this video. (CNN)

In the News: Babies Sleep Longer Independently, Treadmill Workouts Not as Effective as Running Outdoors, Pets Boost Health in Six Ways

Babies sleep longer independently. A new study that took 230 first-time mothers’ accounts into consideration, has found that babies sleep better when they’re in their own rooms, and sleep for shorter periods when sharing a room with their parents.  At four months in particular, babies who slept by themselves had around 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep, and at nine months, they slept 40 minutes more during the night and around 20 minutes more throughout the whole day. By 12 months these differences were less noticeable but when researchers revisited these children at 2 1/2 years of age, they found that the ones who were independently sleeping at nine months were now sleeping 45 minutes more every night. Dealing with a fussy little one at home? Here is the best way to hold a crying baby. (CNN)

Treadmill workouts not as effective as running outside. While using a treadmill offers so much convenience and ease, studies have found that it may not be as effective as running outdoors. French and Italian researchers studied 15 males in their early 20s who did interval training on the treadmill and the track and they found that the track group exerted themselves more and that the treadmill group would have to run 15% harder to match the track runners. Wondering why this is the case? The team suggests that the treadmill belt actually gives users a boost in energy and they don’t have the same assist when running on natural terrain.  Ready to jump back into a workout routine? Give these exercises a try. (MH)

Pets boost health in six ways. It’s no surprise that pets are a great addition to any home, but it turns out there are actually six key reasons why. Studies have shown that pet owners have a lowered risk of allergies (since exposure to animals can build up a tolerance), reduced anxiety and stress, better heart health (thanks to lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels), stronger relationships and social skills, improved mental health, and even better sleep quality (due to the relaxation, security, and comfort of sharing a bed with your pet). Recently brought home a pet? Here is what you need to know about their food. (MN)

In the News: Chocolate May Benefit the Heart, Five Reasons Your Sunburn is Getting Worse, Thirdhand Smoke Harmful to Health

Chocolate may be good for the heart. Chocolate lovers rejoice! A Danish study has discovered that chocolate consumption may reduce the likelihood of an irregular heartbeat, which can often lead to stroke, heart failure, and other serious conditions. The study, which explored the eating habits and health of 55,502 participants between 50-64 years of age, found that those who ate just one to three one-ounce servings monthly had a 10% lowered risk of an irregular heartbeat. The participants who ate chocolate once a week had a 17% lowered risk and the ones who ate two to six servings weekly had a 20% lowered risk. Before you run out and buy a stack of Hershey bars, remember: dark chocolate with the highest cocoa content is the most beneficial, so look for that component above ingredients like milk and sugar. While these findings are very exciting, it’s important to still practice moderation to avoid weight gain and other issues. Want to try some healthy and guilt-free chocolate recipes? Check these out. (NYT)

Five reasons your sunburn is getting worse. While you may think that applying sunscreen incorrectly is the main source of worsening sunburns, it turns out there are five other reasons to blame. Research has shown that citrus juice can thin your skin (thanks to the acid) and make you more likely to burn, spraying perfume or cologne may cause sun blisters (particularly if they are made with bergamot oil), certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and acne meds can make you more sensitive to the sun as well, not drinking enough water, and taking hot showers can all make your sunburn more intense, painful, and longer lasting. Want to avoid sunburns all summer long? Check out this simple guide to buying sunscreen. (MH)

Thirdhand smoke is also harmful to health. We’ve all heard of secondhand smoke before but did you know that thirdhand smoke exists as well? Known as the smoke that seeps into drapes, carpeting, bedspreads, tiles, and more, thirdhand smoke may be harmful to our health too. In an experiment conducted on mice, researchers found that newborn and adult mice exposed to thirdhand smoke had noticeable changes in blood cell counts tied to their immunity, which leads to allergic reactions and inflammatory conditions. It appears that the young mice were more affected than others, which may be because their immune systems are not fully developed yet. Scientists believe that these results have a human application, which is why it is so important to avoid not just secondhand smoke but thirdhand as well. If you or someone you know is ready to quit smoking, take a look at this fact sheet to learn more. (USA)