Are You Listening to What Your Heart Is Telling You?

August 28th, 2015

Pay more attention to your body’s signals.

Chris Eschbach / Huffington Post

heart rate monitor

Wearable technology is getting a lot of attention these days and for good reason. These devices are becoming increasingly more integrated into our daily lives and are providing new insights into our personal activity and fitness levels. According to IDC Research, the worldwide wearables market will reach 45.7 million units shipped by the end of 2015 and 126.1 million units in 2019, indicating a compound annual growth rate over 45%.

To date, the vast majority of that growth has been in basic activity trackers like the Fitbit One and the Jawbone UP that use an accelerometer to measure movement and translate those measurements into estimates of step counts, calories burned, distance travelled and other metrics. However, these devices won’t tell you how your body responded to that movement. In other words, while an activity tracker can estimate that you’ve taken 10,000 steps in a day, it can’t tell you how hard your body worked to take those 10,000 steps or how your body recovered from that effort. Measurements of both physical activity and the body’s response to physical activity are critical components in determining whether you’re actually improving your health and fitness.

This can be explained by what exercise scientists refer to as workload. Workload is defined as the amount of time spent doing an activity or workout multiplied by the intensity of that activity. For example, to burn approximately 400 calories you can workout for an hour at low intensity or workout for 20 minutes at very high intensity. This may seem obvious, but while basic activity trackers can be good at measuring how many steps you’ve taken, they are incapable of telling you how your body actually responded to those steps. Half the equation is missing with basic activity trackers, since they are only measuring activity and time, not your body’s response to that activity. The best way to complete that equation and quantify your body’s true response to workload is by continuously and accurately measuring heart rate.

With accurate information about your workloads and level of effort you are on your way to getting much better insight into your health and fitness. For example, with training you will start to see improvements in your cardiac efficiency. Efficiency in any system is the ratio of the energy delivered by a system to the energy supplied to it, so cardiac efficiency essentially measures how efficiently your heart can turn energy into work. Like any muscle, the heart and cardiovascular system grow stronger and more efficient with exercise, so as you get in better shape your body is able to produce the same amount of work for less beats from your heart. Though not as accurate, this is why people measure their resting heart rate as a proxy for cardiac efficiency, because it tells you how hard your heart is working (beats per minute) to achieve the same amount of work (during rest). The same analysis can be applied to cardiac efficiency during workouts, so if you complete the same exercise once a month and measure your average heart rate during the workout, you will start to see your average heart rate go down over time if you are getting more fit.

There are many other metrics that can be generated from accurate biometric sensors including maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) for cardiovascular fitness measurement, heart rate recovery, heart rate variability for monitoring training levels and stress, blood pressure, and breathing rate. This is why more companies are adding continuous heart rate monitoring to their next-gen wearable products. You can expect to see this trend continue as consumers get more value from the powerful insights that accurate heart rate data can provide.

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Stepathlon to Conduct Landmark Mental Health Study – Take 10,000 Steps

August 8th, 2015

MUMBAI, August 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ —
Stepathlon Lifestyle Pvt Ltd, the leading global wellness company in association with internationally renowned epidemiologist, Professor Maximilian de Courten, will conduct a mental health survey on corporate employees across India and the globe. The survey will measure and evaluate the impact of physical exercise on three major aspects of mental health: Stress, Anxiety and Depression.
This study comes at an opportune time as psychological welfare appears to be a growing area of concern in the workplace. According to an ASSOCHAM India study conducted this year, nearly 42.5% employees in the private sector suffer from general anxiety disorders. The rate of emotional problems such as stress and depression has increased by 45-50% in just the last eight years.
A recent study found that one out of every five people in India suffers from some form of mental disorder, which prevents the individual from functioning optimally and contributing to his/her community. Further, it is estimated that mental health-related costs will contribute to economic losses to the tune of $6.2 trillion between 2012 and 2030.
Stepathlon has been working towards improving employee health and wellbeing through the 100 Day Race, a mass participation corporate event that encourages employees to walk 10,000 steps a day. The reported impact of this increased activity on participant (employee) wellbeing, and on workplace productivity, has been tremendous over the last three years. And now, there is a growing body of research which examines the exercise-depression relationship and supports the efficacy of exercise as an adjunct treatment for mental disorders.
This year Stepathlon will be conducting a scientific mental health study before and after the 100 day event, enabling an assessment of any changes that occur on its participants.
Stepathlon’s ground-breaking study will give organisations not only the baseline data that they need to get a snapshot of the current mental health in their workplace, but also information on how increasing physical activity and walking 10,000 steps can improve it. Companies can use this data to further invest in the health of their employees in order to reap benefits that go beyond financial ones such as, improved commitment by employees, reduced labour turnover, improved quality of goods and services as well as innovation at the workplace.
The study uses a combination of the DAS 21 and the Wellbeing Scale, and aims to measure and evaluate what contributes to poor or sound mental health, ranging from the amount of physical activity, fruit & vegetable consumption, to hydration and even the benefits of being more active with colleagues or family.
Commenting on this, Mr. Ravi Krishnan, CEO, Stepathlon Lifestyle Pvt Ltd, said, “We at Stepathlon have been working to create an ecosystem that promotes wellness amongst corporates. We are taking this initiative a step further, by enabling our participating companies to understand where their employees stand when it comes to their mental wellbeing. With this survey, companies will be able to understand the stress levels of its employees, thus giving them an opportunity to address this very real issue.”
Stepathlon’s Chief Wellness Officer, Shane Bilsborough, says, “I am extremely excited and committed to being part of a solution to this often neglected and misunderstood space of mental health management. While we understand the enormity and impact of heart disease and cancer, recent data shows that the impact of poor mental health is twice as large and has many more consequences. It is in this light that we at Stepathlon will be a contributor to this space across the globe, as we work for and with organisations to understand, track and change its impact positively.”
Dr. Maximillian de Courten, who brings with him the specific technical knowledge says, “My team and I are extremely excited about working with Stepathlon to understand the root causes of this insidious disease, and working on ways to contribute positively to this much needed task.”
In addition to this special initiative, Stepathlon conducts an annual survey to study the impact of walking 10,000 steps on participants in association with IMRB One. The worldwide survey in 2014 reported a significant rise in energy and fitness levels, reduction in stress and body weight, and improved quality of sleep among participants. It found that 38% of Stepathletes reported sleeping better, 42% felt more energetic, and 21% of smokers quit smoking. 79% felt there was better communication within the organisation.
About Stepathlon:
Stepathlon is a 100 Day Race around a ‘virtual world’ which helps employees from organisations of all sizes, across all industries and countries lead healthier, happier and more productive lives. A global, pedometer-based, mass participation format, it motivates the ‘everyday athlete’ to take 10,000 steps a day, as recommended by global health authorities. Our aim is to break the cycle of sedentary behaviour, turning the sedentary to active and the active to more active.
Stepathlon was established in 2012, with the vision of providing a holistic health and wellness ecosystem for corporate India. Over the last three years, Stepathlon has evolved towards fulfilling this vision. What started out as a 100 Day Race in 2013, became a 12-month program in 2014 consisting of nine scientifically tailored ‘Stepping Stones’. These have been designed to help individuals reach their health goals in a simple, fun and engaging manner. Last year, Stepathlon witnessed participation from 60,250 participants (Stepathletes) from 275 companies across 635 locations and 34 countries.
In 2015, we are taking it a step further by launching the new Stepathlon Wellness Platform. While the 100 Day Race remains exclusively for Stepathletes, we are extending our offering to health and fitness enthusiasts. Users will have access to a host of motivating and engaging apps and tools; ‘play’ focused nutrition and fitness programs, expert resources, contests and challenges, and much more.
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12 Week Walking Fitness Program

October 17th, 2014

Here is a great article from the ShareCare website to help you get started (slowly) on a walking fitness program. Over a 12 week period you will gain strength, lose fat and feel much better.

Take 10,000 Steps !!!!

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Walking May Ease Parkinson’s Symptoms, Study Suggests

July 13th, 2014

Take 10,000 Steps

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Snowshoeing – Fun Fitness for 50’s Plus

January 28th, 2014

Snowshoeing-Take 10000 Steps a Day

Snowshoeing – Fun Fitness for 50s Plus

Snowshoeing – Fun Fitness for 50s Plus
By Andre Noel Potvin

When thinking about winter activities that can bring satisfaction and provide aerobic health benefits, a simple yet entertaining form of recreation is often overlooked…snowshoeing! Many people use winter as a perfect excuse to enjoy the ‘home comforts’ of good food, warm beverages and indoor pleasures due to a lack of safe, affordable, and enjoyable activities to pursue. Snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding are three of the most common forms of winter activity that come to mind when one thinks of winter sports… unfortunately, for people in the age category of fifty+ these may not be easiest to get into due to the required time investment, relatively weaker health, and lower fitness levels involved. Well, with the advent of snowshoeing as a form of recreational enjoyment the time for enjoying warm hot chocolate and rich foods can be balanced with positive activity!

Modern snowshoeing doesn’t require a costly start up instructor class like its counterparts (skiing and snowboarding) and has a smaller chance of minor and major sports-related injuries. To get started, all you need is a modest pair of snowshoes (prices range from $70-200) and the desire to get out there! There’s a common saying among those who love snowshoeing: “If you can walk… You can snowshoe.” If you just want to enjoy some scenic nature trails or look to continue the hobby of recreational running and/or walking well into the winter months, snowshoes are your first step toward being fit and active. For the cost of renting a pair of beginner’s skis for 5 days, you can purchase an excellent pair of snowshoes that you will enjoy for many seasons to come, and the novelty of walking along the top of snow will make even your usual hiking places seem new and improved.

Getting started with snowshoes is as simple as choosing how strenuous you would like to make your newfound hobby. There are three different types of snowshoes one can purchase: An athletic pair, a recreational pair, and a mountaineering set…and while the athletic and recreational can be used by starters of any fitness level, the mountaineering pair would probably only be chosen by those with experience in both snowshoeing as a sport and hobby as well as experience with outdoor wilderness hikes into high hills and mountains.

Athletic snowshoes are the smallest and lightest and are very adept at allowing users to run with a very high degree of mobility. They’re also not intended for backcountry use. Athletic snowshoes are commonly referred to as ‘bearclaw’ snowshoes, as they form a smaller circle rather than the teardrop form of the recreation and mountaineering snowshoes.

The recreational types tend to be a bit larger and are meant for use in gentle-to moderate walks of 3-5 miles, while mountaineering shoes are the largest and are meant for serious hill-climbing, long-distance trips, and off-trail use. A general rule of thumb for purchasing snowshoes is that for every pound of bodyweight, there should be one square inch of surface (14.5 cm[squared]/kg) per snowshoe to adequately support the wearer (it’s always good to consider the weight of any gear you will be packing, especially if you expect to break trail). Many manufacturers now include weight-based flotation ratings for their shoes to help simplify picking the proper snowshoe.

The health benefits of snowshoeing are as apparent as any other form of aerobic activity, and of course being able to continue previous aerobic activity into the winter months is an excellent way to maintain an active lifestyle. Some of the benefits of aerobic activity include lowering blood pressure and helping your arteries to maintain their elasticity; your arteries expand and contract two to three times more while exercising, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. This means you are not only looking better, but also feeling better by keeping active through the winter months as well as the spring and summer. These forms of exercise are also beneficial for slowing down aging, as you are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss. Bones grow and become stronger by responding to physical demands, while those who don’t put this type of demand on their bodies allow a sedentary state that makes them more susceptible to osteoporosis as they age. Snowshoeing warm-ups and cool-downs are the same as any degree of summer cardio activity that you may enjoy. This includes running, power walking, or simply enjoying a peaceful hike.

Preparations and precautions taken while snowshoeing vary a little depending on the intensity and distance of your snow hike. Dressing in layers is crucial to maintaining the proper body temperature throughout the length of your adventure. Having layers that you can easily slip into and out of is as crucial as having a proper way to store them once removed; remember: you can have as easy a hike as one taken through a snow-covered city park to deep snowy trails outside your family cabin or ski resort. Hats are also very important, as a great deal of body temperature can be lost through the head. Having light layered headwear or headgear you can switch out from a small bag is also recommended.

Never forget light snacks and proper hydration again depending on the length of your planned hike! A light snack might be appropriate to keep energy levels up for a quick afternoon outing or even for a short jaunt through the park. You might want to consider bringing along a water bottle too. People tend to forget they sweat while out in the cold due to their sweat being drawn away from the skin and evaporating. A small percentage of water is also lost from the simple act of breathing too, so always stay hydrated while keeping fit.

A final tip for trekking in the wintertime is to plan on heading into the wind for the start of your journey and returning with the wind at your back, as your exertion will be greatest during the final half of your hike. You also don’t want to become chilled due to sweat freezing on your body as your move into the wind…plus the best part of any journey is when the wind is at your back pushing you along. There’s no better time for this than the last leg of your journey.

In conclusion, I hope this has intrigued you enough to consider being active during the snow season instead of simply enjoying the creature comforts of home!

Andr� N�el Potvin is the President of INFOFIT Educators School for Fitness Professionals ( ). He is also an International Speaker, Author of the Great Exercise Handbook series (which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide) and a former Exercise Physiology Instructor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. If you’d like more information about this topic, please call 604-773-9424 or email

Article Source:—Fun-Fitness-for-50s-Plus&id=6823118

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Walk With A Doc Program

July 14th, 2013

The American Heart Association definitely has its finger on your pulse when it comes to walking for exercise.  Why walking?  Well, walking for just 30 minutes a day can give your body so many health benefits and can even extend your life.  Did you know that for each hour you walk you add two extra hours onto your lifespan? That’s pretty amazing!  Folks are being encouraged to take 10,000 steps a day to reverse sedentary lifestyles and a multitude of medical conditions sweeping the nation.

There is an awesome WALKING program sweeping the nation called “Walk With A Doc”.  Communities all across the country are joining in and forming local walking groups under the supervision of their own local doctors!  To get a walking group going in your area and get your doctor onboard, just tell your physician about the program!  The website has all the information you need to get started.   Have your doctor sign up here!

–          Walking is cardiovascular exercise and reduces your risk of coronary heart disease

–          Walking helps with maintaining or reducing your body weight to lower risk of obesity

–          Your Blood Lipid profile will improve

–          Walking reduces risk of colon and breast cancers

–          Improve Blood Sugar Levels

–          Improve Blood Pressure

–          Enhances your mental State and Well-being

–          Reduces the risk of Osteoporosis

–          Walking reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and can help reverse some of the symptoms if you have it already


Walking requires no special equipment aside from a good pair of walking shoes.  It is low impact and therefore does not stress the joints. Walking is very safe for folks with many physical medical problems such as heart conditions, obesity, or any orthopedic ailments – but always check with your doctor for any specific guidelines.

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Do You Suffer From RA? Walking May Help Symptoms.

May 27th, 2013

If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis you may feel that you can’t be as physically active as you once were. The pain, stiffness and inflammation are very real and cause many patients to become more sedentary rather than stay active. One of the best things to do to relieve symptoms may be walking or getting into a pool to swim and keep those joints mobile. (See Video Link Below)

Improve Your RA Symptoms with Exercise




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Do You Use Walking / Trekking Poles?

April 28th, 2013

Walking Poles - Take 10000 Steps

A British study suggests that hikers who use walking poles suffer less muscle damage; poles take the stress off the muscles, especially when on descents.

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What Makes the Biggest Difference for Your Health?

March 12th, 2013

A Doctor-Professor answers the old question “What is the single best thing we can do for our health” in a completely new way. You can probably already guess the answer but take a look on how Dr. Evans presents the value of walking.

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Walk For Someone Who Loves You

March 12th, 2013

If you can’t get motivated to walk for yourself then try walking for someone who loves you.


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