Author Archives: Janet Huehls

About Janet Huehls

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC, CYT, is a registered clinical exercise physiologist and a certified health and wellness coach with the UMass Memorial Weight Center. Each week Janet posts information about how to exercise more effectively and efficiently, how our bodies (and our minds) respond to exercise, and importantly, how to stay motivated. She also posts comments and ideas from patients, as well as advice on the speed bumps” we all encounter along the way to success with weight loss.

March Post Surgery Support Group

 

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by | February 24, 2016 · 8:16 pm

Mindset Matters

Pause for a moment.  Notice what you are thinking.  Notice the quality of your thoughts; positive or negative, fast or slow.

Can what is going on up there really change the body?

Lets experiment – imagine going to the refrigerator and taking out a bright yellow juicy lemon. Cutting it in slices and taking a big bite of the juicy pulp.  What is happening in your mouth right now?

Same if you think of a happy event, a smile comes to your face? Think of a nerve wracking event, butterfly’s in your stomach?

Our brain 1mind and body are connected by a two way street. What happens in one affects the other.

So can our thoughts actually change how our body responds to eating and exercising?

Research is pointing to a big “yes!”.  Check out this TED talk by Dr. Alia Crum.

Great news because it means we could very well have an added way to improve our health and well-being – by switching our thinking – in any moment.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | February 24, 2016 · 8:16 pm

Why?

whyIf a friend told you he wanted to improve his health and well being so he joined a football team, what would you think?

Well, I guess there are parts of playing football that could help.  He might improve stamina, strength, reflexes and enjoy the mental and social benefits.

Yet, there are risks of playing football, too.  If your friend loves playing football it could be worth the risk.

If that friend said he didn’t like it, but it would be worth it to be healthier and to lose weight, you might question his logic.

I see many people doing sports training when trying to exercise for weight loss or improving health.   It might not be called sports training, but by definition, that is what it is.

Exercise science (physiology) = The study of what happens in the body when we move – both during one single bout and when we move regularly to improve fitness level.

Sport science = Uses the knowledge of exercise science to improve specific skills in order to improve the ability to do a certain sport.

Clinical exercise science = a branch of exercise science that studies how exercise training can help treat medical conditions, including  heart diseases, asthma, back pain, elevated body weight, diabetes, depression etc.

You might notice some subtle, but very important differences.

Exercise science is the general science for all types goals for physical activity.

Sports science is training to do better at an athletic (or even military) activity.  Whether it is a personal goal of finishing a marathon or winning a team competition, for success the training sacrifices long term benefits for short term gains.

Clinical exercise science is training for being healthier by improving treatment of a medical condition and living better in some way.  For these results though, the plan needs to be one you can continue.    It is focused on the short as well as the long term benefits.

Yet, the difference between clinical exercise science and sports science are often mixed up in the fitness industry.  When someone works on improving their time in a plank exercise – is the goal to plank longer or improve their function?  Same with squat competitions, boot camp style exercise classes, and quick fix programs.  Is the goal to live better long term, or for some short term improvement doing that activity?

Our culture tends to value athleticism, overcoming the odds, pushing past limits.  These qualities get lots of media attention.  The average person exercising five days a week and is now able to play with his kids does not get much press.

This leads to lower motivation with exercise. I believe it is a big reason we still have about 80% of the US population does not get the recommended amounts of exercise to improve health and fitness.  Yes 80%!

A simple yet powerful question can decrease your risk of injury and loss of motivation.

“Why?”

Why am I doing this exercise, fitness class, exercise program, sports, competition, etc?

If you keep asking why until you get to the deepest personal reason.  Here you will find keys to lasting motivation.

Next, check to see if what you are doing is the best way to your personal definition of success.

Finally, create your own risk/benefit ratio.

List the potential risks:

  •  risk of the activity itself.  The higher the intensity, duration, frequency the greater the risk – especially if your body has not had time to adapt to it.   Does the exercise need to be that intense to get the benefits YOU want?
  • your current physical ability compared to what is needed for the activity – exercise at a comfortable challenging level is enough.
  • old or current injuries and/or medical condition,muscle weaknesses, etc.  We are only as strong as our weakest area.  Modify the activity to reduces strain and work on strengthening these areas too.

List the potential benefits:

  • benefits of the activity shown by exercise science
  • how this activity will help you get what you really want from exercise (IE; to be able to climb stairs easier, play with your kids, go hiking or biking again)
  • how this activity might improve your quality of life

Weight loss is probably one of the major areas for this confusion.  Yes, to lose weight one risk benefit 2needs to exercise.  Yet over exercising to lose weight brings risks for injury, loss of motivation and then not exercising – and this is one of the biggest risks for weight regain.  So consistency is the most important factor for any exercise program for weight loss.

When choosing an exercise program,  remember to ask why.   You will be more likely to stay motivated and reach your true success when what you are doing is designed to get you to YOUR goals.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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Filed under Barriers, Exercise and Movement Science, Fitness Consumer, Injury Prevention, Myths, Weight Loss

Post Surgical Support Group – Feb. 1st

Hello all!

The next support group will be on Thursday February 4th 2016, 4-5 pm, same place as last time: Room S2-310 in the medical school building. If you go past the Hiatt and Lazare auditoriums, you will see a sign above, saying “Basic Wing Elevator” to your left. Take the elevator (or stairs) to level 2, just one level above. Take a left out of the elevator, and follow the signs to Room 310, you will see it to your left in a minute or two.

We will be doing chair yoga, so please wear comfortable clothes if you would like to participate.  We will also be have healthy food tasting of soup and salad.

The corridor outside our room is perfect for walking. Feel free to come in early or stay back later if you would like to put it to use! Bring your pedometers to get credit for all those steps!

Please RSVP by February 1st by calling the Weight Center at 774-443-3886.

Narmin Virani

UMass Memorial Weight Center Dietitian

 

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by | January 29, 2016 · 8:12 pm

Heart Rate Monitoring + Medications

It is common to use heart rate during exercise to tell if you are getting a “good workout”.  Measuring heart rate on exercise machines or with monitors has become easier.  But how important is it to monitor your heart rate?  What does it mean?  I addressed this in a previous blog and will sum it up quickly here in addition to how medications affect heart rate.

Measuring heart rate is not a direct measure of exercise quality.  It can give us a clue as to how hard the heart is working, but it is not the big picture of how the heart gets stronger with exercise.

Why?

  • The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart muscle (a pump) and all of the blood vessels that deliver oxygen and remove waste when we move.
  • What makes the the heart stronger is not it is not the amount of times cardio system 2your heart pumps in a minute, it is the strength of the heart beat.  When we exercise, more blood is sent into the heart and that makes it beat stronger.  This is what strengthens the pump, not the heart rate.
  • Cardio exercise (more than strength training) triggers the heart to beat faster AND stronger.  Over time, the stronger beat strengthens the pump.
  • When we drink coffee, the heart beats faster but the system is not challenged to get stronger.  When we exercise, the increase in blood flow through the whole system, the increased oxygen used by the system and the challenge of the system to remove waste products effectively is what makes the system stronger.
  • So the heart getting stronger is only one part of cardiovascular exercise training.  With cardio training, new blood vessels grow to bring more blood to working muscles, and the working muscles get more efficient at using the oxygen brought by the blood and removing waste produced when we exercise.

Another issue with using heart rate is that way we predict what your heart rate is based upon age and has a +/- 15 beat error to it!  That means if you are striving for a heart rate of 130 based upon the equation – your actual target heart rate could be anywhere from 115-145 – that is a HUGE difference.

Other factors affect heart rate such as air temperature, body position, stress, and body size.   These all need to be taken into consideration when using heart rate as a guide.  The work of the heart can be increased at rest and thus exercise can be more intense than usual as these conditions change.

Medications can affect heart rate by increasing it or decreasing it.  It is important to know how your medications affect your heart rate. The most common type of medication that affects heart rate is beta blockers.

Beta blockers are designed to lower heart rate to decrease the work of the heart with daily life.  They are prescribed for many heart conditions, including heart failure and arrhythmia as well as for blood pressure.  Common names include:

  • Acebutolol – Sectral
  • Atenolol – Tenormin
  • Betaxolol – Kerlone
  • Bisoprolol – Zebeta, also sold as Ziac
  • Carteolol – Cartrol
  • Carvedilol – Coreg
  • Labetalol – Normodyne, also sold as Trandate
  • Metoprolol – Lopressor, also sold as Toprol

If you are on a beta blocker, the recommended heart rate for exercise is generally 20-30 beats per minute above resting.  For example, if your resting grate is 60 BPM, your target range for exercise would be 80-90bpm.  If you are pushing to get your heart rate up on these medications to get a “better workout”, you are straining your heart.  Talk to your doctor about any specific recommendations for you.

So what to do?

RPE 2

Your shortness of breath level is a direct measure of how hard your cardiovascular system is working.  Exercising at a breathing level that is moderate (a light challenge) to somewhat heavy (a good challenge) is a good general guide.   In research studies, this subjective rating matches true heart rate range very well.  If you are pushing to an uncomfortable breathing level, you are probably pushing too hard for safely improving general fitness and weight loss. On the left is the scale used for this guide.  A general guideline is to stay between 3-4 on this scale.

Please post any questions on this topic.  It can be an area of much confusion.  Confusion leads to lower motivation to exercise.  So if you are not sure, just ask.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

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by | January 25, 2016 · 8:49 pm