Tags Articles tagged with "exercise"


by -
Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

When we work out intensely, we damage tissues at the microlevel, and we use fuel.

This is what ultimately makes us stronger, leaner, fitter and more muscular, but in the short term it requires repair.

Repair and rebuilding occurs through the breakdown of old, damaged proteins (aka protein breakdown) and the construction of new ones (aka protein synthesis) — a process known collectively as protein turnover.

Muscle protein synthesis is increased slightly (or unchanged) after resistance workouts, while protein breakdown increases dramatically. We’re doing a lot more breaking-down than building-up.

The relationship between these two parameters (rate of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown) represents the metabolic basis for muscle growth.

What to eat

Post-workout nutrition requires two things:

  1. Protein to aid in protein synthesis
  2. Carbohydrates to help replace muscle glycogen (and to enhance the role of insulin in transporting nutrients into cells)

You could certainly eat a whole food meal that meets these requirements after exercise. However, whole food meals aren’t always practical.

Some people aren’t hungry immediately after exercise. Whole food digests slowly, and we want nutrients to be available quickly. A whole-food meal that requires refrigeration might be less practical.

On the other hand, consuming a liquid form of nutrition that contains rapidly digesting carbohydrates (e.g. maltodextrin, dextrose, glucose) and proteins (e.g. protein hydrolysates or isolates)

  • might accelerate recovery by utilizing insulin for nutrient transport into cells;
  • can result in rapid digestion and absorption; and
  • is often better tolerated during and after workouts.

Data indicate that it may only take about 20 grams of protein after a workout to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Once your workout is complete, have a whole food meal within an hour or two.

If priority No. 1 is to lose body fat, use only BCAAs as a workout drink, and five to 15 grams per hour of training. (If you weigh 200-plus pounds consume closer to 15 grams; less than 200 pounds, closer to five grams). If you’re leaner but still want to lose fat, choose a smaller dose (like 1/2 dose) of the protein plus carb combination, or opt for BCAAs.


Aaron Gilbert, CSCS, owns Longevity Athletics.

This column appears in the June 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.

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.

Why sleep is so important, and how to get more of it

What we experience and learn during the day is solidified when we sleep.

By Aaron Gilbert

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

If your nutrition and exercise are on point but you still don’t feel or look the way you want, poor sleep may be the culprit. Let’s get into how we can make rest a daily priority.

4 Signs Your Sleep Habits Aren’t Cutting it

1. Brain fog

What we experience and learn during the day is solidified when we sleep. Interference with this process causes:
•    Confusion
•    Reduced alertness and concentration
•    Impaired judgment
•    Forgetfulness

2. You are getting sick … a lot

When you don’t sleep enough, T-cells go down and inflammation goes up resulting in:
•    Increased vulnerability to viruses and bacteria
•    Increased risk of heart disease and other inflammatory illnesses

3. You are unhappy

While we sleep, hormone production is regulated. Interference here causes:
•    Emotional instability
•    Heightened stress
•    Worsened mood

4. You are struggling with your weight

Poor sleep is linked to excess body fat, as it can:
•    Disrupt appetite regulation
•    Cause you to feel hungrier
•    Lead to increased food consumption

7 Ways to Prepare for a Good Night’s Rest

As odd as it may seem, your path to great sleep starts first thing in the morning.

1. Rise at the right time

You will feel better and more alert if you wake from a light sleep stage. If you feel groggy, try using a device or app that senses sleep cycles and wakes you at the best time.

2. Get moving immediately

Movement can speed the waking process, whereas hitting the snooze button does the opposite. When it’s time to wake, sit up, put your feet on the floor, and get moving!

3. Be careful of alcohol and caffeine

Consuming caffeine after 2 p.m. and/or having more than 1-2 drinks in the evening can prevent deep sleep.

4. Exercise

Regular exercise helps normalize your body’s 24-hour clock, regulate your fight-or-flight system and optimize your hormone levels.

5. Eat a small to medium dinner

Too much food can make it harder to fall asleep. A blend of minimally processed proteins, fats, and slow-digesting carbs can keep you satisfied until morning and make you feel sleepy.

6. Clear your mind

Whatever thoughts are in your head, get them out and onto paper. This prepares for you for genuine relaxation.

7. Sleep at least seven hours

Most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night. Even adding 30 minutes can make a big difference.

More Tips for Better Sleep

Turn Off Electronics: Stay away from all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin, which insures deep sleep and helps regulate metabolism.

Unwind: Reading, meditation and gentle movement (stretching, yoga, walking) can release tension and activate relaxation chemicals.

Be Cool: Most people sleep better when it’s cool (around 67° F).

Darken Your Room: To maximize melatonin production, cover your windows and make sure your phone is face-down. Use a motion-sensitive or dim light to illuminate mid-sleep bathroom trips.

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


This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

It’s a fact – we all get sick. But it’s not easy knowing what to do about it. Is exercise, or rest, the best medicine? Let’s find out.


When we are faced with a foreign attack, our immune system works hard to defend us.

•    Innate Immunity (natural immunity)
•    Physical Structural barriers (like mucous lining in nasal passages)
•    Chemical barriers (like our stomach acids)
•    Protective cells (NK cells – white blood cells that can destroy harmful invaders)
•    Adaptive Immunity (acquired immunity)

Acquired immune response is the reason for vaccination. Subject your body to a tiny dose of a pathogen, and it will know what to do when confronted with a bigger dose.

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Every day, bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites infiltrate us. It’s a germ nightmare out there. And the most common invaders cause colds, sinusitis, middle ear infections, influenza, coughs, tonsillitis and throat infections.

How Exercise Affects the Immune System

One Time Exercises:
•    Moderate Intensity Exercise Session (20-60 minutes) – Can boost Immunity
•    Prolonged Vigorous Exercise Session (2 or more hours) – Depresses the adaptive immune system.

Chronic Exercises:
•    Resistance Training – stimulates innate immunity
•    Moderate Exercise – strengthens adaptive immunity

Other Factors Affecting Immunity

Stress – It’s a big factor that affects the immune system. Adding the stress of prolonged vigorous exercise to a weakened immune system will simply overload it.

Age – Our innate immune response can break down as we get older. But staying physically active and eating a nutritious diet can reverse many of these changes.

Sleep – Poor sleep quality and/or prolonged sleep deprivation jeopardizes immune function.

Training Age – A higher level of fitness is protective as it may limit the stress response to exercise.

What You Should Do

If you feel healthy and simply want to prevent getting sick, stay moderately active most days of the week. If you participate in high-intensity workouts, make sure you’re getting enough rest and recovery time. Manage extreme stress levels, get plenty of sleep and wash your hands.

If you are already feeling sick, let your symptoms be your guide. Consider all the stress you are managing in your life (e.g. psychological, environmental).

With a cold/sore throat (no fever or body aches/pains), easy exercise is likely fine as tolerated [e.g. low heart-rate “cardio” (100-150 bpm) during the first few days of sickness, such as 20-30 minutes of walking].  You probably don’t want to do anything vigorous, no matter how long the duration.

If you have a systemic illness with fever, elevated heart rate, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain/weakness, and enlarged lymph nodes, get some rest! If you have a serious virus and you exercise, it can cause problems.

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

This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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

By Craig Nolan

Most people know that regularly engaging in cardiovascular exercise is beneficial to the body in many ways. Some of these benefits include the following: strengthens the heart muscle, increases metabolism, improves lung function, increases energy, and decreases fat. What many people don’t know is the level of intensity they should be exercising at. Typically the intensity of cardiovascular exercise is determined by how many times your heart beats per minute. There is a simple formula to use to figure out if you are exercising at an optimal level.

The first step in determining your target heart rate is to calculate what your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is. This is determined in the following way: 220 – Age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). I am currently 44 years old so my Target Heart Rate would be calculated in the following manner: 220 – 44 = 176.

The second step is deciding upon the intensity of the exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) uses the following percentages to assist you in determining your ideal target heart rate. Beginners should calculate their target heart rate at 50 to 65 percent of their maximum heart rate. Intermediate exercisers should calculate their target heart rate at 60 to 75 percent of their maximum heart rate. Advanced exercisers should calculate their target heart rate at 70 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate. It is best to calculate your target heart rate using both percentages that way you have a range to adhere to.

I will use myself as an example again to determine how I would calculate my target heart rate.

Step 1: 220 – age         220 – 44 = 176

Step 2: 176 x .7 = 123 beats per minute (bpm)

Step 3: 176 x .85 = 150 beats per minute (bpm)

Target heart rate = 123 to 150 beats per minute

As you can see from my example this is a very basic calculation. The final step is knowing how to properly take a pulse. Proper location is everything when taking a pulse. The two most common locations for finding your pulse is at the wrist and the side of your neck.

The radial pulse is located at the base of your thumb. With your opposing hand place two finger tips on this area (do not use your opposing thumb) and feel for the pulse. The carotid pulse is located by pressing the finger tips against the side of the trachea aka “windpipe.”

When taking a pulse during exercise it is best to take the pulse for 15 seconds and then multiply the beats time four. Sometimes it can be difficult to get an accurate count when trying to count pulses for 60 seconds and exercising at the same time.

If you find that checking your pulse is too difficult while exercising I would recommend purchasing a wireless heart rate monitor. This takes the hassle out of checking your pulse and these wireless monitors are much more accurate than the hand held monitors found on many cardiovascular exercise machines.

Determining your target heart rate is important for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is to avoid under or overtraining. If you are undertraining you are less likely to meet your fitness goals. If you are overtraining you may be susceptible to injury.


Melone, L. (2012, January 13). American College of Sports Medicine. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.acsm.org/

Craig Nolan is a Maricopa resident and a member of the Exercise Science faculty at Mesa Community College. Contact him at craig.nolan@mesacc.edu.


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

By Craig Nolan

I can vividly recall my first encounter with lifting weights when I was 12 years old.

Our family had a weightlifting set in our basement that included a bench, a leg extension, and a curl bar. I always admired athletes and action hero movie stars (Rambo, Rocky, and The Terminator) who had developed muscular physiques through resistance training. My goal was to one day build a physique that would rival theirs. I would work out in the morning before school or in the evening before bed.

Did I really know what I was doing? No, but it sure felt good doing it and over time I started to notice I was definitely becoming stronger, and friends and family members would comment that I was starting to look “bigger.” I assumed I was doing something right.

I never did attain the much admired “Rocky Balboa physique” but I did research and study the topic of youth resistance training while earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I remember reading and hearing the following comments from random people: “Weight training is not safe for kids” and “Lifting weights will stunt their growth.”

As I became more educated on the topic of resistance training, these random statements made no sense to me. I would ask myself, “Why is it safe for adults to lift weights and not kids?” and “How could strengthening muscles and bones stunt one’s growth?” As an educator I tell my students to never accept other’s statements/opinions as fact unless it is supported by research.

Wel,l I am here to inform you that the research does support our youth engaging in a safe and supervised resistance training program – safe and supervised being the key words.

There is no scientific evidence that proves that resistance training will stunt one’s growth. In fact the “prebone,” also known as growth cartilage, will actually become stronger as a result of engaging in regular resistance training. Kids that are engaging in sports or any activity for that matter that includes running, jumping, and landing will experience much more force on the joints than what is experienced in a safe resistance training program.

There was a study that investigated the injury rates among adolescents in various activities. This study supported the fact that resistance training and weightlifting had lower overall injury rates among its participants than other sports such as rugby. When occurrences of injuries did occur while resistance training, it was usually a result of what I term “user error.”

These user errors include the following risk factors: unsafe exercise equipment, excessive load and volume, improper technique, previous injury and an unsafe exercise environment. All of these factors can be remedied if a youth exercise program is designed and supervised by a qualified fitness professional.

The benefits of kids engaging in resistance training far outweigh the possible negatives. The percentage of children aged 6 to 11 years in the United States who are classified as obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. The percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over that same time period.

Lack of exercise is a highly contributing factor to these increased rates of obesity. Exercise professionals, educators, and parents should be encouraging our youth to regularly resistance train to attain the following benefits: increase lean muscle mass, decrease fat mass, increase strength, increase energy levels, increase bone mineral density, decrease blood pressure, and the list goes on.

My next article will discuss how to design an effective and safe youth resistance training program.

“Childhood Obesity Facts.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. August 27, 2015. Accessed May 15 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

Faigenbaum, A. and et al. (2011). Injury Trends and Prevention in Youth Resistance Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33(3), 36-41.

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

Aaron Gilbert. Photo by William Lange

By Aaron Gilbert

Yes! I’ve hit my physical activity goal of 1,000 calories expended today. That means, by the end of the week I should be down two pounds and just 10 away from my goal weight. Right, FitnessPal? Well, maybe not so much…

Let’s explore three reasons why the supposed tried and true method of calorie counting for weight management is a flawed approach and not an exact science like many want you to believe.

1  Calorie counts are not precise.

Food companies use any of the five different methods available to estimate the calories you see on nutritional labels. These methods are derived from research done over 100 years ago. Current research has shown that the true calorie content is often significantly higher or lower.

For example: One medium apple can be anywhere from 83 calories to 116, and one large sweet potato ranges from 231 calories to 705.

The FDA permits up to 20 percent of inaccuracy due to the variation between the methods used for calculating. This translates to 150 calories looking more like 130-180.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

All factors considered. Expect error to be as much as 50 percent.

2  Our bodies don’t absorb all the calories we consume.

You’ve probably heard before not all the food you eat is absorbed. Some calories pass through us undigested, and this varies as much as there are different things to eat.

Scientists created the formula we use to evaluate food absorption decades ago. The problem with this formula is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, it doesn’t work for nuts and seeds because we absorb fewer calories from them than calculated. With almonds only 68 percent of the calories are absorbed and pecans 79 percent. This formula also is wrong about fiber- rich foods, from which we are consuming an average of 17 percent more calories than reported.

Expect a margin of error around 10 percent due to food absorption variability.

3  Food preparation affects calorie load.

Cooking your food generally makes more calories available for absorption. Additionally, chopping and blending your food increases the calories absorbed as well.

For example, grilling your fist-sized steak takes it from just about 200 calories to almost 250. Parboiling your eggs adds almost 30 calories to each.

Calorie counting is not as perfect and linear as individuals/companies would like you to believe. Count on up to 25 percent margin of error when counting your calorie intake. Yes, it is a method that can be helpful in creating structure and organization when incorporating behavior-focused goals. Yes, it can assist with accountability and goal attainment as many of my clients can attest to. What it is not, is an exacting, precise, and singular means of sustainable weight management.  Think of it as a tool to use in your arsenal along with your hand for portion control.

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


This column appeared in the May 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 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.

Aaron Gilbert is the owner of Longevity Athletics in Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The holidays often wreak havoc on diets, but Longevity Athletics owner Aaron Gilbert has a few tips to stay healthy during and after the endless feasting of the season.

“During the holidays, it’s a difficult time to stay fit, so it’s important to find ways to put healthy twists on comfort foods,” Gilbert says. “That way you can still enjoy the food without going too far into the dark side.”

With so much of the holiday season revolving around food, it’s not always possible to adjust what we ingest. However, another useful tip to help keep the weight off is to stay active. According to Gilbert, it doesn’t really matter what activities you do, as long as you keep your heart rate up.

“The temperature restricts people, so take advantage of the evenings with activities you may not usually do,” Gilbert says. “Find something that elevates your heart rate for 20 minutes a day. Walk for 20 minutes or even play with your dogs at the park. It’s important just to get moving.”

Health Tips
1. Put healthy twists on comfort foods (less bread and more onions in stuffing, skim milk in mashed potatoes, remove skin and fat from your meat serving).
2. Keep plate balanced with vegetables and fruit.
3. Elevate your heart rate with 20-minute activities daily.
4. Reduce salt or find a salt substitute.
5. If you’ve fallen off your exercise routine during the holidays (or never had one), get moving!

Tips for losing weight and keeping it off
1. Set a weight goal and learn your body mass index (BMI)
2. Eat less – you decide how
3. Keep track of what you’re eating
4. Add activity – it burns calories
5. Stay motivated
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

About Aaron Gilbert
Owner, Longevity Athletics
Age: 38
Family: Wife, brother, mother and half-sister
Hometown: Phoenix
Maricopan since: 2007
Pets: Chihuahua and three cats
Hobbies: Reading, anything outdoors and table tennis
Like most about Maricopa: I like the small town feel in comparison to other places I’ve lived. You get to know people and there is more of a sense of community.
Like least about Maricopa: Out of all the things, I’d like to see the passageway widened to the I-10.
Favorite Food: Homemade bunless burger
Favorite Drink: Coconut water

This story appeared in the Winter edition of InMaricopa the Magazine.