NIFS Healthy Living Blog

The Best Foods to Help You Fight Off Cold and Flu Season

GettyImages-1186344506As the weather turns colder and we spend more time indoors, viruses will become more active among the population. Healthy eating can help you boost your immunity. Here are five of the top choices for fighting colds and flu with food.

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, clementines, lemons, and grapefruits are all excellent sources of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect immune cells from oxidative stress during the early stages of an immune response. Research has shown that a deficiency of vitamin C can result in impaired immunity and a greater susceptibility to infection.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as sockeye salmon and rainbow trout, are often great sources of Vitamin D, a nutrient that plays a role in innate and adaptive immune responses. One study found that vitamin D supplementation resulted in a 42% decrease in the incidence of influenza infection, while another study revealed individuals with lower serum vitamin D levels were more likely to self-report recent upper respiratory tract infections when compared to individuals with sufficient vitamin D levels.

Nuts, Seeds, and Plant-based Oils

Nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been shown to enhance immune response and confer protection against several infectious diseases. These foods are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help strengthen your immune cells, although more research is still needed to fully support these claims.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and other red or orange fruits and vegetables are typically high in vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in the maintenance of the human immune system. Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on diseases transmitted through the respiratory tract, such as pneumonia. For reference, one sweet potato contains 156% of your daily vitamin A requirements.

Oysters

Three ounces of raw oysters provides 291% of your daily zinc needs. Zinc helps the immune system function properly and also has wound-healing properties. Studies have shown that a zinc deficiency is associated with severe immune dysfunction.

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Eating the preceding types of foods can help you strengthen your immune system against the annual winter onslaught of colds and flu. If you’d like more help planning a healthy diet, schedule a NIFS nutrition coaching session.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating immunity fruits and vegetables cold weather plant-based flu viruses

Five Tips for Maintaining Your Health and Fitness over the Holidays

GettyImages-1406790902With the holidays coming up, it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we are bombarded with festive meals, holiday parties, sweet treats, and family gatherings that simply interrupt our normal routine. The holiday season is one of the most difficult times to stay motivated to be healthy. Not to mention the fact that it is several degrees cooler and I would rather hibernate than go out to the gym. Plus, many of us travel to visit family and friends and we are just not close to our gym.

I know that I personally struggle with all of these things, especially because the food around the holiday time is absolutely my favorite. To really get myself into the right mindset, I follow these five tips to make sure I can keep my health and fitness at the level I want it to be at.

1. Maintain the right mindset.

Staying motivated won’t be possible unless you start out with the right mindset. Go into the holiday season determined and dedicated. Do not make excuses when it comes to working out. Make sure that it is really a priority for you and something that is attainable.

2. Make a schedule.

Making a plan and workout schedule ahead of time will make it a lot more difficult to make excuses when the time comes. If you are prepared, you are more likely to get it done. Take a look at your schedule and write down the times that you will be able to get in your workout session.

3. Make it a family activity.

If you are struggling to find the time to balance working out and also spending time with your family, make getting exercise a family activity. For example, my family goes out and walks together, takes fun exercise classes together, and even runs fun holiday-themed 5Ks together. Not only are we working out, but we are making memories as well.

4. Switch up your normal workout.

You can add new exercises to keep it new and exciting. You are less likely to get bored with something that you are working on improving. You can also include more HIIT workouts that will help you achieve a lot in a short amount of time.

5. Know that you don’t always need a gym.

During the holidays, you are more than likely going to be traveling a lot and may not be by a gym. Doing body-weight exercises or using at-home items to lift can be a useful temporary solution when you are away. Try some of these exercises and workouts.

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Even though it's the season of giving, be sure to not give yourself a hard time. Some days a workout just won’t happen, and you may find yourself consuming more calories. We have to remember to be gracious to our minds and our bodies. Being too strict on yourself can cause you to burn out and even create unhealthy habits. Make sure you understand your balance so that you can live your best life.

Happy Holidays and Happy Fitness!

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This blog was written by Emily Lesich, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation holidays Thanksgiving traveling new year's mindset christmas workout plan health and fitness family

Saving Money on Groceries While Eating Well

GettyImages-517974394With inflation at a 40-year high and grocery costs up close to 11% compared to 2021, saving money at the store has become a priority for many. However, when trying to save money at the store, many individuals cut back on the pricier yet healthier items, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources. But you don’t have to do that! Here are some tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy diet while shopping smart and saving money at the store.

  • Have a grocery store game plan. Make a list of the meals and snacks you plan to eat throughout the week and the foods you will need to make them. Sticking to this list will help prevent you from buying things you do not need, which often results in wasted food and money.
  • Join your store's loyalty or rewards program. Often these programs are free and automatically apply savings at checkout, requiring minimal effort from you.
  • Buy “in-season” and “local” fruits and vegetables when possible. Fruits and vegetables that are local or in season are typically cheaper to produce and ship, resulting in a lower price for the consumer compared to hard-to-find or out-of-season produce. See what produce is currently in season at the USDA website.
  • Buy frozen. If you have freezer space available, purchase frozen fruits and vegetables without added salt or sauces. Typically frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and are a fraction of the cost.
  • Buy canned fruits and vegetables. When purchasing fruits, try to buy those that are packaged in 100% fruit juice. When purchasing vegetables, look for those that have “no salt added” listed on the label, or simply rinse prior to preparing/cooking to help wash off some of the salt added for preservation.
  • Grow your own! Grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs to cut back on packaging costs.
  • Buy fresh. Check the “sell by” or “best by” date to ensure you are buying the freshest items.
  • Compare your options. Compare and contrast different sizes and brands to find the most cost-effective option. Looking at the “price per unit” can help you find the best deal.
  • Buy in bulk. When you know a certain food or drink will get used, buy in bulk or purchase value- or family-sized items. For produce and meat, anything that isn’t used can be frozen for later use.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating whole foods fruits and vegetables grocery shopping saving money frozen food

What’s Old Is New: Change Up Your Workouts with the Same Exercises

GettyImages-505776960We’ve all heard that using the same workout program for a long duration is not the most effective way to train. At some point in everyone’s training life, they get into a program or workout routine that just seems to be perfect. It may be time-efficient and enjoyable, and you may see all of the improvements you set out to achieve when you started. These workout programs may last 4, 8, or 12 weeks, but they are always the hardest to switch up even if your improvements (or “gainz”) have stalled.

Balancing the Need for Variety with Favorite Exercises

Exercise variety is great. I recommend switching up different variations of exercises from training cycle to training cycle; I do realize, however, that some of those foundational exercises that you like to perform might always be present.

Most of us have our favorite exercises that are staples in any program that we use. Those favorite exercises also tend to be coupled with rep schemes (sets, reps, rest periods) that we feel like help us get the most out of our time in the gym. It’s almost like we have our default setting on what we are going to do and run with it. But what if you didn’t want to switch up any of the exercises? How could you build an entirely new workout with the exercises you have been doing from the previous block or training cycle?

A Sample Workout with Variations

The answer is actually pretty simple. You can alter the variables of the program to drastically change the look, feel, and performance of any workout. How do you do it? Take a look at the sample full-body workout below and the following two blocks with the same exercises.

Weeks 1–4

  • Front Squat 4x6 (2-minute rest between sets)
  • TRX Row 4x15 (1-minute rest)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 4x12 (2-minute rest)
  • Kettlebell Lateral Lunge 3x8/leg (1-minute rest)
  • Lat Pulldown 3x15 (1-minute rest)

Weeks 4–8

  • Front Squat 3x12 (30-second rest between sets)
  • TRX Row 3x25 (30-second rest)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 3x20 (30-second rest)
  • Kettlebell Lateral Lunge 3x15/leg (30-second rest)
  • Lat Pulldown 3x15 (30-second rest)

Weeks 9–12

  • Front Squat 5x3 (3-minute rest between sets)
  • TRX Row 5x8 (1.5-minute rest)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 4x6 (2-minute rest)
  • Kettlebell Lateral Lunge 4x3/leg (1.5-minute rest)
  • Lat Pulldown 4x10 (1.5-minute rest)

For each four-week block, I made small adjustments to each of the exercise “variables.” Each of these blocks will give you an entirely different feel than the preceding block. By changing sets, reps, and rest periods, you are altering the stressors on the body. You are also changing what the goal for your cycle may be. Want to work on pure strength? Use low reps, lots of sets, and big rest periods. Muscular endurance? Try lots of reps and little rest.

Small Changes Equal Big Progress

Little adjustments can make big changes in your progress in the gym. The same “old” can now be the same “new.”

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Athletic Performance Coach, and NIFS trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: gainz total-body workouts variety structuring workouts training program

Brains and Brawn: Exercise Body and Mind to Delay Alzheimer’s Dementia

November is national Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s disease, which has devastating effects on the brain’s cognitive functions, leads to diminished quality of life. Research continues on how to stave off these effects, but there is currently no known cure, leaving coping devices and techniques as essential to living. 

GettyImages-1089840096Links Between Physical Exercise and Brain Health

Can exercise and fitness help alleviate the effects of Alzheimer's disease and delay the onset of dementia? There is still little data to show that exercise is the cure, but there are plenty of links to improved brain function as a result of exercise. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic weigh in on the topic and how exercise is beneficial in more ways than we know.

Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function, have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and possibly have improved thinking among people with vascular cognitive impairment.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, with exercise comes improved blood circulation throughout the body, including the brain, leading to improvement in overall health.

Exercise every day. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all. It is recommended that older adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity (ACSM), some strength training to help maintain muscular strength and functionality, and a competent harmony of flexibility and balance.

Give Your Brain a Workout

It’s important to exercise your brain as well as your body. Here are some ideas to include in your daily workout regimen. As with physical exercise, developing healthy habits and daily consistency are keys to success. Much like physical exercise, one workout will not give you six-pack abs.

Exercise your brain every day. Try to learn something new (such as a new language or an instrument); do problem-solving puzzles, memory games, and crosswords; and continue to read, write, and learn in a variety of ways (including video games!) (WebMd.com).

Challenge Your Body and Your Brain

The similarities between physical exercise and brain exercises might not seem obvious, but with practice and commitment, the results of both become noticeable. With any workout program, you will want to find a healthy starting point. The NIFS staff has the tools and knowledge to ensure that your physical workout is tailored to your needs and specific to your goals. Although we can encourage you on your brain fitness quest, the real workouts will begin and end when you get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and will continue for the rest of your life. Make it a priority to challenge your brain.

Until next time, muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood and posted in loving memory of him and all the great blogs he wrote for NIFS over the years. This was his last blog contribution and we honor him in posting it.

Topics: Thomas' Corner brain fitness dementia Alzheimer's exercise and brain health brain health

An October Workout with 6 Spooky Exercises

Can you believe that Halloween is here? Last week in the grocery store checkout line, I was gently reminded that it is that time of year again by the hoards of chocolate bars and candy corn on the counter. I thought back to what I did last year, besides the typical handing out candy and trick or treating at some friends’ homes, and remembered something I could share with you: A SPOOKY WORKOUT!

Here are the six “Halloween exercises” for your spooky workout!

Scary Black Cat:

  • This is an exercise for the lumbar region of the back. Go down on all fours, being sure that your elbows and wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Arch your back upwards, hold for three seconds, then let the lower back sag and hold for three seconds as well. Do five in each direction.
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Creepy Crawler:
  • Starting on all fours in a high plank position, you will bring your right knee up and out toward your right elbow as your left hand extends forward. Try to stay low to the ground as you alternate sides.

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Witch Ride:

  • Start with your feet staggered and your back toe on the ground. Hold a resistance band (attached to something higher than the level you are standing at) with both hands. Descend straight down, bringing the “broom” (band) by your side. Repeat ten times on each side.
     
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Full Moon:

  • Take a medicine ball and slam the ball on your right side. Then you will lift the ball overhead and slam it straight down, and finish by slamming the medicine ball above your head down on your left side.
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Pumpkin Swing:

  • Hold the pumpkin (kettlebell) with both hands in proper swing form. At the bottom of the swing, your forearms should touch the quads, allowing the bell to almost hit you in the glutes. Keeping the core tight, thrust the hips forward and tighten the glutes at the end of the swing.
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BOOty Lift:
  • Lay on your back with your hands by your side and your feet flat on the floor close to your butt. Squeeze the BOOty to lift your hips off the ground, making your body flat like a tabletop. Return to the starting position and repeat.

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I hope that you are able to enjoy this SPOOKY Halloween workout! DO NOT BE AFRAID! ENTER THE HALLOWEEN WORKOUT ZONE IF YOU DARE! After a good warm-up, try going through each round three times, and finish with a cool-down.

While you're getting in the Halloween spirit, check out these other posts:

Plan for a Safe Halloween
Fitness Tricks and Treats
Topics: workouts kettlebell exercises

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

GettyImages-1267397092Halloween is a day full of fun, costumes, treats, friends, and family! With all the food and candy, is it even possible to be “healthy” and still enjoy the festivities? The answer is YES. Take a look at these SPOOK-tacular tips to keep you and your family in good health.

Find a Balance

Halloween comes around once a year. It’s a time to feed your social and mental health, which may require easing up on the physical health guidelines for a moment. Remember, any decision you make for your physical health that comes at the expense of your social and mental health may not be all that great after all.

Let’s be honest, Halloween is FUN. The candy is FUN. Trick-or-treating is FUN. All this feeds our mental and social health. Plus, think about it: daily nutritional choices consistently over time have the greater impact on your health than nutrition choices on one holiday.

What does this “balance” look like? Keep reading.

Use portion control and omit the “off-limits” mentality.

All foods in moderation can fit into a healthy regimen. Instead of making candy off-limits, work it into your established routine. Still have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make those meals nutritious, including fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. At each meal, offer one serving of Halloween candy to everyone. Instead of the full-size pieces, make them like the “fun-size” or “snack-size.” This allows everyone to enjoy a sweet, while filling up on the nutritious foods that are important for physical health.

Make festive, healthy options.

On the day that you all go trick-or-treating, really get into the spirit! Make nutritious meals that are Halloween themed. Some examples include:

  • Green-goop smoothie with Halloween straws: Include low-fat Greek yogurt, spinach, chia seeds, pineapple, and low-fat milk of choice. Try this recipe.
  • Monster teeth: Slice a green apple. Smear peanut butter on one side of a slice (bottom lip of the mouth). Stick yogurt-covered raisins in the peanut butter. Smear a little more peanut butter on another apple slice and place on top of the raisins for the top lip.
  • Boo-nana pops: Cut bananas in half and place a stick in the end as a handle. At the tip of the banana, add two chocolate chips as eyes. Serve frozen, cold, or at room temperature.
  • Devil spiders: Make deviled eggs. On the top, put an olive in the center for the spider’s body. Then put slices of olives around the outer edge of the egg for the legs.
  • Cute pumpkins: Peel Cuties/clementines/mandarins. Slice celery into small sticks. Place a celery stick at the top of each mandarin for the pumpkin stem.
  • Yo-yo graveyard: Scoop nonfat Greek yogurt into cups. Crumble some chocolate cookies on top (just a thin layer to cover the top) for the dirt. Write “Boo” on graham crackers for tombstones. Place one tombstone in each yogurt cup.
  • Spider sandwich: Make a sandwich of choice. Cut the sandwich into a circle. Place chocolate chips as the eyes (use peanut butter to help them stick). Use pretzels as the legs, sticking them into the bread or middle of the sandwich, with the tips sticking out.
  • Ghost cheese sticks: Get individually wrapped mozzarella cheese sticks. Take a sharpie and make black dots for the eyes and a block dot for an open mouth. These make perfect snacks while you are out and about trick-or-treating.

This ensures everyone is filling up on nutritious options high in fiber and protein, which leaves less room for tons of candy. Now, do not mistake this for “NO ROOM” for candy. There is still room, but not as much. You are just making sure everyone is properly nourished and still having fun in the process.

When you get home that night, enjoy a few pieces of candy with the kiddos, then put it in a non-accessible place. You are in control of when and how much the kids get. You are also in control of when and how much you get as well. Refer to what I said about portion control to plan your approach here. Remain consistent so that you and the kids both have a clear understanding of when candy will be served. For example, one individual piece will be served with each meal. It gives both you and the kids something to look forward to and does not make candy off-limits, but instead teaches proper portion control and provides a positive relationship with all foods. In the long run, this reduces binging or obsessing over any one food.

Stay active.

One of the best things you can do is to get everyone moving and active. Be sure to get in a workout on the big day, even if it is a quick 20-minute HIIT session at home, or try this spooky workout. Get the kiddos moving with you! Walk from house to house instead of driving during trick-or-treating. Go on a walk in your costumes if you are not trick-or-treating this year. Or just go on a walk in your regular clothes and enjoy all the house decorations. You can also play games:

  • Monster Tag: The tagger is a monster and anyone they tag becomes the monster.
  • Monster vs. Ghost Freeze Tag: If the monster tags you, you become frozen until one of your ghost teammates unfreezes you. The goal is for the monster to freeze all the ghosts!

ENJOY HALLOWEEN!

Have fun with your family. Soak in the moments. Laugh a lot. Feed your mental and social health, knowing it will benefit your physical health in the long run and that choices you make consistently over time matter the most. Stay safe.

As always, reach out to your NIFS Registered Dietitian if you need some holiday nutrition support.

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: staying active healthy eating holidays kids sugar halloween

Tips for Exercising with Autoimmune Disease

GettyImages-852401728Autoimmune diseases are a family of more than 80 chronic illnesses. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 23.5 million Americans, or more than 7 percent of the population, suffer from an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disorders arise when the body’s immune system, which is meant to protect you from disease and infection, mistakenly attacks healthy cells as if they were invading a virus or bacteria. Autoimmune diseases include arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Graves’ disease, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. Some other illnesses that commonly affect women such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (although not classified as autoimmune diseases) have similar symptoms including fatigue and chronic pain. Common symptoms of autoimmune diseases include chronic joint or muscle pain, extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping, weakness, nausea, headache, and depression.

Staying Active Is Important

Many people with an autoimmune disease go through periods of being symptom-free, and then have sudden onset of severe symptoms called flares. It’s understandable that when you’re not feeling well, you may avoid exercise because it’s difficult to find the motivation and energy to be active. For many people with autoimmune disorders, however, moderate low-impact exercise and physical activity can be of tremendous benefit to their quality of life. Keeping active is especially important when you have an autoimmune disease for several reasons: exercise boosts physical energy; endorphin production is a natural painkiller; exercise can help reduce inflammation throughout the body; and exercise also helps combat the depression and anxiety that also often accompany this type of illness.

Exercise Tips for People with Autoimmune Disease

Here are some tips for exercising when you have an autoimmune illness:

  1. Go at your own pace and figure out what works for you. Not everyone’s experience of autoimmune disease symptoms is the same. Start slowly with your workouts and work your way up to more challenging ones. Some days will be harder than others—adjust your workout accordingly. If you miss a day because of a flare, don’t beat yourself up about it, just make sure you get back to the gym as soon as you can.
  2. Have good support systems. Talk to your health care providers about your plans to exercise and ask for their input. Make an appointment at your gym to have a fitness assessment with a personal trainer. You may also find it fun and motivating to have a fitness buddy other than your trainer, someone you can attend group classes with, or even just meet a designated time to hit the cardio machines or do weights together.
  3. Keep a journal of your daily activities, including when you exercise, the activities you did, and what you ate. If you find yourself overly exerted, you will probably see patterns start to emerge when you have the most or least amount of energy. Take these into consideration and adjust your routine to fit you best.
  4. Give your body the fuel it needs to succeed. You may even want to consider an anti-inflammatory diet. Many autoimmune disorders create inflammation in the body, which leads to muscle and joint pain, as well as fatigue. You can consult with a nutritionist to see whether there are diet changes you can make to help you be successful.
  5. Rest! Your body may have a hard time adjusting to the workload you are putting it through. Allow yourself to get adequate rest. Remember, this is a lifelong condition that requires lifelong attention.

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This blog was written by Emily Lesich, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active low-impact exercise as medicine quality of life chronic disease autoimmune disease

Nutrition Tips for Traveling

Vacation is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, and relaxing. When it comes to weight loss attempts or making healthy choices in general, however, traveling can be a challenge. Here are some of our RD’s best tips for healthy eating when traveling or on vacation.

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  • Pack your own snacks. If you’re road-tripping, instead of stopping at gas stations, convenience stores, or fast-food restaurants, pack a cooler with healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruit, washed and ready-to-eat veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc.), homemade sandwiches, protein and/or high-fiber granola bars, or single-serving yogurt cups or cheese sticks.
  • Eat at home. If your vacation home or hotel has kitchen access, be sure to make use of it! Instead of eating out for each meal, which is not only expensive but also typically provides more calories, fat, and sodium, try preparing something for yourself at home.
  • Move more. If possible, incorporate physical activity into your trip. No, this doesn’t mean you have to get a weeklong gym membership for your vacation; rather, spend time walking along the beach, riding bikes, or participating in another physical activity. If you’ll be on the road, be sure to walk around or stretch when you stop to rest.
  • Stay hydrated. Bring a refillable water bottle with you on your trip to save money and stay hydrated, especially if you’re traveling somewhere with a lot of sun or high temperatures.
  • Be mindful. Vacation shouldn’t be an excuse to overdo it, however; you should still enjoy yourself! Instead of indulging at each opportunity, perhaps limit yourself to indulging in a special or sweet treat just once a day.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active snacks summer hydration water traveling mindfulness

The Difference Between Compound and Isolation Exercises When Lifting

GettyImages-1368579391In a previous blog I discussed the importance of training within the movement categories. Those categories are upper body push and pull, squat, and hinge. To break it down even further within the categories, there are exercises that give you more bang for the buck than others. In this blog I differentiate between compound and isolation exercises. For those of you who are on a time crunch when you are in the gym, these exercises are crucial to get the most out of your training.

What Is the Difference?

A compound exercise is also known as a multi-joint exercise. This is an exercise in which more than one joint is required to move through the exercise. An example of a compound exercise would be a squat. To complete the squat pattern, three joints must move: the ankle, knee, and hip. Examples of compound exercises for the upper body are the bench press and overhead press. Both movements require the function of the shoulder and elbow. The reason that compound lifts have more payoff is that they work multiple muscle groups as well. A bench press uses the pectoralis muscles, deltoids, and triceps. This requires more energy to be expended than if you used only one of those muscle groups on a single joint exercise. Exercises that isolate a single muscle group are called isolation exercises. Examples of an isolation movement would be a bicep curl, triceps extension, leg extension, or a leg curl. The difference between a compound exercise and an isolation exercise is the number of joints that move.

Which Type of Exercise Should You Do?

Compound lifts are more challenging but less time consuming than performing multiple different isolation exercises. If you short on time while in the gym, a full-body workout full of compound movements will give you the most from your workout. I have written blogs about how to structure those types of workouts. If you want to sculpt your body in a particular way, and are focused on correcting muscle imbalances or injury rehabilitation, each may require the use of specific isolation movements to build up specific muscle groups. So, the question is, what are your goals? Once you define your goals, you can design your workout program.

Structuring a Workout

The most efficient way to structure a workout utilizing both methods is to perform a compound movement first in your workout followed by isolation movements to complement the muscles used in the compound movement. A quick example using the bench press would be bench pressing first, followed by isolation movements to isolate the chest and triceps. You want to save the most amount of energy for your compound exercises, which is why you should perform this one first. Fatiguing the triceps before a heavy bench workout will not yield the best results for bench press. This is why isolation exercises are best performed at the end of your workout.

For more information or guidance on how to structure your workouts, visit our training staff at the track desk in the fitness center. For nonmembers looking for help on your fitness journey, feel free to give us a call to set up a guest fitness assessment.

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This blog was written by Evan James, NIFS Exercise Physiologist EP-C, Health Fitness Instructor, and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center muscles weight lifting weightlifting muscle building joints gym isolation exercises compound exercises structuring workouts