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By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

Create systems that make health and fitness faster and easier, such as:

  • Keep fresh, whole foods in plain sight.
  • Reduce or eliminate “treat” foods.
  • Establish a morning or weekend routine to chop veggies and prepare protein+complex carbs in bulk.
  • Sign up for a CSA box or healthy meal delivery.
  • Keep berries and greens in freezer (for quick Super Shakes).
  • Join a gym or personal training studio close to home or work.
  • Keep a packed gym bag in your car or by the front door.
  • Leave weights and resistance bands lying around for quick, convenient workout.
  • Hold gatherings and meetings at parks and gyms.

Put meal prep and movement in your calendar. If we waited until we “felt like it,” a lot of important things would get neglected. Schedule it in, and stick to it.

Review at the end of each week: Did I use my time to support my health and fitness?

Explore what worked and keep doing that.
Celebrate! You deserve it.
Add 15 more minutes of health food prep and movement next week.

What do you do instead?
If it was low-priority stuff, combine those activities with fitness+nutrition. For example: Watch TV while prepping food.
If it was high-priority stuff, does it happen often? That’s OK! Life happens. Return to your goals and keep practicing. Set small weekly health+fitness goals and keep improving your systems. Get coaching to develop better systems and realistic goals.

As you can see, “being healthy and fit” is like an iceberg. Eating well and workout out is only the tip of the iceberg and it’s supported by all the thinking, prioritizing, strategizing and planning underneath.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, owns Longevity Athletics and can be reached at 520-261-4661 and Aaron@LongevityAthletics.com.

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Jeff Kramarczyk is closing the doors of Crate Coffee this week but will still be in business. Photo by Mason Callejas

By Fran Lyons

While many home-based businesses in Maricopa are trying to build their way into a storefront, others are taking the opposite route.

Crate Coffee Market, the highest-rated coffee shop in Maricopa according to Yelp reviewers, had a retail space for five years on Hathaway Avenue. But owner Jeff Kramarczyk has opted to close the doors Aug. 26.

“The virtual marketplace has presented an opportunity to expand more globally while still meeting and developing our goals,” he said.

In a press release announcing the closing, Kramarczyk said Crate had fallen short in one of five goals: “Build a wholly unique, economically viable, retail business on word of mouth only.”

The primary reason for leaving the storefront is to focus attention, time and effort on the virtual side of the business.

“For many customers, locally and across the U.S., Crate Coffee has only ever been a virtual market,” Kramarczyk said. “Our business began in 2013 with 60-70 percent focus on the distribution side and 30-40 percent on the retail storefront side.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

The expanded business plan does not lessen the number of hours he works. “I don’t consider hours to be relevant in the virtual market,” he said. “It’s 24/7.”

The biggest challenge, he said, “is to continue the relationship aspect with people and the personal experience they had in the store and translate it into the virtual experience. We want to engage people and enable them to interact socially online.”

Despite closing the storefront, his business plan, he said, remains the same.

Echoing that are the co-owners of CrossFit Stand & Battle, which also left its storefront space with its high overhead to literally go home in what was termed a restructuring.

Natalie Richardson and Nate Maxcy of CrossFit Stand & Battle opted to move into garage gyms. Submitted photo

“Bringing it home has its benefits,” said Natalie Richardson, co-owner and director of operations. Her garage in The Villages was converted into a CrossFit gym in July.

The change allows the team to provide the classes and hours to meet the needs of their schedules as well as the clients they coach, she said.

Their business is an affiliate of CrossFit, Inc., an internationally known elite fitness regime designed to define fitness in a measurable way. The workout goal is fitness and health through functional movement and stability.

The business plan, structured on the CrossFit model, is unchanged. It’s just the location that is different.

“Our members are our community,” said co-owner Nate Maxcy, director of coaching. “We truly believe that the relationships we develop and the care and consideration of each other is how we motivate and support each other. We work together as a group.”

Formerly CrossFit 347, Stand & Battle operated out of Suite B102 at 21576 N. John Wayne Parkway. Richardson began her fitness career in pre-natal and post-natal fitness for moms with Stroller Strides. Maxcy has trained as an athlete with CrossFit for years and is also a captain with the Maricopa Fire Department.

When asked why they left the brick-and-mortar store, Maxcy and Richardson said it fit their lifestyle and budget, and the garage gym concept aligned with their philosophy of hands-on instruction. Making the decision to take the business home came as they were approaching a deadline for a new lease agreement. They were no longer willing to put their families at financial risk.

One challenge of moving from a storefront to a virtual or home-based site is convincing customers to come along, too.

Maxcy told clients he would understand if some of them were not comfortable with a garage-gym format while he knew others were introduced to CrossFit in a home gym.

Crate Coffee’s clientele was also disappointed to lose their community spot.

“Many folks are sad that our familiar location will no longer be available,” said Kramarczyk, who, though excited about the new business platform, described his own feelings as mixed. “Thank you to everyone that has crossed Crate Coffee’s threshold. My hope is that we take our shared experiences with us for the rest of our lives and look back on them fondly.”

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Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

When life’s already busy, here’s how you can make time to eat better and move more often.

Ask yourself why

Understand exactly why you want to eat better and exercise more gives you the motivation to prioritize it over other things.


Q: Why do I want to eat healthier and exercise more?
A: Because I want to fit in smaller pants.

Q: But why do I want to fit in smaller pants?
A: Because when I’m wearing smaller pants, I look better.

Q: But why do I want to look better?
A: Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.

Q: But why do I want to feel good about myself?
A: Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more assertive and confident.

Q: But why do I want to be more assertive and confident?
A: Because when I’m more assertive and confident, I’m in control, my fears won’t stop me, and I can finally go for my dreams.

Identify your top priorities

Think of your time as a jar, which you can fill with a finite number of rocks, pebbles and sand.

Your big rocks represent the stuff that’s most necessary to feel fulfilled in life. They often relate to family, health, and livelihood. Your pebbles add extra fun and satisfaction to life, but aren’t totally necessary. You sand is purely “bonus” activity. It can be enjoyable, but it’s not crucial to your survival or fulfillment

Everyone’s rocks, pebbles and sand will look different. But regardless, if you fill you jar with too much sand first, the rocks and pebbles won’t fit.

Keep a time diary

Your schedule reflects how you’re prioritizing the activities in your life. Track your time in 15-minute increments for a couple weeks to find out if it’s consistent with your goals and values. For example:

7:00-7:15 – Woke up, brushed teeth
7:15-7:30 – Checked Instagram
7:30-7:45 – Still on Instagram

Then analyze it:

Work 35%
Sleep 20%
Exercise 2%
Time with loved ones 10%
Watching TV 10%
Surfing the Internet 25%
Healthy meal prep 3%

Work 35%
Sleep 30%
Exercise 5%
Time with loved ones 20%
Watching TV/Internet 2.5%
Time in nature 2.5%
Healthy meal prep 5%

To start to align your schedule with what you want to accomplish, replace low-value activities with high-value ones, little by little.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, owns Longevity Athletics and can be reached at 520-261-4661 and Aaron@LongevityAthletics.com.

This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa Magazine.

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By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

Pretty much everybody has heard their body is over 60 percent water. Thus, if you weigh 150 pounds then 90 pounds of you is liquid. A lot of that body water is in your cells or attached to molecules like proteins and carbohydrates.

Water does six main things in our bodies – transporting, dissolving, cleaning, reacting, padding and regulating temperature.

Research question: Water is important stuff, but can it help us lose weight?

North American Association for the Study of Obesity detailed its findings in “Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults.”*

In this study, researchers recruited men and women ages 55 to 75 who were overweight or obese, with exclusions for certain health ailments. Before the study started, everybody had to come into the lab twice – once to eat as much food as they wanted, and once to drink 500 milliliters of water and then eat as much as they wanted.

Researchers wanted to see whether people would eat less if they drank water before a meal. Twelve weeks later, at the end of the study, the participants did the water-drinking test again.

Everybody was on the same diet, but half the participants had the secret pre-meal supplement – 500 milliliters water. Before each of their three meals, the water group drank 500 milliliters of water before eating. There was no other difference between groups for the 12 weeks of the study.

Over the three months, the water group dropped 4.4 percent body fat and 5.4 kg total fat while the non-water group only dropped 1.1 percent body fat and 3.3 kg of total fat.

Bottom line – Drinking two cups of water before a meal will keep you hydrated, fuller and may even boost your metabolism for an hour. Before you go off to your favorite vitamin shop to try the latest weight-loss supplement, try drinking two cups (500 mL) before you sit down for a meal.

Oh, and make sure you’re near a toilet.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, owns Longevity Athletics.



*[Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7.

This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

Training the core is where most people run into trouble, because they try to train the core like a beast — with heavy weights, or a full range of motion. However, the key to core training for a healthy back is muscle endurance (not strength) and stability (not mobility).

In most day-to-day activities and the sports we play the core’s job is to stop movement.

For example: You open a door — your core stops your spine from twisting as you pull the door open with your arm. You kick a football — your core stops you from keeling forward.

Pause for a moment and think about what that means.

You want your core to be stable and resist movement. So why are we stretching, over-bending, and turning ourselves into pretzels?

Try these four exercises for a healthy and resilient back – modified curl-up, stir the pot, side bridge and bird dog.

The modified curl-up is different from a regular curl-up because one leg is bent while the other is straight; the hands are under the lower back and only lift the head and neck.

Stir the pot is a plank-type exercise done on a stability ball with the added challenge of stirring the pot (moving your arms as if you’re trying to stir a large pot). If that is too hard, you can just do a plank on the ball or even on the floor.

Side bridge is a side plank from the elbows.

Bird dog starts on all fours, like a dog. You lift the opposite arm and leg, focusing on stiffening the core. To make this harder instead of just lifting your arm and leg straight up and down, make squares at the top of the movement.

Keys to the exercises are to keep the tightening part of the exercise to 10 seconds and add reps to progress in the exercises, and to maintain form – once you can’t keep your spine tight, stop.

Stretching for a healthy back? While lower-back stretching is a no-no, certain stretches to keep the hips mobile are important.

Hamstrings: The key to hamstring stretching is to bend only at the hip and not the back. A good hamstring stretch that supports the lower back is to lie on your back and lift one leg up, keep the knee slightly bent and use a belt around your foot to pull the your lower leg toward your chest. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Gumby. If you can get your leg perpendicular to the floor, you’re doing well.

Hip flexors (front of hip): Lunging with your hands over your head stretches the hip flexors (muscles in front of the hip), but remember to keep your back straight and torso upright, the front shin perpendicular to the floor, the rear knee pointed down and focus on stretching the front of your hip (squeezing the glute of the rear leg will help).

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, owns Longevity Athletics.



This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

It’s one of the most common patterns we see among incoming Longevity Athletics clients: Folks who want to get (or stay) fit will exercise diligently for months, only to “fall off the wagon” for the entire year and battle with getting back into it to achieve resolutions. That’s why we came up with this short, simple and effective workout you can do anywhere.

1. Move through each exercise in sequence. 2. Do 10 reps of each exercise. 3. Minimal to no rest between exercises. 4. Rest 1-2 minutes at the end of the circuit. 5. Repeat for a total of 2-4 circuits.


Starting on all fours, push down with toes to bring knees off floor. Keeping pelvis centered, “crawl” with right arm and left leg moving forward together, and vice versa. 10 seconds = 1 rep


Start in “plank” position, hands directly under shoulders and fingers forward. Maintaining a straight line from head to heel, keep elbows in as you bend them to lower your body as far as you can without shoulders popping forward. Squeeze shoulder blades together and down toward glutes as you lower, then allow them to spread fully apart at the top. Keep abs tight, tailbone tucked under and shoulders down away from ears.


Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended in front of you or behind your head. With abs engaged, ribs pulled down and tailbone tucked under, push hips back and lower as far as you can, keeping feet straight and knees aligned with little toe. Drive weight into heels and midfoot to return to start.


Keeping ribs down, abs tight, tailbone tucked, and weight through forward heel, pull dumbbell up toward lower ribs while locking your shoulder blade inward and down.


Can’t do one or more of the exercises in the circuit? Skip them. If possible, focus on the lower body, which requires greater muscle engagement and energy burn.

No dumbbell? Use whatever you can find to add weight to the moves.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, owns Longevity Athletics.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

No Excuses Workout

Aaron Gilbert of Longevity Athletics explains the No Excuses Workout to help keep your healthy-living resolutions. Learn more in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Posted by InMaricopa on Thursday, March 1, 2018

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Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to start eating better, exercising or finally getting in shape? Are you putting off that dream trip, new project or that skill you’ve been meaning to learn?

Human beings are always “waiting for the perfect time.” But why?

For many, it’s a great distraction and justification. It helps us avoid the real – and risky – work of doing. For others, perfectionism and avoidance serve as strong armor against potential embarrassment, criticism and failure.

“I could ___ but ___” keeps us safe from pain.

Unfortunately, it’s also what keeps us from growing, thriving and being who we know we have the potential to be. That’s why all-or-nothing thinking – If I don’t do this perfectly then it’s worthless – rarely gets us “all.” It usually gets us “nothing.”

What to do next:

1. Revise your expectations. Recognize there is no perfect time and there never will be. There is only now.

  1. Carve out time, even if it’s imperfect. Nobody will give that time to you. You’ll need to take it. Give yourself permission to make yourself – and your fitness and health goals – a priority. Find the time you need in your schedule.

Don’t have time for an hour-long workout? No problem. How much time do you have? Twenty minutes? Ten minutes? Work with what you’ve got.

Don’t expect things to go perfectly smoothly. Instead, anticipate and strategize. Instead of waiting for things to slow down, start making something happen right now, in the middle of the mess.

  1. Just start. If you feel stuck, just do something. Anything. Find the smallest possible thing you can do right now, in the next five minutes, and do it. Now you’ve started!

At my personal training studio, we concentrate on finding “five-minute actions.” Instead of coming up with the biggest, grandest scheme, think about what you could do in just five minutes to help move yourself – even just a tiny bit – in the direction of your goals. Then, go do it.

  1. Expect resistance. It’s normal. Push through it. Resistance doesn’t mean this won’t work. It just means you’ve started.

You only have to get through this moment. This moment of starting will be the hardest. Luckily, it won’t last long.

  1. Get support. Let go of the concept of the lone hero. Instead, start building your support systems. Whether it’s a friend or family member, workout buddy or a coach, find someone to fire up your booster rockets until you can fly on your own.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

What is fish oil? Fish oil is, well, oil from fish.

It’s rich in two groups of omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA, along with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in things like flax and walnuts, fall under the subheading of omega-3 fatty acids.

EPA and DHA are often cited as being the beneficial components of fish oil. EPA and DHA originate in algae, which is the base of the food chain for fish. Fish consume algae and thus concentrate high amounts of the beneficial fats.

Why is fish oil so important?

Overall health

Omega-3’s are very important to cardiovascular function, nervous system function and brain development, and immunity health. Research shows low DHA consumption (and blood levels) is associated with memory loss, difficulty concentrating, Alzheimer’s disease and mood problems.

Cell membranes

Essential fats play an integral role in promoting cell health. Human cells have a fatty membrane (lipid bilayer) that is semi-permeable. It regulates what gets into the cell and what goes out of it. The fluidity of cell membranes depends on the fatty acid composition of the diet.

Metabolic health

Finally, DHA and EPA can increase metabolism by increasing levels of enzymes that boost calorie-burning ability.

Omega-3 to omega-6 ratio

It’s easy for us to get omega-6 fatty acids. These are found in plant oils and factory-raised animals, which are fed a lot of corn and soy.

But it’s hard for people in western countries to get omega-3 fats from dietary sources. We eat a lot more processed foods and a lot less wild game and plants than our ancestors did. And we don’t usually eat things like snails and insects, which are also high in omega-3, like are common in diets elsewhere in the world. We rely heavily now on omega-6 vegetable oils.

What you should know

We can’t make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our bodies, so we need to get them from our diets.


  1. Aim for 3-9 daily grams of total fish oil (about 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA) per day from a supplement company that doesn’t contribute directly to the depletion of fish (e.g., they use primarily fish discards).
  2. Look for small-fish-based formulations (e.g. herring, mackerel). Small fish are lower on the food chain and less likely to accumulate environmental toxins. Or choose krill oil or algae oil.
  3. Avoid cod liver oil.
  4. Avoid trans fats; they can interfere with EPA & DHA in the body.
  5. Limit consumption of corn, cottonseed and sunflower oil (omega-6-rich vegetable oils), which negatively alter your fatty acid ratio.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is founder/owner of Longevity Athletics.

520-261-4661; Aaron@LongevityAthletics.com

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

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Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

What are Kettlebells?

Kettlebells are iron or steel balls with a flattened bottom on one end and a curved handle on the other. Kettlebells are used both for general fitness training and competitive sport.

They improve whole-body, dynamic movement for strength, endurance and power. They are used by sports teams, those who train at home, world-class athletes and folks who want to burn fat and build muscle.

Kettlebell Advantages

  • They are a room-efficient gym you can take anywhere and use anywhere.
  • By varying the weights used, you can use the same movement for cardio, strength-endurance, speed or power.
  • You can do swings, presses, pulls, squatting-type movements and dynamic work.
  • Because kettlebell movements involve the whole body, you work upper and lower body strength concurrently and time effectively.
  • The focus on form for shoulder work helps strengthen and stabilize the shoulder joint.

Getting Started: Find a coach


The best start for any kettlebell user is to begin with finding a skilled and experience coach.

A trained eye can evaluate key parts of foundational moves, such as:

  • proper grip/wrist alignment with the bell.
  • foot-to-knee position.
  • shoulder action.
  • appropriate back alignment.

A few sessions with a coach is the best way to help learn and refine these elegant moves.

Summary and Recommendations

 Kettlebells are a fabulous and often-overlooked tool for strength training and general fitness improvements. The mileage one can get from a single kettlebell is hard to match with any other training tool. As the kettlebell’s signature movements are dynamic, they blend the benefits of multiple joint strength lifts with power and endurance work.

Kettlebell work also helps develop forearm, hand and finger strength because of numerous options for grip, and various weights dynamically challenging the grip repeatedly and at high speeds.

A single kettlebell workout can include a great variety of pushes, pulls and power movements. Because of the options of varying weight and sets, kettlebells offer fat-burning alternatives to bikes or treadmills. Kettlebells engage the whole body with a single tool that is small, portable and affordable for home use.

Whether looking for conditioning, fat-burning, raw strength or power, it’s worth looking into kettlebell training.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is founder/owner of Longevity Athletics.



This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

When you are well-hydrated and conditions are awesome in your body, various processes preserve fluid and electrolyte balance. If you become dehydrated due to illness, stress, exercise, climate variations, supplements, foods or beverages, life-threatening imbalances may occur – major bummer.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • thirst
  • dry skin
  • fatigue and weakness
  • increased body temperature
  • muscle cramping
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • dry mucous membranes (mouth, nose, eyes)

Severe dehydration can also include:

  • muscle spasms
  • vomiting
  • dark urine
  • vision problems
  • loss of consciousness
  • kidney and liver failure


Exercise and Dehydration

During exercise, we need more water. The enhanced metabolic rate of muscle contraction requires a larger delivery of nutrients and oxygen along with faster waste and heat removal from the body – water makes this happen.

Loss of plasma volume during prolonged exercise by dehydration diminishes performance in part because of the associate reduction in stroke volume and increases in heart rate known as cardiovascular drift. So, to maximize your performance potential while exercising, stay hydrated.


If no fluids are going to be consumed during exercise, pre-hydrate with the following regimen:

  • 16 ounces of fluid on the night before exercise
  • 16 ounces of fluid in the morning
  • 16-30 ounces of fluid, 1 hour before exercise
  • 8-16 ounces 20 minutes before exercise

While dehydration is a concern, over-hydration or water intoxication is also something to watch for when consuming your fluids. Hyponatremia is a sodium electrolyte disorder that is associated with drinking excessive amounts of water that can result in death. EEK! Don’t be alarmed, cases are rare and you’d have to consume gallons and gallons of water in a relatively short amount of time for it to be a concern.


Tips for Avoiding Dehydration:

Be aware of thirst cues.

For men, an average of 16 cups or 128 ounces of water a day from fluid and non-fluid sources (e.g. fruits and vegetables) is adequate.

For women, an average of 11 cups or 88 ounces.

Keep in mind there is extreme variability in water needs based on climate and physical activity levels.

Consume nutrient-dense foods/beverages after exercise to assist in the re-hydrating process.

Those with a history of cramping and “salty sweat” should consider adding salt to foods/beverages after exercising (a quarter to half teaspoon).

For every pound of sweat lost during exercise, rehydrate with 2 cups of fluid.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is founder/owner of Longevity Athletics.



This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

What is warming up?

Warming up prepares the body for more intense movement and activity. It literally “warms up” the body by increasing core temperature.

A proper warm-up consists of movements that:

  • Move joints through their full ranges of motion
  • Enhance mobility
  • Release connective tissue bonds
  • Distribute fluid in the joint space
  • Boost speed/force of muscle contractions
  • Promote oxygen uptake

Why warming up is important

While age-related body changes and water loss can contribute to inflexibility, most of it comes down to “use it or lose it.” A proper warm-up helps counteract negative effects of aging while enhancing performance. Not warming up can lead to poor mobility/flexibility, injuries and stiffness.

Warm-up Types

Movements used during a warm-up might include:

  • Movements intended to get the core temperature up and the whole body moving (e.g. brisk walking or light jogging while swinging the arms)
  • Dynamic movements such as stretching while moving (e.g. walking lunges for hip flexibility, or tipping your head side to side for neck mobility)
  • Foam rolling should be included before the dynamic movements as part of a warm-up since it helps with mobility and breaks down scar tissue/adhesions. This relaxes the fascia and makes muscle more pliable.

Flexibility, mobility and injury

Some consider the warm-up a time to build flexibility and mobility. Flexibility is the capacity of a joint to move freely through a full range of motion. Mobility is our ability to produce a desired movement. Both are based on the elasticity of muscle, ligaments and connective tissues, but while poor mobility is correlated with injury, poor flexibility is not necessarily.

We want some areas to be more mobile but other areas to be more stable and strong. For most folks, this means it’s important to mobilize:

  • Front of shoulders
  • Ankles
  • Front of hips and IT band
  • Hamstrings
  • Thoracic spine

Tightness in these areas can contribute to tears and impingements.

Nearly 70 percent of the population will suffer from a shoulder disorder at some point in their lifetime — largely due to the inherent instability of the joint combined with the modern “rounded back” posture that pulls the shoulders forward and hunches the upper back.

While minimal flexibility is related to injury, performing static stretching (exclusively) during a warm-up doesn’t seem to decrease injuries. And too much stretching and flexibility may even increase the rate of injury. Many people, in fact, suffer injuries caused by excessive movement and flexibility in the:

  • Shoulder joint
  • Knees (especially women)
  • Cervical and lumbar spines

Summary and recommendations

Consider your warm-up period an essential part of the workout – not optional free time. It’ll make you stronger and improve your body control, balance, movement mechanics and agility.

Most benefits of a warm-up come from actually warming up the body, which can be accomplished by 4 to 15 minutes of dynamic movements. Find a warm-up that makes your body feel the best, and one that you can stick with.

This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Are you interested in losing body fat, improving your strength, feeling better and looking better? How about accomplishing all of this in half the time of your typical workout routine? Well, you’re not alone. Look no further than High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

What is HIIT?

High intensity interval training is alternating between high and low intensity exercise or between high intensity exercise and a short period of rest. For example, a short sprint up a hill followed by a walk back down, repeated multiple times is HIIT.


Burns fat, not muscle | It’s effective for losing body fat while retaining lean body mass.

Improves multiple aspects of fitness | It’s a great method for strengthening the cardiovascular system and muscular system at the same time.

More efficient | HIIT training is very efficient. A typical HIIT session is 4-20 minutes versus the standard 30-60-minute steady-state cardio routine.

Easier on the body | HIIT training session is a lot easier on the joints because total training time is much less.


How to do HIIT

There are many ways to do HIIT. Whichever method you choose, just remember to alternate short bursts of high intensity with periods of rest or low intensity.


HIIT Bodyweight Workout

Using bodyweight based exercises in a circuit can be a very effective form of HIIT.

An example intermediate HIIT circuit using bodyweight exercises could look like this:

Work for 20 seconds on each station with high intensity and good movement control and then rest for 20 seconds. Do this four times at each station before moving to the next station in the circuit. Rest 1 minute between each station. When you have finished the last station in the circuit you have finished your first HIIT workout.

20 seconds of work / 20 seconds of rest / 4 times each station / 1 minute rest between each station.

Bodyweight Squats


Mountain Climbers

Jumping Jacks

Total workout time = 13:40


Disclaimer: “high intensity” means high intensity for YOU. If you’re a beginner, a fast jog or uphill walk for 10 seconds is a better start than trying to handle an all-out sprint workout.

If you’re at all unsure if this is appropriate for you to perform, please consult your doctor before attempting this or any HIIT workout. Safety first!

Don’t forget: Perform an adequate warmup and cooldown when performing HIIT such as dynamic stretches before until warm and static stretches after your workout.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is founder/owner of Longevity Athletics.



This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Strength training, commonly referred to as resistance training, refers to a specialized method of exercise that involves the progressive use of assorted resistive loads and a variety of training methods intended to promote health, fitness and performance improvement.

Wow – can you say long winded much? Let’s put it another way: Strength training is using your muscles against resistance. Muscles adapt to any type of resistance.

The resistance can be a heavy object, one’s own body weight, elastic resistance from bands, or other types of machine resistance from pulleys or hydraulics. The heavy object could be a dumbbell, medicine ball, log, grocery bag, rock, car— anything that has mass.

Why is strength training so important?

For starters – let’s get the obvious out of the way. Strength training makes you stronger. It does this in several ways, including:

■ Building muscle tissue

■ Improving rate of force production — how quickly you can generate force to move against the resistance

■ Strengthening connective tissues such as tendons – it can also make your muscles bigger while creating a demand for blood delivery, engaging the cardiovascular system.

■ Improving muscular coordination — in other words, the ability to coordinate your moving parts

How else can strength training be useful?

Strength training:

■ Preserves and enhances muscle mass

■ Preserves and enhances metabolic rate

■ Improves bone density

■ Improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity

■ Lowers risk of injury

■ Improves ability to engage in daily activities

■ Improves balance

■ Improves self-esteem

■ Enhances strength and endurance

■ Enhances speed, power and agility

■ Improves overall body composition

■ Decreases bad cholesterol levels

■ Decreases blood pressure

■ Improves aerobic capacity

Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle leads to loss of muscle mass and strength which can then influence the development of many chronic diseases. Maintaining muscle mass with strength training can prevent some of the most common and increasingly rampant health conditions, including obesity and diabetes.

Who can strength train?

In the past, strength training was primarily used by athletes to enhance performance and/or increase muscle size. However, strength training is now recognized as critical to everyone’s health and fitness — regardless of gender, age, or ability. Leading health organizations, including the ACSM and NSCA recommend regular strength training as part of one’s fitness regimen.

With a properly constructed workout program that is tailored to individual goals and skills, anyone can strength train: men, women, children and adolescents, older people, and people with disabilities or movement limitations.

Where to go for guidance?

Look for a fitness professional in your areas, specifically a strength and conditioning specialist with credentials from the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association). A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) has undergone the education and training necessary to ensure safe, efficient, and effective outcomes will take place.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, founder/owner of Longevity Athletics.

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

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Peter Rivera is fitness director at Anytime Fitness. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

It is not unusual to find new faces in Maricopa. The city is often a seasonal home for those seeking a mild-weathered respite from the bitter cold that freezes their hometowns during the winter.

However, Maricopa is also a permanent haven for people looking to start an adventure out West.

Peter Rivera, the new fitness director for Anytime Fitness, is one of them. He left the East Coast after 45 years, trading his hustle-and-bustle lifestyle for Arizona’s laidback culture.

When Rivera moved to Maricopa four months ago, he said he was lured by the prospect of opportunity in a growing city.

“It’s always nice to be in the beginning of something,” Rivera said. “There is going to be an explosion of culture here that I think is going to be fantastic to be a part of.”

In January, Rivera began his new position at the gym. His general duties include overseeing the training staff and consulting new members, but Rivera plans to incorporate more into the fitness center than what the basics of what his responsibilities require.

Rivera said he wants to target the older population, as well as those who have permanent movement disorders like cerebral palsy, for training.

With these groups in mind, Rivera said he might consider implementing deceleration training at Anytime Fitness. This unorthodox form of exercise is often used as a preventive measure for sports injuries, but Rivera said he has seen evidence that it also has health benefits for people 50 years old and over, and people with cerebral palsy.

Additionally, Rivera would like to collaborate with medical and fitness professionals in the area to create a referral network for clients seeking help from either side.

“I see a cohesive unit being built here that could actually be a cornerstone for Maricopa itself in this industry,” he said.

The new fitness director said his perspective on what he has accomplished in his las 25 years in the fitness industry is what sets him apart from others in his field.

“I think my biggest accomplishments have been my failures,” Rivera said, adding he believes how a person responds to adversity is what matters most.

No stranger to challenges, Rivera said while growing up he was told by others that he was an “undersized kid,” a comment he carried with him until a chance meeting with a fitness icon.

After seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in an airport as a teen, Rivera said it inspired him to “be as big as Arnold.”

Rivera said the people around him cast doubt over his bulky pursuits, but he never gave up.

“I come from people who, when somebody tells you that you can’t, that means you push harder,” he said.

The underdog’s confidence is something he said he hopes to transfer to those who enter the gym.

“I love seeing people do things that they never thought they could do. That’s why I do this job in the first place,” Rivera said.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Our obsession with calorie counting, macronutrients and dieting over the past 30 years has resulted in increased body-fat levels. So what’s the deal? Let’s take a quick look at why fat loss is important and steps you can take in beating the battle of the bulge.


As a group, people in most industrialized societies are likely to be overweight.

This isn’t just a superficial thing. Excess body fat can negatively affect nearly every aspect of life, including:

■ increased risk of stress fractures
■ increased risk of organ failure
■ poor circulatory health
■ increased risk of heart disease
■ increased risk of strokes
■ increased risk of cancers
■ poor emotional health and self-esteem
■ decreased sexual and reproductive health



1. Exercise at least five hours per week.
2. Eat whole/unprocessed foods at regular intervals, while being aware of physical hunger/fullness cues.
3. Substitute trigger foods with foods that are similar tasting and texture but align with your goals (e.g. substitute cauliflower rice for instant rice).
4. Use a journal/planner and create simple, weekly meal plans that are practical.
5. Sleep 7-9 hours per night.
6. Don’t engage in extreme diets.
7. Stay consistent with your habits.
8. Incorporate daily, non-exercise physical activity.
9. Ignore food advertising.

Here’s the problem: As a whole, we’re not very good at losing fat either. Even the most advanced obesity treatments (e.g. bariatric surgery, medication) have success rates of less than 10 percent for permanent weight reduction/management.

About 95 percent of those who are overweight go on repeated diets, only to gain most or all of the weight back within one year. Nearly 70 percent of people in the United States are overweight or obese. The percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who are overweight has doubled since 1980.

So what can we do to stop this trend and end this cycle? Start with taking it one day at a time. It’s about progress, not perfection. When you stumble, don’t beat yourself up for going astray. Just get back on track and continue applying the steps listed below.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is owner of Longevity Athletics.

This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Squatting is as fundamental to human movement as apple pie is to America. Performing a squat involves nearly every muscle in the body.

It’s essential for picking up stuff off the floor, sitting down, going to the bathroom – basically most day-to-day activity we tend to take for granted.

Additionally, exercise science tells us squats are excellent for building strength, power and mobility. Full, properly-performed squats can help counteract many of the chronic musculo-skeletal problems we face today, such as weak glutes, poor posture, lower back pain and a weak core.

If a person can properly perform a full-depth squat with their own bodyweight, without pain or discomfort, they are probably fairly fit.

Below are some recommendations on how to master the ultimate exercise. Enjoy!


If you want to get better at the squat, practice. Practice helps coordinate movement and build the mobility you need to do the movement properly.

Every body type is different. Try a variety of squats, stances and ranges of motion. Focus on form and proper technique, not piling on weight to impress your gym buddies. Check your ego at the door.

Do your mobility drills. A body with poor mobility is a body that will likely get injured with squats.

Full squats are often safer than shallow squats. The deeper you go when squatting, the more muscles are recruited.

Control the descent and reverse the movement carefully. Don’t rely on your ligaments to bounce you out of a deep squat.

Think about how the squat helps your fitness and performance. The squat technique that allows you to lift the most weight isn’t necessarily the best or most appropriate option.

Keep it simple. Even babies can squat. Don’t over-think it.

Troubleshooting Your Squat

When you’re learning the squat, snap photos or videotape yourself. This can provide invaluable feedback.

Trouble getting a comfortable squat pattern? Try a wider stance with toes pointed out a little. (Remember knees follow toes.)

Use natural foot positioning (similar to other athletic movements), with toes slightly out.

Keep heels on the ground. If need be, put small plates under your heels until you develop better mobility in hip and ankle joints.

Control squat speed, using a 2-3 second descent (unless your sport/activity demands another style).

Maintain a neutral spine.

Take breaks — fatigue can result in poor mechanics.

Keep your hands close to your body.

Look forward and keep your head up.

Work on mobility drills for ankles, hips and the thoracic spine.

Trouble keeping the weight on your heels? Take off your shoes or get a thin-soled shoe. Keep your chest proud and core tight.

Trouble squatting deep? Get your body warmed up. Widen your stance and rotate your toes out. Start the squat by sitting your hips back. Try box squat progressions (high to low box).

Focus on keeping the knees out and “spreading the floor.” Drop the amount of resistance you’re using.

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Are sweet potatoes really healthier that white potatoes?

By Aaron Gilbert

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange
Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

White v. sweet potato: A nutritional debate fueled by misinformation, baseless claims and carbohydrate fears. Here’s what the evidence says — and why they both deserve a place in your diet during the holidays and beyond.

Both white and sweet potatoes, when eaten as part of a balanced and intentional diet, provide a fantastic array of nutrients while contributing to the fullness and deliciousness of any meal.

Which are really healthier?
Claim 1: Sweet Potatoes are the “superfood.”
If all you want is Vitamin A, then sure, sweet potatoes get the win. But when you pit them against white potatoes for overall nutrition value, it’s a virtual tie.

Claim 2: Avoid potatoes because of the glycemic load.
Worried potatoes will make your blood sugar and appetite spike? Both potatoes and sweet potatoes fall in the middle to high range on the glycemic load scale. Total carbohydrates and calorie intake has a bigger impact on important health markers. Plus, glycemic load is generally irrelevant to health and leanness because your blood sugar’s response to food varies.

Claim 3: Avoid all potatoes because of carbs.
Think the carbs will cause weight gain? Actually, the carbs in potatoes and sweet potatoes are mostly starch and fiber, which help you stay healthy and lean. Potatoes contain beneficial starch, which, like fiber, doesn’t digest at all. Resistant starch and fiber get fermented in the gut, producing short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids may keep you fuller longer, act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria, prevent absorption of toxins, decrease inflammation and decrease risk of colon cancer.

How to eat potatoes and sweet potatoes
Potatoes get a bad rap because they’re often used in high-calorie dishes. In reality, there’s a range of ways in which potatoes and sweet potatoes fit into a healthy diet. Eat more often: Boiled, roasted, baked, olive oil and herbs, topped with salt. Eat less often: Mashed with cream and butter, loaded, fried, chips.

How much to eat
Start with 1 to 2 cupped handfuls of your choice of white or sweet potatoes per meal. Then, adjust portion sizes up or down based on Individual goals such as fat loss or fuel for athletics performance, body size (smaller people need less), individual carb needs (higher for active, lean people) and individual preferences.

Benefits of eating potatoes and sweet potatoes
•    Helps you feel psychologically satisfied and physically satiated
•    Ensures that your diet has “carb variety” and keeps colorful food on your plate
•    Gives you steady, slow-burn energy
•    Helps you get beyond “good foods” vs. “bad foods”
•    Helps you achieve health and fitness goals

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids come in liquid, powder or pill form. Aim for 10-15 g per hour of training.

P+C DRINK: In some cases you’ll want to use a protein + carbohydrate (P+C) drink during exercise. For every hour of training, you’ll have: 15g protein (1/2 scoop protein powder) + 30-45 g carbs (2 cups juice or sports drink)

Try to select products that contain no sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.

In my last article, we focused on how optimized nutrition can help you recover faster from injury. Let’s now take a look at how nutrition and select supplements can be optimized to assist with getting more out of your training sessions.

With the overabundance of information available on optimal nutrition and supplementation, it’s easy to suffer from paralysis by analysis. Let’s make it simpler. Here’s what to eat before, during and after exercise broken down by body type and goal.

I’m generally lean, with a smaller frame and thinner limbs. I have a fast metabolism and tolerate carbs well. I’m usually trying to gain muscle or support my endurance exercise.


Before Exercise
Eat “ectomorph meal” 1-2 hours before activity.

During Exercise
For weight gain: 1 P+C drink
For endurance support: 1 P+C drink
For fat loss: BCAAs or water
For maintenance: BCAAs or water

After Exercise
Eat “ectomorph meal” 1-2 hours after activity

THE ECTOMORPH MEAL (use your hand to measure)

2 palms of protein-dense foods (e.g. chicken, fish)
2 fists of vegetables (e.g. broccoli, kale, spinach)
3 cupped handfuls of carb-dense foods (e.g. fruits, root vegetables)
1 Thumb of fat-dense foods (e.g. nuts, coconut oil)

1 palm of protein dense foods
1 fist of vegetables
2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
½ thumb of fat-dense foods

I’m generally athletic looking with a medium-sized frame. I seem to gain muscle and stay lean easily. I’m usually trying to optimize my physique or boost my sports performance.


Before Exercise
Eat “mesomorph meal” 1-2 hours before activity.

During Exercise
For weight gain: 1 P+C drink or BCAAs
For endurance support: 1 P+C drink
For fat loss: BCAAs or water
For maintenance: BCAAs or water

After Exercise
Eat “mesomorph meal” 1-2 hours after activity

THE MESOMORPH MEAL (use your hand to measure)

2 palms of protein-dense foods
2 fists of vegetables
2 cupped handfuls of carb-dense foods
2 thumbs of fat-dense foods

1 palm of protein-dense foods
1 fist of vegetables
1 cupped handful of carb-dense foods
1 thumb of fat-dense foods

I generally have a large frame and am heavier than most. I have a slower metabolism and don’t tolerate carbs as well. I’m usually trying to lose fat or support my strength.


Before Exercise
Eat “endomorph meal” 1-2 hours before activity.

During Exercise
For weight gain: BCAAs or water
For endurance support: BCAAs or water
For fat loss: BCAAs or water
For maintenance: BCAAs or water

After Exercise
Eat “endomorph meal” 1-2 hours after activity.

THE ENDOMORPH MEAL (use your hand to measure)

2 palms of protein-dense foods
2 fists of vegetables
1 cupped handful of carb-dense foods
3 thumbs of fat-dense foods

1 palm of protein dense foods
1 fist of vegetables
½ cupped handful of carb-dense foods
2 thumb of fat-dense foods

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Even at Longevity Athletics – with our professionally supervised, scientifically formulated and individually tailored fitness experience – accidents happen. The question is, when they do, how can you help the body heal?

It’s not an uncommon notion that nutrition can play a powerful role in injury recovery. Yet when injury strikes, very few know how to put sound nutrition strategies together to improve healing.

In this article, I will introduce proven, best practices for using nutrition to speed up the healing process and get you back in the game – pronto.

Recovering from Injury: How the Body Gets it Done

Tissue Damage – whether from surgery or injury, sets into motion a three-stage recovery process.

1st stage: Inflammation

Pain, swelling, redness and heat; brings in healing chemicals to the injured area.

2nd Stage: Proliferation

Damaged tissues are removed; new blood supply and temporary tissue to the rescue.

3rd Stage: Remodeling

Stronger, more permanent tissue replaces the temporary tissue.

Nutrition for Inflammation Stage

Inflammation is critical as it starts the repair process. Too much, however, can cause additional damage. These strategies help produce the right amount.

Eat anti-inflammatory fats including:
•    Olive oil
•    Avocados
•    Fish oil
•    Flax oil or ground flax
•    Fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines
•    Mixed nuts and seeds

Stay away from pro-inflammatory things Like:
•    Processed foods high in saturated fats
•    Vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean
•    Foods with trans fats

Introduce inflammation-managing herbs and spices:
•    Curcumin from turmeric/curry power – 7 teaspoons a day of powder or 400-600mg in supplement form
•    Garlic – 2-4 cloves a day or 600-1200mg of aged garlic extract
•    Bromelain from pineapple – 2 cups of pineapple a day or 500-1000mg in supplement form
•    Cocoa, tea and berries
•    Eat daily or supplement with blueberry or grape extracts, green tea extracts, citrus extracts and bioflavonoid supplements

Nutrition for Proliferation and Remodeling Stages

Getting enough of the right foods is the first priority. Metabolism can increase 15-50 percent, so you will need fewer calories than when training hard but more than when inactive.

With each meal:
1.    Eat enough protein; minimally processed meats, eggs, plant-based proteins and protein supplements.
2.    Balance your dietary fat about 1/3 of fat intake from saturated, 1/3 from monosaturated, 1/3 from polyunsaturated.
3.    Eat the rainbow with a vibrant mix of fruits and veggies.
4.    Eat enough carbs. You will need less carbs than when training hard but enough to support recovery; the less processed the carbs the better with a preference to root vegetables and fibrous fruits.

Supplements to consider

Supplementing with the following for 2-4 weeks’ post-injury may be helpful:
•    Vitamin A – 10,000IU per day
•    Vitamin C – 1g-2g per day
•    Copper – 2-4mg per day
•    Zinc – 15-30mg per day

Other potentially beneficial supplements are:
•    Arginine
•    HMB
•    Glutamine
•    Proteolytic enzymes

Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, is the owner of Longevity Athletics.


This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

This is the second part of a two-part article discussing youth resistance training.

The first article discussed the importance of kids engaging in a safe, effective, and supervised resistance training program. I want to re-emphasize that regardless of what you hear on the Internet, television and from other people, it is safe for kids to engage in resistance training as long as it supervised by a fitness professional.

This article will focus on how you can design a safe and effective program for your child. I am primarily directing this article to parents due to the fact they are the ones who are most likely to be reading this article. If there are younger kids reading this article, great! First off I am glad you are reading instead of playing video games or watching television and secondly make sure you tell your parents you want to start a resistance training program and attain their approval.

Before outlining the program I would like to make two important points regarding resistance training program design.

Point #1: Resistance training does not necessarily mean working out with heavy weights or weights at all. A person’s body is considered resistance. Examples of body weight exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, rows, etc.

Point #2: I or any other fitness professional can design the most effective program on the planet but without motivation and consistency on the client’s part results will be minimal at best. Motivation and consistency are keys to success.

Program variables
There is a well-known acronym in the fitness profession referred to as FITT implemented in just about any program design. F= Frequency I=Intensity T=Time T=Type. These four variables need to be addressed when designing a program. The sample program that I will design will be for a novice client with no previous weight training experience, no injuries, and can be completed at home. I will first apply the FITT principle to the program design.
F = 2 times per week to start. When ready increase to 3 times per week.
I = Intensity can be evaluated in several ways. In my opinion the easiest way to evaluate intensity for a beginner is to use a Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. On this scale the #1 represents extremely easy/no effort  #10 represents extremely hard/cannot continue. I recommend starting in the 5 range.
T = the time will depend on how much rest is needed. I would suggest spending anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes starting out.
T = the types of exercises will be mostly body weight since the program design will be completed at home.

Muscle group                      Exercise
Quadriceps                         Bodyweight squats
Chest                                  Push-ups
Hamstrings                         *Swiss ball curls
Back (lats)                           Inverted rows
Core                                    Planks

I would suggest starting out with two sets of each exercise and aim for between 10 to 15 repetitions.
*A Swiss ball is also referred to as an exercise ball. They are very affordable and can be used for many exercises. Wise investment.

This is an extremely basic program that focuses on multi-joint movements. Videos for any of these exercises can be found on YouTube or instructional exercise websites. If you do have dumbbells at home you could include bicep/tricep/and shoulder exercises to this routine. This program will get you stronger if you stay motivated and commit to it.

If you have any questions or concerns with this program or more advanced programs please contact me at craig.nolan@mesacc.edu. I specialize in assisting clients with lower back disorders (weakness, recovering from surgery, recovering from injuries, etc.).

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

This is a common question asked by many people who commit to an exercise program, dietary restriction program, or a combination of both.

The answer seems simple: If I expend more calories than I take in I will lose weight. Many people who have lost weight through exercise alone, diet alone, or a combination have been successful. But there are people, and I will bet you know some, that have tried exercise and dieting and have not been successful or as successful as others.

It begs the question, “Why are some people successful at weight loss and others not so successful if they follow the same exercise program and/or diet?”

There are a number of influential factors that can affect the ability of an individual to optimally lose body fat. I will touch on some of the more common reasons as to why some of our bodies seem to want to hold on to that stubborn fat.

Genetics – Overweight teens have a 70-percent chance of becoming overweight adults; this probability increases to 80 percnet if one parent or both parents are overweight or obese (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2007).

Some scientists believe our genes will determine our ability or lack of ability to optimally shed those stubborn, unwanted pounds.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – This term is defined as the energy required to maintain essential physiological processes in a relaxed, awake, and reclined state. A low RMR can be detrimental to a weight loss program. RMR is highly regulated by the thyroid hormones most specifically thyroxine. If an individual is lacking a specific production of the thyroxine hormone it can reduce RMR by 30 to 50 percent.

Stress – When an individual is under an excessive amount of stress it can make losing weight more difficult. Excessive stress signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol, which is classified as a stress hormone. Studies have shown that excessive stress and cortisol levels can lead to excessive fat accumulation in the abdominal area. Fat in this area is highly correlated with heart disease and strokes.

Lack of sleep – The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends younger adults (18-25) and adults (26-64) acquire at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Studies show that inadequate sleep and sleeping disorders can have adverse effects on a person’s appetite.

Leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone, will decrease in people that are sleep-deprived. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to consume foods that will spike their insulin levels to try and increase their energy levels in order to make it through the day.

There can be many other reasons as to why people struggle to lose those unwanted pounds.

Three out of the four factors that I have discussed can be improved through positive lifestyle changes. RMR can be increased by engaging in regular resistance training exercise. Stress can be alleviated by allocating time in the day for diaphragmatic breathing or meditation. Sleep can be improved by adhering to a regular sleep cycle.

If you’re not willing to adopt these new lifestyle changes and would rather pin the blame on someone else, look no farther than Mom and Dad. The genes that were passed onto you from them are highly influential in determining your body type.

Obesity and sleep. (2016). Retrieved March 31st, 2016, from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/obesity-and-sleep/page/0/1
Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription: 6th ed. (2010). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Murray, R., & Kenney, W. L. (n.d.). Practical Guide to Exercise Physiology. (2010). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.

By Craig Nolan

Most adults do not meet the recommended amount of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.  What is the reason for this?  The typical response will vary but will usually include the following:  I don’t have time, I am not motivated, I don’t know how to, I can’t afford a gym membership.  None of these are actual valid reasons for not exercising but rather are excuses.

According to the World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, lack of physical activity constitutes the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

When the average person becomes ill she/he will visit their doctor in the hope of finding a cure for what ails them.  More often than not their doctor will prescribe them some type of pharmaceutical medication in the hope that this will remedy the problem.  The problem with this method of “treatment” is many of these medications do not cure the problem but rather mask the problem.  In addition many pharmaceutical medications come with a host of negative side effects which may include the following: itching, rash, dry mouth, drowsiness, elevated heart rate, nausea, and thoughts of suicide.

What if there was one simple prescription that could lower the risk of premature mortality, improve quality of life, and does not come with any of the negative side effects that most prescription medications do?  That prescription is readily available at no cost.  What is this magic pill?  Exercise!

Regular physical activity can achieve the following:  lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent, reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent, lower the risk of stroke by 27 percent, lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, decrease depression and anxiety symptoms as effectively as medication, and much more.

In 2007, the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine put in motion the Exercise is Medicine initiative.  The objective of this program is to further promote the scientifically proven health benefits of exercise.  This program calls for doctors to discuss their patients’ exercise habits in all of their interactions.  If these patients are not meeting the recommended amount of physical activity they will be made aware of the required recommendation and/or be referred to a fitness professional who can assist them in attaining their health related goals.

Exercise is a free “pill” that can be taken anywhere at any time!  It has tremendous upside with very few negative side effects.  I encourage all of you take your daily dose today and begin reaping the benefits of this wonder drug.

US Physical Activity Guidelines. (2008). Retrieved Feb. 10, 2016, Health.gov/PAGuidelines/
What is Exercise is Medicine? (2016). Retrieved Feb. 10, 2016, ExerciseIsMedicine.org/

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College.