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Physical fitness has been associated with better brain structure and brain functioning in adults.
The findings of a study, led by Dr Jonathan Repple of the University Hospital Muenster in Germany, suggests that increasing fitness levels through exercise could result in improved cognitive ability – such as memory and problem solving – as well as improved structural changes in the brain.
A group of researchers led by Repple used a publicly available database of 1,200 MRI brain scans from the Human Connectome Project and combined it with physical testing to assess the subjects’ physical fitness. Each one’s cognitive ability was also measured. The researchers excluded subjects with pre-existing conditions, such as neurodevelopmental disorders, diabetes or high blood pressure.
The results of the study showed that physical endurance was positively associated with the global cognition scores of the subjects taking part.
In its conclusion, the group of researchers said the results of the study suggest that physical exercise could be used as a form of preventative healthcare.
“The observed pattern of results appears to support the notion of a beneficial effect of physical fitness on cognitive function,” the study reads.
“This notion is supported by the few available experimental studies indicating that physical exercise leads to increases in memory performance and brain structural integrity.
“This concept might be of relevance for a wide range of domains in health and life sciences including prevention, clinical care and neurobiological research.
“Along with previous findings, our findings point to the potential of physical fitness as a modifiable factor that might be applied as an intervention in prevention and clinical care.”
The report was simultaneously published in the Scientific Reports journal and presented at the ECNP Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.
To read the study in full, click here.
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Sometimes it can feel nearly impossible to get yourself in shape, which is why personal trainers are so helpful. Not only do they give you that extra push, but you also get the benefits of their expert knowledge and experience. Even with their guidance, however, your efforts will be in vain if you aren’t following the right diet and fitness regimen for you. To find out exactly how you can improve your fitness routine, WD spoke with top-notch personal trainers for their secrets to getting the most out of your workout and living an overall healthier life.
1. Set realistic goals and be confident.
Before starting your path to a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to be realistic about how much time you have for the results you want, and how you can achieve them. Colleen Faltus, private trainer at The Sports Club/LA in Boston, suggests compiling “a list of both short- and long-term goals. This will keep you motivated to accomplish and surpass them; it will give you focus and add some variety to your workout.” Another trick to staying focused? Be confident! Trainer Bill Trimble, founder of the workout program Extreme Bill Trimble, says, “if you’re not confident and determined you can achieve your goals, you won’t. Make sure you try to stay positive and keep your head up, even on those rough days.”
2. Get specific about what you want to achieve.
Although you may think your trainer will automatically know what you want, that isn’t the case. Trimble says telling your trainer exactly what your goals are is the key to success. A weight-loss plan, for instance, will be different from a plan for someone trying to build muscle. Your trainer will design a routine based on your individual needs and lifestyle, so letting him or her know exactly what you want up front will help you get the most out of the experience.
3. Have fun!
“Working out should be enjoyable. Your personal trainer is there to push you a little bit, but not intimidate,” says Trimble. During your initial consultation, talk with your trainer about activities you enjoy, your schedule and exercises you don’t particularly like. This way, he or she can devise a routine you’ll love. Another key factor to having fun is variation. “Incorporating other elements of fitness besides cardio will increase the likelihood of faster and more efficient weight loss,” explains Faltus. Another plus? You’re less likely to become bored if you try new things.
4. Performing each exercise correctly is imperative, so watch your form.
To achieve the best possible results and stay injury-free, follow your trainer’s instructions about proper form. This is especially important if you’re doing an at-home workout on your own. “Model the video or demonstration exactly, paying special attention to the trainer’s breathing technique and form,” Trimble urges.
5. You should begin to see results within 12 weeks.
Depending on your workout plan, the three-month mark can be a good indicator of how you’re doing. “In about 90 days, you should be able to notice results—whether it be that your jeans are a little looser, your quality of sleep is better or you just feel good all around,” Trimble says. Many people lose motivation if they don’t see results sooner, but you’re changing your physique, so 12 weeks is about how long it will take before your workouts begin building lean muscle.
6. Communication is the key to success.
As with any relationship, communication is vital when it comes to a healthy and happy experience. Faltus recommends giving your trainer feedback about how you are or aren’t liking the exercises, what is or isn’t working and anything else that’s on your mind. Most often, your trainer will check in with you before and after the workout. So use the opportunity to talk! “You know your body better than anyone else, so speak up at each session and your experience will be that much more enjoyable and exciting,” Faltus says.
7. You’re going to have bad days.
“You’re going to fall off the wagon and have off days at some point,” says Trimble. “But get right back up and begin again without getting discouraged.” The biggest problem trainers see in their clients is that their emotional confidence starts to dwindle when something goes wrong. “You have to believe in yourself and [believe] you can do it,” Trimble says. So, if you splurge on your eating one weekend, don’t beat yourself up—just give it your all during your Monday workout session.
8. If you don’t have a trainer, you can still stay motivated.
On those mornings when you just can’t get yourself out of bed, it’d be pretty nice to have a trainer waiting for you at the gym. But you don’t need a trainer if you know how to find motivation elsewhere. For one thing, Trimble recommends working out with a partner for extra encouragement. He also suggests choosing a fun workout so you’ll look forward to it. “These days, so many programs are easily accessible, such as at-home boot camp workouts, circuit training, online videos and specific plans such as the P90X workout.” And perhaps most important, be consistent. If you exercise on the same days every week, not only can you schedule around your workout, but you’ll be more likely not to miss it.
9. You have to eat right, too.
Personal trainers aren’t miracle workers, so after you leave the gym, make sure you follow the diet plan you’ve established for yourself (or with the help of a dietician). One way Trimble helps his clients eat right is by encouraging them to keep a food journal. “Nutrition can be a problem, so writing it down and being able to look at it with my clients is helpful,” he says. Not only will you be able to discuss what you’re eating with your trainer, but you’ll also become more aware of your food choices—and rethink that second piece of cake! One way Faltus suggests you start a good nutrition plan? Let yourself cheat. “Eating balanced meals filled with fruits, vegetables, grains and protein will prove successful in the long run. But remember to give yourself a ‘cheat’ nutrition day on the weekends.”
10. You’re probably not getting enough sleep.
“Lack of sleep causes a decrease in energy and motivation to accomplish both short- and long-term goals.” Not only are proper sleeping habits important for you mentally, but if you don’t rest your muscles properly before and after a good workout, you risk injury. Faltus says to “adjust your sleep schedule and get both quality sleep and a decent quantity of sleep. You’ll notice the difference in your overall performance, and your muscles will thank you too.” For some tips on how you can destress and unwind before bed to sleep better, click here.
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In every field, there will be a few different ways of doing things. Although other careers will have people doing things differently, all with the end result being positive, there are some things a personal trainer really shouldn’t ever do. When it comes to being a Personal Trainer, some things are non-negotiable as they can lead to injuries, bad experiences for clients and eventually, the loss of a client base for your business. Australian Institute of Fitness Victoria Fitness Coach, Christopher Meggyesy, lays down the 5 things a great Personal Trainer would never be caught doing.
1. LOSE FOCUS
A great personal trainer’s client focus doesn’t ever waiver. There are some Personal Trainers out there that remind me of Dory from Finding Nemo; very easily distracted. Your clients are paying for YOUR time. From the moment you greet your 10:30 client to the moment they leave, the great PT is 100% about their training. Whether it’s fixing technique, handing their client a water bottle, or just being the motivation they need, it’s all about your client. Whoever it is that just walked in the gym, they can wait. If you’re a personal trainer and you are constantly getting tied up with other things, checking your phone or chatting with other people during a client’s session, you may find some clients parting ways with you and finding someone new.
2. DOESN’T PROGRAM
The great PT will have every moment of the training session accounted for prior to beginning the session. It’s pretty obvious when the PT is umming and ahing about what’s next for the client, they’re winging it. A PT should know what is happening at each minute, what will be covered and how to get the best workout completed specific to the client within the time they have booked with them. If a PT seems to be lost, chances are they aren’t really sure of what the client needs in order for them to reach their goals. Remember, those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
3. TRAIN EVERY CLIENT THE SAME WAY
Every client is different, aren’t they? They have each got their own little quirks, health concerns, and movement deficiencies. So why are there so many cookie cutter programs out there? Each program should be tailored to the client’s needs, that’s part of what your client is paying you for. One of the first things a personal trainer should be doing within the first session is asking what a client’s needs and wants are, what their goals are, what they hope to achieve and also ask about the client’s past history with exercise. A PT should understand completely what a client is capable of doing (and not doing) and working on the areas they wish to work on in order to achieve their goals. Because everyone has different goals, everyone’s session should look and feel different.
4. LOOKS AT THEIR PHONE
iPhones, Android phones, Windows phones, even your old Nokia! No matter what the brand, having one in your hand while you’re taking a session, regardless of the intention, just looks like a distraction. You may very well be timing your client with your stopwatch app, but to the outside world and any future clients that may see your session, they can’t tell the difference between timing a client, and swiping right on Tinder. Clients are paying for the time and attention of a trainer for a reason. The best PT’s should ditch their phone for the whole session and their focus directly on the client at all times.
5. DOESN’T WALK THE TALK
Let’s face it, you are your own brand. Prospective clients start forming opinions about you the second they see you. In that first second, how are you marketing yourself? That first second might come when you turn up for your 5:30am client on a Monday morning, and a brand new member to the gym sees you as you walk in the door. Do you look (and smell) like you just rolled out of bed, or do you look clean, neat and tidy with an awesome smile? Ask yourself, who are you more likely to hand over your hard money earned to? Someone who looks and acts like a professional, or the slob that just rolled out of bed? Feeling and looking fit and healthy is going to also rub off on the client’s. A client is going to feel more motivated to get up early and get a great workout completed if their PT looks like they’ve already completed it and are now feeling (and looking) fantastic.
A trainer should be there to help, motivate, assist when needed and provide the right training and fitness advice possible for each and every client. Getting to know a client is a must-have and being able to provide the right workout for each client is a necessity. If you’re a PT and you find yourself doing some of the above things, it may be time to step back and take a look at your role and look at ways you can address them and help your clients to reach their full potential once more. If you’re a client and are noticing some of these “red flags” with your own trainer, it may be time to take a look at other trainers in the area who may be able to help you succeed.
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Though personal training is more mainstream than ever, there are still plenty of people hesitant to hire a trainer. They worry about the cost, they worry about the pain and they wonder things like: Will I look like a complete idiot? Is my trainer going to torture me? These fears are normal, but you shouldn’t let them stop you from hiring a personal trainer. Learn more about the most common fears and how you can get over them.
- It costs too much
Personal training can be expensive, costing anywhere from $30 an hour to more than $100, depending on where you live and your trainer’s experience. Yes, it costs, but there are plenty of reasons to hire one and it can be a good investment. If you end up with an exercise habit, long-term weight loss and a resource you can turn to for advice, that’s a pretty good pay off.
If budget is an issue, consider these options:
- Semi-Private Training – With this, you may train with around 2-5 people in a very small group setting, often in a circuit training format.
- Small Group Training – This may be a boot camp-style class with a limited number of exercisers and either a flat fee for a series of classes or a fee for individual classes.
- Workout With a Friend – You can also save money by working out with a friend or family member.
- Negotiate with your trainer – Not all trainers will do this, but it’s worth asking.
2. I’m Too Overweight and/or Out of Shape
If it’s been a long time (or ever) since you’ve worked out, hiring a trainer may bring up scary questions:
- What if I can’t do the exercises? – You need time to reconnect with your body in a physical way and that means you may not do the exercises right. Give yourself time to learn the exercises before getting discouraged.
- What if I can’t make it through a workout? – Your trainer’s job is to create workouts that match not just your goals, but what your body can handle. Your trainer will check in with you throughout the workout but, if something feels too challenging, say so. Your trainer needs that information to know when to push and when to back off.
- What if my trainer sees what a fat, lazy slob I really am? – Your train will ask tough questions about your exercise and eating habits, revealing things even your friends or family may not know. You may feel vulnerable revealing those secrets, but your trainer isn’t there to judge you. “Fat, lazy slob” isn’t even crossing his mind…He’s too busy thinking about what he’s going to do to help you reach your goals.
Remember these things:
- You’re stronger than you think you are
- You know more than you think you do
- It gets easier with time and practice
3. I Don’t Know What to Expect
“I’m not doing pushups, or swinging some weird kettledrum…And I’m notjumping up and down until I throw up.” That’s what one new client blurted as soon as she walked in the door. She gave a grudging nod when I asked, “You’ve been watching The Biggest Loser, haven’t you?”
In the absence of experience, you may imagine all kinds of scary things that could happen during your personal training session. But, your trainer isn’t going to make you do anything you aren’t ready for.
What you can to do ease your fears:
- Do your research – Before you hire any old trainer, get recommendations from friends to find trainers in your area that have been vetted and, often, reviewed.
- Express your fears – You can often get instant reassurance by talking about what you’re afraid of. Write down questions before meeting with a trainer – What should you wear? What will you do during the first session? Should you bring your own water or towel?
- Look for warning flags – Look for alarm bells that go off during your first meeting. Did he gloss over important facts about your health history or fail to ask anything at all? Did she say her favorite part of a workout is when her client pukes at the end?
4. I’m Afraid It Will Hurt
“Is this going to hurt?” Well, if you have to ask…
Seriously, exercise shouldn’t cause pain. There will likely be some discomfort, of course, which is true anytime your body does things it isn’t used to. A few things you can expect when you start exercising:
- Burning muscles – It’s normal to feel some burning in your muscles, especially if you’re a beginner or if you’re doing high intensity or high repetition exercises. The burning comes from lactic acid building up as your muscles become fatigued. This is uncomfortable, but it will pass and may become less of a problem as you get stronger.
- The Jello Effect – This is when your body becomes fatigued during an exercise and, as a result, may wobble in an alarming way, much like Jello. This should pass with a rest period, but tell your trainer if you feel very weak and/or unstable. You may need more recovery time.
- Muscles you’ve never felt before – Your body has more than 650 muscles. You won’t work all of them during one workout, but you may feel like you have. It’s normal to feel an exercise everywhere, even in unrelated body parts (e.g., “I think I felt that pushup in my left earlobe.”) As you build strength in the weaker areas of your body, this will be less of an issue.
- Stiffness and soreness – Any new activity can cause soreness within 24-48 hours of your workout. Some soreness is normal and you may find that an anti-inflammatory, a hot bath or a massage can help. However, if you can’t brush your hair/walk down the stairs/breathe without pain, you overdid it. Tell your trainer if you experience excessive soreness so he can scale back on your workouts a bit.
You shouldn’t feel any actual pain, though. Any sharp, stabbing pain in the joints, muscles or connective tissue should get your immediate attention.
5. I’m Afraid of an Injury
This is a healthy fear, but one that shouldn’t stop you from hiring a trainer. Any movement can cause injury and activities that combine a personal trainer, a new exerciser, heavy equipment and moving body parts can up that risk. Your trainer will do everything possible to avoid this, but there’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt. Here’s how to decrease your risk:
- Get a check up – If you’re worried about aggravating an old injury, see your doctor to get clearance.
- Be Honest – As you’re filling out your health history form, which should happen before you start exercising, list any past or current injuries, surgeries, conditions or illnesses. Tell your trainer about any pain you have, any movements that bother you or any exercises that have caused problems in the past.
- Give regular feedback – Complaining is probably the most fun you’ll have during your workout session and you can make it even more useful by being specific. For example, “I hate this exercise,” isn’t quite as helpful as, “I hate this exercise because it really bothers my right shoulder.”
- Be your own advocate – If anything feels wrong during an exercise, stop. Injuries often happen when you work through pain rather than stopping. Some clients are shy about speaking up, often thinking: “Well, he wouldn’t have given me this exercise if he didn’t think I could do it, right?” As brilliant as your trainer may be, he can’t anticipate everything.
6. I Have Trainer Trauma
If you’ve ever left a personal training session crying, limping, crawling and/or vowing to stop payment on your check as soon as you have the strength to lift your phone, you’ve probably had Trainer Trauma.
Like every profession, personal training has its fair share of boneheads. Some may treat your first session like it’s a contest to see how much torture your body can handle. Some do this because they think that’s what every client wants. Others do it because a client may request that kind of workout without realizing how hard it really is. The result is, at best, Trainer Trauma and, at worst, an injury.
For every bad trainer, there are hundreds of good ones, but you may need to approach your new search with a few things in mind:
- Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or trusted websites
- Ask for references – Ask your trainer if you can contact current or previous clients to get the real story
- Look for experience and education – Make sure your trainer has experience training a wide variety of clients and dealing with any injuries or conditions you may have. He should also have an accredited personal training certification.
- Be specific about what you want – When you do meet with your new trainer, tell him about your previous experience with Bad Trainer. What went wrong? What do you want to be different? How could Good Trainer make it up to you?
7. I’m Afraid of Failing
If you’ve tried to lose weight with diets, exercise programs or other failed ventures, you may be afraid of another weight loss failure. Unfortunately, hiring a trainer is no guarantee of success. A trainer can do a lot of things for you — teach you an amazing variety of exercises, challenge you, give you personalized workouts, track your progress and motivate you. What he can’t do is give you what you most need to have to lose weight: A desire to change.
Sometimes, hiring a personal trainer is no different than trying a new diet or a new fitness gadget in the hopes you’ll find something that will finally work. The problem is, no diet or gadget or personal trainer is going to make any difference if you don’t believe that how you’re living is making you more miserable than having to change it.
Having a standing appointment that you’re paying for and an expert to guide you can certainly be motivating, but it’s no talisman against failure. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself why you want to hire a trainer. Good reasons to hire a trainer: You’re not seeing results, you don’t know where to start or you’re stuck in a plateau. Bad reasons to hire a trainer: You want to lose weight fast, you feel pressured by aggressive salespeople, you want the perfect body, or you think a trainer can magically transform you into the kind of person who is motivated to exercise.
8. I’m Afraid of Committing
Hiring a personal trainer is a big commitment and it’s normal to get cold feet. It’s more than just meeting someone for an hour to exercise, you’re also committing:
- Money – You may pay $35-$100 an hour to work with a trainer and that’s a big investment. Look at your budget and figure out how much you can spend before signing up.
- Time – You have your appointment time to deal with, but you also have prep time, drive time and time to workout during the rest of the week. Look at your schedule to make sure you can fit this in.
- Trust – You’re trusting this person with your body, your time and your goals. You should feel comfortable from the very first session. If you’re not at ease from the get-go, go elsewhere.
- Your lifestyle – You’re not just committing to an hour of exercise when you sign up for training, but other aspects of your life as well: Your diet, how you spend your time, how active you are, how you sleep, how you deal with stress, etc. Make sure you’re really ready to change before making the commitment.
9. I’m Afraid of Looking Like an Idiot
When you hire a trainer, you will be expected to do a variety of physical movements and, yes, sometimes these movements will be awkward. Not only that, but your body will have a variety of responses to this physical activity: Sweating, shaking, wobbling or just downright confusing. Some common worries:
- What if I fart? You certainly could and, frankly, it isn’t that uncommon. The best way to deal with it is to laugh it off, saying something like, “I guess I picked the wrong day to eat a can of beans for lunch.”
- Do I stink? – Maybe. But your trainer has inhaled so much body odor, she probably doesn’t even smell it anymore.
- Am I sweating too much? – No. Clients often feel embarrassed when they leave a big pool of sweat on the weight bench. Your trainer is actually quite pleased when you sweat. It means that your body is doing what it’s supposed to: Regulating your body temperature. Go forth and sweat.
- Am I really this uncoordinated? – No, you’re not. You may be quite graceful in real life but, when faced with an exercise that involves your limbs going in different directions, you feel like an idiot. Many exercises feel awkward, exposing the fact that you aren’t perfect and that we all have to practice new things. Having patience, an open mind and a sense of humor will go a long way towards easing your self-consciousness.
10. I’m Afraid I Won’t Like My Trainer
When you’re hiring a trainer, you’re not just looking at someone’s certification, experience and education, you’re also looking at their personality. Most personal trainers can get along with a wide range of people, but not all personalities mesh very well.
Increase your odds of finding the right trainer by thinking about what’s important to you. That might include:
- Gender – If you have a preference for whether you want to work with a male or female, speak up right away.
- Personality – Do you want someone who’s quietly encouraging, or someone more aggressive?
- Training style – Most trainers will adapt to what you want and need, every trainer is different. For example, if you want new, creative workouts, make that clear from the beginning so the trainer doesn’t stick you on the same old machines. Giving your trainer some guidance may save you, and the trainer, from a bad experience.