Strength Training for Parkinson’s

Strength training for Parkinson's disease: Slowing the Progression

Strength Training for Parkinson's Disease Brain Anatomy

Due to high-profile cases in recent decades, the US is very aware of Parkinson’s disease.

Celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Ozzy Osborne, and late icons Muhammad Ali and Johnny Cash are a few of the famous names who were/are inflicted with the disease.

In the US, 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed annually.

While Parkinson’s is not terminal, symptoms can significantly affect the individual’s quality of life.

Research has shown exercise, strength training, in particular, can improve symptoms and slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Keep reading…

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a central nervous system condition that causes tremors and affects bodily movements.

Dopamine levels diminish as a result of nerve cell destruction in the brain, resulting in a slew of symptoms.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s

This disease manifests by disrupting physical abilities:

  • Causing tremors
  • Postural instability
  • Slow, rigid movement

Those diagnosed with Parkinson’s often suffer from:

  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Strength loss
  • Accelerated muscle atrophy

Muscle atrophy already accelerates after the age of 25, where individuals without Parkinson’s can expect to lose anywhere from a pound to a pound and a half of lean muscle every year on average, so you can imagine how adding Parkinson’s to the mix is particularly troublesome.

Brain imaging showing a loss in serotonin function as Parkinson's disease progresses. Red/yellow areas show that serotonin function reduces before movement symptoms develop. [Neurodegeneration Imaging Group, King's College London.]

Strength Training as a Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s. With that in mind, science has focused on ways to improve the quality of life for those with the disease.

Among the proven treatment options is something we know well: strength training.

Strength training reverses some of the physical effects of Parkinson’s and can possibly match the physical ability of Parkinson’s sufferers to that of those without the disease.

Physiological Improvements

Physical improvements for Parkinson’s patients are demonstrated by a few studies, most notably research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In a four-month study, 15 patients exercised in a full-body strength training workout three days per week.

The routine featured some of the familiar exercises we do at The Perfect Workout, including the leg press, chest press, and lat pull-down. The researchers measured a number of physiological and functional areas at the start and end of the study.

The strength training program was successful in reversing a number of areas generally affected by Parkinson’s.

The participants improved their strength by at least one-third in all major muscle groups. Muscle size increased, including a 36% improvement for fast-twitch muscle fibers (the fibers most responsible for performing challenging tasks).

The trainees were able to walk an additional 140 feet in a six-minute walk test, indicating better endurance, walking speed, and walking ability. Imagine being able to walk another 140 feet during a grocery trip or vacation with family!

Balance on one leg improved by 34%, meaning the people with Parkinson’s were able to stand longer on one leg and were less likely to experience a fall.

The most profound result was from the standing test.

The standing test in this study showed how many muscle fibers were needed for the Parkinson’s sufferers to stand from a seated position. At the start of the study, standing required a near-maximum effort (90% of muscle fibers). Imagine that: needing nearly all of your strength to stand from a chair.

At the end of the study, only 60% of muscle fibers were used to perform a stand. In other words, standing became much easier.

In fact, those with Parkinson’s disease used the same amount of effort to stand after the training program as people the same age who did not have Parkinson’s!

Balance Exercises

The Parkinson’s Foundation recommends doing exercises to improve balance. Some simple at-home exercises include:

  • Walking heel to toe
  • Side leg raises
  • Wall pushups
  • Marching in place

Resistance exercises can also help to improve strength and balance overall.

A 2014 study noticed an increase in balance (and a lower rate of falling) during 12 weeks of strength training when compared to the months prior to training.

In another study, researchers from the Netherlands and Belgium assessed 28 studies using strength training or various types of activity to see what practices are effective for reducing falls and fall risk factors.

Twenty of those studies focused on strength training. The research shows strength exercises also led to improvements in walking speed, static balance, and balance while moving.

Parkinson’s at The Perfect Workout

Many of our members have been able to improve their conditions at The Perfect Workout, including Parkinson’s.

One of our members, Sandie from McGaheysville, VA has early-onset Parkinson's. She has days where she experiences more stiffness in her joints than others. Her trainer Melissa works with her as a team to assess how her body feels on each exercise.

“We're able to adapt each workout based on her energy level or her level of feeling, stiff joints or not. And she knows that no matter what by the end of the workout, she feels much stronger and she feels that that has helped her with some of her symptoms.”

To learn more about exercise’s role in slowing Parkinson’s disease progression, enjoy this presentation from Daniel M. Corcos, PhD, professor of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences at Northwestern University. Dr. Corcos answers many of the questions about how to combat Parkinson's disease through progressive resistance exercise and endurance exercise.

Strength Training for Parkinson’s … It Helps.

As a whole, strength training improves muscle strength, muscle tissue, endurance, walking ability, balance, and the effort needed to perform daily activities for those with Parkinson’s.

With this in mind, strength training is an excellent option to help stop or reverse the physical and functional effects of Parkinson’s disease.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and start with a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Cadore, E. L., Casas-Herrero, A., Zambom-Ferraresi, F., Idoate, F., Millor, N., Gómez, M.,…& Izquierdo, M. (2014). Multicomponent exercises including muscle power training enhance muscle mass, power output, and functional outcomes in institutionalized frail nonagenarians. Age, 36(2), 773-785.
  2. De Kam, D., Smulders, E., Weerdesteyn, V., & Smits-Engelsman, B.C. (2009). Exercise interventions to reduce fall-related fractures and their risk factors in individuals with low bone density: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Osteoporosis International, 20, 2111-2125.
  3. Kelly, N. A., Ford, M. P., Standaert, D. G., Watts, R. L., Bickel, C. S., Moellering, D. R., … & Bamman, M. M. (2014). Novel, high intensity exercise prescription improves muscle mass, mitochondrial function, and physical capacity in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(5), 582-592.
  4. Volpi, Elena et al. “Muscle tissue changes with aging.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care vol. 7,4 (2004): 405-10. doi:10.1097/01.mco.0000134362.76653.b2

Hip Strength And Mobility

Hip Strength And Mobility - What You Should Know

Female strength training for hip strength and mobility

The hip bone’s connected to the… everything!

Maybe not anatomically, but the hip joint is the largest weight-bearing joint in the human body, and it is a hub for functional movement.

Having strong hip joints and surrounding muscles helps maintain mobility and our ability to perform basic activities of daily living.

Thankfully, maintaining hip strength and mobility can be achieved through a few exercises performed on a regular basis. To learn more, scroll down.

The Importance of the Hip Joint

Healthy hips are fundamental to many day-to-day activities. The hip joint is where the head of the thigh bone (femur) meets an indented space on the pelvis. Hips support our body weight when standing. They are also critical to the processes of walking, climbing stairs, running, sitting, standing, and bending over.

The hips are so important that our strongest muscles — the quadriceps and glutes — are located around and help move the hip joint. Unfortunately, the hip joint is an area that’s highly susceptible to the “wear and tear” of life and aging.

Hips are also the most common site of osteoporosis and fractures with advancing age. Every year, 350,000 hip fractures happen in the United States (Hopkins Medicine). When hip fractures occur, they lead to a loss of independence and, in some cases, a loss of life.

Threats to Hip Health

Osteoporosis, a condition of low bone density, is a “silent” disease. You don’t feel it. You don’t see it. However, people start losing bone strength in their 30s, and that rate of loss picks up after age 50. As a result, bones become weak and susceptible to breaking with an event like falling.

Because the hip joint bears the most weight, it can be heavily impacted by osteoporosis. The thinner “neck” of the femur is the biggest risk for bone density loss and subsequent fractures.

Not only is this the most common site of fractures, but it’s also the most severe place to have a fracture. About one in five older adults die within a year of having a hip fracture, and a large portion of those who survive lose mobility and independence (Schnell et al., 2010).

Osteoporosis isn’t the only concern for hip health. The hip joint is one of the most common sites for arthritis. It’s especially common for people who have experienced years of more-than-normal force on the joint. These individuals typically have a background in athletics, dance, distance running, or people who have been obese.

With arthritis, people lose hip mobility, the joint feels tight, stiff, and painful, and about a third of people with hip arthritis get a joint replacement (Quintana, Arostegui, & Escobar, 2008).

Hip Strength & Mobility

Suffering from hip osteoporosis or arthritis as we age isn’t inevitable. Hip health can be maintained or even improved by focusing on two factors: hip strength and hip mobility.

Enhancing hip strength and a full range of motion can reduce the risk of suffering from hip pain, hip injury, or losing independence (Carneiro et al., 2015; Snyder et al., 2009).

The question then becomes, “How can we enhance hip strength and range of motion?” Strength training.

Multiple studies show strength training 2-3 times a week can enhance hip muscle strength, bone density, and range of motion (Carneiro et al., 2015; Rhoades et al., 2000; Snyder et al., 2009). (Though our slow-motion strength training method can accomplish those things in just 20 minutes, twice a week.)

These studies used a variety of approaches, ranging from using a few lower body exercises to full-body routines. Only a few exercises, though, are needed to improve hip health.

Resistance Exercises for Hip
Strength & Mobility

Leg Press

The leg press is not only the most important exercise in a workout, targeting the largest muscle groups, but it’s also critical for hip health. The leg press and its exercise variations below strengthen the largest muscle that supports the hip joint: the gluteus maximus.

In this exercise, you slowly push through your heels, keeping your buttocks down in the seat, pushing each repetition to the point just shy of locking out your knees. You then resist the weight all the way down to the bottom of the range of motion, barely touching the weight stack, and slowly beginning again. Repeat until you achieve “muscle success”.

It also improves bone density in the hip and surrounding areas (Rhoades et al., 2000). The leg press also increases range of motion for several key movements that involve the hip joint (Rhoades et al., 2000).

Read about John Abel, who’s improved his hip health at The Perfect Workout.

Hip Abduction

Hip abduction, commonly referred to as the “outer thigh exercise,” or “ABD,” strengthens muscles that are vital for basic activities such as walking: the gluteus medius and minimus.

Performing hip abduction helps strengthen those muscles plus increases lateral hip mobility (Snyder et al., 2009). Between the leg press and hip abduction, hip mobility improves in all directions.

At-Home Exercises for Hip Strength & Mobility

The leg press and hip abduction are ideal for achieving the goals of adding hip strength and range of motion. There are home exercises, though, which can mimic those movements.

Chair Stands

To perform this exercise, you sit in a squat position and stand from a chair. The challenge is to have as low of a chair as possible and to use slow movement.

Position yourself to sit on the edge of the chair. Keep your chest up and look forward. As you slowly stand, push through your heels and the middle of your feet. As you lower yourself with bent knees, only briefly allow your butt to contact the chair before slowly starting upwards.

Repeat until you achieve muscle success. This exercise targets the same muscle groups as the leg press does: the gluteus maximus and quadriceps.

Standing Hip Abduction with Resistance Bands

Mimicking the muscles that are used in the machine exercise that has the same name, the standing hip abduction involves standing and holding onto a counter or chair.

Place a resistance band around the outside of both ankles. Train one leg at a time. Keep the other leg on the ground and use that for balance. The moving leg moves out to the side as far as possible, then slowly moves back toward the standing leg. Once the moving leg’s foot taps the ground, it should slowly move outwards to the side again.

Repeat until you achieve Muscle Success, then switch to train the other leg.

Hip Health Summarized

A healthy hip joint is critical. It’s the center of basic activities, such as standing, sitting, and walking. Therefore, we must keep the joint healthy.

Aging and the wear and tear of life’s activities lead to skeletal concerns, which increase the risk of hip pain, swelling, loss of movement, and fractures. To protect your hip joint, you can strength train with exercises involving the area.

These hip exercises help improve muscle strength, bone strength, and mobility. The specific exercises that are most important for hip health are the leg press and hip abduction. At-home replacements are using resistance bands during standing hip abduction and performing chair stands.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and start with a FREE Introductory Session.

  • Carneiro, N. H., Ribeiro, A. S., Nascimento, M. A., Gobbo, L. A., Schoenfeld, B. J., Júnior, A. A., … & Cyrino, E. S. (2015). Effects of different resistance training frequencies on flexibility in older women. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 10, 531.
  • Quintana, J.M., Arostegui, I., & Escobar, A. (2008). Prevalence of knee and hip osteoarthritis and the appropriateness of joint replacement in an older population. JAMA Internal Medicine, 168(14), 1576-1584.
  • Rhodes, E., Martin, A., Taunton, J., Donnelly, M., Warren, J., & Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(1), 18-22.
  • Schnell, S., Friedman, S.M., Mendelon, D.A., Bingham, K.W., & Kates, S.L. (2010). The 1-year mortality of patients treated in a hip fracture program for elders. Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 1(1), 6-14.
  • Snyder, K. R., Earl, J. E., O’Connor, K. M., & Ebersole, K. T. (2009). Resistance training is accompanied by increases in hip strength and changes in lower extremity biomechanics during running. Clinical Biomechanics, 24(1), 26-34.

Strength Training as a Sleep Aid

The Importance of Sleep & How Strength Training Can Improve It

Woman sleeping after Strength Training

As we get older, it becomes more challenging to bounce back after we don't get a good night's sleep.

We have so many demands on our time—jobs, family, errands—not to mention finding the time to relax and have fun. To fit everything in, we often sacrifice… Sleep 😴.

But sleep has an impact on our mental and physical health. It’s vital to gaining strength, losing fat, recovering from injury, and your overall well-being.

To learn about the importance of sleep and how strength training can help improve the quality of Z’s you get, keep reading.

The Importance of Quality Sleep

Sleep helps you feel rested each day. But while you’re sleeping, your brain and body don’t just shut down. Internal organs and processes are hard at work throughout the night.

Over time, skimping on sleep can mess up more than just your morning mood. Studies show getting quality sleep can help improve all sorts of issues, from your blood sugar to your workouts.

So what is enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) defines “enough” as: “A sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves one feeling refreshed and alert for the day.”

The keyword there is spontaneous, or without an alarm clock. The exact number of hours necessary to achieve that refreshed feeling varies. Still, for most adults, it’s between 7 and 8 hours a night. Here are some great reasons to get enough sleep:

Sharper Memory

When you’re running low on sleep, you’ll likely have trouble holding onto and recalling details. That’s because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory. Without enough sleep, it’s tough to focus and take in new information.

Your brain also doesn’t have enough time to store memories so that you can recall them correctly later. Sleep lets your brain catch up, so you’re ready for new experiences.

Mood Boost

Another thing your brain does while you sleep is process emotions. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones.

Chronic lack of sleep can also raise the chance of having a mood disorder. [1]

One large study [2] shows that when you have insomnia, you’re five times more likely to develop depression, and your odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even higher.

Refreshing slumber helps you hit the reset button on a bad day, improve your outlook on life, and be better prepared to meet challenges.

Healthier Heart

While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle.

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, including stroke. A good night’s sleep might protect against a heart attack.

The Circulation Study, which looked at the sleep habits of more than 52,000 Norwegian men and women, found that people who have insomnia most nights of the week face a 30-45% greater heart attack risk.

“It’s important that people are aware of this connection between insomnia and heart attack and talk to their doctor if they’re having symptoms,” said lead researcher Lars Erik Laugsand, MD, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The reason for the link may be that not sleeping enough causes high blood pressure and hormonal changes. Short-term downtime can have long-term payoffs.

Steadier Blood Sugar

During the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle, the amount of glucose in your blood drops. Not enough time in this deepest stage means you don’t get that break to allow a reset — like leaving the volume turned up on your phone while listening to music all day. Eventually, the battery will crash and will need a recharge to keep going.

Your body will have a harder time responding to your cells’ needs and blood sugar levels. Allow yourself to reach and remain in this deep sleep, and you’re less likely to get type 2 diabetes [3].

Germ Fighting

To help ward off illnesses, your immune system identifies harmful bacteria and viruses in your body and destroys them. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work. They may not attack as quickly, and you could get sick more often. Good nightly rest can help you avoid that tired, worn-out feeling, as well as spending days in bed as your body tries to recover.

Weight Control

When you’re well-rested, you’re less hungry. Being sleep-deprived messes with the hormones in your brain — leptin and ghrelin — that control appetite.

With those out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods goes way down. And when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to get up and move your body.

Together, it’s a recipe for putting on pounds. The time you spend in bed goes hand-in-hand with the time you spend in the kitchen and in your workouts to help you manage your weight.

Sleep Your Way Muscle Growth

As we sleep, energy consumption is lowered, allowing us to use the high-quality food we eat during the day to more efficiently build muscle. Growth hormone is naturally released, improving muscular recovery and regeneration.

Also, as we sleep, the brain recharges. This is important for building muscle because a rested brain is a motivated and focused brain. In simple terms, when you sleep, you recover.

When you recover, you replace, repair, and rebuild—all of which are needed for optimal progress.

Lower Cancer Risk

A 2011 study [4] published in the journal Cancer found that people who averaged fewer than six hours of sleep each night had an almost 50% increase in the risk of colorectal adenomas, a precursor to cancerous tumors, compared to those who clocked in at seven hours a night.

One study author said the risk increase was comparable to that of having a first-degree relative with colon cancer. Although more research is needed on the sleep-cancer link, some experts think that the hormone melatonin, which has been linked to DNA repair, may play a role.

It’s no secret that struggles with sleep increase as we age. These issues come from a variety of causes: illnesses, side effects of medication, changes in circadian rhythm, increased sensitivity to light exposure, inactivity, and elevated nervous system activity, to name a few.

While no one wants to experience the mental fog that comes from sleep deprivation, there are more significant consequences to sleep loss.

Some researchers believe sleep issues contribute to many aging-related health issues.

Sleep Deficiencies

Sleep can be powerful… if we get enough of it.

We know about the many benefits of getting good quality sleep, but what about the effects of not getting a good night’s rest?

Check out some of the side effects of sleep deficiencies when quality sleep is not a part of your nightly norm:

  • Long Term Mood Disorders
  • Sickness
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Weight Gain
  • Low Libido
  • Heart Disease

What Affects Our Sleep?

More is not better when it comes to exercise is kind of our philosophy. And when it comes to getting good sleep, we think the same motto can be applied. Rather than finding all the things you can do to improve your sleep, a better question to ask yourself is — What can I stop doing?

Smartphones, TVs, and Technology

Bedtime routines nowadays commonly include scrolling social media or watching Netflix. Although it may be an attempt to wind down for the night, too much tech before bed can mess with your sleep.

Studies show that scrolling social media in bed before hitting snooze is associated with sleep and mood dysfunction [5]. Those who have higher “in-bed” scrolling times, over an hour or so, are more likely to have insomnia, anxiety, and short sleep times overall [6].

Tech before bed doesn’t just cause feelings of anxiousness, it affects the way our brains are wired.

Our circadian rhythm, a natural 24-hour cycle responding to light and dark, is most sensitive to light in the evenings. Naturally, when it gets dark and we approach bedtime, our brains produce melatonin which promotes sleep.

Research shows that exposure to LED lights, particularly in the evening hours, suppresses melatonin secretion.

So when the light from our phones, tablets, and TVs is pouring in, it interferes with sleep production, sleep efficiency, and quality of sleep.

Eating Before Bed

Latenight snacks and nightcaps. Sounds fun right?

We say go for it… sometimes. But when it becomes the norm, it’s likely doing more harm to your sleep health than good.

Studies suggest that eating later in the evening and closer to bedtime can lead to eating more meals overall, weight gain, and higher daily caloric intake [7].

In fact, the closer dinner time is to bedtime shows there’s higher increase of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) [8].

Alcohol and Sleep

A review of 27 studies [9] shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality.

According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while. Still, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. And the more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects. REM sleep happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. It’s the stage of sleep when people dream, and it’s thought to be restorative.

Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and rob you of needed Zs.

“Alcohol may seem to be helping you to sleep, as it helps induce sleep, but overall it is more disruptive to sleep, particularly in the second half of the night,” says researcher Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director at The London Sleep Centre.

“Alcohol also suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea,” or pauses in breathing that happen throughout the night. The more a person drinks before bed, the more substantial the disruption. “One to two standard drinks seem to have minimal effects on sleep,” Ebrahim says.

“REM is the more mentally restorative type of sleep,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Alcohol is not an appropriate sleep aid. If you rely on alcohol to fall asleep, recognize that you have a greater likelihood to sleepwalk, sleep talk, and have problems with your memory.”

Exercise Before Bed

What about exercising before bed?

Research shows doing vigorous exercise less than one hour before bed can potentially impair sleep quality [10].

While high-intensity exercise within an hour of going to bed can inhibit quality sleep, it's proven to be extraordinarily beneficial for quality sleep any other time of day.

You can schedule your high-intensity 20-minute workouts any time of day, ideally concluding at least one hour before bed.

How Does Strength Training Improve Sleep?

Thankfully, strength training works as a sleep aid for many men and women who were previously poor or average sleepers.

Strength training can improve sleeping habits in less than 10 weeks, although its possible benefits can happen even sooner.

While resistance training does not increase the ease of sleeping for all people, it also has not demonstrated negative sleeping effects on anyone in research. In other words, it won’t hurt, but it certainly may help.

For at least some people, just a small amount of strength training is all that’s necessary to notice a significant difference in sleep.

This was noticed in a study led by a researcher at Harvard [11] Men and women around 70 years old participated in a brief strength training program that involved five exercises that targeted the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body.

Each of these exercises was performed for one set with weights that were very challenging. The trainees exercised three days per week.

After 10 weeks, the strength-trained individuals experienced a 40% improvement in self-assessed sleep (according to detailed pre-and post-intervention questionnaires).

This was even more impressive when considering that the control group, who met twice per week for health education sessions, saw no improvement.

Dissecting the results even further, all 15 participants in the strength program either improved or remained the same. This indicates that, at the very worst, strength training won’t keep you up at night. If it has any effect, it will help you sleep.

The people in the study who strength trained were poor sleepers at the start and benefited from getting more sleep in a number of ways.

At the end of the study, self-assessed daytime dysfunction decreased and ratings of vitality and social functioning improved. Oddly enough, social functioning scores actually improved in the strength group more than the health education group, who socialized as part of their education classes!

Another study performed at Texas Tech University showed a similar improvement in sleep after three months of strength training with an older group who averaged closer to 80 years of age [12].

Female member talks about better sleep from strength training
Female testimonial on strength training and sleep

What have we learned?

Sleep is majorly important in our physical and mental well-being. It’s vital to recovering from workouts and helps to prevent mood disorders and sleep deficiencies.

We know that social media consumption, scrolling our smartphones, and watching TV as part of our bedtime routine is not only preventing us from falling asleep, it is impairing the quality of the sleep we get and contribute to anxiety and depression.

And taking comfort in snacks and alcohol late at night increases the chances of developing diseases such as GERD or sleep apnea, both of which cause intermittent sleep interruptions.

To increase your chance of quality sleep, strength train consistently and free yourself from the aforementioned deterrents in the remaining couple of hours before bed.

We’ve seen similar experiences with our members at The Perfect Workout. After they begin training with us, some report that they’re sleeping better than they have in years…or ever.

Although improved sleep is not promised, strength training is highly unlikely to hurt your ability to sleep…and can be a much more desirable solution than taking sleep aids or medications to help you catch some quality Z’s.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and start with a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Al-Abri, Mohammed A. “Sleep Deprivation and Depression: A bi-directional association.” Sultan Qaboos University medical journal vol. 15,1 (2015): e4-6.
  2. Neckelmann, D. et al., Chronic Insomnia as a Risk Factor for Developing Anxiety and Depression, Sleep. 2007; 30 (7): 873-880.
  3. Zhu B, Quinn L, Kapella MC, et al. Relationship between sleep disturbance and self-care in adults with type 2 diabetes. Acta Diabetol. 2018;55(9):963-970. doi:10.1007/s00592-018-1181-4
  4. University Hospitals Case Medical Center. (2011, February 8). Lack of sleep found to be a new risk factor for colon cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208112741.htm
  5. Sushanth Bhat, Genevieve Pinto-Zipp, Hinesh Upadhyay, Peter G. Polos, “To sleep, perchance to tweet”: in-bed electronic social media use and its associations with insomnia, daytime sleepiness, mood, and sleep duration in adults, Sleep Health, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2018,Pages 166-173, ISSN 2352-7218,
  6. Blume, C., Garbazza, C. & Spitschan, M. Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie 23, 147–156 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x
  7. Reid KJ, Baron KG, Zee PC. Meal timing influences daily caloric intake in healthy adults. Nutr Res. 2014;34(11):930-935. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.09.010
  8. Fujiwara Y, Machida A, Watanabe Y, et al. Association between dinner-to-bed time and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100(12):2633-2636. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.00354.x
  9. Ebrahim, I.O., Shapiro, C.M., Williams, A.J. and Fenwick, P.B. (2013), Alcohol and Sleep I: Effects on Normal Sleep. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 37: 539`-549. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.12006
  10. Stutz J, Eiholzer R, Spengler CM. Effects of Evening Exercise on Sleep in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2019;49(2):269-287. doi:10.1007/s40279-018-1015-0
  11. Singh, N. A., Clements, K. M., Fiatarone, M. A.  (1997). Sleep, Sleep Deprivation,  and Daytime Activities A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Exercise on  Sleep. Sleep, 20(2), 95-101.
  12. Ferris,  L.  T.,  Williams,  J.  S.,  Shen,  C.  L.,  O’Keefe,  K.  A.,  &  Hale,  K.  B.  (2005).  Resistance training improves sleep quality in older adults—a pilot study. J Sports  Sci Med, 4(3), 354-60.

Quickly Recover from Surgery + (best way to avoid)

Prehab Is Your Best Chance At Quickly Recovering From Surgery

“When my doctor gave me two choices about the pain in my right shoulder- Either live with it or have surgery, I felt hopeless.”- Sherry Chriss, client.

Facing surgery is scary and quite common for a lot of adults. Although every surgery can’t be avoided, one solution to prepare for a swift recovery and potentially avoiding surgery altogether is slow-motion strength training. We call this prehab or “prehabilitation” and it’s happening in our studios and virtual training sessions every day.

Prehab for Total Knee Replacement

One of the most common surgical procedures our clients face is a Total Knee Replacement (TKRs), and they are as popular as ever. More than 381,000 TKRs take place every year, and researchers expect that number to grow six-fold in the next 20 years [1].

The surgery can be very helpful as it enables people with severe knee osteoarthritis to decrease or eliminate their pain while improving their functional ability. However, a TKR also leads to a period of inactivity during recovery, and that inactivity has drawbacks. People lose about 60% of their quadriceps strength within the first month following surgery.

Considering that information, it’s no surprise that people with TKRs have demonstrated slower walking and stair-climbing speeds when compared to their peers.

Medical Diagram of a before and after total knee replacement

Studies Show...

Researchers at the University of Louisville conducted a study comparing people who “prehabbed” against those who did not (control group) for five months prior to surgery. Like our clients, the individuals who strength trained fared very well.

The exercise group trained three times per week prior to the surgery, including exercises such as the leg curl and leg extension. Following the surgery, both groups received the same physical therapy.

Watch one of our clients on the Leg Extension! 

Before the surgery, strength training prevented knee pain from increasing and improved the participants’ functional abilities like getting up from a chair, walking speed, and stair-climbing speed.

One month after the surgery, the control group experienced losses in quadricep strength and walking speed, whereas the exercise group did not (when compared to baseline tests). Three months later, functional ability and strength in the operated leg were greater in the exercise group. 

Overall, the study found quadriceps strength was associated with greater functional ability and less knee pain. Researchers in a study out of the University of Delaware found the same connections when monitoring quadriceps strength days before and one year after a TKR [2].

They also noticed that quadriceps strength before surgery also predicts dynamic balance a year after surgery. Dynamic balance is tested by seeing how quickly a person can stand from a chair, walk around a sharp turn, and then return to the chair.

Balance and strength are some of the most important benefits of slow-motion strength training, especially in older adults who fear falling.

How Long Do You Prehab For?

If a TKR or any other major joint surgery is in your future, you might wonder how long you should train for prior to the procedure. As mentioned, the study included five months of prehabilitation, although we have clients who have only trained for 3 months leading up to their surgery and still experienced a quick and less-painful recovery period. Obviously, the earlier you start, the more strength you will build prior to surgery.

The process of strengthening before a surgery just makes sense. The joints are healthier when their surrounding muscles are stronger. Strength training before a joint replacement surgery allows you the opportunity to build healthier joints and muscles that you will simply work to maintain after surgery, instead of having to build them for the first time.

If a surgery like TKR is in your future, or you want to do whatever you can to avoid one, slow-motion strength training is the solution.

Clients Who Have Avoided Surgery:

In addition to those who have prehabbed before surgery, we’ve helped many people prevent injuries and avoid surgery altogether.

Michael Slosek

Michael, 66, had been told by his doctor that he needed a hip replacement. He also wanted to lose weight, gain overall strength and stamina, and a 20 minute workout was very appealing to him. Michael’s strength training results speak for themselves:

  • No longer has back or hip problems
  • Has more energy and stronger muscles
  • Able to hit the golf ball 20-30 yards further at the driving range
  • Has been able to avoid hip replacement surgery


“The Perfect Workout has a great thing going. You feel like you have a workout when you come here. I’ll continue to do it.”

Mary Jane Bartee

When you have medical conditions like fibromyalgia, osteopenia, and pelvic prolapse, you’re going to be very careful about exercise. “Anything that’s fast-moving and aggressive aggravates it,” says Mary Jane (MJ) Bartee. Slow, safe movement is what first appealed to her about slow-motion strength training. MJ’s strength training results are nothing short of fantastic:

  • Her most recent bone density test showed that her osteopenia is gone
  • The pain from her other conditions is more manageable, resulting in less medication
  • Her pelvic prolapse has greatly improved, to the point where the doctors aren’t talking about surgery anymore


“It’s quick and accommodating,” says MJ. “20 minutes and I’m done. It’s something I do for myself, and as long as I’m functioning as well as I am, I’ll stick with it.”

Her Story of injury prevention

Sherry Chriss

After unsuccessful physical therapy and cortisone shots for an injured shoulder, Sherry was desperate for an alternative to surgery. She was also distraught about the effects of menopause, including loss of bone density, decreased upper body strength, and weak legs. A year after she began strength training at The Perfect Workout:

  • Sherry’s bone density scan improved, surprising even her doctor.
  • She no longer has shoulder pain, and no longer needs surgery.


“I enjoyed it right off the bat, and little did I know how fantastic it would turn out to be. My husband and I have both seen great results, so we’re committed to doing The Perfect Workout for the rest of our lives!”

Don’t wait for post-surgery to start building up strength. In fact, surgery may not be necessary if you take action now. It only takes 20 minutes, twice a week and you’ll get a lifetime workout guaranteed to get you stronger.

  1. Topp, R., Swank, A. M., Quesada, P. M., Nyland, J., & Malkani, A. (2009). The effect of prehabilitation exercise on strength and functioning after total knee arthroplasty. PM&R, 1(8), 729-735.
  1. Mizner, R. L., Petterson, S. C., Stevens, J. E., Axe, M. J., & Snyder-Mackler, L. (2005). Preoperative quadriceps strength predicts functional ability one year after total knee arthroplasty. The Journal of rheumatology, 32(8), 1533-1539.

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed - Featured Blog Image

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a person has suffered a significant loss of bone mass because their body can’t produce enough new bone to keep up with old bone loss. “Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and is replaced” (Mayoclinic.com). With this disease, bones become hollow and carry a high risk of fracture. About 10 million people in the US have osteoporosis and many others are at risk.

In this article, we talk about how to identify your risk for osteoporosis and share four strategies that can increase bone density.

Osteoporosis & Fall Risk Facts

As we age, we focus more on preventing falls for older adults, and that’s with good reason.

Over 300,000 adults ages 65 and older experience a hip fracture each year, 95% of those fractures resulting from falling.

Those hip fracturing-falls have severe side effects, too. Only half of these adults regain their quality of life after the fracture.

About 20% move into assisted living communities afterwards. And about one in every four older adults die within a year of having a hip fracture.

Hip fractures are a big concern for both men and women. However, falling and breaking a bone isn’t the only cause of this issue. Having weak bones is also a key underlying factor, just like with osteoporosis.

Data from the CDC shows that 48% of older adults have low bone density, usually in the most common locations: hip and lower back. For adults with osteoporosis, bones are fragile and susceptible to breaking when falls or other high-risk incidents like car accidents occur.

Osteoporosis Stages - 4 Stages of Bone Density Loss

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

While it’s easy to associate osteoporosis with older women, the process of bone loss starts well before 65 years old. People generally start to lose bone density in their early 30s. They’re at an increased risk for fractures after age 50.

Additional risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Being female – This can increase risk of osteoporosis because of the lost estrogen during menopause, which can contribute to bone loss.
  • Having a smaller/thinner frame – This means someone already has less bone mass in their body to begin with.
  • Past fractures – These are a sign that your bones are more fragile than normal.
  • A family history of osteoporosis – This may mean you’re already predisposed to develop the disease.

How to Assess Your Bone Strength

Osteoporosis is diagnosed through a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. A DEXA scan is a quick process (less than 20 minutes) where a person lies face up while a low-level x-ray scans down and then up the body. They use an even lower level of radiation than standard X-rays, so they’re very safe.

These bone density test results provide an accurate assessment of bone density, muscle tissue, and fat tissue. “Where a regular X-ray can show changes in bone density after 40 percent bone loss, the DEXA detects changes as small as 1 percent.”

You can find a DEXA scan by using a search engine like Google and typing in the keywords “DEXA scan near me”. DEXA scans are recommended at a frequency of every 1-2 years starting at the age of 50 if someone has risk factors for bone loss, especially for women during or after menopause.

Dexa Scan for Osteoporosis Infographic

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

We know that about half of older adults have low bone density, this increases the risk of experiencing a fracture, and that people start losing bone strength in their 30s.

Unfortunately, once you have osteoporosis, it can’t be fully reversed or “cured.” Thankfully, you can strengthen your bones at any age and there are proven methods for reducing the risk of a fracture. Below are four effective strategies for reversing bone loss.

4 Strategies for Strengthening Bones

1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D, specifically vitamin D3, increases calcium absorption from the food we eat. It also promotes calcium uptake in bones. Supplementing with vitamin D3 can decrease the risk of fractures in the hip and spine, and can increase bone density.

2. Magnesium

A two-year study of menopausal women taking a magnesium supplement showed an increase in bone density while also reducing fracture risk. Healthy magnesium levels are shown to enhance the function of bone-building cells and sufficient levels of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D (both of which regulate bone homeostasis).

3. Calcium

When thinking of bone strength, it’s common to think of calcium first. Research shows calcium consumption isn’t the silver bullet for strengthening bones that we might think it is. However, meeting a minimum amount of recommended daily consumption (2,000-2,500 mg/day according to mayoclinic.com) is critical to maintaining bone health. Also, supplementing calcium can reduce the risk of hip and spine fractures. However, some studies suggest that taking calcium supplements can decrease absorption of other nutrients like iron and zinc, so be mindful of your supplement intake and, as always, consult with a physician to be sure you’re taking the right supplement combination for your needs.

4. Strength Training

Strength training is a uniquely effective way to improve bone health and treat osteoporosis. It can improve bone strength in all areas of the body at any age. In a year-long study, strength training helped women, ages 65-75 years old, gain bone strength in their hips and lower back.

Following five minutes of training, women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old increased bone density in their legs and wrists. Three studies with men, ranging from 50 to 79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Strength training is a uniquely effective way to improve bone health and treat osteoporosis. It can improve bone strength in all areas of the body at any age. In a year-long study, strength training helped women, ages 65-75 years old, gain bone strength in their hips and lower back.

Following five minutes of training, women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old increased bone density in their legs and wrists. Three studies with men, ranging from 50 to 79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Is It Safe To Exercise With Osteoporosis?

The risk of fracture is serious, but there’s no reason not to exercise safely.

The National Institute of Health said it best:
“No one who has broken a bone wants to revisit that pain and loss of independence. However, living your life “on the sidelines” is not an effective way to protect your bones.”

Staying active with a doctor-approved program like slow-motion strength training can not only help you stay healthy, it’s also the best way to build bone density and strengthen your body to stay upright and active.

Next Steps

If you are currently strength training and are looking to enhance your bone density, examine your diet. Check to see if you are lacking regular consumption of the vitamins and minerals above, and look for ways to increase daily consumption.

Strength training will ensure you won’t lose bone density going forward. If you are not currently strength training, talk with your doctor and get started as soon as you can. Combining that with adequate levels of vitamin D3, magnesium, and calcium can make substantial improvements in your bone strength.

  1. Bolam, K.A., van Uffelen, J.G., & Taafle, D.R. (2013). The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: a systematic review. Osteoporosis International, 24(11), 2749-2762.
  2. MacLean, C., Newberry, S., Maglione, M., McMahon, M., Ranganath, V., Suttorp, M., … Grossman, J. (2008). Systematic review: comparative effectiveness of treatments to prevent fractures in men and women with low bone density or osteoporosis. Annals, of Internal Medicine, 148, 197-213.
  3. Nickols-Richardson S.SM., Miller, L.E., Wootten, D.F., Ramp, W.K., & Herert, W.G. (2007). Concentric and eccentric isokinetic resistance training similarly increases muscular strength, fat-free soft tissue mass, and specific bone mineral measurements in young women. Osteoporosis International 18(6), 789-796.
  4. Rhodes, E.C., Martin, A.D., Taunton, J.E., Donnelly, M., Warren, J., & Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(1), 18-22.
  5. Schnell, S., Friedman, S.M., Mendelssohn, D.A., Bingham, K.W., & Kates, S.L. (2010). The 1-year mortality of patients treated in a hip fracture program for elders. Geriatrics Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 1(1), 6-14.
  6. Soijka, J.E. (1995). Magnesium supplementation and osteoporosis. Nutrition Reviews, 53(3), 71-74.

5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Medical Diagram for Fibromyalgia

Living with fibromyalgia can feel like a battle to ease pain and chronic fatigue. Finding a solution to treat fibromyalgia while staying healthy and active can also feel like a never ending challenge. In this article, we’ve compiled 5 natural remedies for fibromyalgia and the treatment of symptoms.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Body stiffness
  • Difficulty with thinking or focusing
  • A “foggy” memory
  • Struggles with sleeping

If you went to the doctor with any one of these issues, your doctor would likely think it’s a valid issue and worthy of further examination.

Imagine having most of these issues…or all of these issues!

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Infographic

Adults with fibromyalgia don’t have it easy. Not only do symptoms of fibromyalgia manifest in any of the above list, there isn’t a universal test to diagnose all cases. 

Fibromyalgia can’t be measured with numbers on a scale, unlike most other health conditions (blood pressure, diabetes, etc.). Looking for sensitive “tender points” in certain locations of the body is the most common diagnostic test, but that’s not comprehensive enough to identify all people who have the condition. 

Unfortunately, this lack of a clear diagnostic test leads some people to question whether fibromyalgia is real. However, 4 million US adults and about 3-6% of the world’s population can attest to the existence of the disease. 

Fibromyalgia has no known cause, which also makes it challenging to manage. A few proven methods do exist, though. Strength training is one of these methods.

Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia

Before getting into the methods for disease management, let’s look a little deeper at the disease. Risk factors for fibromyalgia include being female, having lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, suffering from a traumatic event (e.g. car accident), having a family history of fibromyalgia, and being obese. 

It’s most commonly diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia pain spots are the jaw, chest, neck, upper back, and hips.

Natural Remedies For Fibromyalgia

Pain relievers and antidepressants are the most common fibromyalgia treatments. They aren’t the only treatment options, though. There are natural remedies for fibromyalgia. These research-supported methods have shown some relief from fibromyalgia symptoms:

Natural Remedies For Fibromyalgia Infographic

1. Vitamin D supplementation

A vitamin D supplement might ease fibromyalgia-related pain. In response to sun exposure, the human body creates vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be increased through the use of supplements or certain foods such as:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Beef liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified cereals and juices

2. Massage therapy

Massage can help provide temporary relief from the muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia by relaxing tendons and muscles, increasing blood flow, and improving psychological comfort. While types of massage can range in style and purpose, massage benefits can include:

  • Reducing stress and increasing relaxation
  • Reducing pain and muscle soreness and tension
  • Improving circulation, energy and alertness
  • Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improving immune function

3. Acupuncture

Similar to massage, this could provide temporary pain relief. Acupuncture is a technique that involves inserting very fine needles into your skin at very specific locations on the body that potentially balance energy or impact neurological function. Acupuncture, derived from traditional Chinese medicine, is most typically used to relieve pain. This alternative medicine is increasingly being utilized for overall well-being, including stress reduction.

4. SAM-e

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a naturally occurring compound produced and consumed by the liver that regulates hormones and maintains cell membranes. As a dietary supplement, it’s shown the ability to reduce pain and fatigue with those who have fibromyalgia. (For those with fibromyalgia, discuss this with your doctor to determine if and how much of SAM-e you should take as there are some side effects with excess amounts).

5. Strength Training

People with fibromyalgia might initially wonder whether they can safely exercise with their level of pain and discomfort, but research also points to strength training as an option for those with fibromyalgia. Three studies with over 100 women found that strength training 2-3 times per week offers some promising benefits:

Bonus Tip, 5 Extra Benefits Of Strength Training

  1. Overall well-being. Following strength training, women with fibromyalgia felt substantial improvements in their own wellness. 
  2. Physical functioning. Strength training led women to feel more capable of handling their normal activities. 
  3. Pain. Women felt noticeably less pain following the training program. 
  4. Tender point reduction. Strength training decreased the amount of active tender points.
  5. Strength. As you would expect, training led to big strength gains for women with fibromyalgia. 

The results above were obtained in about 4-5 months of strength training. (It’s possible the benefits could be noticed sooner).

Real People With Fibromyalgia

The study results support our experiences working with many clients who had fibromyalgia. As is typical with fibromyalgia cases, the fibromyalgia symptoms were different from client to client.

  • One woman struggled to sleep well and had various pain spots. Within two months of starting, she was sleeping better and had less pain.
  • Another woman had chest and arm pain along with general fatigue. She experienced pain reduction and felt more energetic throughout the school day after a few months.
  • One man, age 68, experienced fibromyalgia and arthritis in his hips and knees and wanted to get through his long workdays without feeling exhausted. Not only did he accomplish an energy boost, he also lost 11 lbs.
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia helped this client

Being that fibromyalgia manifests in such different ways from person to person, it requires consistent communication between the trainer and the client. If you have fibromyalgia, talk to your trainer about what you feel during and after training. 

Your trainer at The Perfect Workout will work with you to find the right combination of exercises to help you have no negative sensations after while making progress.

Fibromyalgia doesn’t have to stop you from living a high quality life. Feel less pain, gain more strength, and feel better about your health with two short strength training sessions per week.

  1. Busch, A.J., Webber, S.C., Richards, R.S., Bidonde, J., Schachter, C.L., Danyliw, A., … Overend, T.J. (2013). Resistance training (such as weight-lifting) for fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 12 (CD010884).
  2. Center for Disease Control. (2020). Fibromyalgia. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm
  3. Iliades, C. (2018). Easing the pain of fibromyalgia naturally. Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/8-natural-fibromyalgia-treatments/

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to keep Cholesterol in Check
plaque in artery headed to heart

In this article, we explain the importance and the potential dangers of cholesterol. With a simple solution, you will find out how to keep your cholesterol in check, in just 4 weeks.

 

“It is possible to have too much of a good thing.” – Aesop

Too much water.

Too much sun.

Too much exercise.

And your body would say this is also true about cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that our body uses to develop other necessary substances like hormones, vitamin D, the membranes of cells, and bile.

We need cholesterol. 

Too much of it can be dangerous though, hence why cholesterol-controlling practices such as strength training have become so highly sought after. 

Going back to the concept of too much of a good thing becoming bad, an excess of cholesterol is considered a “risk factor.” 

In other words, when high levels of cholesterol exist, people are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or develop diabetes or heart disease. 

A 2020 study published in the journal Circulation estimates that 38% of US adults — about two out of every five people — have high cholesterol! When you combine that with the prevalence of heart disease, which kills over 600,000 people annually in the US, it’s clear that keeping cholesterol in check is a national health concern.

How Much Cholesterol is Too Much?

There are a few measures used to determine whether you have a healthy level of cholesterol or too much of it. (Technically, the ways in which we measure cholesterol aren’t directly measuring cholesterol itself. We measure other particles that relate to cholesterol.) 

Keep Cholesterol in Check Infographic

The following are the most common measures of cholesterol:

  1. HDLs: high-density lipoproteins. These are commonly referred to as the “good cholesterol.” This is the only measure of cholesterol that we want to increase to improve health. 
  2. LDLs: low-density lipoproteins. These are referred to as “bad cholesterol.” 
  3. Triglycerides: these are particles of fat which are found in the body and blood stream. 
  4. Total cholesterol: a total number that includes LDLs, HDLs, and a fraction of the triglyceride total. This is the most comprehensive assessment of cholesterol quantity. Total cholesterol can be skewed by any of the lipoproteins and triglycerides, so if you have high “good cholesterol,” your total cholesterol can also appear high when “bad cholesterol” is normal.

Ideally, we want high HDLs and low LDLs, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

How to Control Cholesterol

How do we accomplish that and minimize our risk of having heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke?

how to keep cholesterol in check with diet and exercise infographic

Diet to keep your cholesterol in check

A few dietary approaches are shown to work:

  • Eliminate the consumption of trans fats. Trans fats are artificially created fats found in some vegetable oils (try olive oil or avocado oil instead!), baked goods, and non-organic peanut butters.
  • Eat more fiber, specifically soluble fiber. Fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the foods we eat. Foods high in soluble fiber include black beans, lentils, chia seeds, flaxseeds, dried fig, and dried prunes.
  • Consume whey protein. Whey supplementation can reduce triglyceride levels.

Exercise to keep your cholesterol in check

In addition to dietary strategies, another success method is…strength training!

Strength training is a well-established way to manage cholesterol levels. In fact, a research article which tallied the results of 29 studies and over 1,300 adults concluded that strength training reduces total cholesterol, LDLs, and triglycerides. 

These changes could happen after as little as four weeks of training.

Researchers noted that strength training is additionally helpful for controlling cholesterol when people consistently attend their workouts, lose weight, gain muscle, or lift very challenging weights. 

If improving cholesterol levels is important to you, consider combining strength training with some of the dietary approaches listed above. 

Having high cholesterol is an indication that you might be headed toward heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US. 

Fortunately, you have a large say in your own outcome. You can keep your cholesterol in check with a few simple diet changes and a strength training program. 

A single month of strength training with The Perfect Workout can make a significant positive change in your cholesterol… and overall health.

  1. Kelley, G.A. & Kelley, K.S. (2008). Impact of progressive resistance training on lipids and lipoproteins in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Elsevier, 48, 9-19.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935
  3. Sarin, H.V., Ahtiainen, J.P., Hulmi, J.J., Ihalainen, J.K., Walker, S., Kuusmaa-Schildt, M. … Peltonen, H. (2019). Resistance training induces antiatherogenic effects on metabolomic pathways. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(9), 1866-1875.
  4. Virani, S.S., Alonso, A., Benjamin, E.J., Callaway, C.W., Carson, A.P. … Tsao, C.W. (2020). Heart disease and stroke statistics — 2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 141(9), e139-e596.

Live Longer And Pain-Free: Strength Training

Can Strength Training Help You Live Longer And Pain-Free?

Woman holding neck wanting to Live Pain Free

Accepting illness and physical deterioration used to be the norm because we just didn't know any better. It was all just a part of getting old. 

But now that we know better, we can do better. Our health is in our control even as we age.

The same is true for health. Pain, independence, and premature death are common age-related concerns for many adults. These concerns, though, are just that: concerns. They aren’t guaranteed. 

In fact, there are specific approaches you can take to avoid these side effects of aging. In this article, we’ll address how strength training is one of those approaches.

The Most Common Age-related Concerns that can be avoided with Strength Training

Living With Pain.

According to the CDC, 49.6% of seniors have diagnosed arthritis. This produces a number of side effects, which can vary depending on what joints have arthritis. Common side effects are issues with walking form, limited range of motion, limited function, disability, and pain.

Losing Independence.

About one in every 14 seniors require personal care assistance, according to the CDC. About one in every six adults age 85 years and older live in a nursing home. 


The loss of independence is due to a few factors. Arthritis and other sources of pain limit physical abilities and could lead to relying on others. Strength is one of the biggest factors in determining how well we can physically function.

We lose about 3-8% of our strength per decade, which adds up when reaching our older years. Independence is also lost when major injuries occur and the individual never fully recovers. 

About a third of older adults suffer at least one fall every year. The CDC states that 20-30% of falls lead to injury. Some injuries, such as hip fractures, lead to the permanent loss of independence

Premature Death.

The average adult lives 79 years in the US. However, many don’t reach this point for a variety of reasons: 

the onset of chronic disease, a lack of exercise and overall movement, and many other reasons. 


(If you’re reading this and are thinking, “This is bringing me down.” …keep reading. There’s a happy ending.)


As noted at the beginning, you have a lot of control in what happens with your life. You can take actions to improve your health and longevity. Starting and maintaining a strength training program can prevent or decrease pain, maintain independence, and lengthen your life.


Don’t take our word for it, though. Let’s look at the research:

    • Arthritis/Pain. A few months of twice-weekly strength training substantially reduced arthritis pain, disability, and improved joint range of motion. Training also led to big improvements in strength for the muscles that support the arthritic joints.
    • Fall Risk. A research review which included over 100 studies showed that strength training decreases the risk of falls for older adults.
    • Physical Functioning. As little as 12 weeks of strength training can increase strength and balance in adults between 85 and 97 years old! The increase in strength translates to greater ease with general daily activities: walking long distances, walking upstairs, carrying groceries, etc.
    • Longevity. People who strength train are more likely to live longer lives. A 15-year study of adults 65 years and older showed that strength training at least twice per week was connected with a 46% reduced risk of death. In other words, strength training was linked to one in every two adults living a longer life.

If you take anything from this article, remember this: many side effects of aging are optional. You have control over how you age. You also have an influence on how long you live. 

As the research showed, strength training twice a week can reduce pain, enhance overall function, add strength, build balance, reduce the chances of falling, and might increase your life expectancy.

With slow-motion strength training, we can revolutionize the way people exercise… and live! Share with a friend today,

New to The Perfect Workout? Get a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Baker, K. R., Nelson, M. E., Felson, D. T., Layne, J. E., Sarno, R., & Roubenoff, R. (2001). The efficacy of home based progressive strength training in older adults with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial.  Journal of Rheumatology, 28, 1655–166.
  2. Cadore, E. L., Casas-Herrero, A., Zambom-Ferraresi, F., Idoate, F., Millor, N., Gómez, M.,…& Izquierdo, M. (2014). Multicomponent exercises including muscle power training enhance muscle mass, power output, and functional outcomes in institutionalized frail nonagenarians. Age36(2), 773-785.
  3. El-Khoury, F., Cassou, B., Charles, M. A., & Dargent-Molina, P. (2013). The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Bmj347, f6234.
  4. Foroughi N., Smith  R. M., Lange, A. K., Baker, M. K., Fiatarone Singh, M.A.,  & Vanwanselle, B. (2011). Lower limb muscle strengthening does not change frontal plane moments in women with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Biomechanics, 26, 167-174.
  5. Kraschenewski, J. L., Sciamanna, C. N., Poger, J. M., Rovniak, L. S., Lehman, E. B., Cooper, A.B., … Ciccolo, J. T. (2016). Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults. Preventative Medicine, 87, 121-127.
  6. Serra‐Rexach, J. A., Bustamante‐Ara, N., Hierro Villarán, M., González Gil, P., Sanz Ibáñez, M. J., Blanco Sanz, N., … & Lucia, A. (2011). Short‐term, light‐to moderate‐intensity exercise training improves leg muscle strength in the oldest old: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,59(4), 594-602.

Burn More Calories: During a Workout vs. After?

How many calories do you burn during a workout vs. after?

One of the most common questions we hear is, “How many calories did I burn from my workout?”

To help answer that question, let’s talk money.

The traditional method for making money is exchanging time for money. 

You finish a project or complete a few days of work, and you’re compensated for those hours or work that you completed. You work 40 hours in a week and you’re paid for that week in the following paycheck. It’s a one-time compensation for the work completed. This is the common model of making money, and the traditional lens through which people think about burning calories.

Another way to make money is receiving residual income. A person works to complete a product or service, then receives ongoing payments or royalties after the work is already done. An example of this is writing a book and receiving continued payments for the book as it continues to sell. 

For many, the most valued benefit of exercise is that it “burns” calories, which can help with weight loss or maintaining weight loss (calories are technically “expended,” but “burned” is the more popular phrase). 

Traditionally, we look at exercise through the “time for money” model. We judge exercise by how many calories we burned during the workout, as if a workout was a one-time payment. Viewing exercise in this way is both right and wrong. 

Exercise is exchanging time for calories burned, but workouts also have residual benefits where you continue to burn calories after the workout. This is especially true for exercise at The Perfect Workout.

The Perfect Workout Client Strength Training

Calories Burned During the Workout

Hustling through your session at The Perfect Workout must count for something, right? Yes! 

The effort you put into moving quickly through your exercises makes the training more beneficial in a few ways, including increasing the calories burned during your workout. 

According to data from Harvard Health Publishing, exercise similar to The Perfect Workout burns about 4-8 calories per minute. 

Calories burned per minute are influenced by whether a person truly reaches “muscle success” on each exercise, how quickly a person moves when transitioning between exercises, and by how much the person weighs (heavier people burn more calories when working at the same intensity).

Using the Harvard data, a 20-minute session could expend 80 to 160 calories.

Calories Burned After the Workout

As noted before, The Perfect Workout burns calories not only during the session but with residual calories after the workout as well. 

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that a single workout can increase metabolism up to 72 hours afterwards. The metabolism increase in the study was about 70-90 extra calories burned per day. 

This post-workout benefit doesn’t happen with all types of activity. Most activities, such as walking, riding a bike, and jogging, are limited to the calories burned only during the activity. 

Strength training’s intensity boosts metabolism for a prolonged period due to a few factors: 

  • replenishing stored glucose
  • converting lactic acid into glucose
  • elevated levels of some neurotransmitters and hormones
  • returning core temperature and breathing rate to normal levels

In slow-motion strength training workouts, you burn calories during the session and for days after. Evaluating The Perfect Workout through the traditional lens of only calories burned during the session would underestimate it’s value because you forget about all the calories you burn AFTER the workout. 

Combining the workout and post-workout estimates, a workout could burn anywhere from 200 to 340 calories. When considering that this all comes from a single 15-20-minute session, the calories spent for your work is definitely a return on investment.

New to slow-motion strength training? Try an Intro Workout today!

10 Healthy Habits to Start (Only 20 minutes!)

10 Habits to Improve Health

10 healthy habits to improve health

Creating a healthier life, diet, mindset or relationship can feel very motivating this time of year – and also a little overwhelming.

But a healthier you can happen now with just the slightest shifts in behavior.

Master of transformation Tony Robbins teaches something called the 2-millimeter rule. It’s the idea that an ultra-slight, 2mm change in behavior can yield drastic results.

We took that approach and applied it to healthy habits. How can we continually shift our health: body, mind, and spirit just 20 minutes at a time?

Here’s what we came up with…

Practice Gratitude

Studies show that practicing gratitude can actually improve your physical and psychological health. By feeling grateful and appreciative, you can alleviate stress, reduce toxins in the body, and improve sleep and overall feeling of well-being.

Guess what? You can feel grateful and appreciative about ANYTHING. It can be about something in the past, something you are currently experiencing, or even something you desire to happen.

In fact, the brain does not know the difference between reality or imagination.

Director of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at CU Boulder, Tor Wager said, ”Imagination is a neurological reality that can impact our brains and bodies in ways that matter for our wellbeing,”

This means you can reap the benefits of practicing gratitude, even by dreaming up something that hasn’t happened yet!

And the best part. You can do it any time, anywhere. 

Although it may not take 20 minutes to feel grateful, we encourage you to take the time so it truly becomes a practice. 

Spending 20 minutes a day on gratitude and  is easy

Practice Gratitude

Take a Walk

Move your body by doing what it’s made to do – walk!

It’s probably no surprise to you that walking is good for your health. You simply feel better when you can be up and about, moving around.

Harvard Health shared research that outlined some enlightening benefits to walking:

  • Supports weight maintenance and helps prevent weight gain
  • Can help reduce sugar cravings
  • Reduces joint pain 
  • Lowers risk of breast cancer
  • Boosts immunity

You’ll want to be consistently strength training for exercise but walking serves as an excellent activity to do on rest days.

 

Bodies in motion, stay in motion. Take a break from the computer today and replace it with a 20-minute stroll.

Grounding to Recharge

Grounding, also known as earthing, is a direct contact between the earth and skin to “recharge” or heal the body. Most commonly, grounding is done by simply placing your bare hands or feet on natural ground.

Grounding “enables free electrons from the Earth’s surface to spread over and into the body, where they can have antioxidant effects.” (NCBI)

Research shows grounding can help improve sleep, reduce stress, heal wounds faster, and more!  

“Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers Quarterback added Earthing to his optimized wellness and fitness routine aimed at extending his active playing days and overall health.”

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

We encourage you to take 20 minutes and get your grounding on outside but here’s a cheat for those who are stuck inside all day…

You can find tools such as grounding mats that simulate the experience of grounding so you can get the benefits of this electro-recharge while working at your desk.

Sun Exposure

Getting regular exposure to a little sunshine helps your body absorb Vitamin D, an important vitamin that isn’t found in a lot of foods.

Why do we need vitamin D?


By getting enough Vitamin D, we keep our bones, muscles, and teeth healthy and strong, and help prevent deficiencies and diseases like Osteoporosis.

Weather not cooperating? Sun lamps can be a great alternative for those who don’t live in sunny climates or want to bring the sunshine inside.

Power Napping

We realize that not everyone can fall asleep like a baby on demand, but for those of you who can – it may be time to start power napping!

Research shows, “An ultra short period of only 6 min of napping is already sufficient to significantly boost declarative memory performance.” (Journal of Sleep Research)

Not only does a very quick power nap help improve memory but it also has the following positive effects on our health…

Power napping (a nap typically under 30 minutes) can:

  • Reduce overall sleepiness throughout the day
  • Improve memory
  • Improve learning
  • Boost emotional stability

Consider this your permission slip to take a little siesta this week. 20 minutes might be all you need.

Eat Slowly

Anyone else inhale their food?

Research shows that eating rapidly is linked to individuals having a higher body-mass index.

Why?

It can take up to 20 minutes (there’s that magic number again) for the “I’m Full” signal to reach the brain.

Slowing down the process of eating at meals by taking 20 minutes per meal or simply adding 5 more minutes per meal a day could be an extremely easy, yet impactful shift to help you lose weight.

Digital Detox

Email, text message, FaceTime, Zoom, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix…. The list goes on.

On any given day, we are consuming hours of digital information and for many, that consists of social media platforms.

Although technology allows us to connect with others worldwide, social media usage affects everyone differently.

Some studies show too much time spent online, particularly social media can lead to addictive behaviors, self-esteem issues, narcissistic tendencies, and feelings of isolation.

While a recent Harvard article shows that social media usage can have a positive impact on mental well-being.

And it varies across different demographics, races, age and socioeconomic statuses, 

If you struggle with intentional social media use, we suggest a 20-minute digital detox each day. Put the phone down, close the laptop, turn off the news, and replace it with one of the many healthy habits we’ve outlined here.

Need help with your digital detox? Try the free Forest app It helps you stay focused and be present by setting time limits. When you don’t want to access certain platforms or websites on your digital device, it gives you incentive by planting or “killing” beautiful digital trees.

Laugh More

Do we really need to tell you to laugh more?

It feels downright GOOD to laugh and we could all use more of it. Laughter can increase dopamine and serotonin which may produce similar effects as antidepressants.

Take 20 minutes to play a game, tell some jokes, or watch some funny home videos and LAUGH a little.

Here’s a funny video we LOVE.

 

Meditate

Clear your mind, clear your energy, clear your stress.

Meditation has been shown to have significant improvements on health and aside from practicing gratitude, may be THE best 20 minutes well spent. (Outside your 20-minute, twice a week workouts, of course 😉 )

Studies have shown meditation can:

  • Prevent respiratory illness
  • Help people stop smoking
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve functional ability
  • Be a therapeutic option for those with illness and diseases

Meditation can take place anytime anywhere as long as you can remain distraction free.

Although tapestries and incense are welcome, they are not needed to get the benefits of this magic method.

One of our favorite meditation apps is Headspace which has several meditation options for your unique needs.

Strength Train

Exercise in general is necessary for a healthy body and mind. Safe, effective and efficient exercise is achieved with slow-motion strength training. 

Here’s 13 Reasons WHY every adult should be doing it

Slow-motion strength training. 20 minutes, twice a week. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Take 20 minutes for these 10 healthy habits to start improving your health:

  1. Practice Gratitude
  2. Take a Walk
  3. Ground Yourself
  4. Get some sunshine
  5. Take a nap
  6. Eat slower
  7. Take a digital detox
  8. Laugh more
  9. Meditate
  10. Strength Train

Let us help you start today.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/?sh=bca261e183c0

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health

 

Oschman, James L et al. “The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.” Journal of inflammation research vol. 8 83-96. 24 Mar. 2015, doi:10.2147/JIR.S69656

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-101#intro

 

LAHL, O., WISPEL, C., WILLIGENS, B. and PIETROWSKY, R. (2008), An ultra short episode of sleep is sufficient to promote declarative memory performance. Journal of Sleep Research, 17: 3-10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00622.x

 

Leong SL, Madden C, Gray A, Waters D, Horwath C. Faster self-reported speed of eating is related to higher body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.012. PMID: 21802566.

 

Andreassen CS, Pallesen S, Griffiths MD. The relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addict Behav. 2017 Jan;64:287-293. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.006. Epub 2016 Mar 19. PMID: 27072491.

 

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/social-media-positive-mental-health/&sa=D&ust=1611007812189000&usg=AOvVaw2inMG5N7zTBxigcBblOZ6h

Cha MY, Hong HS.   Effect and Path Analysis of Laughter Therapy on Serotonin, Depression and Quality of Life in Middle-aged Women.   J Korean Acad Nurs. 2015 Apr;45(2):221-230.   https://doi.org/10.4040/jkan.2015.45.2.221



Barrett B, Hayney MS, Muller D, et al. Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Family Medicine. 2012;10:337–346.

 

 

Carim-Todd L, Mitchell SH, Oken BS. Mind-body practices: an alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013;132(3):399–410.

 

Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, et al. Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety. 2012;29(7):545–562.

 

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, et al. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care on back pain and functional limitations in adults with chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2016;315(12):1240–1249.

 

 

Gaylord SA, Palsson OS, Garland EL, et al. Mindfulness training reduces the severity of irritable bowel syndrome in women: results of a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011;106(9):1678–1688.

 

 

Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(3):357–368.

 

 

Jedel S, Hoffman A, Merriman P, et al. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction to prevent flare-up in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis. Digestion. 2014;89:142–155.

Lakhan SE, Schofield KL. Mindfulness-based therapies in the treatment of somatization disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013;26;8(8):e71834.

Free weights vs Machines - members strength training

Free Weights vs Machines

Free Weights vs Machines, What’s Better? Free weights or machines? This debate has existed in the fitness industry since the first strength training machines were

Read More »

Pin It on Pinterest