50 Ways to Feed Your Muscles

8 11 2011


By Phillip Rhodes
Men’s Health

Every family argues about what to eat for dinner. But the Shrader family of Bluebell, West Virginia, took dinner-table combat to a whole new level last summer when 49-year-old Jackie Lee and his son, Harley Lee, 24, whipped out .22-caliber pistols and exchanged fire after sparring over how to cook their meal.

What food could trigger a kitchen gun battle? The harmless, boneless, skinless—and often flavorless—chicken breast, that’s what.

Sure, this omnipresent cut of poultry is the leanest source of protein this side of tofu or fish—a single serving offers 26 grams of protein for the price of 1 gram of saturated fat. But it’s boring as hell. And it doesn’t help that most people eat their annual average of 88 pounds one of two ways: soaked in Italian salad dressing or slathered in barbecue sauce.

In my mind, that’s exactly how I hear the Shrader feud erupting. “Marinade!” one might have said. “No! Barbecue sauce,” the other yelled. Back and forth it went until it came to blows, then bullets. (Harley Lee took a slug to the head, but managed to survive.)


That’s why I came up with this list—not one, not two, but 50 different ways to prepare a chicken breast. What good is eating healthy food if the boredom nearly kills you?


Basic technique:Cut the raw chicken into bite-sized pieces or thin strips. Cook them in a nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Then add the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Tip: Sesame oil gives stir-fries their distinct flavor. Its nutritional profile is similar to that of olive oil (i.e., high in the unsaturated fats you want). But if you don’t have sesame, use canola or peanut oil, since olive oil can burn at high temperatures.

1. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/2 c green or red bell pepper, cut into strips; 1/4 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2. 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/3 c matchstick carrots; 1/3 c chopped celery; 1 green onion, sliced; 2 Tbsp chopped, unsalted peanuts

3. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tsp sesame oil; 1/2 c asparagus tips; 2 Tbsp chopped, unsalted cashews

4. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce; 1 Tbsp lemon juice; 1 tsp lemon zest; 1 tsp honey; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/2 c snow peas; 1 c chopped celery

5. 1 whisked egg; 1/2 c (or more) chopped broccoli; 1/4 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes; 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

6. 1 whisked egg; 1/2 c snow peas; 1/2 c green or red bell pepper, cut into strips; 1/4 onion, cut lengthwise into strips; 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce


Basic technique:Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the chicken breast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an internal roasting thermometer reaches 170°. Don’t overcook it. Err on the side of tenderness. An overcooked, dried-out chicken breast won’t give you salmonella, but you probably won’t want to eat it in the first place.

Tip: Quickly searing the breast in a hot skillet will help avoid dryness because it locks in the bird’s juices.

Watery ready-made sauces like salsa will bake fine—some of the liquid will boil away as the chicken bakes. But thicker sauces, like barbecue or ranch, need water or broth mixed in, otherwise you’ll be left with a sticky, blackened char.

Tip: Use a small baking dish to keep the meat covered with sauce.

7. 1/3 c salsa

8. 2 Tbsp jalapeño cheese dip, 2 Tbsp salsa, 1 Tbsp water

9. 2 Tbsp marinara sauce, 2 Tbsp water

10. 2 Tbsp barbecue sauce, 2 Tbsp water

11. 2 Tbsp ranch dressing, 2 Tbsp water

12. 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp olive oil

13. 3 Tbsp chicken broth; 1 Tbsp mustard; 1 clove garlic, crushed

14. 2 Tbsp condensed mushroom soup, 2 Tbsp water

15. 2 Tbsp pesto, 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium chicken broth

16. 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 c crushed pineapple with juice

17. 3 Tbsp chicken broth, 2 Tbsp light coconut milk, 1/4 tsp curry powder

18. 1/3 c chicken broth, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 Tbsp apple juice

19. 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar; 1 Tbsp barbecue sauce; 1 clove garlic, crushed

20. 2 Tbsp hot sauce, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp chili powder

21. 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp orange marmalade, 1/4 tsp rosemary

Rub one of the following spice mixtures evenly over each breast, then hit the chicken with a shot or two of cooking spray (not too much, though) to hold the rub in place and help form a light crust when cooking.

22. Tex-Mex style: 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, and oregano; pinch of salt

23. Southwestern: 1/4 tsp each black pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and hot sauce

24. French: 1/4 tsp each dried basil, rosemary, and thyme; pinch of salt and pepper

A whisked egg acts like glue, holding the crust to the meat. It also gives your poultry a small protein boost. Crack one open in a shallow bowl, whisk it, and dip the chicken in it. Tip: Put your crust ingredients in a shallow plate instead of a bowl—it’ll be much easier to coat the breast evenly.

25. Nut crusted: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in 1/3 c nuts of your choice, finely chopped. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

26. Parmesan crusted: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in a mixture of 1 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs, and a pinch of black pepper.

27. “Like fried”: Dip the chicken in the egg, then roll it in 1/2 c crushed cornflakes or bran flakes. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Relax, this isn’t hard. First, pound the heck out of the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer or the heel of your hand—you want it to be uniformly thin. (Just be careful not to tear it.) Then, arrange your ingredients on the breast, roll it up, and secure it with toothpicks or kitchen twine so it doesn’t come undone while it’s baking.

28. 1 slice Cheddar cheese, 2 slices deli ham, 1/4 tsp black pepper

29. 1 slice mozzarella cheese; 3 slices pepperoni; 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

30. 1 slice mozzarella; 1/4 c chopped tomatoes; 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

31. 1 small handful baby spinach leaves, chopped; 1 Tbsp blue-cheese crumbles; 1 clove garlic, crushed

32. 1 slice mozzarella, 1 slice salami, 1 Tbsp chopped roasted red pepper

33. 1 1/2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 tsp oregano

34. 1 1/2 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp diced olives, 1/4 tsp lemon zest

35. 1 Tbsp pesto, 1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp black pepper



Basic technique: Heat the grill, place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat on the stove until it’s hot, or power up the Foreman. Add the marinated chicken, cooking 3 to 5 minutes per side (6 to 8 total on the Foreman), or until an internal roasting thermometer reaches 170°F. The chicken doesn’t stop cooking when you take it off the heat. If it’s still hot, it’s still cooking.


Marinades need only about an hour or so to penetrate the meat. Whether you’re cooking one chicken breast at a time or four at once, just mix the marinade ingredients well in a resealable plastic bag, drop in the chicken, seal, shake, and refrigerate.

Tip: If you’re grilling, make a little extra marinade and reserve it in a separate bag or bowl. Brush it on the chicken during cooking to keep the meat moist.

36. 2 Tbsp bourbon, 1 tsp deli-style mustard, 1/4 tsp black pepper

37. 2 Tbsp bourbon; 1 tsp honey; 1 clove garlic, crushed

38. 2 Tbsp white wine; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp thyme

39. 2 Tbsp red wine; 1 tsp barbecue sauce; 1 clove garlic, crushed

40. 2 Tbsp Coca-Cola, 1/4 tsp black pepper

41. 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette, 1/4 tsp rosemary

42. 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp black pepper

43. 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1/4 tsp dill

44. 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp curry powder

45. 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp cilantro

46. 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

47. 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cilantro

48. 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

49. 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

50. 2 Tbsp pineapple juice; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/4 tsp black pepper



6 Tips to Push Past the Pain

29 10 2011

By Christopher Percy Collier
Runner’s World

In 2006, Michelle Barton tackled California’s Orange Curtain 100K, which is 10 circuits on a 10K out-and- back course. “It stank,” says the 38- year-old from Laguna Niguel, California. “It was one of my most painful races—mentally and physically.” But then, around mile 50, she had an epiphany: “If it’s going to hurt, I want it to hurt for a reason.” She dug in, pushed hard, and won the race in 10:24.

Elite runners often say that their ability to push through excruciating bouts of discomfort is integral to their race performance. “After you’ve built up your base mileage, it’s really about how much pain you can take,” says Barton, who once ran five 100-mile races within six weeks. “You have to reach into yourself and find that toughness.”

As runners propel themselves forward, some measure of discomfort is normal (provided it’s not a sign of a serious issue). Muscles burn. Joints ache. Exhaustion sets in. However, research suggests that our pain threshold is not set at an unmovable level—that the mind can, to some extent, control it. “When I tell an athlete that they can adjust their pain level by using mental techniques, they’re amazed,” says Raymond J. Petras, Ph. D., a sports psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. “They often find that their performance increases dramatically.” The following mental tricks—recommended by sports psychologists and used by elite runners—will help you redefine your limits.

The Pain: Feeling Sick in Anticipation of a Run

Deal With It: Remember Your Strengths
Researchers at the University of Illinois recently reported that athletes who believed they could tolerate leg-muscle pain performed better in a running test than those who doubted their ability to withstand pain. “Think of all the other challenging workouts and races you’ve done to remind yourself of how strong and capable you are,” says sports psychology consultant and marathoner Kay Porter, Ph. D., of Eugene, Oregon.

The Pain: Struggling Through Mile Repeats

Deal With It: Run With Purpose
Don’t dwell on how much you hurt. Rather, focus on your rationale for training. “Tell yourself, ‘I’m working this hard because…’ and then fill in your performance goal,” says Jim Taylor, Ph. D., a performance psychologist and sub-three-hour marathoner in San Francisco.

The Pain: Climbing a ?@*#! Mountain

Deal With it:Repeat a Mantra
“If you connect pain with a negative emotion, you’ll feel more pain,” says Taylor. “Connect it with a positive thought, and you’ll feel less.” Create a positive affirmation you can call upon during tough bouts. It worked for Matt Gabrielson, who repeated “Go!” and “Do this now!” while racing the 2008 USA Marathon Championship and the 2008 Twin Cities Marathon — he placed second at both.

The Pain: Hitting a Low

Deal With It: Know It Will Pass
Seasoned runners like Barton know that pain not related to an injury is often fleeting, and this knowledge is sometimes enough to help ride out the unpleasantness. “I learned that the pain comes and goes, and so at future races I was ready for it,” she says. “I could take it because I knew what to expect.” During difficult moments, put the pain in perspective. Remind yourself that the discomfort is temporary, and each step forward is one closer to the finish. Research has even shown that pain is often purely in your head and not an accurate signal of physical distress. Keeping this in mind will enable you to push through the discomfort so you can run faster or longer.

The Pain: Long-Run Fatigue

Deal With It: Think of the Payoff
“Don’t get too emotionally involved with the pain or get upset when you feel it,” Taylor says. “Detach yourself and simply use it as information.” Ask yourself where the pain is and why it’s happening. And if it’s not related to an injury, then acknowledge that this could be an indication that what you’re doing is going to help you reach your goal. “Some types of pain tell you that you’re pushing yourself, that you’re getting better,” he says.

The Pain: Gutting out a Hard Patch

Deal With It: Distract Yourself
“Focus on something else while also staying in the moment,” says Gabrielson. At mile 18 of the 2006 New York City Marathon, Gabrielson felt a pounding in his quadriceps. “I had to find a way to channel the pain,” he says. His solution? As he ran, he studied the faces of the people on the sidelines. Most of them, he recalls, were smiling, cheering him on. Focusing on the pleasure of others around him was just enough to take the edge off and help him reach the finish line in 2:19:53.

Stop Right There

Running your best often means going all out, but certain pains are warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.

Sharp, sudden foot, shin, or hip pain that worsens as you run
It’s possible you have a stress fracture, says Heather Gillespie, M. D., a sports-medicine physician at UCLA. Take time oft from running and make an appointment for an x-ray.

This could be the result of a muscle or ligament tear. “Any pain that causes you to change your form should make you stop,” says Lewis G. Maharam, M. D., medical director of the New York Road Runners.

Chest pain, extreme sweating, breathlessness
These are symptoms of a heart attack, says William Roberts, M. D., medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon.

High body temperature; dry skin; vomiting
This could be heatstroke, which can be life threatening, says Dr. Gillespie.

Severe stomach pain; diarrhea
These are signs of an intestinal problem called ischemic colitis, which tends to occur during prolonged exercise.

—Nicole Falcone


3 Reasons You Should Sleep More

28 10 2011


By SELF Editors


Get enough zzz’s and you’ll…

Avoid the aches.

A full night’s rest can end those I’m-too-sore gripes that make you skip Spin class. “Sleep is the most important part of physical recovery,” says Peter Walters, Ph.D., professor of applied health science at Wheaton College, who has studied sleep patterns in athletes. One reason: While you snooze, your body releases 80 percent of its total production of human growth hormone, the fuel created in your brain’s pituitary gland that repairs and strengthens muscles. Fewer aches mean you’ll enjoy exercise more and want to do it more often.

Get speedy.

If you’re sleep-deprived, a 30-minute power nap in the afternoon can help you sprint faster during a subsequent workout, researchers at Liverpool John Moores University say. (Woo-hoo, higher calorie burn!) For optimal results, shake off any siesta grogginess by leaving a one-hour window between waking and exercising, the study’s authors recommend.

Sharpen your focus.

Clocking two extra hours a night for six weeks helped basketball players up their shooting percentage by 9 percent, the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory reports. “No time!” you say? Even 30 minutes more each night may improve skills during activities that take focus and determination, scientists say. That translates to better performance, in a boot camp class or at the office.

Not a morning person?

Try a P.M. workout. If you are done two hours before bed, it may not disturb your sleep, a Finnish study suggests.

SELF  gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

Join the SELF Healthy Cities Goal on Active.com Trainer. We’ll add weekly goals to log and members of the healthiest city will get a free online training plan.


7 Tools to Recover Quickly

27 10 2011


By Jessica Sebor



Foot Rubz

This unassuming little ball packs a big punch in terms of relaxation and recovery. The 160 nubs covering the instrument’s surface massage stressed tendons to relieve achy soles within minutes. The slightly grippy material keeps the ball underfoot, while the tiny size makes it perfect for your purse or gym bag. $5, surefoot.net


Trust us—this tool isn’t as torturous as it may appear. The Muscletrac was developed by a sports physician to treat the root cause of his patients’ pain and discomfort. Unlike a normal roller, this device penetrates the tissue with square prongs. Use the Trac before running to loosen muscle tissue or afterward to speed up recovery and reduce soreness. $45, muscletrac.com

Rider Stride Sandals

After a tough workout, your feet crave comfort—and an escape from hot, sweaty running shoes! Rider Sandals offer relief for worn-out footsies. A sculpted insole cradles feet while the mesh upper and side vents create breathability. The gentle massage the sandal provides, combined with cooling airflow, help feet feel fresh in record time. $45, ridersandals.com

Strassburg Sock

Ever step out of bed in the morning only to be greeted by a zip of pain up your foot? With its signature symptoms of heel soreness and calf tightness, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common running injuries. Sufferers can find relief in this specialty sock, designed to stretch the tissue in your foot and heel while you sleep. In a 2002 study published in The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, nearly 98 percent of plantar fasciitis patients who wore this slipper recovered within eight weeks. $40, thesock.com

Foam Roller Plus

Using a foam roller daily is one of the best ways to stay limber. Rolling various muscles groups over the device’s hard exterior helps to release tension and increase blood flow. While some rollers can wear out quickly, the Plus features a built-in PVC core, guaranteed to last for at least two years. $39, powersystems.com

The Original Body Stick

A favorite of professional athletes and recreational runners alike, The Stick offers targeted massage for tired limbs. Roll the slightly flexible rod over aching muscles to relieve tension anywhere on the body. The slim, lightweight design makes this tool an easy addition to your race-day duffel bag. The Stick offers products in a variety of sizes, but the 24″ original length is our favorite. $43, thestick.com

Knobble II

Massaging a knot can lead to cramped hands and strained thumbs. The Knobble takes the stress out of your fingers, so that you can apply pressure to hard-to-reach trigger points. Use the base for larger muscle groups and the tip to target specific spots. $10, pressurepositive.com


Jessica Sebor is the editor in chief of Women’s Running, the only women’s-specific running magazine.

7 Ways to Eat Smart and Lose Weight

26 10 2011


By Chrissy Wellington M.S., C.N.S., L.D.N., C.P.T
For Active.com

With fall right around the corner, how can you stay consistent in the months ahead and maintain your beach body?

The weight-loss industry confuses us on a daily basis. Many diets have been created and promoted that drastically differ from one another. These diets have gained popularity even with very little research to support their claims.  Weight loss should be as simple as addition and subtraction. To lose weight, burn more calories, eat your vegetables and pass on the dessert. Yet, the component of weight loss we often forget is not necessarily the “what” we are eating, it’s the “how” we are eating.

The A-Z Diet study compared the Atkins (extremely low carbohydrate), Zone (low-carbohydrate, high protein), Ornish (very low fat), and USDA Guidelines/LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition) (high carbohydrate/moderate-low fat) diets for one year and results show that all dieters lost weight over the course of the yea. Yet Atkins seemed to hedge out the most weight lost. Theories about why this group lost just a little bit more are very clear: when these folks eliminated refined foods and sweetened beverages from their diet, they also eliminated empty calories.

The bottom line when it comes to weight loss is to burn more calories than you take in. You can easily do that by shaving extra calories from food and beverages and increasing caloric burn through physical activity.

How much should I weigh?

A healthy weight is defined as the weight you would attain after a sustained period of time, (12-18 months). During this time you must eat the best that you can eat, and exercise to the best of your ability.


Take Care of Your Metabolism

Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast is a daily habit for “successful losers.” Insulin sensitivity is higher after eating breakfast. Insulin is a hormone released in response to eating. Insulin sensitivity refers to how well the body responds to the hormone insulin. When you eat more earlier in the day, your total caloric intake throughout the day actually decreases. Wake up with protein. When consuming lean protein in the morning, don’t forget to add omega-3 rich eggs or egg whites; low-fat, organic dairy; lean and clean breakfast meats; as well as high protein, whole grains like steel cut oatmeal or quinoa.

Count Calories

Calories are the energy in food. Regardless of where they come from, the calories you eat are either converted to physical energy or stored as body fat. If you eat 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. About 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat. For a one pound weight loss, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in or cut 500 calories from your daily diet each day.

Portion Distortion

Choose satisfied over stuffed. The sizes of your portions affect how many calories you’re getting. Double the amount of food equals double the number of calories. Most Americans underestimate how much they’re eating, especially when dining out. Always plate your food. Eating out of the box or bag gives you no sense of what or how you are eating. Serve foods  with measuring cups, or spoons to see how much you are actually eating. The average woman, with moderate daily exercise should be consuming approximately 3 to 4 oz. of lean protein per meal, half to 1 cup of whole grains per meal, and 1 to 2 cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables per meal.

Eat Fiber

Fiber comes from plants, particularly legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods which are high in fiber are usually low in calories. More of these types of foods can be eaten without consuming too many calories. Fiber rich foods can be quite satisfying. They need a longer amount of time to break down. Fiber slows the rate of digestion helping us feel full longer. Aim for 25 to 50 grams of fiber rich foods daily. Be sure to balance the intake of the soluble and insoluble forms (i.e. fruits, vegetables and whole grains.)




Although snacks are part of a healthy diet, they can become a source of extra calories. Always keep moderation in mind. The goal for snacking is to limit snacks to 150 to 200 calories.  Always include the three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Always understand the ingredients, avoiding anything artificial or refined.

Small meals consumed approximately every three hours can contribute to stable blood sugars throughout the day. Choose treats that are high in fiber (5 grams or more per serving) such as, bean dips, fruits and vegetables with peanut butter or hummus, and low-fat dairy. Choose whole grains that have a low glycemic index and include a small amount of protein with them to keep your cravings in check.

Sleep Enough

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of American adults are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.  When afternoon hits, most people are confusing fatigue with hunger. The trip to the vending machine is justified.  These foods do make us feel better, because they quickly raise blood sugar due to the large amount of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation can elevate levels of ghrelin, which is our appetite-stimulating hormone, and lower levels of leptin, our appetite-suppressant hormone. As a result, we take in more calories throughout the day leading to ultimate weight gain.


The key to successful weight loss and improved overall health is making physical activity a part of your daily routine. The key to weight control is balancing your intake with expenditure. Exercise along with cutting calories helps to improve your weight loss. A 2011 JAMA article shows that approximately 150 to 200 minutes of exercise each week regardless of duration or intensity may result in weight loss.

Chrissy Wellington is co-author of Navigating the Supermarket: A Nutritious Guide to Shopping Well. To pick up a copy of her book, please visit willpowermatrix.com/public/120.cfm.

How to Avoid Hidden Calories When Dining Out

17 10 2011


By Jaylin Allen


Dining out is an inevitable part of most of our lives. We have birthday parties, family outings, and times when we are on vacation without access to a kitchen. What we can really benefit from is the knowledge of what to avoid when dining out.

The basics aren’t always so basic. We are taught to eat veggies, protein, and brown rice. We are told that salads are good. Again, it isn’t so simple at restaurants.

The key to restaurants is to know how things are prepared. The preparation is everything here.

A “Chinese Chicken Salad” could be the healthiest, or least healthy item on the menu. The key is to ask and read about the details. Go for grilled chicken versus crispy chicken. That saves about 50 percent of the calories.

A salad may be quite healthy—until you top it with creamy ranch dressing. When dining out, ask for oil and vinegar instead of choosing their house dressing. Your average dressing runs about 250 calories per tablespoon. Oil and vinegar is about 120 calories. Also, you might consider just using the vinegar for a mere 10 to 20 calories per serving.

Finally, choose steamed versus stir-fried vegetables. Read this part out loud—avoid the bread basket.

It may seem simple but really, avoid this oh, so tempting part of dining out. Breadsticks, chips, and French bread, are all empty calories that will not help your weight-loss attempts.

You can have fun while dining out, even while watching for those hidden calories and fat. Knowing what to avoid is the first step to getting there.



Jaylin Allen is an expert Fitness Trainer in San Diego with over 12 years experience. Her company, Bootique FItness is known as the solution for women’s fitness as they get their clients into great shape in record time through personal training, zumba, nutrition and women boot camps in San Diego. Check out her site bootiquefitness.com or call 619.602.8087.

y G Series Fit How Exercise Prevents Heart Disease

16 10 2011


By Laura Williams


Doctors have known for years that exercise helps prevent heart attacks, and the reasons for this benefit are fairly well-understood. Exercise increases blood flow, strengthening the heart and circulatory system, reducing the likelihood of arterial blockage.

What hasn’t been as well understood is the protection that exercise provides for individuals who suffer a heart attack. Recent research from Emory University School of Medicine may have discovered why this protection occurs.

The Research and Results

Researchers led by Dr. John Calvert, assistant professor of surgery and Dr. David Lefer, professor of surgery, used mice to investigate the effects of exercise on the heart. They found that when they provided mice with an exercise wheel for four weeks, three things were achieved: mice were protected from coronary heart blockage, mice experiencing heart attacks showed less damage and mice were protected in these ways a week after stopping their exercise program.

When they ran tests, they discovered that the mice’s exercise increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme that boosts nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a short-lived gas produced in the body that can help dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow, factors that can increase survival during a heart attack. While the body can’t store nitric oxide, it appears that nitric oxide can be stored as more stable chemicals, nitrite and nitrosothiols.

The boost in eNOS appears to enable the body to convert nitrite and nitrosothiols into nitric oxide in the event of an emergency, like a heart attack. The mice that exercised regularly had increased levels of all four of these chemicals in the heart and blood tissue. The mice also maintained an increase in heart protection four weeks after they stopped exercising, the same point at which these chemical levels returned to baseline.

The Takeaway

While this study was only performed on mice, you can assume that similar protection occurs in humans. More research needs to be done, but there’s no reason to wait for definitive research to start an exercise program. You can feel good about preventing the likelihood of a heart attack, while also protecting yourself from damage in the event that an attack occurs.



Laura Williams writes about exercise and fitness for Exercise.com through her regular column “Exercise Science”. She is currently completing her master’s in Exercise Science.