Dr Wendi's Health

Category Archives: Exercise and fitness

bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight exercises are often underestimated as a valuable way to workout but they are very effective for building strength, cardiovascular fitness, balance, coordination, and flexibility. You can do a few bodyweight exercises every day in a very short period of time and gain all the same health benefits as going to a gym!  Make it a high intensity workout and burn more fat.  To make a workout high intensity you can set a time limit, such as 1 minute and see how many of something you can do.  For example, let’s suppose you can do 10 push-ups, instead of just doing 10, see how many you can do in 1 minute and take rest in between every couple reps.  Or see how long it takes you to do 30 push-ups.  It is more fun and challenging if you set some goals and even more fun if you challenge others in…

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building muscle

In order to build skeletal muscle there needs to be an overall increase in synthesis and a decrease breakdown.  Resistance training causes muscles to breakdown and then rebuild if there is enough protein for the rebuilding process to occur.  The main nutritional factors that stimulate muscle protein synthesis are: Amino acids from eating protein – particularly leucine, a branched chain amino acid that signals protein synthesis Amount and timing of nutrient intake – consuming protein within1-2 hours of exercise is important so that building blocks (amino acids) are available for protein synthesis, and consuming the required total amount per day ensures that synthesis always outweighs breakdown Co-ingestion of nutrients – carbohydrates help to reduce the amount of protein breakdown Creatine is clearly effective for increasing muscle mass in combination with resistance training Some terminology DRIs – Daily Reference Intakes RDA – Recommended Dietary Allowance – the minimum amount of protein…

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body fat

In healthy people, about 80-90% of our fat is located underneath the skin, called subcutaneous fat, and about 6-20% is found surrounding abdominal organs, called visceral fat.  Having excess visceral fat, aka belly fat, is more highly associated with cardiovascular disease than excess subcutaneous fat in other regions of the body. In other words, it is healthier to be a pear-shape than an apple-shape.  The distribution of our body fat can be a more significant indicator of heart disease than overall body fat percentage.  Gender and genetic factors contribute approximately 50% to body fat distribution but hormones play a very significant role.  You can actually get an idea of hormones that might be elevated or decreased by where you store extra fat. Hormones have a major influence on body fat distribution.  Overall, the hormones that have the biggest impact on how we burn or where we store fat are cortisol,…

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cardiovascular fitness

Measuring your fitness level is a great way to motivate yourself and a great way to have an idea of your cardiovascular health. What is cardiovascular fitness? The ability to do sustained exercise for a period of time at moderate to high intensity levels is directly related to the health of your cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) as well as muscle conditioning.  When we do aerobic exercise we increase our breathing rate and heart rate and our muscle cells use oxygen to make energy (ATP).  Our cardiovascular fitness level is the ability to circulate blood, and therefore glucose and oxygen, to our muscles, as well as the ability of the muscles to use the glucose and oxygen to make ATP.  When the muscles can no longer produce enough ATP to keep the muscles contracting, the muscle become fatigued and you can’t continue the activity.  How fit you are determines…

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Many things can impact our hormones and things can get a little out of wack if we have a lot of stress, don’t get enough sleep, then drink more caffeine than we need, maybe fighting a cold or flu, and then perhaps some bad food choices because that is easier than cooking and junk food gets rid of stress, right?? Or does eating crap cause stress?  Then mood and productivity go out the window and we feel overwhelmed so then we nap and then can’t sleep at night.  How do we get it all back on track? For the most part it boils down to how we are impacting our hormones.  Hormones affect how we function and how we feel……how we feel affects our mood and energy, which then affects our lifestyle choices that affect our hormone production.  It is all a cycle and we have to choose a place…

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sitting kills

The following is a list of things we commonly associate with aging, but are these natural processes that are inevitable?  No.  They are actually caused by not moving enough.  If you include at least 30 min of moderate exercise 3-5 times per week, with at least one session being some weight-bearing exercises and 1 session being higher intensity so that you get out of breath, then you can very significantly reduce ALL of the issues listed below. It is also important to move around frequently during every single day.  If you work at a desk and sit a lot, it would be highly beneficial to get up and walk around for a few minutes every 30 min, and stretch a few muscles while you’re at it.  A really interesting book on this topic is called Sitting kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos who was a NASA scientist that studied the…

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macronutrient ratios

One thing that has been shown over and over about nutrition research is that people have difficulty accurately estimating how many calories they consume, and how much protein, fat, and carbs they consume.  It is one factor that makes retrospective nutrition research studies very difficult to interpret.   There are many different types of diets that either minimize one of the macronutrients, like low fat, or low carb, keto, paleo, Atkin’s, low protein, vegan, or diets that advocate moderate ratios of macros such as the mediterranean diet, the zone, or low glycemic index, or diets that limit specific foods such as FODMAP.  Whichever kind of diet you may be experimenting with, or if you are trying to gain weight, gain muscle, or simply maintain the body weight you have, it is always beneficial to have a good idea of what you are eating.   I find that some nutrient calculator websites are…

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lose weight eat less

What kind of diet works best? Low fat diet? Low carb diet? Do total calories matter? The most popular theory right now is that carbs increase weight gain because carbs stimulate insulin, which is a hormone that causes our liver to convert carbs into fat, so reducing carbs will help you lose weight. But, there are populations of people that eat high carb diets and are still lean and not over weight, example, Japanese populations eat a lot of rice, which is a refined carbohydrate, it is high on the glycemic index, yet these populations are not over weight. Likewise, there are populations that eat high fat diets that are lean as well. People lose weight on low carb AND low fat diets.  Why? Because they are eating overall fewer calories AND they are cutting out the worst foods that are high in calories, low in nutrients, and highly rewarding….which are foods…

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Telomeres are repeated DNA sequences at the end of all of our chromosomes that protect our genes from degradation; kind of like the aglets on the end of shoelaces.  Every time our cells divide the telomeres get shorter and eventually they disappear and then that cell can’t divide anymore, this is why our cells age and why we age. If telomeres shorten faster then our cells age faster.  We have some control over this though.  When telomeres become progressively shorter there are a few different things that can happen to the cell Apoptosis – this is a natural normal process of cell death, the body replaces old cells all the time, it is beneficial to get rid of old cells. Senescence – this is when the cell stops dividing but doesn’t die. It usually has limited normal functions. Oncogenic transformation – this is when a cell becomes a cancer cell;…

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I have seen several articles online that say things like “doing crunches is bad for your back”, “exercises to NEVER do…crunches”, “doing crunches is a waste of time”.  So I decided to see what research has to say on the topic. Some research seems to indicate that flexion movements like crunches are a contributing factor to degenerating discs and some people in the fitness industry believe that we have a set number of flexion motions our spine can handle and then we will have spine problems so we shouldn’t ‘waste’ precious flexion movements on crunches. A quick look at disc degeneration.  Disc degeneration occurs gradually as we age but some factors can increase this rate, mainly: Decreased production of proteoglycans (carbohydrates in the cushion part that attracts water and helps discs absorb shock and deal with pressure), and collagen (a connective tissue protein that makes tissues strong) as we age…

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