How to Strengthen Your Upper and Lower Back

How to Strengthen Your Upper and Lower Back

Core strength is a hot topic these days. But what about upper and lower back strength?

Why Back Strength Matters

You use your back for everyday movements, like picking something up off of the ground or pushing and pulling a vacuum. Your back muscles support your spine, and a weak back can lead to muscle imbalances and injury.

Your back is made up of three different muscle groups: the superficial layer, intermediate layer, and deep layer. With many back muscles layering on top of one another, it’s important to focus your workouts on each part of your back to ensure you are strengthening your back as a whole.

Here are some great exercises for strengthening your upper and lower back:

Upper/Mid-Back Exercises

Seated Back Row
Find a low pulley row machine with either a V-bar or rope. Sit down with your knees bent, feet on the front resting platform, and back straight. Make sure you are comfortable. Pull the bar or rope towards you, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Ensure that your back is straight the entire time.

Watch this video by Women’s Strength Nation for a step-by-step on how to do this exercise:

 

Wide Grip Pull Ups

Wide grip pull ups focus primarily on your lats. Your grip will be about two times the length of your shoulders. A couple of tips on pull ups, keep your body straight and avoid swinging your body, you can cross your feet or bend your knees to steady yourself.

Watch this video from LSW Health on how to execute the wide grip pull up properly.

Pull ups are easy to modify, you can purchase a band that can assist your body weight. You can also use a pull up assisted machine (which is made to assist you in pull ups), or perform negative pull ups to start. A negative pull up means that you slowly lower yourself down, the exact opposite of a normal pull up.

Lower Back Exercises

Back Extensions

Back extensions are a great exercise for strengthening your lower back. You don’t need to add on weight (by holding a weighted plate), but if you want the added challenge, you can. Find a hyperextension machine at your gym, lock your legs in firmly and cross your hands over your chest. Slowly, lower your upper body down towards the ground and up again.

Find a hyperextension machine at your gym, lock your legs in firmly and cross your hands over your chest. Slowly lower your upper body down towards the ground and up again.

Watch this video from LIVESTRONG on how to execute back extensions:

These are great, easy to execute exercises that will help you to strengthen your upper and lower back!

Warm up Your Winter with Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats

During the winter months, you may start to crave for sunnier days. Incorporating an assortment of fruit into your diet is a great way to bring a little sunshine into your day, and this overnight oats dish is the perfect vehicle for any fruit!

Health Benefits of Oats

  • Oats contain a specific fiber called beta-glucan that can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range* [1]
  • They are good sources of manganese, vitamin B, zinc, and protein
  • Certain oats can last for years in your pantry

Overnight Oats Recipe Overnight Oats with Fruit

This overnight oats recipe is a quick and healthy dish guaranteed to become one of your go-to, healthy snacks! This recipe takes only minutes to prepare, is free of leading allergens such as gluten, dairy, soy and peanuts, and pairs well with any fruit!

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • ¾ cup gluten-free oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • A dash of vanilla
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • An assortment of sliced fruit (strawberries and blueberries are a great option!)

Directions:

  1. In a dish with a sealable lid, mash one banana.
  2. Add chia seeds, oats, almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon to the dish.
  3. Mix together and let the dish sit covered in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Stir mixture and spoon into bowl with your choice of sliced fruit!

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References:

[1] “Oats.” Oats. The World’s Healthiest Foods, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

3 Easily Overlooked Gym Machines That Are Amazing

3 Easily Overlooked Gym Machines That Are Amazing

Even for the most ardent gym goer, there are some pieces of equipment that remain a mystery. But it’s good to shake things up and try exercising outside your comfort zone every once in a while, so here are three amazing, but often overlooked gym machines:

1. Rowing Machine

If you haven’t used a rowing machine, you’re in for a fun, new workout. A total body cardio machine, the average 185-pound adult can burn close to 400 calories in just 30 minutes on the rowing machine [1].

It’s important to focus on proper form when using the rowing machine. This YouTube video from WaterRower offers an excellent tutorial on how to properly and safely use the rowing machine.

The Benefits of Rowing

  • Rapidly burn calories
  • Easy on your joints and back
  • Total body workout

Typically placed by the treadmills, elliptical machines and bikes, the rowing machine is worth seeking out on your next visit to the gym.

Rope Pulling Machine 2. Rope Pulling Machine

Rope pulling gives you all the functional benefits of climbing a rope without any of the risk!

Get ready for a fun, sweat inducing cardio and strength workout! This machine is so exhausting it’s likely you’ll only be able to last for 30 minutes on your first try. Start off with light resistance for the first 2 minutes on the machine, then slowly increase the resistance each minute until you can no longer pull the rope for the duration of 60 seconds.

The Benefits of Rope Pulling

  • Functional movement
  • Both cardiovascular and strength training
  • Increases grip strength

Most mainstream gyms have this awesome machine, with many smaller gyms starting to incorporate them as well.

Cable Crossover Machine 3. Cable Crossover Machine

If you like variety, the cable crossover machine is for you!

With the right technique, this machine can work every muscle in your body, from the pectorals through to the obliques, and help build strength and definition.

The Benefits of the Cable Crossover Machine

  • You can do all your exercises on this machine – it’s a real time-saver!
  • A hybrid of free weights and machines
  • Works your core as it stabilizes you during the movements

You’ll find these machines either sitting on their own in a corner or by the upper/lower body machines.

If you’re unsure of how to properly use any of the above machines, make sure to ask the professionals at your gym for some training.

References:

[1] Publications, Harvard Health. Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights. Harvard Health. Harvard Medical School, 27 Jan. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

4 Healthy and Protein Rich Eggless Breakfasts

4 Healthy and Protein Rich Eggless Breakfasts

Plant-based protein is becoming increasingly popular as more people recognize the potential health (and environmental) benefits of minimizing animal-derived foods.

If going vegan seems like a stretch, then start out simple with one of these four eggless breakfasts that are packed with protein and taste:

1. Chickpea Nomelette

Wonderfully versatile, chickpea nomelettes (a no-egg omelette) are easy to make and customize. Packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients, this simple dish is made partially on the stove top and partially in the oven.

Below is the basic recipe for a nomelette.  I suggest a totally delicious combination of mushroom, rosemary, and leeks for your first nomelette go-round!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (kala namak  provide an eggy flavour)
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Olive oil to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 °F

  1. Mix chickpea flour with water, turmeric, black salt, stock cube, and nutritional yeast.
  2. Let mixture stand while you sauté your chosen vegetables in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil.
  3. Add the chickpea flour mixture to the pan and make sure the vegetables are evenly spread and well covered.
  4. Remove pan from heat and place in the oven, cooking for 2530 minutes.
  5. Let the nomelette stand for 5 minutes before turning it out and serving with sautéed greens.

You can find chickpea (gram) flour at many grocery stores, often alongside lentils and curry spices. Kala namak is typically found in Asian grocery stores or at specialty markets.

Tofu Scramble 2. Tofu Scramble

A classic dish that is, again, easy to make and easy to customize. I like my scrams to be on the drier side, meaning that I use firm tofu instead of softer tofu. I also pile in the nutritional yeast to add vitamins, umami, and extra protein. One of my favorite ways to make tofu scramble is to add a tablespoon of homemade or store-bought vegan pesto just before serving. Sun dried tomato tapenade is also a great option for a quick, flavorful scramble.

Ingredients

  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil to taste
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 package of tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Directions

  1. Sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic in a little olive oil.
  2. Add tofu (scrunch it in the packet until there are no large chunks left) and fry until golden brown.
  3. Toss in diced zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes and cook until they soften.
  4. Add a handful of chopped kale and a dash of soy sauce and stir fry until the kale wilts.
  5. Remove from heat and add nutritional yeast.
  6. Serve with hash browns or whole grain toast.

3. Veg Benedict

If you’re missing Eggs Benny, we’ve got you covered. This tofu, cashew ricotta, Portobello Benedict with vegan hollandaise sauce should satisfy your craving, and it is packed with protein and other nutrients to boot!

To Make the Ricotta:

  1. Soak a cup of cashews overnight, then drain.
  2. Add to a food processor with the juice of half a lemon, 1 clove of garlic, 2/3 tsp salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup fresh basil, and 1/2 cup kale.
  3. Blitz until everything is well combined.
  4. Save half of the ricotta and use the rest to make the cashew hollandaise sauce.

To Make the Cashew Hollandaise Sauce:

  1. Using half the homemade ricotta, add 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tsps mustard, 1/4 cup coconut milk, and 1/4 cup water.
  2. Gently heat, and stir often to avoid burning.

To Make the Veg Benedict:

  1. Sauté sliced Portobello mushrooms.
  2. Pan-sear a 1/2-inch thick round of tofu (you can use a cookie cutter to get a round).
  3. Toast an English muffin and spread ricotta on both halves.
  4. Layer them with tofu and Portobellos.
  5. Drizzle cashew hollandaise sauce over the top and enjoy!

Savoury Oatmeal and Lentils 4. Savory Oatmeal and Lentils

If your morning walk, bike ride, or transit ride to work takes about 30 minutes, this next eggless breakfast idea is for you!

Savory oatmeal (using quick cooking oats) or split red lentils is made using a thermos, boiling water, and a little patience. Save time in the morning by preparing your breakfast mix in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of oats or lentils
  • Dehydrated vegetables (or fruit) cut into small pieces
  • A dash of salt and pepper
  • 1/2  tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Directions

  1. Pour your dry mixture into a thermos.
  2. Add a cup of boiling water and stir quickly before sealing the thermos.
  3. By the time you arrive at work, your oats or lentils will be nicely cooked and ready to eat!

The 5 Worst Things You Can Do Post-Workout

The 5 Worst Things You Can Do Post-Workout

There’s nothing quite like hitting your fitness routine stride. The momentum is amazing, but it’s important to keep in mind how easily we can sabotage our progress without meaning to.

You’re done your workout, and you feel great. But now what? It’s important to remember that what you do after your workout can impact the lasting effects and progress of your exercise. Along with some healthy alternatives, here are the five worst things you can do post-workout:

1. Eat Unhealthy Foods

After a hard workout, your body is going to need to refuel. You’ve just burned calories, so you’re going to be hungry. As such, you may start to feel cravings for foods that your body doesn’t need, such as french fries, burgers, or chicken wings.

Instead of giving in to your cravings, focus on everything you’ve just accomplished and seek out a healthy and satisfying way to feed your hunger. Some great post-workout foods that are quick to make, healthy, and filling are:

  • Fruit salad with a side of greek yogurt
  • Salad with lots of fresh veggies with a helping of protein (chicken, tofu, beans, hard-boiled egg)
  • A smoothie with a scoop of protein powder
  • Sandwich on whole grain or gluten-free bread, complete with fresh toppings
  • A brown rice burrito bowl

Consume Alcohol 2. Consume Alcohol

After your workout, a friend rings you up to see if you want to meet up for a drink. How will alcohol affect your workout?

Put plainly and simply, alcohol contains a lot of calories and it’s an easy way to sabotage the workout you just shed sweat for. Also, alcohol has been linked to how your body stores glycogen, and it can cause you to feel fatigued quicker during your next cardio workout, especially if you consume more than a drink or two.

There’s no need to forego meeting up with your friends, though! Swap out your usual alcoholic beverage for a refreshing soda water with lemon instead. Your body will thank you for the extra hydration.

3. Skip Your Cool Down

Cooling down after a workout helps your breathing and heart rate return to resting levels at a gradual pace. It also helps ensure that you don’t suffer from dizziness or fainting due to blood pooling in the muscle areas. You may be in a hurry to head out the door after hitting it hard at the gym, but always take the time to engage in a proper cool-down.

Forget to Hydrate 4. Forget to Hydrate

When you’re exercising at the gym, you are perspiring which depletes your water storage. The only way to get it back is to hydrate during and after your workout. You may not feel thirsty, but make hydrating a regular part of your exercise routine.

Drinks that help with rehydrate the body include:

  • Water
  • Coconut Water
  • Smoothies

It’s also helpful to eat fruit and veggies that are hydrating such as watermelons, cucumbers, lettuce, and oranges.

5. Not Get Enough Sleep

If you’re tired when exercising, you are putting yourself at risk for injury. Getting adequate sleep has also been linked to eating habits. If you’re sleep deprived, it’s a lot easier to make unhealthy food choices, drink too much caffeine, and give in to a lack of energy.

If you give your body the rest that it needs, you’ll feel awake, rested, and ready to tackle the day’s work out!

5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Add Protein to Your Diet

5 Surprisingly Easy Way to Add Protein to Your Diet

Do you want to add protein to your diet but are unsure where to start? Chances are you’re already getting some protein in your diet, but for beginners, here are five easy ways to add protein to your daily meals and snacks:

1. Go Beyond the Smoothie

PGX Satisfast Whey Protein Drink Mix and Vegan Protein are excellent ingredients for making high-protein smoothies, but don’t stop there. Protein powder can also be added to homemade bars, balls, and other energizing treats, such as this recipe for Four-Ingredient Protein Pancakes .

Whip in Eggwhites 2. Whip in Egg Whites

Whip your morning oatmeal into a fluffy, high-protein meal with egg whites!

By adding egg whites to your oatmeal, the combination of complex carbohydrates and lean protein will help sustain satisfaction and support steady blood sugar already within the normal range†.

Eggwhite Oatmeal

  1. Cook ¾ cups of rolled oats with 1½ cups of water on your stovetop
  2. Once the water is absorbed, add 4 whipped egg whites
  3. Whip vigorously until they are well incorporated
  4. Cook for 2–3 more minutes until oatmeal is fluffy, then enjoy

3. Red Lentils

Red lentils have a mild flavour and pack 9 g of protein per half cup cooked [1]. They are easy to incorporate into banana bread, muffins, pancakes, and casseroles. Add ½ cup of cooked, drained lentils to every 2 cups of flour called for in your recipe.

Substitute Greek Yogurt 4. Substitute Greek Yogurt

Creamy and full of protein! Most recipes that use regular yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, or mayonnaise will taste just as delicious when plain, low-fat Greek yogurt is substituted.

With as much as 17 g of protein per ¾ cup, Greek yogurt will make salad dressings, white pasta sauces, dips, and even frosting count towards your protein requirements [2].

5. Add Tofu

Meatless Monday will be chalked full of protein and variety when tofu is on the menu. Firm tofu contains about 12 g of complete protein per ¾ cup serving [3].

Layer thin slices of tofu into vegetarian lasagna, toss it cubed into chili, or crumble it onto Greek salad in place of feta. You can also blend silken tofu into smoothies, creamy soups, and mashed potatoes for extra staying power.

*Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX.

†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References:

[1] USDA. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Basic Report: 16070, Lentils, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Without Salt. Web. 29 November 2016.

[2] USDA. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Basic Report: 01287, Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Lowfat. Web. 29 November 2016.

[3] USDA. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. 45083841, Firm Tofu, UPC: 061954000232. Web. 29 November 2016.

3 Simple Moves for an Effective At-Home Workout

3 Simple Moves for an Effective At-Home Workout

Stepping outside the gym and working out at home can be a reinvigorating way to shake up your fitness routine. It can also be an easy solution for those struggling to find the time to get outside the house for their daily dose of exercise.

For an effective at-home workout, all you need are some free weights, a couple of resistance bands, a medicine/stability ball, and you’re set! Here are my top three moves for an amazing at-home workout:

1. Tricep Dips Utilizing Coffee Table

Your tricep muscle is the muscle on the back of your arm closest to your shoulder. You can assist your tricep dips by putting more pressure on your feet, therefore decreasing the weight bearing on your arms.

Start with your hands shoulder width apart, while sitting on the edge of the coffee table. Your legs should be bent at 90 degree angles. Slide off the table, keeping your back against the table as you lower yourself down and push your way back up. Complete three sets of 12-15 reps.

This video by LIVESTRONG  show how to perform proper tricep dips.

2. Band Pull Aparts

Resistance bands are an easy and cost-effective way to spice up your workout. They are also easy to store, allow you to do a full body workout, and are easy to travel with.

Start in a standing position, legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Grasp the resistance band a little wider than shoulder width and raise your arms till they are in line with your body. You’ll feel resistance as you pull the band apart. Practice 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps.

To make this exercise harder, hold the band less than shoulder width apart or double up on bands.

3. Chest Press on Stability Ball

This exercise uses a stability ball and two dumbbells. A stability ball is a great addition to your workout, as your core and legs will need to work harder to maintain your balance.

Sitting on the stability ball, holding two dumbbells. Slowly walk your way out until you are lying on the stability ball, with your upper/mid back resting comfortably. Ensure your neck is being supported on the ball as well. Keep your glutes contracted and your body as straight as possible as you push the dumbbells up and above your chest into a press. Slowly, bring your arms back to the starting point, and then repeat. Go through 3 sets of 8–12 reps.

This video by Jillian Michaels demonstrates how to perform this exercise properly.

How to Actually Stick to Your Goals

How to Actually Stick to Your Goals

The New Year offers us a great opportunity to embrace change. While around 50% of us make resolutions in January, barely any of us (a measly 8%!) maintain those changes for a year, let alone turn those changes into positive lifelong habits. Setting goals is admirable, but what does it take to actually stick to your goals?

Here are three big reasons why it can be hard to stick to your goals, along with some handy tips on how to set yourself up for success:

Making the Same Resolution Every Year 1. Making the Same Resolution Every Year

By making, and then breaking, the same goals over and over, you’re engaging in psychological sabotage. So if you find yourself stuck in a rut of making the same resolution every January 1st and not following through, it’s time for a change.

Take some time to think seriously about the change(s) you want to make and why. There’s no shame in admitting that some things just aren’t your priority and doing so can free up your mental energy to develop healthy habits that do work for you.

Alternative Approach

Does your typical new year resolution include fitness? Then think about what this really means to you. It’s likely to be different for everyone, and there are many ways to achieve this goal. For example:

  • Able to walk up stairs without feeling breathless
  • Run a 5 km charity race in under 45 minutes
  • Lift your own body weight at the gym
  • Able to keep up with the kids on their bikes while on vacation

Narrow in on a specific goal and use it to set a series of smaller, achievable targets, and create a plan to reach them. This is a great start to help enable you to stick to your goals!

2. Making Your Goals Too General

Nothing hampers success like a moving target, and most new year’s resolutions are vague and rather elusive. As noted above specificity is key, otherwise, how will you know when you’re on track or have achieved your goal?

Alternative Approach

SMART people know that acronyms can be a real help. As such, make sure your goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timeline

For example, instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year,” resolve to lose a realistic, achievable, safe amount of weight each week for the next 52 weeks. Better still, resolve to get your body fat percentage down by 10%.

Set up a way to measure your progress and figure out a plan to get you there. This could include cutting down portion sizes by a third, eating more plant foods to increase your fiber intake, or cutting out major sources of saturated fat and sugar.

3. Losing Track, and Motivation

Imagine your goal for the year is a town called “Happiness” far off in the distance. You can’t see the town’s lights yet, but you know it’s there and you want to find it. On January 1st you set off at full speed towards the horizon but you soon lose your way, forget where you started, grow dispirited, and end up snacking at a roadside fruit stand before heading back home.

Now, think about how you can develop a better (or any!) strategy to get to Happiness. Instead of just going full tilt without a plan, consult your map and lay out some goals. Get specific. Set up mile markers at reasonable points along that road and focus on those instead of the far off, and intimidating end goal. This works for fitness goals, spending goals, weight loss (or gain) goals, and also for career and relationship goals.

How to Set Specific Goals How to Set Specific Goals

As an example, if your dream goal is to run 15 km in less than 100 minutes in a November charity race, set yourself specific weekly running goals based on your current level of fitness† and a schedule you can stick to, such as the one outlined below.

By setting specific, realistic, achievable, measurable goals on a timeline, that 15 km charity run in under 100 minutes is totally doable, even for a novice runner.

Training Schedule for Novice Runner

For a novice runner, a training schedule needs to be detailed, such as the one below:

Weeks 1–10
  • Weeks 1 and 2: 1 km twice a week and 2 km on weekends
  • Weeks 3 and 4: 2 km twice a week and 3 km on weekends
  • Weeks 5 and 6: 3 km twice a week and 4 km on weekends
  • Weeks 7 and 8: 4 km twice a week and 5 km on weekends (celebrate your first 5 km run!)
  • Weeks 9 and 10: 5 km twice a week and 6 km on weekends
Weeks 11–21
  • Weeks 11 and 12: 6 km twice a week and 7 km on weekends
  • Week 13 (early April): 7 km twice a week and a 5 km charity race at the weekend
  • Week 14: 7 km twice a week and 8 km on weekends
  • Weeks 15 and 16: 8 km twice a week and 9 km on weekends
  • Weeks 17 and 18: 9 km twice a week and 10 km on weekends (celebrate your first 10 km run!)
  • Weeks 19, 20, and 21: 10 km twice a week and 11 km on weekends
Weeks 22–28
  • Week 22 (early June): 11 km twice a week and a 10 km charity run on the weekend
  • Weeks 23 and 24: 12 km twice a week and 13 km on the weekend
  • Weeks 25 and 26: 13 km twice a week and 14 km on the weekend
  • Weeks 27 and 28: 14 km twice a week and 15 km on the weekend (celebrate getting to 15 km!)
  • Weeks 29 and 30: 15 km twice a week and 16 km on the weekend
  • Weeks 31 to 36 (early September): 15 km three times a week (aim for a run-time of less than 140 minutes)
  • Weeks 37 to 42: 15 km three times a week (aim for a run-time of less than 120 minutes)
  • Weeks 43 to 45: 15 km three times a week (aim for a run-time of less than 100 minutes)
  • Week 46 (mid November): 15 km charity race (run time less than 100 minute).

You’re All Set!

The final thing to take note of is that getting fit and losing weight are two separate things. If you want to do both, tackle them as distinct goals with separate milestones and strategies. Also, be aware that getting fit means building muscle, which could mean you gain lean body weight. As such, a better goal pair would be to “run 10 km in under an hour’ and ‘decrease body fat by 10%.”

†Always consult with a qualified health professional if you are unsure before starting a new exercise program.

The BMI Debate: What to Know

The BMI Debate: What to Know

What do a svelte, health-conscious athlete and a sedentary person weighing 200 lbs have in common?  A high body mass index (or BMI).

This is no joke; athletes, fitness fanatics and those who are considered overweight or morbidly obese often have a similar BMI. You might find this surprising, but the real surprise should be that we’re still using this method to measure individual health.

The BMI debate rages on, so let’s find out what this calculation really measures and why we should take BMI with a pinch of (low-sodium) salt.

What Is BMI?

BMI was invented way back in the 19th Century by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician, and sociologist. Quetelet wanted to devise a way to measure obesity in a population, and thus the body mass index was born.

The BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight and comparing it to their height squared.  Like this:

  1. A person who is 5’10” and weighs 200 lbs has a BMI of 28.7
  2. A person who is 175 cm tall and weighs 65 kg has a BMI of 21.2.

These measurements put the first individual in the category of “overweight” and the second in the “normal” weight category.

Typically, BMI is classified into four groups:

  1. Underweight = <18.5
  2. Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  3. Overweight = 25–29.9
  4. Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

Problems With the BMI Problems with the BMI

The measurement fails to account for the degree to which fat, bone mass, and muscle contribute to overall body mass. Bones and muscle are denser than fat, so a person with strong bones and a good amount of muscle mass may have a similar BMI to someone with more porous bones and a high degree of body fat.

The bluntness of this tool has been noted time and again by physicians and others working in public health. BMI can be useful for measuring population health as it is unlikely that a high average BMI can be attributed to an incredibly toned and muscular population with strong bones. When it comes to individuals, however, BMI is largely unhelpful, so why is it so popular?

The easy answer, of course, is that the calculation is relatively simple and easy to figure out.

Confused Logic and the BMI

The BMI is uni-directional. This means that a person with a lot of body fat will probably have a high BMI, but that a person with a high BMI does not necessarily have a lot of body fat. At best, the tool is descriptive of something you probably already know. At worst, it’s thoroughly misleading and lazy.

Again, a high BMI could mean that an individual is overweight or obese. It could also mean that a person is fit and healthy, with plenty of muscle mass, strong bones, and little fat. Conversely, a person could have a low BMI because they are largely sedentary, have low muscle and bone mass, and/or are sick, but have a fairly high proportion of body fat.

Even the best-intentioned health authorities fall prey to the twisted logic of the BMI. The US Centers for Disease Control noted that “the BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for people.

So, what can we use instead of BMI as a fairly robust and simple measure of health?

Alternative to the BMI Alternative to the BMI

A better option is waist measurement (because central adiposity is highly correlated with poor health) and your waist to height ratio. Recommended waist sizes are as follows (and will vary for people of European, Asian, Indian, and African-American descent):

  • No more than 39 or 40 inches for men
  • No more than 34 or 35 inches for women.

To measure your waist, place a tape measure around the top of your hip bones at your lower back and around to the belly button.

For waist to height ratio, the aim is to have a waist circumference that is less than half of your height (i.e., 0.5). For example: if a person is 177.8 cm tall (around 5’10”), weighs 200 lbs, and has a waist size of 80 cm (around 31.5″) their BMI would be 28.7 and put them at the upper end of the overweight category. However, their waist-to-height ratio would 0.45, which is under the recommended 0.5 ratio.

 

Why You Need to Give Jumping Rope a Try

Why You Need to Give Jumping Rope a Try If you’re looking for a fun way to boost your cardio and get your heart beating, look no further than jump roping! This exercise, known as play in our childhood, is wildly overlooked as an amazing form of fitness. And, adding jump rope into your fitness routine will cost you less than $20!

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to jump in!

Choosing the Right Jump Rope

Here are a few tips to select the jump rope that’s right for you:

  • Novice jump roper? Aim for a rope that is slightly heavier, like a beaded rope.
  • Avid jump roper? Pick a coated rope with light-weight handles.
  • For extra upper body resistance, select a rope with weighted handles.
  • Stand on the rope and make sure the handles reach all the way to your under arms. This ensures the rope is long enough for you to jump comfortably with.

3 Awesome Benefits of Jumping Rope

1. A Workout for Arms, Legs, and Your Upper Body

Jumping rope tones and tightens both your arms and legs, and the circular motion your arms go through the entire time you are jumping is great for your upper body.

2. Burns a Lot of Calories in a Short Amount of Time

Jumping rope is an aerobic workout that burns a ton of calories in a short amount of time.It’s unlikely you will be able to jump rope for longer than 15 minutes. As a general understanding, jumping rope for 5 minutes straight can be the equivalent of running over 3 miles, which is fantastic as it’s unlikely you’d be able to jump for more than 15 minutes.

3. Perfect for Traveling

A jump rope is perfect for travelling! It’s lightweight, can fit into any luggage compartment, and you can find somewhere to jump almost anywhere.

2 Different Jump Rope Styles to Try

There are a lot of other ways to jazz up your jump rope routine. Here are a two of my favorite ways to jump rope:

The Normal Way 1. The “Normal” Way

This way is exactly what you think of when jumping rope comes to mind. You stay in one place, feet together, jumping up and down. Some people prefer to interchange their legs instead of jumping with their feet together.

In the beginning, you’ll notice your heart rate will skyrocket as you jump. As your body gets used to the movement, you’ll notice that your heart rate won’t spike as high and will fall back to normal quicker during rest periods.

Jumping and Moving 2. Jumping and Moving

Who says that you need to stay in one spot while jumping rope? A fun way to spice things up is to move forward while jumping. Start in one spot, then with interchanging feet instead of jumping up – jump forward! You can move 5–10 hops forward on the same foot, then turn around and hop back on the opposite foot.

You can also try variations of hops like side-to-side hops and front-to-back hops.

Monitoring Your Heart Rate

As noted above, jumping rope is a highly aerobic exercise. As such, it’s a good idea to keep track of your heart rate during this exercise. Here’s how:

Take 220 minus your age to determine your maximum heart rate.  Take your pulse for 6 seconds and tack on a “0”. That is a general guideline for your heart rate at that moment. For example, if you take your pulse after jumping rope for 1 minute and it is 18, adding on a zero would be 180.

For more information on your heart rate and general age guidelines, visit The American Heart Association.