It's Never Too Late to Begin Exercising!

Researchers and healthcare providers have long long been preaching the positive health benefits of physical activity.  Recently, overwhelming research has supported the benefits of being physically active even later in life.  Researchers have found that exercising regularly reduces the risk of death, even when started in middle age (age 40-61). They found that leisure time physical activity (LTPA) is associated with reduced risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality, and cancer mortality.

They found that 2-7 hours per week of LTPA is associated with several health benefits consisted of reduced risk of all-cause mortality (29-36%), reduced risk for CVD-related mortality (32-43%), and reduced risk for cancer mortality (14-16%). Further, they found that these results were similar to those who maintained high LTPA from adolescence.

Further research has found the association between physical activity in older adults and decreased risk of chronic disease and death. Older women (age 63 and older) who engage in light physical activity (LPA) may have a lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Light physical activity includes activities such as gardening and folding clothes. Those with the highest LPA saw a 42% reduction in coronary death and 22% reduction in CVD events.

These results demonstrate that it is never too late for adults to become active. The research supports that there are substantial benefits that can still be gained by improving physical activity habits later in life. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to exercise and goal setting. Additionally, we can assist in providing support for adhering to a physical activity habits and decreasing the risk of mortality.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources:  Even Later-Life Exercise Reduces Mortality. Janis C. Kelly – Medscape – March 8, 2019.; Saint-Maurice, P., Coughlan, D., & Kelly, S., et al. (2019). Association of leisure-time physical activity across the adult life course with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Network Open, 2(3).; Light Activity Lowers CVD Risk in Older Women. Nora MacReady – Medscape – March 19, 2019. Photo by sk on Unsplash

What's the Difference Between Physical Activity and Exercise?

It’s easy to get confused when you hear people say that you should get 30 minutes of exercise a day. Does that mean that every time you walk to and from places in the house it adds up to count as your 30 minutes? Or does the 30 minutes have to all occur at one time? Let’s break it down and talk about the difference between exercise and physical activity.

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. For example, walking back and forth from the kitchen, walking into work from your car, climbing stairs, and even carrying groceries are all considered physical activity. You can also think of physical activity as movement needed for activities of daily living.

Next let’s talk about exercise. Exercise is defined as planned, structured, and repetitive physical activity done to improve and/or maintain physical fitness. For example, going to the gym to walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill or lifting weights, swimming, etc. are all considered exercise.

The next question is, “Do I have to do all 30 minutes at once?” and the answer is no. Even 10-minute bouts of planned exercise can add up to be your 30 minutes. Now that you understand what exercise is, we at the HLC challenge you to get 30 minutes of exercise per day. You’ll be amazed at how it will make you feel. If you need some help on what types of exercises you should be doing, call and schedule an appointment with us.

 By Kerygan LaVine

Sources: American College of Sports Medicine, In Riebe, D., In Ehrman, J. K., In Liguori, G., & In Magal, M. (2018). ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash

Looking to Lose Weight? That's Pretty NEAT

The percentage of energy expended above rest for various activities.

The percentage of energy expended above rest for various activities.

Many Americans often have the goal to lose weight but may struggle when they are not seeing the results they want. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is an important consideration when the goal is to increase physical activity and lose weight. NEAT is defined as the energy we spend doing everything that is NOT sleeping, eating, or sport-like exercise. This might include walking to and from your desk at work, vacuuming the house, or even grocery shopping. NEAT is important for the maintenance of body weight and is specifically critical for gaining or losing weight. While purposeful dieting and exercise are important, NEAT can be used to help burn additional calories.

So how exactly can NEAT be used to lose weight? For starters, it is important to note that 1 pound of body fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. In other words, in order to lose a pound of fat, we would need to see a deficiency of 3500 calories to our overall expenditure. Increasing our NEAT by 200 calories per day (equal to walking 2 miles) and decreasing our calorie intake by 300 calories per day (equal to 12oz. soda or small bag of chips) will provide us with a daily deficit of 500 calories per day. If this is done over the course of a week, or 7 days, we will end with a deficit of 3500 calories, or 1 pound of fat lost for the week!

Increasing your NEAT can be a creative process for losing weight. Below are a few examples of NEAT:

-Parking farther away from the grocery store or work. This provides an opportunity to get a few extra steps.

-When the opportunity is there, take the stairs! Taking the stairs burns 7 times more energy than taking the elevator.

-Standing versus sitting. Try standing during tv commercials. Over the course of a 60 minute TV show, that is about 15 minutes that you could be burning more calories by standing.

-Have a pedometer? Aim to get 10,000 steps in a day.

-Sitting on a stability ball. The constant action and bouncing burns more energy than sitting and also works on building muscles in your core.

The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, and goal setting. Additionally, we can provide support for increasing your NEAT, losing weight, and adhering to living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: 6 Things to Know About Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Pete McCall – American Council on Exercise – November 21, 2017.; Levine, J. (2002). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology, 16(4), 679-702.; 6 Reasons to Take the Stairs. Yasmine Ali – VerywellHealth– September 10, 2016.; Levine, J., Vander Weg, M., Hill, J., & Klesges, R. (2006). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis: The crouching tiger hidden dragon of societal weight gain. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 26, 729-736.

Increasing Physical Activity for Those with Type 2 Diabetes

Individuals with type 2 diabetes spend a lot of their time sitting and typically do not meet the recommendations for physical activity. Additionally, research has found that they often struggle with sustaining physical activity over time. Recently, researchers highlighted the importance of increasing physical activity and noted that receiving behavioral counseling specialized to exercise can make a significant difference. They found that those who received regular counseling from an exercise specialist improved their health habits. The counseling centered around teaching individuals how to move more and sit less. Compared to those who only received advice from a physician once a year, these individuals saw improved health outcomes.

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 4.00.35 PM.png

Research has continued to support the finding that prolonged sitting time can have a negative effect on our health and increase the risk of mortality. These findings suggest that starting small and reducing sedentary time can be an effective way of incorporating physical activity. The exercise specialists in the study worked to promote physical activity in two steps. First, they worked on decreasing sedentary time by substituting it with a wide range of light-intensity physical activity. Second, they incorporated more purposeful moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. Over the course of three years, they were able to increase their weekly physical activity, engage in more physical activity per day, and spend less time sedentary per day.

The results of the current study can have important implications for those with type 2 diabetes. They suggest that it can be difficult to increase physical activity on your own, with only the recommendation of a physician. Those who were most successful at increasing their physical activity and improving their health engaged in regular meetings with an exercise specialist. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing an exercise specialist who is willing to meet with you to help increase physical activity and reduce sedentary time. Additionally, we can help by providing support for adhering to living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: ‘Move More, Sit Less’ Counseling Can Change Habits in Diabetes. Marlene Busko– Medscape– March 5, 2019.; Balducci, S., D’Errico, V., Haxhi, J., et al. (2019).  Effect of a behavioral intervention strategy on sustained change in physical activity and sedentary behavior in patients with type 2 diabetes.  Journal of American Medical Association, 321(9), 880-890.

Physical Activity as a "Prescription" for Type 2 Diabetes with Cardiovascular Disease

Most individuals with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are not physically active. However, researchers have recently found that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of death for people with these co-morbidities. Clinicians explained that having type 2 diabetes can double the risk of premature death. They have found, however, that individuals who are more fit can see a reduced risk for the chances of premature death. In fact, the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EPAC) actually recommends exercise or physical activity as a “prescription” for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This recommendation comes with the goal of reducing premature death.


Using exercise as a prescription for treating type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be an effective way of increasing your life expectancy. Clinicians outline that exercise training should be included in the treatment plan for those with both diagnoses. The benefits of adding physical activity and exercise to your lifestyle include improved glucose control, blood pressure, lipid status, and body composition. Additionally, they emphasize that because these individuals are at an increased risk for premature death, they need more than just medication. A personalized exercise plan can help improve overall health.

Before beginning exercise, it is important to assess for co-morbidities, exercise risks, and personal preferences. It is recommended that individuals start at a low intensity, such as walking. Clinicians explain that the goal of increasing physical fitness is to improve glucose regulation for those with type 2 diabetes. The emphasis is not just on weight loss but also improved outcomes for the disease. An important piece of adding exercise to your treatment plan is to monitor your motivation for long-term adherence. Adding physical activity can not only help with the treatment of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but can also improve your overall health and reduce the risk of premature death. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to exercise and goal-setting. Further, we can assist with providing support for maintaining adherence and decreasing the risk of mortality.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Kemps, H., et al. (2019). Exercise training for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What to pursue and how to do it. A position paper of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC). European Journal of Preventive Cardiology;New Paper: How to Get Patients with Diabetes/CVD Moving. Marlene Busko,Medscape, January 22, 2019; MetkusJr., T., Baughman, K., & Thompson, P. (2010). Exercise prescription and primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 121(23), 2601-2604