Tag Archives: exercise

Christmas letter and updated recipe and exercise pages

FYI, Cathy and I posted our 2012 Christmas newsletter  on our web site: dcbarfield.org.  It includes highlight from our full 2012 and our big anticipation for coming year: we will be grandparents (expected in June).

We have also and updated our page on healthy recipes, adding many new recipes and organizing them better.

Finally, we have also updated our list of favorite at-home exercise routines at http://dbarfield.org/healthdiet/exercise/.  The benefits to heart, muscles, brains and overall health are profound and well worth it.

Next time: a bit about my work.

2012 Arkansas River Compact meeting
2012 Arkansas River Compact meeting

The First 20 Minutes, a book review

Driven by a family history of heart disease and diabetes and a job that is both high stress and low in physical activity, I have made exercise a regular  part of my life. I started with 20 minutes a day and gradually built from there. Even though a regular part of my life, it is not always easy to get up and get it done. Is it worth it? How much exercise do I need? What type of exercise do I need? Not easy questions with all the competing information out there.

The First 20 Minutes, by Gretchen Reynolds, tackles these important questions. Ms. Reynolds seeks to provide today’s best answers to these questions by reviewing what science is currently telling us about exercise. She reviews what science says about its benefits, how much we should do, and what type we should do. And she uncovers a number of surprises uncovered by science in recent year.

In doing so, she has written a book that has helped me hone my exercise program and encourages me to keep it up.

While I think the book is worth buying and reading in its entirety, the greatest benefits will be gained in reading first chapter of the book (which may take more than 20 minutes).

While I hope to write more specifics later, here are some of the big ideas and specifics I got from the book:

  • We get significant benefits to our longevity from regular activity and/or exercise, esp. from “the first 20 minutes”.  So, “Move More” .
  • There are profound additional benefits to our level of fitness for going beyond the first 20 minutes, and esp. with moderate intensity aerobic and strength training workouts. Recommended amounts of exercise for fitness is 150 minutes low-intensity exercise OR 75 weekly minutes of more vigorous aerobic exercise plus weight training twice a week.  You can split them almost any way you want. I am doing the later (bolded) approach.
  • For the more fitness and athletic-minded, you must push yourself. Yes there is a point where additional activity yields little in the way of benefits to health.
  • High-intensity internal training provides a way to health benefits in even less time. Recent studies indicate there is little value in stretching (“flexibility is overrated”) nor extended warm-ups.  Instead brief dynamic stretching is more effective preparation.
  • Diet and exercise – The book confirmed my notion that there is no pill (or powder) you can take to get in shape or that will contribute significantly to fitness. You just need to eat well.
  • Drink when you are thirsty; don’t over do it.
  • In regard to the relationship between of exercise and weight loss: if you are exercising to lose weight, you are likely to be disappointed. Instead,  exercise for the health benefits, not for weight loss. Research however, does find that regular exercise benefits weight control as most people who keep weight off, exercise regularly.
  • In regard to strength training and workouts, the book provides two primary lessons to me:
  1. Our form matters. For example many damage their backs by doing core training, and esp.  crunches, incorrectly. I do my strength exercises with a DVD with a trainer who leads a workout consistent with best practices. (see my recommendations).
  2. It is good to take care in activities to prevent injury as you are much more likely to get injured if you have been injured before.
  • Exercise also provides very significant benefits to our mind and mood. The chapter is definitely an encouragement to me to exercise when I don’t want to (for more on this see my review on Spark, the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain)

Again, there is much more and I hope in the coming weeks to provide more specifics from the book. In the mean time, you might pick up a copy from the library and read at least the first chapter.

My current workout: the Supreme 90 day

My journey to health of the last 3 years has included regular exercise, including both toning and cardio (mostly running with the dogs). The toning has progressed from easy to more and more challenging (see http://dbarfield.org/healthdiet/exercise/ for what I have used in the past as well as what Cathy has and is using).

But variety and changing up once in a while is good.

One day Cathy came across this system of 10 separate toning routines at our local grocery store for under $10. She took the chance that I could get that much value from it (you can get it via Amazon still for under $20.) If you want a solid, challenging, toning program you can do at home, with variety and minimum equipment, this set is a great value.

You don’t necessary need to keep up with the “athletes/models” on the video. As the instructor says over and over, challenge yourself with what you can handle in terms of weight and pace.

Below is a summary of the 10 CDs and how I use the system. I use 7 of the 10 CD’s, alternating with running (or using our elliptical in the winter).

Most of the workouts can be done in about 30 minutes; a couple of them are 40 minutes.

All the equipment you need is free weights. I current use 8, 10, and 15 pound sets. I may eventually get 20s. Women are challenged to get beyond light weights.  Occasionally the routines use a large Swiss ball, but they provide alternatives if you do not have one.

The day will come when I will likely move on to something else, but for now, this is a great place for me. I have been reading more on exercise lately and these workouts seem consistent with current best practices in exercise.

Here are the 10 DVDs and their time outlines.

  • Warmup (4:19): The warmup includes ab work (the core) & is (at first) like a mini-workout. At over 4 minutes, all of the DVDs except Tabatha Inferno has this warmup.
  • Cool-down (5:57): These are stretches. All of the 10 DVDs have the same cool-down.

1. Chest & Back (32:30 total)
Workout (22:14): At over 22 minutes, they move fast on this first DVD.

3. Tabata Inferno (43:42 total)
Workout (37:45): This is long and tough but I like it. It includes moderate and tough aerobics, with some weight training. The exercises include jumping variations, core work, and the circuits don’t seem to end.  When I am in a hurry, I leave out the last 5 minutes or so.

4. Shoulders & Arms (43:05 total)
Workout (32:49).  This one makes my triceps very sore for a few days. It is getting a bit better as time goes on.

5. Cardio Challenge (41:22 total)
Workout (31:06): A good, challenging, cardio workout, alternating 30 seconds of aerobics, followed by 30 seconds of rest, followed by 30 seconds of using moderate weights in an aerobic fashion, followed by 30 seconds of rest, and then repeat the same pattern.

6. Legs (33:17 total)
Workout (22:51): This is not only leg work, including a fair amount of ab (core) work.

7. Total Body (33:33 total)
Workout (23:17). As the name implies, a good all-around workout.

8. Core Dynamics (28:22 total)
Workout (18:06): At just over 18 minutes, this is the shortest workout.

CD’s I do not use (and my substitutes)

2. Ultimate Ball (40:49 total) [I use Core Dynamics instead]
Workout (30:33): This uses the large Swiss ball. I just did it without the ball.

9. Back & Bi’s (56:38 total) [I use Shoulder/Arms instead]
Workout (46:22): This is the longest workout, at over 46 minutes.

10. Chest, Shoulders, & Tri’s (45:18 total) [I use Chest/Back instead]
Workout (34:52):