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Entries in Tom Nikkola (255)


Could Vitamin D Help You Avoid the Flu?

A sure sign of fall is the plethora of flu shot advertisements popping up everywhere. Though the flu shot may reduce the likelihood of contracting flu in some people or potentially reduce the symptom severity, there are other ways to reduce the chance of getting sick.

The flu shot, of course, does not guarantee one will not get the flu, nor do the best hygiene or nutritional habits. 

However, a low-risk nutritional choice you can make to support your immune system is to optimize your levels of vitamin D.


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The Three As of Intensity: Active, Aerobic and Anaerobic

If you’re like the average American, you probably consider yourself an “active” individual. In fact, 2 out of 3 people claim that.

In actuality, however, only about 5% truly fit that label.

Contrary to what most people would think, it’s not just about how many times we hit the gym each week or even what we do when we’re there.

Being active is about movement as well as exercise. It’s the total sum of our activity - in other words, how much time we’re not sedentary.

Once we’ve understood this general principle, we can look at the three intensity levels of our total sum activity: Active, Aerobic and Anaerobic. While all are critical for our health, each creates distinctive changes in the body’s metabolism. When we understand how each of these intensity levels affects us, we can make better choices about our movement and exercise priorities.

Let’s break down these intensity level categories for a better look at their specific characteristics and impact.


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Why Exercise Isn't Enough

How active you are really?

Take a minute to consider this. How much of a day's time are you actually engaged in movement?

Are you on your feet and moving around all day long, or are you just busy with activities that keep you locked into a desk chair or a driver’s seat?

For many years, we’ve heard we should get 2.5 hours of exercise each week to maintain our health. With a goal of 2.5 hours of exercise per week and a target of eight hours of sleep each night, that leaves us with 109.5 hours left.

Is it okay to sit for those hours as long as we put in our “requisite” exercise? What if we exercise for an hour six days per week and sit for the rest of the time? Is that okay as long as we train hard when we do work out?


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Circadian Rhythms and Your Health

What time of night do you normally go to sleep?

Are you a self-proclaimed “midnight owl” who stays up until the wee hours working while others are sound asleep? Are you a fuddy-duddy, who as a rule gets to bed by 9:00 each evening?

I don’t remember who said it, but I once heard the phrase, “Nothing good ever happens after 10:00.”

Though there may be fun times to be had late into the evening on occasion, our ability to enjoy the evening well past sunset is a relatively new opportunity for humans. Just as many of the foods introduced to the human diet in the last few decades can wreak havoc on our health, never-ending hours of light may do the same.


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Performance Enhancement Part 4: Manage Inflammation 

Creating the right internal environment for a healthy metabolism is foundational for improving performance.

Your metabolism, which involves the hormones you produce, nutrients you absorb and utilize, and the toxins you eliminate, dictates your ability to manage the stress of higher intensity exercise.

Another factor that can disrupt your metabolism is chronic inflammation.

If unmanaged, it can sabotage your ability to reach the types of physical performance you may desire. Even worse, it can increase the likelihood of injury and degenerative disease.

Exercise itself can increase inflammation, which means managing existing chronic inflammation is important before increasing training intensity or volume.


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4 Misleading Food Industry Claims 

They say real, whole foods don’t need to be labeled healthy.

On the other side of the spectrum, of course, are the splashy health claims of processed food products.

We’ve all seen them in grocery stores and media advertisements. As positive and conspicuous as these messages appear on package labels, the fact is they promise health benefits that clearly defy the ingredients listed in small print.

The claims themselves run a wide gamut, but let me highlight a few of the most common and offer the proverbial “more to the story” behind each. 


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10 Mistakes Exercise Enthusiasts Make

We all bring our good intentions to the gym.

We want to lose weight, grow stronger, be healthier. Likewise, we mean well when we have the discipline (and even courage) to try new equipment, attempt new exercises, or simply put in extra time.

Occasionally, however, these good intentions get diverted into misguided routines, poor exercise form, or an unconscious rut.

We don’t have to stay stuck in our mistakes, however. If we keep an open mind about our fitness activities and look to learn, we can move in the direction of greater success.

Let’s highlight a few common mistakes and the simple solutions that get us back on track. 


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