6 Little Lies That Can Ruin Your Health
Weight, Workouts, and SleepYou tell yourself...I don't have to work out -- chasing my kids around is enough.
Reality check: If you spend an hour or so a day running after your kids, you are getting some health benefits -- a modest calorie burn, an immune-system boost, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But it's the more intense, sustained movement lasting 30 minutes or more that provides the maximum health and weight-loss benefits, says Heather Fink, RD, assistant director of the Center for Educational Services at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis. The solution: Transform kid duty into exercise. If you typically stroll in the park with your 2-year-old, for example, pick up the pace and try to log in 30 minutes. And while your child naps or plays, strength-train at home. Build a workout around push-ups, lunges, walking lunges, squats (sitting in a chair, then standing up), calf raises (going up and down on your toes when you're standing on a stair) and triceps dips. "Try to do 8 to 12 reps and two sets of each exercise," advises Fink. You can also use easy at-home equipment such as resistance bands and hand weights, and do exercise DVDs.You tell yourself...I'm not overweight, I'm just big-boned.
Reality check: We know it's hard to hear, but if your body-mass index (BMI) -- a measure of fat based on height and weight -- is 25 or higher, you may need to lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight, says Dr. Ballantyne. Unfortunately, bone mass can constitute only 4 to 7 percent of your total weight -- about 6 to 10 pounds if you weigh 150 -- and that's considered too small to affect BMI, says Gregory W. Heath, a professor of health and human performance at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.
Reality check: Skimping on shut-eye is okay every once in a while, but getting fewer than seven hours a night will make you moody, irritable, and less productive. "Sleep debt makes multitasking and the ability to focus more difficult," says Clete A. Kushida, MD, PhD, director of the Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research in Palo Alto, California. The health consequences are pretty steep too: People who typically get five hours a night have 15 percent higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that can stimulate appetite, than those who get eight hours, according to researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. Other studies have shown a possible increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer.
If you feel like nodding off whenever you've got quiet time -- a train ride or a long movie -- then you need more sleep.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2007.
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