By: Janet Hunt
Physical activity reduces the risk of nearly three dozen harmful conditions and life-threatening diseases. Medical dictionaries, fitness and exercise data sources all indicate that the following medical conditions respond positively to physical activity:

1.Low cardiovascular fitness – cardiovascular fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement.
2.Coronary heart disease – generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.
3.Endothelial dysfunction – compromise of normal function of the endothelial cells (inner lining of blood vessels) leading to the inability of arteries and arterioles to dilate fully in response to appropriate stimulus.
4.Peripheral artery disease (PAD) – plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue, and other substances in the blood.

7.Congestive heart failure – a weakness of the heart that leads to a buildup of fluid in the lungs and surrounding body tissues.
8.Osteoporosis – disease of the bones. Bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or another minor accident
9.Osteoarthritis – most common form of arthritis. Chronic breakdown of cartilage in the joints leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling.
10.Rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet.
13.Cognitive dysfunction – mental health disorders that primarily affect learning, memory, perception, and problem solving, and include dementia.
14.Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little alcohol
15.Diverticulitis – inflammation of one or more diverticula (small bulging sacs pushing outward from the colon wall) characterized by abdominal pain, fever, and changes in bowel movements.
17.Gallbladder disease
18.Accelerated biological aging/premature death
19.Type 2 diabetes (including insulin resistance and prediabetes)
20.Metabolic syndrome – the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke
22.Colon cancer
23.Endometrial cancer
24.Breast cancer
25.Sarcopenia – loss of muscle mass and strength, which in turn affects balance, gait and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living.
26.Balance problems
27.Bone fracture/falls
28.Dyslipidemia–high total or high LDL cholesterol level, or lowHDL cholesterol.
29.Gestational diabetes – develops during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar, causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
30.Polycystic ovary syndrome – a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones. This may lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other health problems.
31.Preeclampsia – pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys.
32.Erectile dysfunction
33.Hemostasis (blocked blood flow)–an abnormal blood flow obstruction such as plaque.
34.Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein blood clots occur in the lower leg or thigh.

There is just not a simpler way to say it. “Move it, my friends, and if you need help, call me!”

For information about exercise classes in the Athens/Limestone County contact Janet Hunt, an ACE Personal Trainer and an ACE Group Fitness Instructor, at 256-614-3530 or
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
It is a sad state of affairs in our country that it costs less to eat junk food than a healthy meal. Processed food consumption is a vicious cycle; as we eat more and more of these items, their production costs decrease, making them cheaper and more readily available.

However, rising healthcare costs, along with our growing rates of preventable diseases, show the true price of eating junk food and processed foods rather than a healthy diet. While you may think it costs more up front to eat whole foods, the long-term savings on medical care that you and our country would see make the initial spending well worth it.

Health care in the United States is the most expensive of any country in the world. We spend 15.9 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) on it. According to 2012 statistics, approximately 75 percent of the 2.2 trillion dollars we spend on health care goes towards the treatment of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers, that are often preventable by diet and lifestyle changes..

The American Diabetes Association estimates that costs related to diabetes alone set the U.S. budget back over 174 billion dollars per year, while obesity treatment expenses total 147 billion dollars per year. Even though we spend so much on healthcare, heart disease is the leading cause of death, and two-thirds of our children and adults are overweight or obese.

Too much of our diet today involves processed and refined foods, and we’re paying the price in our high obesity and chronic disease levels, as well as in rising healthcare costs. When foods are processed, chemicals are used, important nutrients are removed, and sweeteners are added. This tricks your body’s ability to regulate how much we eat and makes us want to eat more.

The simple and obvious fix to this crisis is clear: we must all make an effort to avoid processed foods, and instead choose natural ingredients for healthy, unprocessed meals. You might begin by planning a small garden. If you do not have a yard, you can do some container planting. In a couple of months, shop at local farmers’ markets.

For more information on healthy lifestyles, contact Janet at 256-614-3530 or
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
In this time of “fake news,” I am going to review a few myths that are out there regarding exercise and fitness.

Abdominal crunches will give you a six-pack.
Core work, including abdominal crunches, is an effective method for increasing muscular endurance, strength, spine stabilization, and posture. However, abdominal crunches will not necessarily reveal the “six-pack” look. To flatten the stomach, you must work to achieve a favorable change in body composition (reduce fat and build muscle). This is accomplished through a combination of cardiovascular activity, resistance and core training, which are all supported by healthy and balanced eating habits.

Women who weightlift, get “bulky.” One of the fundamental ingredients for muscle growth is testosterone, which is a hormone found in high concentrations in men, but not so much in women (women do have testosterone, but not in the levels present in men). Women should lift heavy weights.

When resistance training stops, muscle will turn to fat. Lean tissue (muscle) and non-lean tissue (fat) are entirely separate materials with different biochemical structures, metabolic rates, and functions. If an individual (both men and women) stops lifting weights and adopts a sedentary lifestyle, lean tissue will atrophy (weaken) and reduce in size. Muscle will not and cannot turn to fat.

Working out in the “fat-burning zone” helps you lose weight.
Yes, a “fat-burning zone” does exist—it’s the point at which fats are being used as the primary source of fuel. Fats are generally utilized at rest (including sleep) and during very low-intensity activities, but the number of calories burned in this “zone” is too low to initiate (or maintain) weight loss. If the goal is weight loss, a higher-intensity activity is best.

Stretching before a workout is beneficial. Rather than stretching before a workout, a warm-up is recommended to prepare your body for your workout. A warm-up increases muscle temperature and heart rate releasing specific hormones, getting you mentally “fired up,” and improving range of motion. Static stretching is recommended at the end of the workout during the cool-down portion.

Fitness myths and “fake news” will continue. Some things change with research over time. As with all news, if you question the validity, check the author’s credentials and the scientific evidence to back it up.
By: Janet Hunt
For more information and answers regarding fitness myths, call Janet Hunt, ACE certified personal trainer at 256-614-3530.

By: Janet Hunt
I have taken a fitness challenge – The Trailblaze Challenge. I have signed up to hike 26.3 miles on a Saturday in May on the Pinhoti Trail in Talladega National Forest. Not only do I have to hike 26.3 miles in one day, I need to have sponsors to make donations to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation.

What is Make a Wish® Foundation? Make-A-Wish® Foundation is a non-profit organization with a vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a critical illness. The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines a critical illness as a “disease or state in which death is possible or imminent.”

The wishes granted are more than just a nice thing. They impact everyone involved – wish kids, volunteers, donors, sponsors, medical professionals, and communities. For wish kids, just the act of making their wish come true can give them the courage to comply with their medical treatments. Parents might finally feel like they can be optimistic. And still others might realize all they have to offer the world through volunteer work or philanthropy. In the United States and its territories, on average, a wish is granted every 34 minutes.
I first heard of the Make-A-Wish® Foundation on the nightly news. Periodically they have a “feel good story” that includes a Make-A-Wish® Foundation story. These always bring a tear to my eye partly because they are wonderful and partly because it makes me realize how very lucky I am.

I signed up for the Trailblaze Challenge on Friday evening at an information meeting in Huntsville. I had heard about this through a friend and on WLRH public radio. At the meeting, we, of course, heard all about the challenge and the Make-A-Wish® Foundation; but then, a young lady came in and spoke about her experience. She was a recipient of a wish, and her wish was a service dog which she had with her. The dog was not only her companion, but was trained to notice changes in her blood sugar, because one of the many symptoms of her illnesses is that her body cannot regulate her blood sugar.

Along with my physical hiking challenge, I invite the readers to support me by making a donation to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Donations are appreciated in any amount. For more information on the Challenge go to or visit 2018 Alabama Trailblaze Challenge on Facebook. If you would like to make a donation, please contact me at 256-614-3530 or You can also make a donation online at Select ‘Support a Hiker’ on the left, enter my name, and select ‘GIVE NOW’ on the right.

I will give you regular updates until the Challenge. Thank you for supporting the Make-A-Wish® Foundation. All donations are welcome!
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
Flexibility exercises are stretching exercises for the purpose of increasing your range of motion around a joint.

Before stretching, a warm-up should be performed at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes. This increases the temperature of the muscles and decreases the risk of injury. Flexibility training is best performed when the body is very warm. Many people will do stretching exercises following cardiovascular endurance training; and most fitness classes finish with a short stretching session. Classes focused on flexibility only, may be held in a warmer environment.

Flexibility exercises can increase the range of motion throughout a joint. Increased range of motion can improve mobility in sporting events, balance, and everyday activities. Proper range of motion assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from correct positions. For example, we spend so much time at our computers, reading, driving, etc. that many of us have tight chest muscles which pull our shoulders and head forward leaving us with a hunched shoulder look which affects our breathing, as well as causes pain in our upper back, arms, and to our fingers. Stretching can also calm our mind, provide a mental break, and give our bodies a chance to recharge.

When stretching or performing flexibility exercises, strive for symmetry. Focus on having equal flexibility side to side. Flexibility that is not equal on both sides may be a risk factor for injury. When stretching, focus on major muscle groups such as calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders, and any other muscles you routinely use. Never bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement; and hold your stretch for about 30 seconds while breathing normally. While stretching, you may feel tension, but not pain.

Stretch regularly at least 2 or 3 times a week on a regular basis. If you want more, bring movement into stretching with tai chi or yoga.
For more information on stretching or flexibility classes, talk to a personal trainer or check the schedule at your local gym. If you choose to take flexibility classes or yoga, remember to work at your own pace, and do only what is comfortable for you. Flexibility classes and yoga are like other fitness classes, they have different levels so you may need to try a couple of classes to find the best fit for you.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
Developing core strength is important at the beginning of any exercise program. The first step in training your core is developing stability and then progressing to mobility. Below are some starter core exercises. Begin by performing each exercise for 20 seconds and gradually move up to 30 seconds. If the exercise includes movement, start with 8 repetitions and move up to 12.

Core Bracing – This exercise teaches you how to stabilize your core for all the exercises that follow. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms by your sides with palms facing forward. Contract the abdominal muscles for 10 seconds and continue to breathe deeply. You can progress this exercise by bracing the core and slowly lifting your right knee hip high and then the same with the left. The goal is to brace the core so that you are only moving your hip joint. Do not bring your chest forward. The slower the movement, the deeper you will brace the core.

Bird Dog – Get on your hands and knees on the floor or bench (not a bed) with your hands shoulder-width apart, directly under your shoulders; knees hip-distance apart, directly under your hips; and head in line with your spine. Brace your core and extend your leg behind you with your foot level with your hip. Hold and repeat on the opposite side. If you can accomplish this, add the arm opposite the leg. Extend your arm forward with your thumb facing upward. Keep your hand level with your shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hip Bridge – Lie on your back on the floor or bench (not a bed) with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. Brace your core and lift your hips to feel the hamstring, glute, and lower muscles contract. Hold and slowly release back to the floor, one vertebrae at a time. If you want to add movement to this exercise, then hold each lift for three seconds and slowly release the spine and hips back to the floor and continue for your set.

Supine Heel Taps – Lie on your back and bend your knees to 90 degrees with your shins parallel to the ceiling and brace your core. Keeping your knees at the 90 degree angles, lower one leg to tap the floor with the heel. Return the leg and switch to the other. Do NOT let your spine pop on and off the floor.

If you cannot accomplish the above starter core exercises before attempting crunches or other “ab work,” you are not ready and may be harming or injuring your back. For more information about core work and more, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
Besides exercise, proper nutrition keeps an aging brain healthy. The Mediterranean dDiet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) dDiet are both known for their cardiovascular health benefits. T The Mediterranean ddiet emphasizes eating mostly plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil; using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods; limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month; and eating fish and poultry at least twice a week. The DASH diet includes lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet also includes some fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week. You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat. Recently, researchers have combined pieces of both the Mediterranean dDiet and the DASH dDiet to emphasize foods with the greatest impact on brain health. This is called MIND (Mediterranean-DASH dDiet for Neurodegenerative Delay).

Two studies with more than 900 adults, found that by sticking to the MIND diet, cognitive decline was slowed by as much as 53%. By strictly following the MIND diet principles, the best results were achieved. But even following the diet partially showed directly proportional results.

The MIND diet emphasizes 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and moderate amounts of wine. It avoids foods from five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast foods.

If you or someone you know enjoys cookbooks, several excellent cookbooks for the MIND diet are available.

Additional healthy holiday gift ideas might include:

  • Personal tTraining sSessions
  • Gym membership
  • Weight Watcher membership
  • Fitness shoes/hiking boots
  • Fitness clothing/swimwear
  • Yoga mat
  • Activity tracker
  • Workout music

For more answers to fitness questions, call Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment

By: Janet Hunt
Exercise may help! Research has shown that certain levels of physical activity can positively affect mental health – stress, depression, anxiety.

People with higher levels of fitness are capable of handling stress more effectively than those who are less fit. Cardiovascular exercise is the activity that benefits stress reduction the most. Cardiovascular exercise (often referred to as cardio) is any exercise that raises your heart rate. This usually involves using the large muscles in your body – walking, running, biking, skating, etc.

The antidepressant action is one of the most commonly accepted psychological benefits of exercise. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress more effectively than antidepressant drugs. Both cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective. Both a onetime exercise session and long term programs have positive results. However, greater improvement is seen after several weeks of regular exercise. Both men and women show the positive effect of exercise on depression.

Research also shows a reduction of anxiety with exercise. Even short bursts (5 minutes) of cardiovascular exercise stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Again, regular training offers the greatest benefits. .

So to reduce your Holiday Stress, reduce your Holiday Blues, and burn the extra holiday calories – exercise! If you need a little help getting started, join some activit programs that are available or consult with a personal trainer.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

Misleading Labels On Foods

By: Janet Hunt
The other day, I pulled out some small center cut pork chops for dinner. As I was cutting open the package, I started reading the nutrition label. The first thing I read was each serving was 140 calories. Since I am a calorie counter, I thought “wow – not bad.” Then I put my “let’s be real” hat on and took another look. The label said there were 8 servings in the container, but I saw only four small pork chops. This is a great example of misleading the consumer. If the producer thought there was 8 servings, then each pork chop should be cut in half!

As an ACE Certified Health Coach, I teach Weight Management classes. One of the favorite class topics is on food labels. I am always amazed at how producers and manufacturers mislead consumers and how many consumers do not read the labels thoroughly. Besides the pork chop package, let’s look a few other misleading labels.

Another good example related to serving size is pork and beans. On a regular 16 oz. can, the manufacturer claims the number of servings in the can is 3 ½. That is pretty darn small when you compare it to a serving size of beans at a typical BBQ restaurant. Be wary! You might need to do some math to get the real number of calories for what you are eating.

How about “multi-grain”? It means nothing! You could stuff every grain in the world into a single loaf of bread—but if they’re not whole grain, they’re not worth your time. Dense multigrain breads are often packed with sugar. Check the ingredients list for only whole grain flours and make sure there’s less than 2 grams of sugar per slice.

Another is “wheat” bread. Again it means nothing unless the label says whole wheat. Heck! Old fashioned white bread is made with wheat flour. If the first, second or even third ingredient says “enriched” wheat flour, then you are getting duped if you are trying to eat healthy.

How about sea salt? I was recently at someone’s house and they were bragging that they only purchased sea salt. Why? It’s a complete myth that sea salt is healthier than table salt. Both have the same amount sodium. Plus, table salt supplies iodine, a nutrient that’s necessary for thyroid health—and sea salt does not. Choose sea salt if you like the coarse texture, not because it’s “healthier” or more “natural.”

As I have said before: READ THE LABEL and DO YOUR RESEARCH! Manufacturers are in the business to sell you their products!

For more information on nutrition labels, contact Janet Hunt, ACE certified Health Coach at or a dietician.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

By: Janet Hunt
I have been teaching a Silver Sneaker™ Flex Stability class at East Limestone Senior Center for over six months now. This class is designed for individuals that are still mobile and wish to lower their risks of falling. Often during this class and my other classes, students ask me why does the risk of falling increase as we age. Because I feel so strongly about remaining fit and active throughout life, my first answer is that risk for falling increases due to muscle weakness. But there are other health and environmental issues that increase the risk. One is the vestibular system (often simplified to “inner ear problems”).

The vestibular system is the apparatus of the inner ear involved in balance. It consists of two structures of the bony labyrinth, the vestibule and the semicircular canals, and the structures of the membranous labyrinth contained within them. A properly functioning vestibular system does the following:

  • Allows us to see properly while in motion
  • Helps us orient ourselves to gravity
  • Determines direction and speed
  • Makes automatic postural adjustments

The vestibular system is sensitive to head rotations and to linear accelerations. The vestibular system can be affected by injury, disease, some drugs, and the aging process. Below are some other facts about the vestibular system:

  • Over 35% of U.S. adults over 40 have had a vestibular dysfunction at some point in their life.
  • The annual cost for fall-related injuries is expected to reach $44 billion by 2020.
  • People with vestibular disorders may have vertigo or spinning sensations, dizziness, fatigue, jumpy vision, unsteadiness, brain fog, nausea/vomiting, hearing loss and ringing in the ears


But like most other systems in our body, the vestibular system responds to exercise. Some of the standard balance exercises like standing on one leg are effective, but additional activities are good, too. Join a more traditional exercise class that includes resistance work. Try a yoga or tai chi class. Enjoy some childhood activities – swinging, merry-go-rounds, ball tosses, etc.

For more information about balance and stability and exercise to lower the risk of falling, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530 or other personal trainers that work with older adults.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment