What’s More Important for Weight Loss: Exercise or Diet?

Have you ever wondered about the value of exercise and diet as it relates to weight loss? Which do you think is more important, exercise or diet? If you’re looking to losing weight, both diet and exercise are critical pieces of the puzzle. Many people, though, place more focus on the diet aspect. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle then you need to consistently monitor both. Remember, you can’t manage something if you don’t measure it. Finally, if the goal is simply to build lean muscle mass, then strength training and diet are paramount. The goal in this scenario is to create a surplus of calories each day. Weight gain and ultimately adding more muscle mass can not occur if this does not happen.

National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)

One of the best research-based organizations that looks at the weight loss question is the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The NWCR is the brain-child of Rena Wing, PhD, from Brown University Medical School. The NWCR “provides information about the strategies used by successful weight loss maintainers to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss.” The NWCR is currently tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and, more importantly, have kept it off for long periods of time.

Main Outcome from NWCR

NWCR members have lost an average of 73 pounds and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. “To maintain their weight loss, members report high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/day/walking), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.”

What should help clear up this debate is the fact that only 1 percent of the NWCR database (>10,000 subjects) have been successful at keeping their weight off with exercise alone. About 10 percent of the subjects have been successful with weight loss maintenance by focusing on diet alone. More than 89 percent of the subjects have been successful because of BOTH diet and exercise modifications.

NWCR

Finally, maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the week and especially on the weekend is important no matter what the goal. Focus on eating clean, healthy foods, avoid highly processed foods and finally, watch the added sugar in everything you eat. Lastly, sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise will always be good choices when it comes to weight-loss.

Workout with Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Quality Sleep is Important But Never More Than Now

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“Sleep is the best meditation.” 

~ Dalai Lama

When you end up not getting quality sleep during the night, you typically feel “off” throughout the next day. Not only can your mood and energy level be low, your workout usually suffers too. This seems to happen when you’re clocking less than 6 hours of sleep a night on a consistent basis. In addition to that, you may also notice, you crave unhealthy foods following a sub-optimal amount of sleep the previous night.

Quality of Sleep

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What’s the Definition of Good, Quality Sleep

Sleep quality, as opposed to sleep quantity, refers to how well you sleep. It also includes falling asleep within 30-minutes or less, and sleeping through the night without having the need to get up. The one final piece you could add to the mix is when you’re awaken, for whatever reason, you’re able to fall back to sleep within 20-minutes.

The most valuable assets you have are your mind and body and they require a certain amount of sleep each night to function optimally. With that said, more than 60 percent of the population does not sleep well throughout the night. Research shows people getting less than six hours of sleep have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who sleep more than six hours. This is important because inflammation is linked to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, and premature aging. This data was published in the Centers for Disease and Control and Morbidity and Mortality Report.

The Association Between Quality Sleep and Exercise

You work hard in the gym and try to eat healthy to give yourself the best chance for success. The last thing you want to do is ruin those odds by getting minimal sleep. Research from University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin show people who slept more carried less body fat. Subjects who monitored caloric intake and averaged 5.5 hours of sleep, had more body fat compared to subjects consistently getting 8.5 hours of sleep.

Finally, the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study looked at more than 1,000 subjects regarding their sleep patterns. They found those who slept less than 8 hours a night had an increase in BMI proportional to decreased sleep.

National Sleep Foundation’s recommends 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep for adults (ages 18-64). For older adults (age 65+), they suggest 7-8 hours of sleep a night. These recommendations were updated in 2015 and published in Sleep Health: The Official Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

Final Thought on Sleep

One final comment on the importance of sleep that’s explained nicely in the book, Biological Rhythms and Exercise. “Weight-training exercises may be unaffected by partial sleep loss early on in a training session, but the performance suffers due to lack of drive and concentration as the (exercise) session continues.”

We are currently living in unprecedented times during this past year, and stress has affected us in some way or another. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to how we’re living our life. Use both regular exercise and aim for quality sleep each night to help reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stay strong with Jefit app.

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6 Helpful Tips You Need to Know About Jefit Iron Points

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The Jefit app offers members an opportunity to continually earn iron points for logging workout data, sharing items in the community and much more. Many Jefit users have said that iron points are a great motivational tool that helps them workout more consistently. One of the many great things about Jefit iron points is having the flexibility to cash them in for an upgrade to Jefit Elite.

The award-winning app has more than 9 million downloads currently on iTunes with a growing database of new users every day. Here are a few tips that spotlight the value behind Jefit iron points.

Helpful Tips About Jefit Iron Points

Jefit points are “consumable.” Did you know there are a few ways to get a free upgrade to Elite? First, each time you earn 1000 iron points, you’ll have the option to “cash in” those points for a free month of Elite. Nice! See the second way to get that upgrade to Elite further below in the article.

You have a maximum of 20 times a month where you can earn iron points for a valid workout session. The minimum length of time for a workout is currently set at 20-minutes. Note, there has been some discussion about lowering this time a bit because of shorter home workouts. We’ll keep you posted on that. Be sure to always…always…share your logs to the community. Sharing it means synchronizing the data to the web server thus earning valid points.

Here is another tip for you, the best way to maximize Jefit iron points is to consistently train and track your progress. Simple as that! Persistence definitely pays off here in the long run. Remember, train and log it. Jefit will handle the rest.

The majority of people use the Jefit app to log, plan and track strength workouts. But don’t forget about doing cardio exercise and getting iron points for your time. You can earn 20 iron points for a minimum of 20-minutes of any type of cardio. Don’t miss out!

Also, engaging in and around the Jefit community is another easy way to earn iron points. Many members like to provide tips and advice regarding their friends workouts. The good news here? You earn more iron points for doing so.

Finally, millions of members use and love the Jefit app. By simply letting your family and friends know how great the app is could lead to a savings for you. When a friend eventually becomes an active user, for two weeks or longer, you guessed it, another free month of Elite comes your way!

One Thing to Watch Out For

Avoid working out twice in a 24 hour time frame. For example, your first workout starts at 9 am and then a second at 9 pm. There’s a built-in cooling period. It also keeps someone from point “stuffing” by entering bogus workouts one after the other in order to increase iron points.

Valid Scoring For Workouts Look Like This:

Finished a valid workout session, you receive 20 points!

Complete 2 workout sessions within 4 days, 5 points.
Finished 3 workout sessions within 6 days, 5 points.
Complete 4 workout sessions within 8 days, 10 points.

Workout With Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database in your workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

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New Audio Cue Module to Be Released Soon on Jefit

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The Jefit app will soon have a new update that will improve the workout experience on their award-winning app. The new feature, called audio cue module, allows everyone to be “hands free” during a workout. The audio feature offers voice commands at the beginning, during and at the end of each set of exercises. This lets someone who uses the app to be hands free during a bodyweight interval workout, as an example. In addition, it keeps the person fully engaged in their workout. Rather than the need to continually slow things down, as would be the case, if they were always checking at their screen. In turn, creating a more challenging workout while optimizing exercise flow on the app.

The Jefit Audio Cue Module

The soon to be released Jefit audio cue module will prompt someone after they start a workout with a specific command. The experience begins with “Ready Go!” followed by “first, barbell bench press” as an example. When you’re halfway done with the set you’ll hear an audio cue letting you know just that. The same holds true for the end of each set as well. The person also has the option of turning off the audio command feature before they begin the workout. This new feature will allow a person to put the phone down while working out. Take a moment to listen to the audio cue in this Jefit Instagram post, that can be found here.

Workout with Jefit

The Jefit team looks forward to supporting members with new features like the new audio cue module. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, as well as a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, advice, and motivation, to get you closer to your fitness goals today. Stay strong with Jefit.

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Four of the Best Exercise Podcasts to Motivate You Right Now!

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Could you use a little more motivational exercise knowledge right now? The following are four of the best exercise podcasts that have dropped in October. Each of these episodes are from intelligent sources who are considered experts in their particular fields. We have featured some of the best podcasts and book updates previously on our site, in case you missed them. Enjoy these latest episodes during your next workout or when you have some time to chill.

One of the Best Exercise Podcasts – Peter Attia, MD

Episode # 134: James O’Keefe is a preventative cardiologist and bestselling author of The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle. In this episode, James discusses cardiac physiology and what makes the human heart susceptible to disease. He provides evidence for what supports his approach to exercise – elucidating both positive and negative kinds of exercise for heart health. He also discusses the role of nutrition, specific nutrients, and pharmacological interventions to support heart and brain longevity.

20-Minute Fitness – Shape

Listen to this week’s episode of 20-Minute Fitness to hear the full story about muscle recovery by the Founder of Hyperice, Anthony Katz, a recovery expert. He discusses the science behind various recovery techniques using his suite of recovery products which, full disclosure, I’ve tried and really do the trick. We have also discussed one of his products, the Hypervolt, in a previous post on Jefit that you can read here.

The Breaking Muscle Podcast

Here is the third episode that made our list of four best exercise podcasts for October 2020. This shows has Chris Barakat, MS, ATC, the founder of School of Gainz and Competitive Breed. He is also a competitive natural bodybuilder, researcher, and educator who knows his stuff. In this episode Chris and Tom talk about whether delayed onset muscle soreness is a useful indicator of effective training. Also discussed, what actually makes a good muscle building exercise, and how much variety do you need in your training. Finally, they discussed an often misunderstood topic, periodization, asking the question…is it a good muscle building tool.

Barbend Podcast

The final podcast episode is a 30-minute talk with Dr. Bo Babenko, a physical therapist and trainer. He discuss injury myths and misconceptions. Dr. Babenko has worn many hats in fitness career over the past decade: physical therapist, triathlete, CrossFit regionals competitor, and more. The conversation is geared towards what’s changed about physical therapy and recovery during Bo’s career. Also discussed, are the most common myths and misconceptions regarding injury recovery. This is one episode that can be very useful to just about anyone who strength trains.

Let us know if you “connected” with one of our best exercise podcasts for the month of October. If you know of a better podcast please let us know. Stay strong with Jefit.

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Build Strong, Powerful Shoulders With a Push Press Exercise

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Are you looking for a new exercise to add strength and size to your shoulders? A great movement that can help is the push press exercise. You may have seen someone at the gym doing it using either a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells. We love the versatility and effectiveness of this compound movement. The exercise engages both upper and lower body muscle groups. Any time you lift and hold something overhead, you get the added bonus of activating the muscles responsible for improving core strength.

Muscle Groups Used in a Push Press Exercise

The push press exercise requires full use of the legs and hips to drive the weight overhead. The upper body relies on the shoulders, chest and tricep muscles to extend the arms overhead. The muscles that make up the core are also activated during the push press, according to research published in the International Journal of Kinesiology & Sport Science. In that paper, by the way, it’s mention that the push press exercise is superior when compared to an overhead press in terms of overall muscle activation.

Muscles Involved:

  • Hips
  • Quadriceps
  • Core
  • Upper Back
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Arms

How to Execute the Push Press Exercise

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Addressing the Bar (Rack Positioning)

Take hold of an Olympic bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Try using a width similar to bench press. You can alway spread out the hands more if and when needed. An important point is the positioning of the elbows. The elbows should be as close to the bar as your body allows. What you don’t want is the forearms positioned vertically. After grasping the bar, let the elbows flare out a bit; make sure the elbows are not facing straight down as previously mentioned. Extend the neck slightly, looking upward.

The Dip

Just as it sounds, the dip is a small movement via the hips and legs. It refers to the hips dropping straight down (not back like a squat). The knees also flex slightly at this point. The cumulative effect of this is what initiates the push press movement. It should be perform using a smooth, controlled speed. The focus is on keeping the body upright and core braced.

The Drive

Here is where the push press exercise starts to come together. This is also where all your momentum will come from. Keep the chest upright. Let your hips and legs initiate the movement NOT your arms. If you feel you are “muscling it up” then you are doing the exercise wrong.

Overhead Position

When the bar is pushed upward, it should be positioned directly over the head. The arms should be extended and slightly back behind the ears. Watch the head going too far forward as the weight is driven overhead.

Exercise Variations

The push press exercise is typically performed with a barbell. But there are other ways the exercise can be done if a barbell is not available. Try the following four options:

  • Single Arm Push Press (dumbbell, kettlebell)
  • Dumbbell Push Press
  • Kettlebell Push Press
  • Behind the Neck Push Press

Workout with Jefit

Let the Jefit app help you record and track each repetition of exercises like the push press or 1400 additional exercises if you’re not into the push press exercise. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, as well as a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, advice, and wins, to get you closer to your fitness goals today.

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Try Eating This Nutritious Breakfast to Energize Your Workout

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Let’s face it, we really are what we eat. We’re all aware of how important it is to properly fuel our body for sustained energy throughout the day. A nutritious breakfast or first meal is critical to this way of thinking. Choosing healthy food options can do wonders for both our mind and body. When taken optimally, meaning, food quantity and meal timing, food fuels our brain and muscles like nothing else. No meal is more important, however, than that first meal of the day. This is your first food option in the morning or at noon if you’re into intermittent fasting (IF). How you initially fuel your body after waking, from a fasted state, will set the tone for the rest of the day.

You may have been like me in the past where you were focused on consuming food every 3-4 hours. It may have been important to eat healthy and often to build lean muscle and/or maintain blood sugar levels. As the body ages, eating habits may however change. Some people have a tendency to change eating habits, spacing their meal frequency farther apart. Not eating for longer periods of time (12+ hours) has been shown through research to be a positive change. The body uses a combination of macronutrients to fuel the brain and body (carbohydrates, fats and some protein). Not eating for longer periods of time will adjust the ratio of how the body burns carbohydrates and fats for fuel. A higher percentage of fat (instead of more carbs) will get utilized.

What Are Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients?

Macronutrients are large molecules that our bodies need to function optimally. The big three are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Water and fiber are also considered macronutrients. Conversely, micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are molecules that we need but in much smaller quantities. Both are very important and all are needed to help the human body function properly.

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The Authors Actual Breakfast this Morning (you guessed it, Oatmeal)
A Nutritious Breakfast Option

Eating eggs or egg whites in the morning may be your thing. Maybe its cold cereal or a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana. All, other than the cold cereal, are healthy, nutritious breakfast options. A combination of macronutrients in a breakfast or snack are important to fuel the body for long periods of time. One key macronutrient is fiber. Many breakfast options, like cold cereal, have minimal or no fiber. Eating fiber helps with gut health, it keeps us feeling satiated and will help reduce the sugar and fat cravings.

A healthy, nutritious breakfast option to give a try is oatmeal. Where not talking instant oat meal out of a package either. Try the type that you cook on the stove (for 5-minutes). It’s loaded with all the macronutrients including fiber. You can add things like nuts and fruit that will increase total calories but also the amount of fiber and protein. The following is a calorie breakdown of a typical bowl of oatmeal that I typically eat. Following that, are additional add-ons like fruit and nuts.

Old Fashion Oats Calorie Breakdown
Food Calories/Macronutrients
1 Cup Oatmeal150 calories/27 grams CHO/4 grams Fiber/5 grams Protein
1 Cup Almond Milk40 calories/1.5 grams CHO/3.5 g Fat/1.5 g Protein
1/2 Cup Walnuts392 calories/8 grams CHO/39 grams Fat/4 grams Fiber/9 grams of Protein
1/2 small Banana45 calories/11 grams CHO/1 gram Protein/6 grams natural sugar
1/2 Cup Blueberries41 calories/10.5 grams CHO/1.7 grams Fiber/0.54 grams Protein/7 grams natural sugar
TOTAL668 calories/58 grams CHO/9.7 grams Fiber/17 grams Protein

There is sugar in this breakfast option, yes, but its natural occurring sugar found in fruit, as opposed to added sugar. Most of the fat comes from the walnuts, this can be optional, but keep in mind it’s from healthy fat. The big takeaway is – it contains about 10 grams of healthy fiber and 17 grams of protein. Bonus, adding in a scoop of healthy peanut butter (like this morning) will bring that protein number to 24 grams. Eat healthy, fuel up for your day and workout with smart, nutritious food choices like this one. Stay strong with Jefit.

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Amazing Health Benefits of Exercise During This Unprecedented Time

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What can you do to keep you and your family safe during this extremely stressful time? We now know wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing improves our chances of staying healthy. The health benefits of exercise coupled with the above advice may be just the answer. We have been looking to put a dent in this pandemic as a CV-19 resurgence is brewing. This might be just the one two punch needed to knock this pandemic out for good.

The following is a look at just a few of the many health benefits of exercise. Many of us are sadly experiencing more stress since March 11, 2020. The cumulative effect of all this stress is obviously not healthy for the body. A recent study showed younger people are not exercising at a rate as pre-pandemic. One group, however, that is not part of this inactive group, are individuals sixty-five and older. They are finding time to exercise in record number. How about the rest of us?

Take Advantage of the Many Health Benefits of Exercise

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Exercise Improves Mood and Mental Health

During each exercise session, the body releases chemicals like endorphins and dopamine that improve our mood and make us feel more relaxed. Another chemical you may not have heard much about is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It may be the most important chemical released during exercise since it fosters long-term brain health. BDNF acts not only as a growth factor, it also promotes the formation of new connections between nerve cells. As a result, regular exercise helps you manage stress better and reduce your risk of depression.

“People suffering from depression are 2.5 times more likely to have experienced stressful life events. Exercise appears to help buffer these negative life events,” according to the authors of the book, Exercise for Mood and Anxiety.

Regular Exercise Will Improve Sleep

As I’m sure any physician or exercise expert will tell you, sleep is a critical component for mind and body restoration. With an inadequate amount of sleep, the body will eventually have issues with the recovery and building processes from that days workout. It has a lot to do with your central nervous system (CNS). When the body goes away from getting optimal amount of sleep – no matter what the reasons – the CNS does not get time to fully “recharge” or recover. Why is this even important? Because your CNS is responsible for reaction time and initiating muscle contractions and much more. As a result, the body becomes slower and will feel weaker in workouts.

Health Benefits of Exercise: Studies Demonstrate if You “Do It” You Live Longer

Author Dan Beuttner of the Blue Zones has spent most of his career studying populations that live longer. The different “blue zones” that he studies are areas from around the world where people were 3 times more likely to reach 100 years old who followed a series of strategies. Two of the more important were the types of food someone ate on a regular basis and daily activity.

Walking more is associated with longer life. Adults who walked 8,000 steps per day had a 51 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, compared to those who walked 4,000 steps a day as reported by researchers in a JAMA study. Not into walking but you like to run? A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported any amount of running, even once a week, was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Regular Strength Training Keeps You Healthy

One of the first things you think of when strength training comes to mind is muscle. When done correctly, strength training builds additional muscle mass. This in turn keeps someone healthier and more functional, especially as they age. The health benefits of exercise – especially strength training – include increased bone strength as well. Remember, that tendons connect muscle to bone. As we lift weights, the resistance creates a “pulling” effect on the tendon that consequently pulls on the bones making them stronger over time.

Data from a 2017 study looking at more than 28,000 women from the Women’s Health Study showed “a moderate amount (≈1–145 minutes/week) of strength training was associated with lower risk of all‐cause mortality compared with 0 minutes/week, independent of aerobic activity.” In a second systematic review study of 1430 studies, showed resistance training was associated with a 21 percent lower all-cause mortality and that number more than doubles when aerobic exercise is added. According to the authors, “resistance training is associated with lower mortality and appears to have an additive effect when combined with aerobic exercise.”

There probably has not been a more important time to either start or maintain your exercise routine. The benefit of reducing stress alone should be enough to make you exercise most days of the week. Try using the Jefit app to help make your life a bit easier as well. The award-winning app will help you plan, record and track your strength training sessions. Stay strong especially during these stressful times!

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Regarding Different Therapies, Could Myofascial Release be the Best?

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What type of body therapy would you consider the most beneficial? Your therapy options are massage, myofascial release, acupuncture, sensory deprivation (i.e. float tank), cryotherapy, vibration, or hydrotherapy. With that said, I received one of the best myyofascial release (MFR) therapy sessions the other night after work. Maybe it was because my body really needed it; or the fact it had been more than eight months since my last visit due to the pandemic.

EveryBODY recovers differently from training depending on factors such as age, stress, nutrition, sleep and of course training volume.

Having tried all of the aforementioned therapies, myofascial release seems to get to the root cause better than other options. Most therapies are good for treating symptoms, not helping with the issue at hand. Meaning, you need to determine what’s causing the pain in the first place. As with other types of body work, like massage therapy, it comes down to the therapists experience and technique. The same holds true for myofascial release therapy. My therapist, who I’ve used for a few years now, also happens to be a physical therapist. She has also trained under the “Godfather” of myofascial release therapy, John Barnes who is a physical therapist as well.

What is Myofascial Release Therapy?

Researchers Levin and Martin have stated, “fascia is the fabric of the body…fascia is a tension network.” All the other tissues in our body, like muscle, bone and brain, are actually embroidered into the fascial fabric.

“Myofascial release is a safe and effective treatment to address restrictions in connective tissue. Myofascial release helps to reduce pain, restore motion, decrease tightness and improve overall functional mobility.”

Kendellynn Cavanaugh, MSPT

MFR is a safe hands-on technique that involves a sustained pressure applied to myofascial connective tissue restrictions. The goal is to eliminate pain and restore motion. A therapist will actually apply different levels of pressure as they “stretch” the skin in multiple directions. There are three type of connective tissue. Ligaments connect bone to bone, tendons connect muscle to bone and then there is fascia. It’s a watery web-like system that covers your entire body, literally from head to toe. Fascia is a type of connective tissue that is composed into three layers: the superficial layer, a layer of potential space, and a deep layer. Fascia is believed to be one continuous piece of tissue that works in connected “chains” to create a floating compression in the body.

What Types of Issues Does Myofascial Release Treat?

Myofascial release technique can be used to treat a host of issues, the following is just a small selection.

  • Chronic pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Headaches
  • Low back issues (like disc pain)
  • Jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Scoliosis
  • Pelvic floor pain

The Bottom Line on MFR and Other Therapies

Do you really need regular body work or can you take care of it yourself through a basic recovery process? In theory, it’s easy to say I’m going to take time out of my day or before my workout and address any functional issues. But in reality, it does not happen most of the time. Of course, there are some exceptions. Tools are available to use like foam rollers, vibration guns, yoga, and mobility work, to name a few, and they will definitely help. As you age, though, the body just does not move the same way as it does when it’s young.

Therapies, especially MFR, can help restore the body to its original self. It can keep you moving optimally, the way you were meant to move. In doing so, the body will not “breakdown” as often, keeping injuries at bay. It’s only a matter of time before an injury shows itself, if muscle and connective tissue restrictions are constantly present. MFR is the perfect tool to alleviate these issues, getting the body functioning the way it was meant to…no matter what your age. Stay Strong with Jefit.

Reference

Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body. Scheip, R. et al. Churchill Livingstone, 2012.

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4 Podcasts & Books for Better Mental and Physical Health

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What was the first podcast you ever listened to? Now think about your mental and physical health over the past few months. We undoubtedly could all benefit from a little motivational boost as we near the end of this long, arduous year? Give yourself a wonderful present before the Holiday season arrives. Download these uplifting podcasts and audiobooks. Listen to them as you exercise. If you’re someone who likes to listen to music when you exercise – like me – then try plugging into a podcast or audiobook during the first half of your walk or run. Use the second half of the workout to listen to music, when you may need it to get through it.

Get Motivated Through Audio Episodes

We know that taking care of our body pays back strong dividends. Taking care of ourselves physically ends up improving our mental health as well. Listening to a good, informative podcast or audio book will do wonders for clearing your head from of the stress of the day. The following audio sessions will do that and more.

10% Happier Podcast

This is a wonderful podcast with great content that will elevate mood and mental health as you listen. I have recommended it to many family and friends. We have talked about this particular podcast previously, found here. An informative podcast from former ABC News Anchor Dan Harris. After leaving his news job he started the Boston-based company 10% Happier. I read his meditation book (that was also great) and you’ll end up loving his podcast too. This is one podcast that will help set your mind right, improving your mental and physical health along the way. Podcast #286 in particular, with Dr. Mark Hyman titled “Feeding the Mind” was a great episode that I really enjoyed and you probably will too.

All in the Mind

This podcast explores the limits of the human mind. We have so much untapped potential upstairs in our brains where it has been said we utilize only 10 percent of our brain capacity. That is a myth by the way. One study reported 65 percent of Americans believe it’s true though. Activities like meditation and exercise will help in this area, no matter what the real number is. Here is a testimonial from a listener “Love this podcast. This podcast is the best thing I have ever listened to.” This recent episode explores how to Stay Mentally Healthy.

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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

This audiobook explores the mental and physical health connection. It’s a groundbreaking and fascinating look at the life changing effects that exercise has on the brain. From the bestselling author and psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD. Spark is one of the first books to explore the deep connection between exercise and the brain. “It will change forever the way you think about your morning run – or, for that matter, simply the way you think.”

Peak Performance

The first audiobook of its kind. “Peak Performance combines inspiring stories of top performers across a range of capabilities – from athletic, to intellectual, to artistic – with the latest scientific insights into the cognitive and neurochemical factors that drive performance in all domains.” I read the book but wished I got the audio book. Very insightful, and highly researched information on how to get more out of your performance on all fronts. Brad Stulberg, is a former consultant for McKinsey and Company and a journalist who covers health and human performance. Steve Magness, is a performance scientist and has coached many Olympic athletes. This won a 2018 Audie Award for Best Business & Personal Development Audiobook.

These four audio options, via two podcasts and two audiobooks, will change the way you think about how the brain & body interact. You’ll find out the true benefits of mental and physical health and why they are so important. If you’re looking to take your knowledge and training to the next level, these podcasts and audio books will equip you with the right tools to do that. Stay Strong with Jefit.

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Quick Tests To Gauge Mobility, Strength, Anaerobic Capacity and More

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When was the last time you tested yourself to determine your overall fitness level? Have you ever even been tested? If you worked with a coach or personal trainer in the past then most likely you’ve been tested. Or let’s just say you should have been. Periodic quick tests like the following three, can be used as a motivational tool, to help break through plateaus, and to help determine what you’re doing in the gym is actually working. Most importantly though, your program design should be based off the results of your testing. How can you manage something if you never measure it?

There are many different types of fitness tests available to help gauge where you’re at. Most people spend their time testing their strength using exercise like bench press for maximum repetitions. The following three tests work because they are safe, effective and offer insight into more than one area of your body.

Quick Tests: One-Minute Peak Power Test and 500 Meter Row

The great thing about a rowing machine is its versatility when it comes to testing. This is especially true with a Concept 2 erg or a SkillRow from Technogym. Again, there are many test you can perform. Remember, we want it to be fast and easy to do. The idea behind this test is to provide an objective assessment of your peak power output in a 60-second, all-sprint. The test will also lend insight into your ability to sustain power anaerobically. Do not pace yourself in this test, simply go all out with each stroke.

Other personal favorite quick tests are row for time. More specifically, performing 100 and 500 meter sprints. I believe the world record for the 100 meter row was 12.8 seconds and 500 meter is 1:24 performed by a female and 1:14 by a male. Most people typically do it in about 2-minutes. My personal best 500 meter row time is 1:36.8 to give you a range to shoot for. Hitting 1:30 would be great not to mention a good goal. Rowing is one of the best workouts you can do. Known as a complete workout that involves about 85 percent of your muscle mass. Other than being performed seated, it’s great. Of course the best known event is a 2k meter row in which a 7-8 minute recorded time is considered respectable. Happy rowing!

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The Complete Exercise: Turkish Get-Up

All you need for this one is one kettlebell. This is all about strength and mobility. The exercise requires several movements that need to be executed while under load. Try it initially without weight, then use a light weight before progressing to a heavier load if able. It’s an advanced, full-body strength movement. The Turkish Get-Up is performed laying on the ground while holding a weight straight over your head, you stand up, and then you reverse that entire movement until you’re back on the ground where you started. Sounds easy I know but that’s far from the truth. History has it that ancient Turkish soldiers used the get-up as part of their strength training regime.

Coach Bret Contreras has reported using electromyography (EMG) and determined that a 50-pound Turkish Get-Up was enough to cause over 100 percent peak activation of the core muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the spinal erectors). Sounds impressive enough to me. It’s called a complete exercise because it involves: rolling, a lunge pattern, an overhead hold, multiple hip hinges, glute activation, core engagement, and shoulder work, specifically, rotator cuff stabilization. Coach Todd Cambio offers a great explanation of the exercise sequence. This ain’t a bicep curl.

The test would be to first determine if you can do the movement with good form without weight. One repetition on each side. My advice would be to start using this movement as part of your dynamic warm-up. Then eventually see what you can handle for a load. If you’re a beginner with limited exercise or strength training experience….skip this test for now. Use bodyweight only if you do decide to go for it.

Bodyweight Deep Squat

If you are having trouble with a Squat or Deadlift, try experimenting with this bodyweight deep squat. It’s another one of those great quick tests that offers a great deal of information. Such as, where your ankle mobility stands. Many people who have trouble getting low when doing a barbell squat may have limited ankle mobility, specifically, ankle dorsiflexion. This test can help improve that exercise and many others. Your best option is add this deep squat into your dynamic warm-up like the Turkish Get-Up.

When trying this test, lower into the squat slowly dropping hips back while keeping chest up. When you begin your ascent, think about using three points of contact. As you extend the knees and hips, drive through the feet placing equal pressure on the heel, big toe and pinky toe. Don’t force anything. The goal is to see if you can get the hips lower than the knees.

Periodic self-testing will help in many ways as discussed above. In addition, finding out if positive changes are taking place in other areas of the body is also important. Changes like increases in strength and anaerobic capacity and an improvement in mobility. Improvements in these areas will translate into a better overall experience at the gym. Stay Strong!

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Five Helpful Features Found on the Apple Watch

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Do you currently wear a smartwatch? I have worn multiple versions of Fitbit before switching over to an Apple Watch recently. Those different watches have covered a span of 12-years. Collecting and tracking data on my Fitbit was fun and motivational. Even more so after seeing my dashboard numbers surpass 20 million steps and 40,000 flights of stairs climbed during part of that time.

During the past month, however, I decided to switch over to an Apple Watch because of their platform and ecosystem. The design and innovation of Apple Watch 5 series compared to what I was wearing was comparable to getting called up to the big leagues from Triple A. Now you have Apple Watch 6 series with even more features like an altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, sleep tracking, HRV, and new workout feature.

Here is a quick look at just a few of the many cool features on the Apple Watch 5 Series (and HRV on Series 6).

Apple Watch Activity Tracker

One of the best features on the Apple Watch is the activity tracker feature. This, depending on your choice of watch faces, can be front and center on the watch. There are three activity rings that one tries to close each day: MOVE, EXERCISE & STAND.

Move is as you would expect, any movement is recorded such as daily steps and stairs. In Moves you have a daily calorie goal that you try to pass. Next, is Exercise where you set a daily exercise time like 30 or 60 minutes as examples. The third and final ring is Stand. There are message pop-ups to remind you to get up and stand more throughout your day. The idea is to stand for a portion of each hour during a 12-hour day. Throughout the day you see more of the ring fill with a specific color (red/green/blue) as you move, exercise and stand more throughout your day.

This can get potentially downloaded to Apple Health which if you’re a data geek like me – you enjoy recording, tracking and analyzing your exercise data. After 180 days of wearing the Apple Watch, a “Trends” feature goes live with additional insight in each of those three areas, move, exercise and stand.

The Apple Watch VO2 Max Feature

A second informative feature is the ability to obtain an estimated maximal oxygen uptake. Know in the science world as simply VO2 max. This is the maximal amount of oxygen a person can uptake and utilize per minute of intense exercise. It’s measured in ml/kg/min. and here are the average values for VO2 max. Keep in mind world class cross-country skiers have topped 95 ml/kg/min.


An average sedentary male about – 35 to 40 ml/kg/min
An average sedentary female about – 27 to 30 ml/kg/min


There is also a formula for you to calculate your VO2 max number manually using 15 x Max. HR / Resting HR = VO2 max. In my case, 15 x 165 / 52 = 47.5 ml/kg/min., and when my Apple Watch tested me the first time it came out to 47, so pretty close. It is well-known in the sports and fitness world that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will elicit the best results when someone is trying to increase VO2 max levels.

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Ability to Record & Track HRV: Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate variability (HRV) is basically the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. The greater the HRV, the more ready the body is to perform and the nervous system is considered “balanced.” The system responsible for this is the autonomic nervous system. HRV should not be confused with heart rate. They are different. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute while HRV is the number of milliseconds in between beats. It is a good overall indicator of health and well-being. Things like stress, lack of recovery between workouts and inadequate amount of sleep will affect HRV. HRV can also be used to predict if someone has a predisposition to a potential heart attack. According to the training and recovery product, Whoop, “the middle 50 percent of 20-25 year olds usually have an average HRV in the 55-105 range, while 60-65 year olds tend to be between 25-45.”

Apps Now Accessible Right From Your Wrist

Personally, to have access to a particular workout app, such as the Jefit app, now available on my wrist, lets me put down the phone for workouts. Not worrying about keeping track of where my phone is during workouts is great. The Apple Watch 5 Series model features 32GB of internal storage for music, apps, and other content. The different features mentioned in this article are just a small sample size found on the Apple Watch. There are also items like a just breath pop-up that has you relax and focus on your breath for a short period to check your heart rate. Having this type innovative technology on your wrist will only increase the chances of building healthy habits. In addition, it should also help people increase their activity level as they work towards achieving their exercise goals. Stay Strong!

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