Health Archive

Heart Rate Monitors Give You the Beat

heart rate monitorsWhat’s all the buzz about heart rate monitors? You may think it’s more important to look at your stride length, turnover rate or pedal speed, but heart rate training is an important part of the madness. The heart rate monitor serves as a guide that prompts you to train according to the demands you set for your workout.

Whatever your goal, it’s important to first establish your estimated maximal heart rate. This can be done by subtracting your age from 220. Then you can use percentages of that number to determine the intensity at which you’d like to work. Your fitness level and goal will determine your target heart rate. For example, if you want to work at an endurance or aerobic training level (steady state exercise): you would likely work at 65 to 75 percent of your maximal heart rate.

Once you’ve determined your target heart rate, strap on the monitor and get to work. If you notice your heart rate is too high, take it easy. Not high enough? Turn up the intensity. You might be surprised to find that you weren’t working as hard as you always thought.
Keep in mind that psychological, environmental and physiological factors can affect your heart rate, according to Sally Edwards, member of the Triathlon Hall of Fame and author of 12 books. If you are tired, on medication, under stress, at high altitude, or in high humidity, your heart rate may change. Even anticipating a workout can increase your heart rate as much as 100 percent!

former athletMost people believe that elite athletes have the lowest resting heart rates, but this is not necessarily so.Former professional tennis player Bjorn Borg owned a resting heart rate of 35 beats per minute. But former marathon superstar Frank Shorter’s resting heart rate was 75 beats per minute. Your genetic material accounts for about 50 percent of your resting heart rate. Smaller hearts beat faster than larger hearts. But the more fit you are, the more blood your heart will pump with each beat. Getting into better shape results in a more efficient heart, and the heart rate monitor allows you to watch your heart grow stronger.
You don’t need to get super attached to your heart rate monitor either. You’ll come to recognize the intensity you want to achieve without the monitor. So borrow a friend’s heart rate monitor for a week, then buy one if you like it. They’re a terrific way to take control of – and add some spice to – your workouts.

Hype or Good Health? Get the Lowdown on Multivitamins

categories of vitaminsOne vitamin retailer claims “purity, freshness and quality” by shipping a fresh supply of vitamins every 90 days. Another says its product “dissolves in minutes instead of the hour or more that some lazy vitamins take.” Yet another offers “all-day protection” with timed-released vitamin and mineral formulas.
Will the real high-quality vitamin please stand up?

The sale of vitamins and supplements is now a multi-million dollar industry, which means more manufacturers and retailers are competing for your attention. Health claims are rolling out of marketing departments faster than an Olympic sprint. But are some vitamins better than others? Is there a big difference between a cheap multivitamin and an expensive one?
FitnessLink asked Michael Janson, M.D., author of The Vitamin Revolution in Health Care (Arcadia Press), for a few tips.

Janson says there are three categories of vitamins. The first are cheap (usually less than $10), low potency vitamins. These vitamins include brands like Centrum and One-A-Day and can be found in any major grocery store. The tablets are covered with a heavy coating and don’t disintegrate easily, which means the body doesn’t absorb them well. The ingredients are typically the lowest quality of all three types.

Next are health food store or mail order vitamins, such as GNC or Barth’s brands, that are sometimes hypoallergenic. These vitamins, made from better quality ingredients, are a good choice. The tablets aren’t heavily coated so the body absorbs them easily. They often come with a reasonable price tag ($10 – $20).

The third category consists of the pricey brands (more than $20 for a month’s supply) that are usually found in salons or spas. The ingredients are high quality with nothing artificial. They have fancier packaging, more marketing bang for the buck and a name or reputation that backs them.
“In general, both the medium and higher price levels are usually good quality vitamins,” says Janson.
One of the vitamin industries little known secrets is that the majority of better quality vitamins are actually identical products. “Most of the good companies get their raw ingredients from a few major sources,” says Janson. These companies create vitamins and package them under hundreds of different labels. Quality store and mail order brands are often identical to national brands, at half the price.

Hype or good health?

Let’s examine some claims about vitamin supplements more closely. Is shipping that fresh supply of vitamins every 90 days something special? Not necessarily.
“Vitamins are required by law to have an expiration date or code,” says Janson. So it really doesn’t matter how often the vitamins are shipped, as long as you take them all before the expiration date.
What about the time release claim? click to continue

In-depth look at vitamins

In-depth look at vitaminsWhat about the time release claim? Time released supplements aren’t that beneficial because the body doesn’t need an hourly supply of nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies don’t develop by the hour–or even overnight.
Some manufacturers maintain that their products don’t contain sugar, preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. Isn’t this good news?
“Yes,” says Dana Reed, MS, the Director of Nutrition for, an online vitamin company. “Supplements shouldn’t contain fillers, artificial flavoring, colors or sweeteners.” You pay for vitamins, not junk.

Efficient absorption – the mark of quality

So what’s wrong with those cheap vitamins we can pick up at the grocery?

As mentioned earlier, the heavy coating prevents the tablet from breaking up quickly once we swallow it. Secondly, our body can’t break down and use the nutrients in these vitamins before our system flushes them out. Money spent on these vitamins is literally being flushed down the toilet.
The U.S. Pharmacopoeia sets standards for vitamin disintegration that may be helpful. It says that vitamin and mineral compounds should disintegrate in the intestine within about 30 minutes. One good test is to soak your vitamin in a glass of water and see if it dissolves or starts to break up within a short period of time. If the tablet doesn’t, it may be time to look for a new supplement. But remember that you can’t test capsules in this way.

The best way to increase your body’s absorption of a good quality multivitamin supplement is by taking it with meals. Reed recommends taking a supplement after both breakfast and dinner. “Multiple dosing allows for a more complete formula with higher RDA levels of nutrients, enhanced absorption, and allows the body to maintain more consistent blood levels of the nutrients,” says Reed.
The most effective nutritional supplement program considers many factors, such as diet, lifestyle and activity level, personal health, family history and health objectives. No one multi is the best formula or product for everyone. Select your multi carefully based on your individual nutritional needs.
“When I consult with my clients I ask them a series of questions that enables me to guide them in designing an individual program,” says Reed.
Supplements are most effective when taken as part of a comprehensive program of diet and exercise. “A multi should serve as the foundation,” advises Reed. “With the right program, most people will find their immune response enhanced, energy levels up, and over the long term, the process of aging delayed.” All are great reasons for checking out a quality multivitamin supplement that’s right for you.

Vitamin Do’s and Don’ts

  • Never buy a multi that doesn’t clearly list the amount of each ingredient. A “laundry list” of ingredients without the IU or mg amounts is a red flag to leave it on the shelf.
  • Don’t pay extra for “chelated” minerals. Chelated means the vitamins are ยท combined with proteins. Some claim that the process promotes better absorption of the vitamins, and it may, but a quality multi taken with meals will give you good absorption.
  • Every vitamin product you buy should have an expiration date because the potency decreases with time. Potency refers to the strength and the freshness of the product. All labels should also have a batch number in the event of a recall.
  • Tablets or capsules? Pressed tablets can contain more nutrients than the equivalent amount of capsules or softgels. Plus, you can do the water test to see how quickly they breakdown.
  • Products packaged in containers that reduce the effects of light, heat and moisture will help retain the vitamin’s potency longer. Look for vitamins in tinted or dark color bottles.
  • Store your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark space. The fridge or the bathroom medicine cabinet can contain moisture and humidity that breaks down vitamins before their expiration date.