Tag Archives: resistance training

Active Voice: Staying Independent in Later Life – The Role of Midlife Physical Activity

By Barbara Sternfeld, Ph.D., FACSM 

More than three decades ago, James Fries published a seminal paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that predicted an expansion of the years of healthy, active life as a result of a delay in the onset of chronic disease and disability that would be greater than increases in overall life expectancy. He labeled this demographic shift the compression of morbidity. To those of us following in the steps of Drs. Jeremy Morris and Ralph Paffenbarger, Jr. in the then-emerging field of physical activity epidemiology, the compression of morbidity was a compelling hypothesis. Accumulating evidence for the role of physical activity in protecting against the major causes of morbidity and disability, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and some cancers, suggested that the lifetime burden of illness in the population could, indeed, be shortened by widespread adoption of regular physical activity.

Since then, much demographic analysis and debate has focused on trends in morbidity and mortality and whether there is evidence for compression of morbidity. In 2011, Crimmins and Beltran-Sanchez examined age-specific disease prevalence and mobility-related functional status from 1998 to 2006. They based their analyses on data from the National Health Interview Survey, along with age-specific mortality rates from official U.S. life tables for the same years. The data showed a slight increase in overall life expectancy over this interval, but also a decrease in life expectancy free of disease or functional impairment. This result was due, perhaps in large part, to the increase in obesity in recent years. Those authors concluded that there had been an expansion, rather than a compression, of morbidity. Despite other analyses, with evidence supporting the compression of morbidity, Crimmins and Beltrans-Sanchez argued that this finding is largely because others have focused on severe disability, such as inability to perform activities of daily living, rather than functional impairment, such as ability to walk across the street before a traffic signal changes. Medical advances, they argued, have made chronic diseases both less lethal and less disabling, yet those conditions continue to impact higher-level functioning, often at younger ages. 

Our study, published in MSSE, has direct relevance for this discussion. Using 14 years of data from SWAN (Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation), a population-based, multi-racial/ethnic cohort of midlife women, we showed that a healthy lifestyle score, consisting of regular physical activity, a healthy diet and abstention from tobacco, measured over as many as nine years during midlife, was positively associated with better physical performance, measured at least four years later in older midlife. The domains of physical performance that were associated with a healthy lifestyle were walking speed and repeated chair stands (a measure of lower body strength and endurance). Most striking, these associations were due entirely to physical activity. Although a healthy diet and abstention from smoking clearly have obvious health benefits, regular physical activity in midlife appears to be the key determinant of better mobility-related physical function in late midlife, at least for women.

These findings strongly imply that physical activity can contribute to the expansion of life expectancy without functional impairment and, effectively, bring about the achievement of the compression of morbidity that Fries envisioned several decades ago. The challenge, of course, remains the relatively modest proportion of the population that regularly engages in physical activity. Although ACSM has been a leader in the efforts to promote physical activity, much more work in this area is still needed — particularly now, at a time when public health resources are expected to be stretched even further than they have been. It is imperative that we in ACSM do what we can to ensure that all segments of the population lead healthier, active lives.

Barbara Sternfeld, Ph.D., FACSM, is an emeritus research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, California, where she began her career in 1985. Dr. Sternfeld’s training is in epidemiology and exercise science. She has extensive experience with large, prospective cohort studies, most notably, the CARDIA study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults), and SWAN (Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation). Her research interests, largely focused on women’s health issues, include longitudinal analyses of physical activity and health outcomes, methods for assessment of physical activity and intervention trials. 

This commentary presents Dr. Sternfeld’s views on the topic of a research article that she and her colleagues authored. That article appeared in the February 2017 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® (MSSE)

Viewpoints presented on the ACSM blog reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM. 

Sixty SuperBands – Anywhere Resistance Band Workout for Everywhere

Sixty SuperBands

Anywhere Resistance Band Workout for Everywhere

If you have a spare 5 minutes give this whole body workout a try to really get some health value from your precious time. It exercises your legs, butt, chest, shoulders, arms and abs in one super simple routine. I just finished mine in 4 minutes 57 seconds while watching the morning news.

You can use just one SuperBand for all 6 movements or vary the resistance. Increase the resistance on the legs, if you like, but you’ll still get a great micro workout using the same band. Saves a few seconds on the changeover between exercises too. This New York Times article goes into some of the benefits you wouldn’t normally expect from such short interludes of activity.

Definitely more time efficient than that hour at the gym.

600 in 60 minutes or 600 in 7 days?

Sixty SuperBands won’t be you’re only strategy towards better health but it can certainly form a significant part in getting and remaining active for the long term.

Here’s the pdf version of Sixty SuperBands.


SuperBand Single Leg Press


Lay on your back with left knee bent and right knee also bent with band around the middle of your right foot. Refer Scene 1
Push up and straighten your right leg but do not lock at your knees.
Keep your hands in the same position to keep tension in the band. Refer Scene 2
Return to start position as in Scene 1. This is 1 repetition
Perform 10 repetitions then repeat to your opposite side.

10 down!


SuperBand Chest Pulse


Stand with band wrapped behind your back at about chest level while holding band with both hands.

Arms should be flexed and on the outside of the band as in Scene 1.
Push forward with both hands using a short and sharp movement as in Scene 2.
Return to start position quickly as in Scene 1. This is 1 repetition.

Perform 10 repetitions

20 done!


SuperBand Dead Lift


Stand with feet shoulder width apart with band underneath the middle of both feet while being held in both hands at the sides of your body as in Scene 1.
Bend forward at your hips to an angle of about 90 degrees as in Scene 2.
Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
Return to start position as in Scene 1. This is 1 repetition.

Perform 10 repetitions

30 down and half way


SuperBand 1 Arm Side Raise


Stand with feet shoulder width apart while holding the band in your right hand and underneath the middle of your right foot. Right elbow extended and right hand just below waist level as in Scene 1.
Extend your right arm to your right side with just a very slight bend at the elbow as in Scene 2.
Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
Return to start position as in Scene 1. This is 1 repetition.
Perform 10 repetitions then repeat to your opposite side.

That’s 40 – Nearly there


SuperBand Concentration Curl


Kneel on the ground with your left leg while having your right leg bent in front of you as in Scene 1.
Your right elbow should be on the inside of your right knee with the band held in your right hand while across the middle of your right foot as in Scene 1.
Flex your right arm as in Scene 2.
Hold for 1 to 2 seconds at the top of the movement.
Return to start position as in Scene 1. This is 1 repetition.
Perform 10 repetitions then repeat to your opposite side.

50 – Home stretch now


SuperBand Crunch


Lay on your back with knees slightly bent while holding the band tight with both hands across the middle of your trunk as in Scene 1.
Raise your trunk until your hands are level with your knees  as in Scene 2.
Hold for 1 to 2 seconds at the top of the movement
Return to start position as in Scene 1. This is 1 repetition

Perform 10 repetitions

Great job – knock off 60 for the day



Try Body LX 360, a Cool New Way to Do Resistance Training at Home

Like many infomercial-style fitness systems, the Body LX 360 promises to help you “work smarter, not harder,” by isolating specific muscle groups and helping you tone trouble spots faster. And while the package may look pretty elaborate (it comes with SEVEN DVDs!), the idea behind the whole system is pretty simple: It consists of a fold-out “board” with a cushioned seating/standing area, and various notches around the steel frame for attaching different color resistance bands. Three different colors offer varying levels of resistance, and three attachment options (hand grips, a waist belt, and an ankle strap) let you work different parts of your body.

The included DVDs focus on areas including legs, arms, shoulders, abs, and hips/butt, and you can customize the moves by adjusting the resistance level as you go.

Some of the moves I tried with the Body LX 360 felt totally weird and awkward, and some I really loved. It’s cool that it folds up and is extremely portable, and that there are so many workout options available for it. The Body LX 360 is one of those devices that, when you look at it, you think “I could have made this myself for a lot less than $250″ — but then again, you know you never really would have, right?

Will you try the Body LX 360 system? Tweet us your thoughts at @amandaemac and @SELFmagazine.


Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

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