Do we really need new ways to estimate body fat when we can accurately measure it?

Posted on April 29th, 2014

We’ve said for a long time that Body Mass Index, or BMI, is flawed. According to an article in The Daily Mail this morning, other scientists agree.

Over a year ago we posted a blog discussing, what was then, a new approach to estimating body fat. In case you missed it the first time round, here it is again.

 

Do we really need a new BMI?

Oxford University mathematician, Nick Trefethen has developed a new calculation which he claims better accounts for the relationship between height and weight.

This calculation still only uses height and weight to estimate how fat or thin someone is which just leaves us wondering if all his work was really worth it when it’s still just an estimate and not accurately measuring body composition. After all, if you don’t know exactly what you’re body is made of now, how can you know what changes you need to make?

Some of you may have heard Dr Mark Porter discussing this topic on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Health. He talked to members of the British public who not only thought that BMI was meaningless to them, but also had no idea where it comes from, how to calculate it or how to read the BMI chart in their GP surgery. For those of you who are interested, BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared (weight/height2).

This out-dated formula was devised over 100 years ago by Belgian scientist Adolphe Quetele, but according to Professor Trefethen it is over-simplistic. He believes it is incorrect because “it divides the weight by too large a number for short people, and too small a number for tall people. So short people are misled into thinking they are thinner than they are, and tall people are misled into thinking they are fatter than they are.” He believes his new calculation goes some way to correcting these problems. Professor Trefethen calculates BMI by multiplying your weight in kilograms by 1.3 then dividing this number by your height in metres to the power of 2.5 (1.3xweight/height2.5). You can use interactive calculator on The Telegraph to find out what this change would mean for you.

But even Professor Trefethen agrees that “BMI is only one of many factors and inevitably not everyone with fit the standard pattern.” He also acknowledged that BMI is “not always a good indicator at an individual level.”

One proposed alternative is A Body Shape Index (ABSI). This is another new measure looking at how our body shape predicts mortality risk. ABSI is just as simple to calculate as both versions of BMI, and takes into account not only weight and height but also looks at where any excess fat is stored using waist circumference (WC). It is well known that fat stored around the stomach area is particularly bad for our health, but any excess weight for our given height also carries greater health risks. Even though it’s still an estimate, by combining these measures the ABSI is a better predictor of an increased risk of premature mortality than either BMI or WC alone. The ABSI equation divides WC by BMI to the power of two thirds (BMI2/3) multiplied by height to the power of a half (height1/2).

We know that accuracy really does matter. If BMI is known to be flawed why is it still used so widely within the NHS? Yes it’s simple to calculate, but so is ABSI which is a better predictor of health risks. Whatever estimate is used, if it’s inaccurate then you may not be getting the advice you need. Obesity is defined as having too much body fat NOT as weighing too much for your height. So, do we really need a new way to estimate body fat when we can accurately measure it?

 

 

GB Biathlete, Lee Jackson, found the Ki to Performing at Sochi

Posted on April 11th, 2014

Finally, after a lot of hours training and competing this winter I was selected to represent Team GB in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Being selected was an honour and a relief but I still needed to prepare for the actually competition itself.

The major factors that I had to bear in mind apart from my physical shape were:
• The amount of travel to get to Sochi.
• The time difference.
• Competition Time.
• Altitude.

The trip from our holding camp in Italy to the Olympic Village was a three day process with stopovers in Munich and Moscow mostly compromising of early starts and late finishes and lots of baggage. This would have a huge effect on recover time once I arrived in the village because the first thing I wanted to do was get out training and familiarise myself with the Olympic course.

Through experience and using the Ki armband I was able to see how poor my sleeping pattern was while staying at airport hotels and also how active I was on my travel days. I knew this would be the issue but through monitoring this I was then able to force myself to take a little more recovery time than normal.

In Sochi the races weren’t until 18.30 so preparing for this with the 3hour time difference was difficult. I had to make a decision whether I’d stay on CET time or change to the local time. Staying on CET time made more sense with the races being so late but it’s really hard to do as it meant going to bed after 2am and waking up around 11am. When I arrived I was so tired that I just slept and was lucky that I slipped straight into a good routine that was somewhere between the two plans. That said I had to constantly pay very close attention to my sleeping pattern and maintaining high energy levels throughout the day so that come race time I was ready.

Living, training and competing at 1500 meters was the most difficult thing to monitor and get right, plus the ski track was so severe that every session was tiring. With these conditions, the altitude and extremely tough track it made recovery and recovery training paramount. All the hard work was done and I now had to solely concentrate on feeling as good as I could on race day.

The races in Sochi went reasonably successful. The 10km sprint was first and under most circumstances I would’ve been happy albeit I missed out on the top 60 meaning I didn’t qualify for the pursuit the following day. In the 20km race I hit 19 out of the 20 targets and placed 42nd a personal best and a great end to my second Olympic Games.

I think in elite sport whether you are the best in the world, striving to be the best in the world or just trying to get better that the margins are everywhere. Improvement and performance never stops regardless of your level or ability and I hope that through my short articles that you can see that there is so much more to a life of an athlete. Not only the physical training and technical skills required but also the lifestyle and the planning and preparation that goes into trying to squeeze out a few seconds here and there.

Eat, Drink and Be Active

Posted on December 19th, 2013

Fancy a bit of light vegetable soup and turkey with boiled potatoes and steamed greens for Christmas Dinner? No? We thought not.

Here at Ki, we don’t think you should feel guilty about a bit of excess on Christmas Day. Instead, enjoy yourself and just balance those extra calories with activity and a different approach to the festive period.

There are plenty of articles around at this time of year recommending various ways of cutting calories from your Christmas Dinner, but it’s important to put this into perspective and remember that this is just one meal in a whole year. Portion size and ‘extras’ can make a big difference to the total and it helps to understand where the calories come from, but don’t forget the other side of the Calorie Balance equation; activity.

A leisurely post-Christmas Dinner walk lasting an hour can burn somewhere between 150 and 200 calories depending on your body size. But trying to stay relatively active over the whole Christmas period can make a huge difference to your total calorie burn, and can therefore help to offset the big increase in calories consumed.

First let’s have a look at what a typical Christmas Dinner contains. Below is a list of common Christmas Dinner items together with their ‘normal’ serving size and calorie content. The information comes from the UK food database in our Activity Manager and we’ve also checked the serving sizes against those recommended on the products of a major supermarket chain. The total comes to just under 1700 kcals, so not quite as bad as some articles make out, but of course it all depends on portion size. If you really pile on the double cream and follow up with a few mince pies, then you could reach 2500 relatively easily!

No. Quantity Description Kcals Grams
1.0 serving Turkey, Meat, Average, Roasted 149 90
1.0 serving Cranberry Sauce 45 30
1.0 serving Bread Sauce, Made With Whole Milk 50 45
5.0 items Brussels Sprouts, Boiled In Unsalted Water 18 51
1.0 serving Carrots, Young, Boiled In Unsalted Water 13 59
1.0 serving Parsnip, Boiled In Unsalted Water 43 65
2.0 mls Sunflower Oil 18 2
3.0 items Old Potatoes, Roast In Lard 380 255
1.0 serving Cauliflower Cheese, Made With Semi-Skimmed Milk 92 90
1.0 item Premium Sausages, Chilled, Grilled 117 40
1.0 rasher Bacon Rashers, Streaky, Grilled 67 20
1.0 serving Yorkshire Pudding, Made With Whole Milk 168 80
1.0 serving Stuffing, Sage And Onion 135 50
1.0 serving Gravy Instant Granules, Made Up 17 50
1.0 serving Christmas Pudding, Retail 329 100
1.0 tsp Butter 37 5
——-
1678 kcals

 

So, you’ve consumed the above, plus a few alcoholic beverages, mince pies and a generous helping of Quality Street. We’re not saying it’s going to be easy to offset your whole Christmas Day in one go, but if you can increase your general activity levels between Christmas Eve and going back to work in the New Year, that’s a potential 11 days of extra calorie burning! It’s also really important to remember that a lot of those Christmas dinner calories will go towards supporting your body’s basic functions as part of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) so you don’t have to offset them all with extra activity. The calories required for things like fuelling your heart and lungs, digesting your food and keeping you warm can be around 1400 kcals for a 70kg woman and 1900 kcals for a 90kg man.

Below are some examples of how many calories you could burn by carrying out various activities. And don’t forget, there’s also general activity throughout the day, i.e. playing games with the family, tidying up after Christmas Dinner, wrapping presents etc. It all counts!

Approx 100 kcals

  • Men: 10-mins carrying groceries up the stairs OR 10-mins stationary cycling, moderate, 150W
  • Women: 30-mins walking the dog OR 25-mins of yoga

 

Approx 200 kcals

  • Men: 45-mins walking the dog OR 60-mins of light-moderate intensity DIY
  • Women: 45-mins of aqua-aerobics OR 45-mins playing games with the children (moderate effort – standing)

 

Approx 300 kcals

  • Men: 30-mins moderate intensity on the cross trainer (elliptical trainer) OR 45-mins manually shoveling snow
  • Women: 60-mins leisurely ice-skating OR 30-mins run/jog at 5mph (8 km/hr)

 

Approx 400 kcals

  • Men: 30-min game of football OR 30-mins light-moderate strength training + 25-mins uphill walking (3.5mph; 5.6kph) + 10-mins light stretching
  • Women: 60-mins of spinning OR 15-mins packing away laundry/hanging out washing + 15-mins of moderate-vigorous housework (e.g. vacuuming) + 45-min brisk walk

 

Approx 500kcals

  • Men: 60-mi hike (walking in the countryside) OR 20-mins leisurely swim + 45-min game of doubles tennis
  • Women: 50 to 60-mins of singles tennis OR 20-mins playing games with the children (vigorous walking/running) + 45-mins yoga + 30-mins walking the dog

 

Don’t forget that the calories you burn during these activities will depend on your age, body size and metabolic rate, so use your Ki Armband to monitor how much you burn and learn how much you need to do every day to reach your calorie target. You might want to temporarily increase your Calories Burned target in your Activity Manager by 200-300 kcals per day in order to offset any Christmas excess. For example, an extra 200 kcal burn works out at 2200 kcals across the 11 day festive period without too much extra effort. Good luck!

 

 

 

The Twelve days of Christmas

Posted on December 11th, 2013

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song says, but to be honest, for a lot of people the festive season can be a very challenging and frustrating time. You’ve worked so hard to try and keep in shape thus far, but with the hustle and bustle of drunken office parties, the huge family feasts, the tempting treats that come as gifts to torture you and the general disruption to normal routine, you feel that weight gain is inevitable.

Follow our tips for 12 healthy days of Christmas and you can merrily munch your way through the festive season, remain active and avoid the post Christmas crash.

 

On the First Day of Christmas … start your Christmas shopping!
You may be tempted to do buy all your gifts
online this year, particularly when the last thing you feel like doing is leaving the warmth of indoors for the snowscape outside…. But just think about all the calorie burning walking you’re missing out on by not hitting the shops!

 

On the Second Day of Christmas … monitor yourself! Food diaries like the one in your Activity Manager give you a basis from which to plan changes, set goals and look back at your calorie intake data. You are building a record of your lifestyle and can see what you’ve changed over time. There is no right or wrong way to fill in your food diary. You just need to find the right method for you.

 

On the Third Day of Christmas … keep calm and carry on! The festive period is supposed to be a time when we relax a little, enjoy ourselves and let our hair down, but Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. For those of you out there that are far too busy to read through pages about stress, here are some quick proven ways to reduce stress that you can apply to your day right now!

 

1) Do something you enjoy everyday.

2) Increase your physical activity.

3) Limit your caffeine intake.

4) Limit your alcohol intake.

5) Work on your time-management skills.

 

On the Forth Day of Christmas … sleep tight! We have all felt the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Creating an environment that is conducive to sleep is essential for people who are having problems sleeping. Being aware of these few simple techniques will help to calm your mind and relax your body, ready for sleep.

1) Never take your work to into the bedroom, especially into the bed with.

2) Remove your TV, Computer and other electrical gadgets from your room.

3) If you are unable to sleep – get up. Don’t lay awake in your bed.

4) Make yourself a Valerian or Chamomile tea.

5) Read a fiction book to take you into fantasyland.

 

On the Fifth Day of Christmas …keep your skin all aglow! Winter can wreck havoc with your skin. Make this exfoliating cocoa face mask at home to help your skin sparkle! Mix together 3 tbsp of cocoa powder, 3 tbsp of plain natural yogurt, 1 ½ tbsp of runny honey and 1 ½ tbsp of porridge oats. Apply the mixture to your face for 10-15 minutes, and rinse.

 

On the Sixth Day of Christmas … know your limits! You’ve probably heard the saying ‘a little of what you fancy can do you good’. Red wine, for example, is particularly good for your heart if you stay within the recommended amounts! Experts recommended limits are 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men, regardless of body weight.

One unit contains 8g or 10ml of alcohol, for example:

  • ½ pint ordinary strength beer, lager or cider
  • 1 pub measure (50ml) of sherry, vermouth, liqueur
  • 1 pub measure (25ml) of spirit, i.e. gin, vodka or whisky
  • 1 small glass of wine (125ml)

 

On the Seventh Day of Christmas … cure a holiday hangover! Try putting a banana on your breakfast cereal or in your breakfast smoothie. Bananas are a particularly great cure after a heavy night as they help satisfy the cravings for sweet foods. Isotonic sports drinks help keep the body hydrated and help to counteract the micronutrient “washout” that may occur as a result of  too much alcohol. And, eating foods high in vitamin C can give your tired body boost – oranges, grapefruit, kiwis and berries or try tomato juice as a good alternative to orange juice.

 

On the Eighth Day of Christmas … boost your immune system! Tis’ the season of cold and flu! Boost your immune system so you can enjoy all the festivities the Christmas season has to offer! Make sure you are eating enough carbohydrate, as it an adequate carbohydrate intake is essential in order to maintain the integrity of the immune system. Good hydration is also important for the immune system. Why not try making a simple Cock-a-Leekie soup. For one serving add 60g of uncooked rice to some sautéed leeks, chicken stock and dried thyme, simmer until the rice is cooked then add 100g of cooked chicken breast. Not only does this warm and comforting soup contain carbohydrate and protein, but will also contribute to you total fluid intake.

 

On the Ninth Day of Christmas …be prepared! Plan for events like parties and eating out. Decide what your plan of action will be and stick with it. For example, when eating out you will have 2 courses, not 3 and you will share your pudding. Accommodate your eating during the day to account for such events. Know what foods to avoid and which foods are your weaknesses!

 

On the Tenth Day of Christmas … forgive and forget! Losing weight and keeping it off is a process that involves making mistakes. It’s important to be quick to forgive yourself if you do make a mistake and learn from it. If you break your diet occasional, it’s not the end of the world, you still have control over your weight. Remember, Christmas is the time for forgiving and forgetting.

 

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas … trim back the trimmings! Most us overindulge over the festive period, especially on Christmas day itself. But by making a few simple swaps you can save calories without feeling deprived. Remove the skin from the turkey as this is where most of the fat is, also choose the light meat as it has slightly fewer calories than dark meat. Instead of adding bread sauce, have cranberry sauce with you Christmas turkey. Remember, fill your plate with steamed vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots and broccoli as they are packed full of vitamins and minerals. And instead of reaching for that chocolate bar when your energy is low, try to eat a piece of fruit, such as the satsuma from the bottom of your Christmas stocking.

 

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas …deck the halls! Taking part in some holiday cheer will not only get you in the festive sprint but will also burn calories. Put on your favorite Christmas tunes and get moving around the house putting up the tree and holiday decorations. You could also enjoy the evening holiday lights and opt for a brisk walk in the evenings with your family. Even writing Christmas cards and wrapping presents can burn extra calories.

 

 

 

Have a Healthy Halloween with Ki

Posted on October 31st, 2013

The supermarket shelves seem to be bursting at the seams with Halloween themed sweet treats. Even surrounded by all that temptation there are loads of ways you can have a healthy Halloween.

Pumpkins are not only a universal symbol of Halloween, they are also packed full of vitamins and minerals necessary to keep your body healthy, including vitamins C and E which can help support your immune system. So when you’re carving your pumpkin don’t throw out the flesh. Why not try making a warming soup by adding the scooped out pumpkin flesh to some sautéed onions, vegetable stock and herbs or spices to taste (try cinnamon and nutmeg, or chilli and thyme), simmer until the pumpkin is soft and blend – a healthy way to warm up when you come home from trick-or-treating!

Pumpkin seeds make a great snack or can be sprinkled over soup or salad to add a crunchy texture. They are also a good source of magnesium, which is essential for healthy muscles. When you carve your pumpkin, remove the seeds and clean them well. Drizzle the seeds with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until they are golden brown.

We all love munching popcorn while watching a scary movie. Instead of buying ready prepared popcorn why not have a go at popping your own? Air-popped popcorn can be a healthful Halloween treat that also increases your fibre intake. Try sprinkling your popcorn with cinnamon to satisfy your desire for something sweet. You could also add orange coloured dried fruit, such as apricots or mangoes, to add some Halloween colour to your popcorn.

Trick-or-treating provides the perfect opportunity to increase your calorie burn. We all know that walking is a great physical activity so why not get the kids dressed up and walk around your neighbourhood on Halloween. But what if our unpredictable British weather scuppers your trick-or-treating plans? Teach the kids the frightful moves to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and dance off those calories! Use your Ki Fit to see the impact on your calorie burn total!

We all find the temptation of a giant bowl of Halloween sweets sat waiting for trick-or-treaters hard to resist. So if you do decide to indulge try to keep your treats to less than 200 calories, which is about 50g of sweets like gummy bears or dolly mixtures. You don’t have to give out sweets to trick-or-treaters; temporary tattoos, stickers, and small plastic toys make good alternatives. But remember, whatever you decide to eat this Halloween, your Ki Fit gives you access to information about how many calories you are burning and how many calories you are consuming to enable you to make choices that suit your lifestyle and goals – Have a happy and healthy Halloween with Ki!

 

Housework for health

Posted on October 21st, 2013

Campaigns to get us more physically active promote everyday activities as good for our health, but the results of a new study seem to suggest that activities like vacuuming, washing the windows and cleaning the car don’t provide all the benefits associated with meeting the physical activity guidelines. They also found that the more someone counted housework as physical activity the higher their body fat percentage.

Does this mean we should stop encouraging people to include everyday activities like housework as physical activity? Although it was a large study (i.e. the researchers talked to a lot of people, 4653 in total), the results of the study aren’t quite as conclusive as they might seem at first.

Importantly, the researchers didn’t take any measures of health, so they can’t actually answer their question “Does doing housework keep you healthy?”. They simply looked at minutes of physical activity, the proportion of these minutes spent doing housework, and calculated body fat.

All the participants were simply asked how active they were, which is known to be an unreliable measure of activity. If you read our recent blog on walking you’ll know that the differences between the activity British adults actually do and the amount they perceive they do is dramatic. Without looking at your data can you remember how many 10 minutes blocks of activity that raised your breathing or heart rate you’ve done in the last 7 days and how much of this activity was done at home? I know I couldn’t.

Your Ki data removes all the guesswork, telling you for certain if you should be counting housework as physical activity or not. To gain the health benefits of activity, the Chief Medical Officer recommends we all achieve 150-minutes of moderate activity, or 75-minutes of vigorous activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activity each week. This activity should be carried out in continuous bouts of 10-minutes or more, with a target of 3 or more 10-minute bouts per day.

To be counted as moderate an activity needs to boost your calorie burn to between three and six times your resting burn. Vigorous activity increases your calorie burn to six or more times your resting burn. So, housework can be counted towards your target as long as you put in enough effort to sufficiently increase your calorie burn.

Although the research showed that people who did more housework had a higher body fat, we can’t say why this happened as neither daily calorie burn nor calorie intake were measured. Incidentally, body fat was calculated from height and weight, not accurately measured.

Professor Marie Murphy, a researcher on the study, acknowledged that “either people are overestimating the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do through housework, or are eating too much to compensate for the amount of activity undertaken.” As you know, it is the difference between the number of calories you burn and the number of calories you take in through food and drink that will determine your body weight.

More research is needed in this area, but if the factors relating body composition to time spent doing housework are to be properly determined it needs to include accurate measurement of calorie burn and calorie intake. There could be numerous reasons why the group of subjects who reported doing more housework had a higher body fat percentage.

The bottom line is that if an activity is moderate for you then it counts as physical activity; if you do it for a block of 10-minutes or more then it can help you meet the guidelines for health. You have all the information you need in your Ki Activity Manager to know exactly what activities you do that are moderate and vigorous, so you can find out if you should be counting housework as activity or not.

 

Lee Jackson prepares for the Winter Olympics with Ki

Posted on October 10th, 2013

Since my last blog I have been training long and intensely in preparation for this coming winter’s competitive season and also hoping to confirm my place in the Winter Olympics next February in Sochi.

Alongside my physical and mental preparation I have also been using the Ki armband to help me monitor energy expenditure, calorie intake and sleep. Over the past 3-months I have been slowly increasing the total volume of training hours at low intensity. This base training is what allows me to train harder and for longer in the autumn and early winter, which one hopes will improve race performance come competition time.

Training twice a day, 6-7 days a week places a heavy demand on the body. It goes way beyond leading a healthy lifestyle. The added stressors of doing so much training can suppress the immune system, increase the risks of injury and be very fatiguing. So it is very important to understand what contributes to physical improvements and staying healthy, but also being able to accurately monitor the body and it’s responses to training and recovery.

During the preparation phase I believe it is important to remember that more is not always better. It’s very easy to see progress and get caught up in training more and focusing solely on getting the physical gains through training as opposed doing what is best to optimise physical improvement. Not just through physical training but also diet, passive and active recovery, and sleep.

I have found with my years of experience in conjunction with the Ki armband that I am able to focus more on how I am recovering between training session and on my metabolic rate. This is an area of training and performance that is easily neglected.

On training camps or during intense periods of training the primary objective is to optimise training response and physical gains. Neglecting recovery can seriously impact on training response and improvements. It’s not just important to recovery after intense training sessions but more to insure that you are ready to give everything in upcoming hard sessions.

Since using the Ki armband I have found it very easy to log and monitor my whole day, whether training or in-between training, where I try to do a little as possible. It also allows me to see when I am too active when I should be recovering.

The most valuable information I have been able to get from the Ki armband is seeing how training, recovery and my overall daily activity affects my sleeping pattern and efficiency. A good night’s sleep can be priceless at times.

As the winter draws nearer I will see how the shorter days and the cold temperatures affect my metabolic rate and how active I am pre- and post-training. In the next blog I will tell you know how the final preparation for Sochi is going.

Lee

Watch Lee in action dry-land skiing and shooting.

Find out more about Biathlon here.

 

 

Walking – the ‘wonder drug’

Posted on October 7th, 2013

Walking has become the activity of choice for recent campaigns to get us all up on our feet and moving more. Last week we talked about the World Heart Federation’s partnership with Bupa – “The Ground Miles Challenge” – which aims to improve heart health. Today two UK charities, The Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support, released the “Walking Works” report, claiming to demonstrate that walking is the solution to getting the nation active.

Physical activity was described in today’s report as “the little known ‘wonder drug’”. Regular physical activity can:

  • Reduce your risk of health conditions, including:
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Stroke
    • Type-2 diabetes
    • Certain cancers including breast and colon cancers
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Depression
  • Increase life expectancy and reduce mortality
  • Improve muscle and bone strength
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Help you to manage body weight and reduce obesity

The Chief Medical Officer recommends we all achieve 150-minutes of moderate activity, or 75-minutes of vigorous activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activity each week. This activity should be carried out in continuous bouts of 10-minutes or more, with a target of 3 or more 10-minute bouts per day.

Too many people in England aren’t active enough to reach these minimum recommendations. We are in the midst of an inactivity crisis and desperately need to do something to get the nation moving more. The first step is for each individual to understand just how active they really are. Worryingly, the latest statistics reveal that whilst 66% of men and 56% of women in England think they meet the physical activity recommendations, in fact only 6% of men and 4% of women actually active enough.

This dramatic difference between our perception and reality emphasises just how important it is to accurately measure our lifestyle; without having their individual data how can anyone really know how long they were active for each day, what activities are moderate for them and can be counted towards their target, and what they need to do to ensure they improve and gain the multitude of benefits of an active lifestyle. As a Ki member, you already get all these benefits from your Ki data.

Any activity that boosts your calorie burn by three times your resting rate will count towards the recommended 150-minutes of moderate activity per week. Walking has become very popular amongst experts for numerous reasons, including:

  • Almost everyone can do it
  • It’s free
  • It’s gentle and low impact
  • It doesn’t require any special equipment or training
  • You can start slowly and gradually increase your speed and/or distance as your fitness increases

Make the decision to move more today. Log onto your Activity Manager to discover what activities are moderate for you and choose which ones you’re going to do more of to meet or even exceed the recommendations. Whatever moderate or vigorous activity you choose make sure you choose something you enjoy and that fits easily into your lifestyle – you’ll be more likely to stick with it for the long term and stay healthy for longer.

 

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Physical activity and exercise are good for your health

Posted on October 4th, 2013

Media claims that exercise is as good, if not better, than drug therapy for certain health conditions are overstated. Whilst the benefits of sitting less and moving more are clear, the evidence doesn’t confirm that exercise should replace pills during recovery. Physical activity should be encouraged alongside any necessary drug therapy. This is one reason why Ki are working with the cardiac rehabilitation department at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital NHS Trust (RLBUHT) to empower their patients to get more active and improve their recovery.

“Exercise can be as good a medicine as pills for people with conditions such as heart disease”, reported BBC News online, whilst The Daily Mail reported that “Exercise ‘beats drugs for heart and stroke patients’”. Both were prompted by new research that compared the relative benefits of exercise and drug therapy for people with one of four serious health conditions; coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and pre-diabetes.

There’s no doubt that physical activity and exercise are good for your health and can help prevent and manage a number of diseases, but these headlines have overstated the findings of this study.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, combined the results of 305 randomised control trials (the gold standard for a clinical trial) looking at the effects of physical activity or exercise in comparison to drug therapy on death rates in people with the four conditions.

When they reviewed this data as a whole, exercise seemed to reduce the likelihood of death during stroke rehabilitation, but drug therapy with diuretics reduced death rates for people with heart failure. The findings didn’t show any difference between exercise and drug therapy in coronary heart disease or pre-diabetes.

However, these results should be interpreted with caution. As well as a number of important limitations, very few of the studies looked at in this research directly compared physical activity or exercise with drug therapy. Even the researchers themselves had to conclude that this study “highlights the near absence of evidence on the comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes”.

The media coverage of this study predominantly reports that exercise is better than drugs. This is definitely an oversimplification. We need more research that directly compares these two forms of treatment before we can make any conclusions.

What we do know is the crucial role physical activity is already playing in cardiac rehabilitation programmes. Ki are working with the cardiac rehabilitation department at RLBUHT to help improve the recovery outcomes for their patients.

Patients are wearing the Ki Armband to monitor all the activity they do during their rehabilitation, from their weekly exercise class at the hospital to cleaning the house. Using each patient’s individual body data will enable the exercise physiologist to design bespoke activity interventions for the patient, as well as give the patients the understanding and the tools they need to make changes to their lifestyle and to sustain these changes in the long-term.

Don’t wait until you have a potentially life-shortening disease to increase your activity. Becoming more active is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help reduce your risk of suffering from these diseases in the first place.

You already have all the information you need in your Ki Activity Manager to know exactly how active you are each day and what activities you do that are moderate and vigorous. So, you can decide what changes you need to make to get more active and stay healthy for longer!

 

 

Take steps towards a healthy heart

Posted on October 1st, 2013

Sunday 29th September was World Heart Day. A day set up by the World Heart Federation in 2000 to inform people around the world that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death.

If we could eliminate the major risk factors – if we stopped smoking, ate a healthy diet and did enough physical activity – 80% of all heart disease and stroke would be prevented.  That’s millions of lives that could be saved each year if we simply made small changes to our everyday lives.

This year the World Heart Federation has partnered with Bupa to get the world walking. Most of us are able to walk; it’s free and it can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Walking is so simple, yet it can significantly improve your heart health. In fact, any moderate intensity physical activity will.

We’re sure this isn’t groundbreaking news to you, but if we all know that physical activity is good for us then why are 60% of the global population not sufficiently active?

The government recommend that each week all UK adults do a total of:

 

  • 150-minutes of moderate activity

             OR

  • 75-minutes of vigorous activity

             OR

  • an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activity

 

Whichever type of activity you choose, you should aim to do it in bouts of 10-minutes or longer of continuous activity.

 

Your data is all you need to put you in control of your heart health. For most people the words ‘moderate’ and ‘vigorous’ don’t really mean anything, but your Ki data tells you exactly what you need to do to get minutes of moderate and vigorous activity, how long you were active for each day, if you achieved 10-minutes bouts or not, and what changes you need to make to improve and gain all the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.

You’ve seen the impact your data has had on your life and your goals. Just think how many lives could be saved if everyone had their own body data – they could see just how active (or inactive) they really were and make the changes they need to keep their heart healthy.

It’s time we all took steps towards a healthy heart. Here are some ways you can be more active every day:

  • Walk as often as possible, even if it’s just a few extra steps:
    • Walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift
    • Walk up the escalator instead of standing still
    • Get off the bus, train or tube one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way
    • Park the car further from the door at work or when you go shopping
    • Get up from your desk for at least 5-mins every hour – make the tea, walk around when you’re on the phone, walk to speak to a colleague instead of sending an email
    • Go for a walk at lunchtime and/or instead of sitting on the sofa to watch TV in the evening
  • Do the gardening
  • Wash the car by hand
  • Do the housework – vacuuming, dusting, polishing etc.
  • Dance to music, even if it’s just around your living room

So, put on your Ki Armband and get moving – just use your data to tell you what you need to keep your heart healthy.