[fitness friday] New research reveals that Santa is twice as likely to die from a Sudden Cardiac Death

Santa Claus Measuring Fat Belly

written by john c ashworth, ma

I have to admit that over the years, I’ve become more and more concerned with Santa’s weight. That bow full of jelly has its risks.

It is well established that weight around your belly is a major risk factor for the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and in the case of more recent research, an doubling of your risk of dying from a heart attack.

So instead of cookies for Santa this year, you might want to consider something with a lower glycemic load. Those carrots, for example, that you leave out for the reindeer? Well, maybe we ought to double the serving. One portion for Santa and one for his mates.

This new research was significant…

According to the New York Times, researchers followed 14,941 mean and women with an average age of 54 for almost 13 years. Subjects were evaluated five times over the course of the study and during the 13 year period there were 253 sudden cardiac deaths.

For those that might be unfamiliar with the term, a sudden cardiac death is a heart attack that kills you instantly. I should also note here that even when people do survive a heart attack, their risk of death over the next year is significantly elevated.

Independent of other typical risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and more, the study participants with the highest waist-to-hip ratio had more than double the risk of death from a heart attack than those considered in the normal range.

Researchers are not exactly sure why this was the case, but the data is clear. The size of your belly carries with it a grave risk for dying from a heart attack.

What is “Waist to Hip Ratio?”

Your waist to hip ratio is calculated by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference. For your waist measurement, you run a tape measure around your waist at the level of your belly button. And for your hips, you take the largest circumference you can find around your butt. So, yes, this is a case where you might like to see the size of your butt a little bigger, because if your a man, your death risk in this study doubled at a ratio of greater than .95 and for a women at greater than 1.01.

The good news is that losing your belly fat will reduce your risk. And the only thing standing in your way as always is your willingness to accept the fact that you are at risk, and your decision to do something significant about it.

In the mean time, tell you might want to pass this information along to Santa this year if you see him. Because in spite of his high level of activity one night per year, it appears that he might not be keeping up with his exercise program the rest of the year.

Sound familiar?


[fitness friday] Can running really make you younger?


written by john c ashworth

New research shows us that running could make you younger. Walking is great exercise, and often associated with a reduced rate of obesity, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and a longer lifespan in older people, but a more vigorous run can help you maintain your prowess as you age.

Now, quickly, for those of you who can’t run that much any more like me, I have a theory and a solution for you too so stay tuned to this post. Don’t tune it out yet.

Your ability to walk, tends to decline with age. Over time, slowly, when no one is looking and you are not paying attention you lose a step or two and then more. The result over time is that you can no longer keep the same kind of pace you once boasted. This general decline in the economy of your walking is a marker for ageing. By economy of walking, I mean how far and how fast you can walk at any given time in your life. Because what typically happens as you age, is that for each step you take, more energy is expended, and as a result you are a slower and less efficient walker.

In a recent study, researchers placed 30 men and women in their late 60s and early 70s into one of two groups. One group walked for 30 minutes or more three times per week; while the second group ran for 30 minutes three times per week.

When the training period was over, subjects’ biomechanical walking ability was measured on a laboratory treadmill. In addition, researchers also measured oxygen consumption during this test.

Interestingly, the running group showed a significant improvment in their walking ability. Actually, it improved so much, that it was comparable to the ability of a typical sedentary college student.

More intriguing was that none of this improvement seemed to come from an improvement in their actual gait (walking) patterns. Instead, the improvements seemed to come from a direct improvement in their overall aerobic fitness. This improvement in fitness is created by an increasing number of mitochondria at the celluluar level of the body. The mitochondria portion of the cell is designed to carry oxygen.

Hence, the good news is that any level of physical activity that is more intense, like the 7-minute workout Leigh and I showed you last time I was on NBC15, will in fact improve the number of your mitochondria, and put that old college step back in to your day!


This article was inspired by a New York Times article on the same subject, which you can find by clicking here.

appeared that directly as a result of the runners significantly imrpoved fitness levels,

[fitness friday] How to find time for fitness over Thanksgiving Weekend

written by john c ashworth, ma

The Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is approaching.  Are you feeling the time crunch?  Good times, but at the same time a schedule killer.  How will you find the time to exercise when so much else is happening at the same time?

Try this 7-minute routine.  The exercise benefits are worth 60+ minutes of running and a visit to the weight room.  This high intensity circuit is all about working smarter and not harder, or longer, as we are discussing in this case.

I found this 7-minute workout in the New York Times this morning. ¬†It’s terrific in that for seven grueling minutes of exercise, you get the benefits of 60 or more minutes of exercise. ¬†There is no way you can tell me you don’t have at least 7 minutes per day for exercise.

Just twelve exercises, your body and a wall, and you are set for equipment.  Hard to argue with that simplicity.  This magic circuit combines a long run and a visit to the weight room in terms of the benefits it derives.  There is simply no substitute for increasing your exercise intensity.  The harder you work, the less time you have to spend working at your fitness.

Now, you might actually enjoy ¬†your exercise time like me, but even then, the Holidays are tough. ¬†So, give this circuit a try when you’re pressed for time and see what you think. ¬†Tonight, I will demonstrate this circuit on NBC15 with Leigh Mills. ¬†Once I’ve done that, I’ll upload the video so that you can see the whole thing.


PS  The original research that prompted the creation of this workout is HERE!



[fitness friday] Are you exercising but gaining weight? New research reveals why and explains what you can do about it.

are you perplexed in your ability to lose weight.
are you perplexed in your ability to lose weight? Answers follow…

written by john c ashworth, ma

New research by blank and colleagues, took 81 women through 12 weeks of exercise and revealed that their ability to lose weight effectively was extremeley inconsistent. In fact, 70% of the women gained weight during the 12 week study.

The women in the study were healthy, but overweight and sedentary, and had not exercised regularly in the previous year. During the 12 week investigation, the women came to the lab and exercised for 30 minutes three times per week at a high intensity.

The findings?

Though all of the women exuded greater levels of fitness, 70 percent of them gained some amount of fat mass, and some gained as much as 10 pounds. A small number of the remaining 30% lost some weight, and the rest maintained the same weight throughout the 12 week fitness program.

How could this be?

Researchers have known for quite some time that weight loss can be elusive for most people. What researchers concluded in this study was that even when exercise is initiated and increases the number of calories burned each week, people often make up the difference by becoming more sedentary during other parts of their day. They also likely begin eating more than usual in response to increased levels of hunger from the increased physical exercise each week.

Probably even more significant is a person’s “Non exercise activity thermogenesis.” A mouthful, I know. I’ve written about it before. In fact, Leigh and I have done a segment or two on the topic. What it describes is how much you move outside of your exercise sessions each day. Asked another way, “How much to you sit on your butt all day?) In other research, this non exercise activity, has been shown to be crucial in subjects’ ability to lose weight. You have to keep your metabolism moving, while at the same time, watching your caloric intake, and not try to cut too far back (more than a 500) on the number of calories you consume in a day.

This study mimics closely, the pattern I’ve seen in my work as a clinical exercise physiologist. A sedentary person begins an exercise program and assumes that the increase in calorie burn will be enough to generate weight loss. They are often devastated when this does not occur.

Hopefully, this post and the segment tonight on NBC 15 with Leigh Mills, help you understand this complex equation of weight loss.


PS I would love to send you a free copy of my book on weight loss. “Weight Loss, the Job No One is Training YOU For.” Send an email to me with your address: fitnessnomad(at)gmail.com