Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In U.S., Engaged Employees Exercise More, Eat Healthier

In U.S., Engaged Employees Exercise More, Eat Healthier by Gallup, Inc. WASHINGTON, D.C. — American workers who are engaged in their work and workplace are more likely to report a healthier lifestyle than their counterparts who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged. Engaged employees eat healthier, exercise more frequently, and consume more fruits and vegetables. These findings are from Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted January through December 2012. Gallup’s employee engagement index is based on extensive research on actionable workplace elements with proven linkages to performance outcomes, including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety, and profit. The 12 questions included in the survey are intended to help sort workers into one of three categories: engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged. Engaged employees are deeply involved in and enthusiastic about their work. Those who are not engaged may be satisfied, but are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are less likely to put in discretionary effort. Employees who are actively disengaged are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace and jeopardize their teams’ performance. Gallup research previously found that employee engagement is positively correlated with better health — engaged workers are less likely to be obese and to have chronic diseases. The positive correlation between employee engagement and healthy behaviors holds true after controlling for respondents’ health conditions and key demographics, such as age, gender, race, income, education, and marital status. Implications Gallup research shows that how leaders manage their workers can significantly influence their employees’ engagement, which in turn affects a company’s bottom line and workers’ health and wellbeing. Separate Gallup research found that engaged employees were 21% more likely than actively disengaged employees to be involved in wellness programs offered by their company. This finding is consistent across age, BMI groups (normal, overweight, and obese), and among people with or without chronic diseases. Taken together, the data showcase the link between being engaged at work and leading a healthy lifestyle. It is not clear though which way the relationship between engagement in the workplace and healthy behaviors goes. It is possible that workers without healthy lifestyles are more prone to illness, which then reduces their chance for being engaged at work, or that those who are actively disengaged are less likely to take part in healthy behaviors, perhaps due to time or a depressed outlook on life. Regardless, since engaged employees are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, workplaces that actively improve engagement may end up seeing an added benefit of better employee health — the potential benefits of which include reducing healthcare costs for a company in the long term and increasing energy and productivity in the near future. Survey Methods Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey January to December 2012, with a random sample of 353,563 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. The survey includes 19,392 unemployed; 14,881 actively disengaged; 43,136 not engaged; and 24,611 engaged respondents. Maximum expected error ranges for subgroups vary according to size, ranging from ±2.8 percentage points for the largest group to ±4.9 percentage points for the smallest group. Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 200 cellphone respondents and 800 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday. Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cellphone-only status, cellphone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls. For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit by Gallup, Inc. • Report a text problem ◆

Monday, February 20, 2012

In the gym, don't be a dick . . .

I thought about that title before I wrote it. Surely there was a nicer way to say it.

But there isn't.

There has bee a lot written on the various common etiquette infractions that occur daily in Every gym. Here's a recent diatribe:

In the end, it all comes down to one basic truth: the gym is a place to workout. It is not a coffee shop, a bar, or a school. In other words, if you are looking to chat it up with a perfect stranger, go to Starbucks. If you want to hook up, go to a bar. If you want to learn, or even worse, teach, go to school.

No one is interested in what you think, what you read in the new Muscle and Fitness, in how you workout, why or how you look. No one.

We are all here for the same reason: to increase our fitness levels. It does not require chat, jokes or spontaneous posing.

Take on open machine or bench, use it for the purpose intended, and then get up and move along so everyone else has an opportunity.

Don't be a dick.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My 60th birthday . . . a personal best

You can't avoid getting older.

You can avoid losing strength. Indeed, today, on my 60th birthday, I set a personal record on flat bench dumbbell presses. Check it out . . .

Train hard. Diet harder!



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If America wants do deal with the health care crisis, Americans will lose weight

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds obesity has increased significantly over the past 20 years. Gallup's data reveal that Americans' self-reports of their own weight have also increased over the same period. Americans' average ideal weight has increased as well, showing men and women are adapting their ideal to their now higher actual weights. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as overweight has remained essentially unchanged over the past 20 years. While Americans are getting heavier, many may not recognize it or acknowledge it."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's the Best Alcohol to Drink when on a Diet?

You are not going to like this answer and neither did I.

When I am on a maintenance program, I can get away with a drink or two now and then. "Get away with" is the operative term, because the bottom line is simple and straightforward: alcohol is not healthy; alcohol causes fat retention; and alcohol impedes fat burning.

From the article below which I highly recommend to drinkers who diet, here are the facts:

"Instead of providing you such "permission" it is useful instead if you consider:
On fat loss programs, drinking alcohol is not recommended at all because alcohol suppresses fat oxidation and adds unnecessary calories to your diet, which either displaces nutritious calories or erases your caloric deficit.

For lifelong maintenance, it is recommended that if you choose to drink, that's fine, but only if you do so in moderation (1-2 drinks a day is considered moderation according to most health authorities).

Daily drinking is not recommended as part of a fitness lifestyle, because daily drinking can become habit forming. It is preferable if you can limit drinking to weekends, holidays and/or special occasions.

Try and ALWAYS be cognizant of the calories that are added to your diet through alcohol and above all else know how many calories are in your drinks."

Contrary to popular belief, it is not so much that the added alcohol calories are stored as fat, but rather, that alcohol reduces fat burning. Some evidence for this comes from research carried in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Eight men were given two drinks of vodka and sugar-free lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink. For several hours after drinking the vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning) dropped by a massive 73%!

All that said, I do "treat" myself on special occasions with a cocktail or two. Rarely, I will get together with friends or family for an outing and really pour it on. Even then, I select as low calorie alcohols as are available and never mix them with sugar, e.g., regular margaritas are out of the question. I also do it knowing that regardless how "good" I am, alcohol is bad if you want to stay lean. I am not anti-alcohol. I am simply saying there is a price to pay for drinking it and sometimes, rarely, I am willing to pay it. However, I never drink alcohol when I am trying to drop into a very lean state.

For more information, you will find an excellent article on drinking and dieting here:

Train hard; diet harder.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When it comes to protein, don't shy away from these vegetables . . .

When leaning up, there is nothing that works better than bumping up your protein at the expense of your carbohydrate intake. Many people believe that means upping their meat intake, and in the case of some meats, it means overindulging on saturated fat -- the worst of the worst for your health. In fact, you can eat less meat and more of certain vegetables and nuts and end up leaner and healthier.

Take a look at his article from Shine entitled, "8 veggies, nuts, and grains with more protein than a burger."

Train hard; diet harder.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Should You Watch Action Movies Before Going to the Gym?

Showing athletes videos that were erotic, aggressive or related to training significantly improved strength in a subsequent workout:

Previous studies have shown that visual images can produce rapid changes in testosterone concentrations. We explored the acute effects of video clips on salivary testosterone and cortisol concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance in highly trained male athletes (n = 12). Saliva samples were collected on 6 occasions immediately before and 15 minutes after watching a brief video clip (approximately 4 minutes in duration) on a computer screen. The watching of a sad, erotic, aggressive, training motivational, humorous or a neutral control clip was randomised. Subjects then performed a squat workout aimed at producing a 3 repetition maximum (3RM) lift. Significant (P < 0.001) relative (%) increases in testosterone concentrations were noted with watching the erotic, humorous, aggressive and training videos (versus control and sad), with testosterone decreasing significantly (versus control) after the sad clip. The aggressive video also produced an elevated cortisol response (% change) and more so than the control and humorous videos (P < 0.001). A significant (P < 0.003) improvement in 3RM performance was noted after the erotic, aggressive and training clips (versus control). A strong within-individual correlation (mean r = 0.85) was also noted between the relative changes in testosterone and the 3RM squats across all video sessions (P < 0.001). In conclusion, different video clips were associated with different changes in salivary free hormone concentrations and the relative changes in testosterone closely mapped 3RM squat performance in a group of highly trained males. Thus, speculatively, using short video presentations in the pre-workout environment offers an opportunity for understanding the outcomes of hormonal change, athlete behaviour and subsequent voluntary performance.

Source: "Changes in salivary testosterone concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance following the presentation of short video clips" from Hormones and Behavior

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