Saturday, February 2, 2013
Sixty seconds to living a healthier life

By Daniel Reynen Citizen Columnist

Getting fit isn't just about spending hours in the gym, long runs or special diets. If you have 60 seconds to spare, here are six things you can do to live a healthier life.

Drink one tall glass of water before every meal, it may reduce your desire to eat. In a study done at Virginia Tech in 2010, subjects were instructed to drink a 16-ounce glass of water before every meal.

Over the course of the three-month study, the water drinkers lost an average of 15.5 pounds compared with a loss of 11 pounds for the control group. After a year, the water drinkers lost even more weight, for a year-end total of 17 pounds. Meanwhile, the non-water drinkers gained weight and ended the year with an average of only 9 pounds lost.

Take a couple of deep breaths and make sure you're utilizing your entire lung capacity. When you breathe deeply, you're taking in more energy-producing oxygen. Here's how to see if you're doing it right: Look at your chest and abdomen while you're breathing. Now place one hand on the part that rises and falls the most during each breath. If your abdomen is moving more, you're doing fine. But if your chest is doing most of the moving, you're not utilizing the lower part of your lungs. Breathe in through your nose and concentrate on filling your abdomen with air. Your abdomen should rise and your chest should move very little.

Stand up and do jumping jacks for 60 seconds. Now, I'm the first to admit that a minute of cardio exercise isn't going to do a whole lot, but once you're on your feet, stay there for 15 to 30 minutes. Researchers found that people who sit for the majority of their day are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. Doing jumping jacks gets you out of your chair and reminds you to spend more time standing.

Check your pulse first thing in the morning. Ideally your heart should be beating less than 75 times per minute. In a 20-year study on more than 4,000 Frenchmen, researchers learned that if you have a resting heart rate less than 75, you reduce the risk of an early death by 20 percent. However, if your heart rate is over 75, it increases the risk of an early death by an astonishing 50 percent.

Every morning you wake up with a resting heart rate above 75, schedule time to squeeze in 15 minutes of cardio exercise.

Turn on some music. Researchers have discovered a psycho-biological effect that happens when people listen to music: They become more relaxed; muscle tension is reduced and both blood flow and lactate clearance is higher. Music also provides a "distraction effect" that lowers the influence of stress caused by fatigue. In other words, when you're tired, music can help revive you. You just need to choose music that's upbeat enough to get you excited.

The key is making sure the tempo of the music matches the heart rate you want to achieve. If you're doing something that requires more energy and your target heart rate is 100 beats per minute, the tempo of your music should be 100 beats per minute. Studies indicate that the preferred tempi are one, one and a half, and two times as fast as the heart rate. The tempo of music has a simple, harmonic relationship to heart rate, so keep it more upbeat and lively.

Write out a schedule of what you plan to do daily. For many people, "life happens." They react to whatever is thrown in front of them. The problem is you never make time for the things that are really important.

Take 60 seconds and use that schedule to plan when you're going to eat and when you're going to fit in a little exercise. By putting everything down on paper, you get a realistic look at what you need to accomplish and how you're going to fit healthy things in.

Caution: Before beginning any diet or exercise program, check with your doctor first. For a free consultation with a trainer, call 305-296-3434. More articles are online at