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6 Diet and Fitness Breakthroughs
Part 2 of 2

For better health you can't sit all day.
For better health you can't sit all day.

Last week I shared three critically important things researchers uncovered since the year 2000 that have changed how we help our clients. The dangers of unregulated multivitamins, supplements and the appropriate time to include stretches in your workout. This week I'd like to share three more game-changing research breakthroughs.

#4: Start doing cardio in short bursts, 15 seconds to 4 minutes, with rest or recovery periods in-between. It's known as interval training, and it allows people to burn more fat, in less time, than traditional aerobic programs. It's also the first cardio program that's been documented to regularly build muscle.

Subjects who exercised all out doing intervals for just 45 minutes a week, were seeing the same results as people who exercised using traditional steady-state cardio for a full 6 hours every week. Which would you rather do, 45 minutes of exercise or 6 hours?

Interval training is significantly more effective than steady-state training for patients recovering from heart failure, for overweight children trying to reduce their cardiovascular risk factors and for reversing the risks of metabolic syndrome. Interval training is twice as effective in burning fat, it helps increase cardio function while building muscle and it even increases insulin sensitivity (a good thing for diabetics).

That's not all. People with hypertension who engaged in interval training and steady-state cardio both saw the same reduction in blood pressure. Incredibly, only interval training subjects also experienced a reduction in arterial stiffness.

The long-term benefits of interval training over steady-state training are significantly better for patients recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery, for athletes trying to improve their endurance capacity, and for people over the age of 65 trying to get back in shape.

In study after study, interval training has proven to be as effective, or in many cases more effective, than traditional steady-state cardio.

#5: Our stomachs have taste buds and they influence how much we eat. When we drink a diet soda, the taste buds in our stomachs detect "sweet" and start preparing for the sugary calories. Unfortunately diet soda has none. After about 30 minutes, our bodies start to crash because the "sweet calories" they were expecting never appeared. That makes us feel more hungry and tired than when we first drank the diet soda.

To deal with the hunger and crash, diet soda drinkers eat more calories, totally defeating the reason many drank diet soda to begin with. In a study called, "Diet-Beverage Consumption and Caloric Intake Among US Adults, Overall and by Body Weight" published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that overweight diet soda drinkers consumed an extra 88 calories a day and obese diet soda drinkers consumed an extra 194 calories a day. That's an extra 9 to 20 pounds a year.

For years I have recommended that people who consume regular soda switch to diet versions while still watching their overall calorie consumption. BUT, if drinking diet soda causes you to have cravings, you need to stop drinking it. Water is a perfectly healthy and viable alternative whenever you're thirsty.

If you're unwilling or unable to stop drinking diet sodas, at least make sure to eat something at the same time. A snack with as little as 100 calories can help minimize cravings triggered by artificial sweeteners. Try an apple, slice of toast or small bowl of oatmeal.

#6: Sitting more than 6 hours a day is a serious heart attack risk.

The groundbreaking study that started it all was published by The Lancet in 1953. Jerry Morris and colleagues studied London Transport Authority bus drivers. The bus CONDUCTORS spent their days standing and climbing up and down the stairs of the double-decker buses while collecting tickets. The bus DRIVERS spent their shifts sitting.

Researchers found that the active conductors had about one-third the rate of coronary heart disease events than the seated bus drivers. The pay, benefits, working environment and other socioeconomic conditions were the same. The difference was activity.

The findings kicked off a number of studies that showed clear heart benefits from more active jobs. But jobs that involved physical labor were in decline. As society became more automated, machines replaced people and the remaining jobs needed little physical exertion.

In the 1970s, the solution was to promote exercise as a way to counter the effects of a sedentary job. Sit all day at work, just grab an hour of exercise before or after. Studies into the effects of active versus passive jobs dropped, but deaths from heart disease continued to climb.

Turns out, exercising for an hour at the end of the day isn't enough. You need to stand up and move THROUGHOUT the day, to lower your heart-attack risk. Standing up for us 5 minutes every hour can dramatically lower that risk. Consider adding a brisk stroll around the block, a quick walk up and down a flight of stairs or invest in a stand-up desk. Clear your mind with small breaks and add years to your life at the same time.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.