Why You May Be Burning More Calories Walking Than Previously Thought

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Why You May Be Burning More Calories Walking Than Previously Thought by Jennifer Ledford

Walking continues to be the most popular form of exercise in the United States and for good reasons.  Walking is easily accessible and most people are comfortable doing it.

While walking is popular, enjoyable, and good for you, it doesn’t necessarily get a whole lot of credit when it comes to burning calories per hour.  However, based on a recent study at Southern Methodist University, it looks like fitness trackers may be in need of an update.  A report by Lindsay Ludlow, PhD, and Peter Weyand, PhD, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2016; 120 [5], 481–94), suggests that equations commonly used to determine calories burned while walking are coming up short.

The study tested the accuracy of three common equations that have been used for the past forty years to measure calories spent while walking.  Ludlow and Weyand found the equations did not account well for body size and underestimated calorie-burn in 97% of the cases they examined. Dr. Ludlow believes the discrepancies occurred because the original equations we’ve been using for the past forty years were based on results from a small number of men of average height.

Ludlow and Weyand have now developed a new formula based on a much larger sample size that they say is four times more accurate for adults and kids together and about two to three times more accurate for adults alone.

Per Ludlow and Weyand, the new equation is formulated to apply regardless of the height, weight and speed of the walker and is more accurate.  Currently, the equation accounts only for level walking and more research is needed to measure walking uphill, downhill, and carrying additional loads.

How Many Calories Are You Really Spending Walking

So, based on the new formula, how many calories are you really spending? “For an average height woman of 130 pounds walking at a typical speed of 2.9 miles per hour, the total energy used to walk one mile would be 81 kilocalories (kilocalories is the more scientific name for what most people refer to as calories),” says study co-author Peter Weyand, Ph.D., a biomechanics professor and director of the Locomotor Performance Laboratory at Southern Methodist University. To compare: The old equation predicts you’ll burn just 68 calories per mile at 2.9 miles per hour, says Weyand. “For a faster walk of four miles per hour or so, the number of kcals burned increases to about 95 per mile,” he says.

Thanks to Ludlow, Weyand, and their latest research, walking seems to be a more effective form of cardiovascular fitness than we already knew it to be.  It looks like we have one more reason to park in the back of the lot, and use the stairs instead of the elevator.

As a matter of fact, I think it’s time to take the dogs for a walk.  🙂

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A Simple Guide To A Balanced Diet

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Be Good To Yourself This Holiday Season - Jennifer Ledford - Certified Personal Trainer and Healthy Lifestyle Coach - Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and can help you feel and look your best.

While doing some research for this topic, I was able to read many “definitions” of what constitutes a balanced diet.  Of all the information I reviewed, the definition I believe describes a balanced diet the best is published by dictionary.com.  Their definition of a balanced diet is “a diet that contains the proper proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water necessary to maintain good health.”   It’s simple, scientific, and to the point.

It’s important to note that nowhere in the definition does it say the best diet to make you skinny. The focus is on health.

When it comes to connecting food and your health, diversity is important.  Each nutrient contributes to the overall function of your body and if one nutrient is missing, it doesn’t function  as well as it could.

It’s easy to get into a routine eating the same foods often.  Things like busy schedules and taste preferences can be a factor.  However, minimal food variation and/or elimination diets can cause you to miss out on some important nutrients that your body needs to help you age gracefully and combat disease.   

Thankfully, in the United States and many other countries around the world, we all have access to clean water so staying hydrated is one of the simplest parts of maintaining a balanced diet.

How do you know when you’re getting enough water?

The best way to tell if you are hydrated is the color of your urine. Clear to pale yellow is ideal. Yellow to dark yellow means you need water and if it looks like tea or beer ,you are dehydrated! Supplements can also cause urine to be dark yellow so keep that in consideration.

Avoid allowing yourself to get “thirsty.”  If you are getting a thirst signal, then the body is already too low on water!

Diet is very personal and we all have different energy requirements which is why it’s important to experiment and figure out what works best for you.  For example, some people need to consume more carbohydrates than others.  However, science proves that we need them to function at our best throughout the day.

At first, creating a balanced diet can seem a bit daunting if you are unsure which foods fall under the different categories.  Many foods supply multiple sources of nutrients so a diverse diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables is usually your best bet.  I’ve put together some samples of carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources below to help you get started.

Examples of carbohydrates: Fruit, root vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and carrots, whole-grain products such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, whole wheat bread, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, whole rye, whole-grain barley and whole-grain corn, and quinoa (it’s technically a seed) are all carbohydrates. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are beneficial to your health.

Examples of protein sources:  Meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, dairy, nuts and seeds, beans and peas and other plants like quinoa, avocado, hemp, and soy are all protein sources.  I personally recommend avoiding soy; however, I’m listing it because it is considered a “complete” protein source.  If you like to eat it, I recommend sticking to the organic soy and limiting your consumption.  Bragg aminos are a great substitute for traditional soy sauce.

Examples of fat sources:  Oils like olive, walnut, avocado, grape seed, peanut, and coconut are all good sources of fat.   Avocados, nuts and seeds, meat, fatty fish, dairy, nut butters, olives, and dark chocolate are all considered fat sources as well.  Oils I personally avoid are any oil that is partially hydrogenated, canola, and palm oil.

Balanced Diet Research

Current research continues to prove that a whole food driven balanced diet (eating food in as close to its natural state as possible) is one of the best ways to fuel your body mentally and physically.  In fact, recent studies have shown that a whole food driven diet can actually boost your metabolism compared to a diet made up of processed foods which can cause your metabolism to slow down dramatically.

I personally believe it’s a good idea to eat as many whole foods as possible and to limit refined and heavily processed food in our diets.  Eating whole foods can help contribute to better energy.  With that being said, it’s also important to enjoy your food and not get too rigid about everything we eat.  Overly religious behavior around food can lead to dieting which can lead to stress and heartache which does not support mental health in a positive way.

Part of being healthy is to find balance in your life and allow yourself to enjoy the foods and drinks you like.  Life is too short to be on a diet!

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Disclaimer:  The information in the above article is based on general nutritional guidelines and is not intended nor should be considered a substitute for any advice provided by a medical professional.   


Why It’s Important To Set Your Own Goals

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The Importance of Setting Your Own Goals

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

As a personal trainer part of my job includes asking clients to share their goals and what they would like me to help them with when it comes to their health and fitness.  It’s during this initial consultation that the client will share with me what has worked for them in the past, what they like, don’t like, etc.

Human beings are designed to want to set goals and achieve them.  Goals fuel the desires of our heart and help us to live out our lives to the fullest.

I don’t think anyone ever sets a goal or takes on a challenge with the intention of giving up. However, I do think that setting goals that are unrealistic or not your own can be a recipe for failure.  What’s motivating you is a very important thing to consider when pursuing your dreams and goals.  Is it a strong desire in your heart or are you wanting acceptance from another person?  It’s okay to prove to the world they were wrong about you as long as it’s something YOU want.  Simply wanting “revenge” is still allowing another person or society to control your life.

Once you’ve determined that the goal you’ve set is something that is important to you and you would do it whether people cheer you on or not, take a moment to look closely at the goal you’ve set and ask yourself whether or not it is aligned with your values and current priorities.

While looking like your favorite Hollywood celebrity may seem like a fantastic goal, after discovering what’s required you may decide that it’s not the goal for you.  Even more importantly, you might discover that due to your natural body type it would be extremely unhealthy and painful for you to even attempt to get there.

To achieve true success it’s critical that your goals be your own. Copying someone else’s life will  never feel quite right because it wasn’t meant for you.  It’s okay to follow general guidelines and success patterns, but your own goals need to be customized to fit your life and should be meaningful to you.

It’s also important to set boundaries around your goals.  Some trainers and/or coaches can unintentionally set goals for you.  While their intentions are good, they can set the client up for failure if they are imposing goals that are unrealistic or do not fit and serve the client’s lifestyle.

Goals Are Like Oxygen

The fitness industry often makes too many assumptions that everyone wants to live and look just like a fitness model.  While that might be something everyone would love to naturally achieve, not everyone wants to live the lifestyle of a fitness model nor do they have the body type to look like the models most fitness magazines hire.  Avoid allowing a coach or trainer to try to stuff you into their box of what they think your goals should look like.  This principle doesn’t have to be limited to health and fitness and can apply to any area of your life.

Goals are like oxygen.  They help us get out of bed in the morning.  No matter what the goal is related to (i.e. family, personal, business, etc.), I encourage you to follow your own personal path. I personally believe that God has a unique journey planned for each and every one of us and when we follow that inner voice, we walk toward our destinies.

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