Healthy or Not? Check the Facts
By Robert Arbogast, Fitness Specialist
So you've decided to make healthier food choices and you find yourself roaming through the supermarket aisles. There are thousands of choices, wholesome images on boxes and healthy catch phrases on almost everything. Now what?
The first and most important rule to remember is this: the answers are not on the front of the packaging. Those images of berries and plants and buzz words like 'low-fat' and 'high fiber' are simply advertisements strategically placed to sell products.
Here's a good example. On a recent search for a decent jar of spaghetti sauce, I found that a less eye-catching, less expensive brand of sauce contained about the same amount of calories, but half the sugar and 30% less sodium than the more expensive brand with the "healthier" looking label. The tastes are similar, but the numbers could make a huge difference to you and your family.
The important information needed to make smart choices is in the Nutrition Facts Label. Unlike the mostly unregulated advertisements on the front, food labels are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and are required to be accurate. The FDA also requires that all food labels include, at minimum, the serving size, calories, calories from fat, total fat, amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, sugar, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
In next month's issue we will take a more in-depth look at the numbers on the labels and give a few pointers to help you make your smart choices. In the meantime, take some time to read a few labels and do some comparisons on your own. It's a great way to become more aware of what's out there and what you're putting in your body.
A Quick Tip for Your Plate
Looking for a simple way to keep your calories in check? Make it a habit to fill at least half of your plate with vegetables first. If the remaining space is used for lean protein and whole grains, then you have successfully laid out a healthy meal with less stress on the waist line.
Fitness Tip Video Clip: How to Do a Proper Squat
Our personal trainers and fitness instructors have turned the cameras on themselves to bring you a video clip featuring a popular fitness topic. This month, Jaq and Birgitt demonstrate the proper technique for doing squats. Correct form is important in avoiding injury and effectively working your muscles. Watch now!
We'll have a new clip each month, so if you have an idea or exercise that you would like to see demonstrated, email us at fun@VBgov.com.
New Feature: Ask the Fitness Team
We receive numerous questions about a wide variety of fitness related topics. The questions run the gambit. "How do I stretch this?" "Have you heard of this workout?" "How do I lose this or that?" "Which class is right for me?" As fitness professionals, we take it as a compliment that so many value our opinion, and we work hard to give the best possible advice.
We also want to be able to answer as many questions as possible and know that many of the answers would be valuable to our readers. We are excited to announce our new question and answer section to the newsletter. It's simple and anonymous. If you have a fitness related question, just email it to Robert Arbogast at RArbogas@VBgov.com. We'll answer your question and select one to publish in the next newsletter! Send in your questions so we can be sure we are giving you the information you want when it comes to fitness and wellness.
Q: How Much Time Should I Spend on Cardio?
Answer: We hear this question over and over, but many factors have to be considered. First let's take a look at the recommendations made by the American College of Sports Medicine. They state that for most adults, 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week, or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days per week is recommended.
Knowing the difference between moderate and vigorous is important. Think about a scale of 1 to 10 illustrating how you feel. A feeling of 6 to 7 would be comparable to moderate exercise. With moderate exertion, you're breathing pretty hard and probably sweating. You can talk, but it's tough. A feeling of 8 to 9 would indicate a vigorous workout. At this level, you're breathing really hard and can only say a few words at a time. You're probably wondering how long you can continue at this pace.
Here are a few other factors to keep in mind:
1. If you're new to exercise, moderate workouts are a safer place to start. Consult your doctor to identify any health risks before you start a new exercise plan.
2. If weight loss is the goal, work up to longer durations and more days per week as you progress.
3. Once a routine has been established, customize your plan to include some interval training.
4. For most, the type of cardio is less important than establishing a consistent routine.