Tips for Healthy Business Travel

“On the road again!”  The song rings truer today than any time since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  People are traveling this summer for vacations, and business travel is picking up again.  I have traveled on planes twice in July and each segment has been full.  Being in summer, vacation travel is predominant, but I also saw businesspeople occupying seats. 

Regardless, if you are traveling for business or pleasure, maintaining some type of fitness is difficult eating out and in hotels.  You don’t have the time, knowledge, and likely motivation, to keep yourself going away from home.  As we get back into moving around the country, I want to share ideas and tips to help you not lose any progress.  Remember, moderation is the key to keeping you playing hard as an athlete in your game of life!

Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

Eating food that doesn’t negatively affect your waistline is always tough on the road.  Sandwiches galore and fried food galore always seem to be the only options.  Similar to being at home, pick options that are grilled or baked whenever possible.  Choose sides that are fruits and vegetables that have not been cooked down and drowned in butter or sugar.  You do not always have to eat premade salads; those get boring also.  Bring a thermos type cup you can refill with water to reduce your costs and have a readily available hydration source.  Watch your caffeine levels with time changes.  A couple cups of coffee or tea are fine throughout the day. 

  • Water: drink half your body weight in ounces daily
  • Make sure your plate has color with different fruits and veggies at each meal
  • Take half your dinner back to your room, if possible, for a meal the next day
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Getting a workout in may not be on your mind when packing a carryon suitcase.  These days, travel hotels have enough equipment with dumbbells and the usual treadmills to get something done.  A TRX™ comes with a bag you can stuff into your backpack or suitcase.  A 3-in-1 exercise band from Target or Wal-Mart also can fit into your carryon luggage.  In 15-20 minutes, you can get a strength training and cardio workout in your underwear from the comforts of your hotel room.  Look for a Tabata playlist on Spotify, Pandora, or whatever music streaming service you use. 

  • Focus on your major body parts with compound moves like squats and push-ups
  • Any type of physical activity and exercise is a positive on the road
  • HIIT type workouts are the best for improving cognitive function and physical fitness

Be realistic in your overall expectations during business travel.  You won’t lose significant muscle missing a day or two in your regular routine, it just feels like it mentally.  Making time for a workout is important for your career.  You are mentally sharper, and people do pay attention to those that are more fit. 

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

As I write this blog, I am currently in Denver on a business trip.  This morning I used Spotify to play a Tabata playlist and did a workout in the hotel gym.  Total time with warm-up and stretching was 30 minutes:  3 rounds of Tabata and 10 minutes on the treadmill followed by stretching.  Packing shorts and a workout shirt didn’t take up extra space and I wore my sneakers on the plane.  Last night I took half my dinner back to the room and put in the fridge for lunch today before my afternoon meeting.  My business contacts at dinner did not mind at all that I took leftovers back for this purpose.  I feel good, saved my own company money, and ready for the day’s events.

For help on your next business trip, email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Sign up for my newsletter at mattpeale.com and look into my coaching programs.  Life is not easy, and we all need help to achieve our best.

Nature vs Nurture, What are Your Disease Risk Factors

Treating the source or treating the symptoms of the source?  That is a question for the human condition.  Medicines make trillions of dollars a year treating symptoms.  If medicines treated the source to eliminate symptoms, how would the human condition improve?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

COVID-19 brought a flurry of activity to quell symptoms, and a flurry of controversy in the process.  The human condition is driven genetically with some results we cannot change, and some that are 100% in our control.  The science of epigenetics says 5% of disease risk factors are in the cannot change category, and 95% are related to our environment and choices regarding foods, exercise, and stress management.  Early on in the pandemic, those with higher risk of severe symptoms and death were those who were obese, overweight, and over 60 with additional health problems.  Was this really a surprise?  To me as a fitness expert, not at all.

We cannot consciously control the ingredients of our genetic material.  All humans have the same genetic code, it is just arranged differently for each of us.  What dictates 95% of our gene expression are nutrition, air pollution, physical activity, stress, water intake, what we think, and what we believe.  All of these factors directly contribute to our immune systems and the ability to fight viruses, bacteria, and environmental stressors.  When these stressors overload our genes’ ability to adapt, we are more likely to have severe symptoms from viruses and bacteria.

I work in a health club, which is populated by generally healthy individuals.  Yes, some members and employees contracted COVID-19.  Nothing can stop a virus from mutating and spreading, that is scientifically proven.  Unlike places where people with high disease risk factors lived or worked, there was not an outbreak of severe infections.  Is this coincidence, I think not, it is more scientific evidence through gene expression.  Healthy individuals have a higher antioxidant level through proper nutrition, hydration, and exercise, than those that are sedentary with poor nutrition.

Lean protein sources

Regardless of what side of the political aisle you are on, the one constant is nobody in public health discussed the SCIENCE of improving our immune systems to naturally fight infections.  Instead, public health said gyms are infection spreaders and then don’t leave the house unless you have too.  If public health is really about public health, they would say to exercise 150 minutes per week at a moderate-to-vigorous level, do weight training twice per week, and eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, with plenty of water on a daily basis.  That message never got out as your body’s best defense against severe symptoms and death, even though the CDC has evidence to show it. 

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

Back to the question beginning this blog, treat the source or the symptoms?  By treating the source, proper diet and exercise, the risk of severe symptoms take care of themselves in 95% of the population.  The human body is the most resilient and efficient machine on earth.  Unfortunately, 1/3 of Americans treat it miserably, and almost half or more terribly.  Yes, that corresponds to 1/3 being obese and half or more overweight.  No medicine can improve our immune system, it only treats the symptoms of disease the immune system cannot handle.  Medicines can only go so far on their treatment efficacy.  When the body is in shambles from disease and abuse, the dyke will have more holes than fingers to plug the holes.

I am my own testimonial to the contents of this blog.  Since 1997, I have not seen a doctor for illness, or have been on any prescriptions.  At the age of 46, I eat, drink, and consume alcohol moderately.  My weekly exercise exceeds the 150 minutes, yes, and I do not jog or run for any of my aerobic movement.  Am I a freak of nature?  No.  Am I superhuman?  No.  I take care of my body and trust it to work properly because I treat it properly.  Funny how that all works, isn’t it.

When Was the Last Time You Honestly Evaluated Your Health?

“I want to be healthy.”  “I want to be fit.”  “I want to be toned.”  “I want to have energy.” 

All of these are great ideals, but what do they mean?  These statements represent the most common reasons why my clients hire me.  The problem is they are too vague and therefore hard to accomplish.  Your version of being healthy is likely different from my version of healthy.  Depending on your age, being fit can also have different meanings.

  • Have you ever gotten specific about what your health goals really mean to you? 
  • What does being fit allow you to do that isn’t happening now? 
  • What really is fit compared to your current condition?

As a Corrective Exercise Specialist and personal trainer, I assess a client’s movement patterns to determine what muscle groups are tight and weak.  That assessment is objective to determine which areas of the body to stretch and strengthen as a baseline.  What it does not tell me is why are you coming to see me in the first place.  An in-depth conversation about your daily habits at work and home is extremely important to find out why you move in the manner you do.  The most vital aspect to our conversation is determining why you are standing in front of me in the first place.

Squat assessment

Stripping down the layers of a client’s reasons for wanting to invest their time and money in my services goes beyond doing squats and elevating their heart rate.  Embarking on a journey to change a person’s health is an emotional one.  Of the two reasons why people change, inspiration or desperation, desperation is the cause 95% of the time.  Getting a person to divulge this information is crucial to setting expectations, program adherence, and building a long-term relationship for success.  A person’s health history is fraught with disappointments, pain, failures, and embarrassing experiences.  You didn’t wake up this morning in your current condition, it happened over months and years.

I have been in the fitness industry since 2008 and have helped clients achieve a variety of goals.  All have their own stories that mean a lot to that person.  Goals and the why often change as we dig deeper into what truly is important to changing their lives.  What starts as “I want to be fit,” morphs into “I want to compete in a triathlon.”  “I want to have energy,” becomes “I want to play on the ground with my granddaughter and not have problems getting up after five minutes.” “I want to be healthy,” truly is “I am tired of being in pain and not playing tennis to the level I know I can.”

Bonnie Stegen, university professor

Get personal with yourself about your current situation.  Maybe you haven’t admitted to yourself or significant other that you’re embarrassed for not properly rehabbing a past injury, and now your whole body hurts each time you walk up the stairs.   The cumulative injury cycle has caught up with you over the past three years.  It is easy to say, “I want to be more fit,” not “my twisted ankle still hurts, and I have pain in my hips each time I pick up a case of water at the store.” 

Billy Maisano, investment advisor

So, what is it?  What do you really want to change about your health?  Maybe you are tired of being on blood pressure and cholesterol medications at the age of 42.  You know your balance is terrible and a fall will break more than a hip at the age of 62.  Your back hurts and you’re 40 pounds overweight at 52.  You really want to do adventure vacations and can’t walk more than a block without needing to rest for 10 minutes.  You’re turning 35 and feel 55 because you partied the last 15 years and suddenly have an unexpected child on the way.  All these reasons are valid and can be helped with a specialist like me.

My book

I’m giving you an opportunity for a free consultation, regardless of what your true health outcomes are.  It’s free and confidential.  Nobody is currently winning in your situation, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Let me help you get an idea on the process needed to change your life and make the most out of where you want to go and what you want to be.  No judgement, I promise, only realistic answers to the questions you have been afraid to ask.  Email me, Matt Peale, at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Put “Healthy” in the subject line so I know you read my blog.  We will schedule a Zoom or phone call conversation to ease your mind and give you some facts to work with.  I guarantee you will feel better with the knowledge you receive after a 15-minute conversation.

Reduce & Potentially Eliminate Symptoms of Dementia With Exercise. Who? Yes You!

Do you have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s?  Do you know of a close friend who has a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s?  If you answered yes to either one, you understand the issues these dreadful mental health conditions create for the one suffering, and everyone associated with that person’s care.  One of the top worries on the minds of people in their 50’s and 60’s is will they succumb to dementia or Alzheimer’s like their loved one.

Many experiments are going on worldwide on how to prevent and treat these debilitating conditions.  The pharmaceutical community knows big dollars are available for the company that comes up with the magic pill to successfully treat dementia or Alzheimer’s with minimal side effects.  June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and one of the simplest treatments that is finally gaining credence is exercise.

Effects of AD on the brain

Exercise has been shown to improve:

  • Executive Functions:  (Voelker Rehage, C., et al, U.M., 2011; Cardiovascular and Coordination Training…, Front. Hum. Neurosci, 5, 26);
    • Memory: (Stroth et al, 2009, Aerobic Endurance Exercise…, Neuropsychol. Rehabil. 19, 223-243),
    • Speed of Processing: (Moul, et al, 1995. Physical Activity….., Psycho. Aging 4, 307-320)

In an article in www.sciencedaily.comScience News Daily, “Increasing evidence shows that physical activity and exercise training may delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).”  These findings are from reputable research universities, not just one general practitioner doctor living alone in Antarctica. 

Brain functions

The amazing part about the human body is that a person does not have to consciously or purposefully do anything for these effects to happen after a bout of exercise.  The processes involved happen naturally whether you want it or not.  Movement is natural to mammals.  Sitting alone behind a computer is not a natural habit or instinct, it is learned, and can be unlearned.  Doing computer games for memory is not scientifically proven to help executive function, short-term memory recall, and speed of processing information.  Only elevating your heart rate through aerobic activities and complex physical movements is scientifically proven to reduce or eliminate symptoms the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Leading senior exercise class in St. James Parish, LA

I am asked what the best types of aerobic exercises are, and the answer is the kind you like doing most.  If that means multiple types like running, cycling, body pump class, and racquetball, do all of them!  Each activity requires different muscle and joint combinations to be used, which also requires different neuro-cognitive networks.  Again, you do not need to actively think about these networks, they naturally occur when you do various physical activities.  Therefore, the first few times of a new sport or exercise movement are difficult, you do not have the neuro-cognitive network created yet to handle the sport or movement efficiently.  Once you do, the joints and muscles work more in unison, and you get better each time.

Workout in your living room

And remember, a lot of physical exercise is free and can be done at home or a park.  Gyms are awesome, and truly not required for the mental benefits physical activity creates.  Get yourself and your older loved ones moving!  Nature does the job automatically for your brain health.  Even if you are predisposed to dementia or AD, exercise can help override that predisposition as the evidence shows.

For more help with complex movements, overcoming chronic pain, and coaching, email Matt at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I can help you create a customized program that benefits you physically and mentally based on science, not Instagram or YouTube. You can also check out tips and download my free video series and report at mattpeale.com.

Patriotism in International Sports

Playing for your country, a dream most of us athletes have as we grow up.  No greater honor than playing in your country’s uniform and winning a medal or trophy.  As a fan, I love watching the Olympics and events in which the USA has a competitive team.  The feelings are different than rooting for my favorite professional and college teams.  There is a cohesiveness because the entire nation is represented, not just a city or region. 

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

My favorite international events are the World Cup, EURO Championships, CONCACAF Championships, and Copa America soccer championships.  Yes, I played soccer my whole life and watch professional leagues now, so that helps.  Beyond that fact, the passion players and fans have representing their countries for soccer is more than other international sports like basketball and hockey.  Whole countries come to a stop when their teams play.  It is a national day of mourning or celebration depending on the outcome. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of the most patriotic scenes is the playing of each country’s national anthem before the game.  For every game in every round, the players and fans sing loudly and proudly, REGARDLESS of political affiliations and views.  How can this be?  They all surely cannot agree with what their governments are doing back home, yet that doesn’t matter when representing their families and neighbors.  Everyone at least appears to be grateful and happy in their moment, showing the world the pride of their nationality.  As American athletes and fans, that is not always the case.

America is the great experiment in freedom with our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.  We are the worldwide leaders in democracy and economic development.  No other country allows the freedom of expression and ability to leave and return home as we do.  Other countries look up to us because of our freedoms.  When the opportunity arises to represent the United States of America as a fan or player, why would we show anything but gratitude and patriotism REGARDLESS of our political affiliations and views?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Somewhere along the way Americans stopped being proud of their country and now choose not to sing, mock people that do sing, look ashamed when the national anthem is played, or hide their heads in a towel.  Once again REGARDLESS of political affiliations and views, it is an honor and privilege to represent America.  Millions of people around the world risk their lives to be in our country every year.  Our heads are so far up our asses to notice how ungrateful we are for being born in a free society.  The door is open to live somewhere else and become a citizen of another country for those ashamed to be Americans.

I applaud the patriotism shown by every athlete and fan this year at the UEFA Championships.  You are proud and courageous to show your love for your country through your own struggles and strife.  There will always be two opposing sides to any government.  Showing the world, you can unite and find a common ground through sports soothes the soul for all involved.  Also, kudos to ESPN for showing both national anthems, the players, and the fans while the songs are being played.  No backlash from groups whose feelings are hurt on either side of the aisle.

Americans, we need to stop the entitlement and be proud of our flag, our athletes, and our country when in international competitions.  Singing, holding your hand over your heart, and standing cost no money and prove we can unite over a common good.  For at least the length of the game, we can be on the same team and support those on the field.  The athletes can show their support by being proud and showing respect while the national anthem is played for THEM.  Lest Americans forget a war dividing friends and families was fought to achieve independence from England.  Take up your flag, Americans, and be proud of who you are like citizens of other countries are proud of who they are.

Are You Getting 150 Minutes per Week of Moderate-to-Vigorous Intensity Exercise?

You have heard it so many times that the message now sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher, move more and eat less.  Easy to say, a lot more difficult to do.  Over one-third of American adults are classified as obese by the CDC, that does NOT include those people who are overweight.  Let’s be honest, fat parents usually raise fat kids.  How does the future look?  Not real promising for the American population. 

Are you a couch potato?

The internet and social media are full of trendy gimmicks, pills, and workouts to lift your ass cheeks.  Do they work is another story for another day, but they do make money.  In 2018 the CDC wrote their second edition of physical activity guidelines, this time including the cognitive benefits of exercise.  For this blog, I’m talking about the weekly minutes of physical activity you need to have for basic health.  My guess is most of you who read this blog are not getting these minimum requirements:

  • 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week, or in conjunction with
  • 75-150 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, and
  • 2 days per week of moderate or greater intensity muscle and bone strengthening activities

At the most basic level spread out in a “payment plan”, that is about 21 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, seven days per week.  I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, you can combine muscle and bone strengthening activities into an aerobic session thus killing two birds with one stone.  To stay in line with the CDC’s obesity stats, one in three who read this are obese, and at least half are overweight.  With those facts in mind, you are very likely not meeting these minimum standards for basic health.

I’ll explain more about the intensity levels to help you understand if you are achieving them or not.  Moderate means your breathing is labored, and you can have a conversation with another person.  Vigorous means your breathing is harder and you cannot maintain a conversation.  Taking a stroll around the block while easily chatting with your friend or on the phone is not at the moderate level.  Many adults and older adults give themselves a break by saying they are active because they walk daily.  The truth hurts, and they are not at the moderate level the CDC states is needed to reduce health risk factors and improve cognitive function.

The best news is you can achieve the 150 weekly minutes in any way you want!  There are many options you can enjoy elevating your heart rate using all your body parts, and they are all correct answers.  Combining resistance training with aerobic training is the best bang for your buck.  Can you workout to hard?  You do not want to injure yourself of course, the answer is still no.  The more intense and longer duration of your physical activity the better for every aspect of your physical and mental health. 

So, you’re still holding on to the excuse of the gym not open, or not open at full capacity.  These requirements are still in effect 365 days of EVERY year, including 2020.  Even more so with a pandemic because stronger immune systems are directly associated with higher levels of fitness.  If reading the stats of mortality rates and health risk factors relating to COVID-19 has not changed your mind on being physically active, then death at an early age is what you are rightfully earning. 

Your living room can be a great workout studio if necessary

Use these straightforward guidelines for what they are, guidelines to help you make good decisions on how much exercise you need each week.  Color in the template using whatever crayons you want.  The artwork looks good on the refrigerator door regardless of the color combinations.  Pledge to yourself on achieving the minimum 21 minutes a day of moderate exercise.  Oh, and you can break that time up into smaller bouts of even five minutes, four or so a day.  BOOM!  I just blew your mind and pulled the excuse rug out from underneath you.

Email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com, and I can help you set up a program.  Go to my website, mattpeale.com, and download my video series and free report to help you use exercise to overcome chronic pain.  Buy my book while on my website as well to improve your knowledge.  Just because you are over 40 does not mean you are exempt from being healthy, active, and happy!

If You Know, or Are a Man Over 40, Read This Blog! Tips to Help Celebrate National Men’s Health Month

Muscularly Enlarged Neanderthals aka Men.  Well, maybe that is not what men stands for, but it’s damn sure close!

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

We are testosterone based which makes us hairy, more muscular than females, and often times hard-headed when you try to reason with us.  As teens, we are true assholes that know everything and are indestructible.  In our twenties, the brain finally forms fully, and we begin to calm down with life’s responsibilities.  I’d say Neanderthal characteristics are still in effect during this time because the sense of immortality still lingers until we hit 30.

Into our 30’s men learn what being a father and husband means.  Our friendship circle changes from only college and high school friends to couples’ outings if we’re married and hanging out with coworkers.  We go to bed earlier, wake up earlier on purpose!  Hangovers hurt more and something happens with our waistlines and hairlines, one gets bigger and the other smaller in the wrong directions.  Domestic stresses of home ownership, honey do lists, and shuttling kids around to dances and sports.

I can only speak of what I know, and that knowledge stops in the 40’s decade.  Sedentary life begins to take affect from a lack of exercise the previous 10-12 years.  Extra weight stays on and doesn’t come off through half-hearted attempts at dieting or doing some fad exercise program for a week.  Our testosterone levels begin to dip, and we don’t feel as strong anymore.  It takes us a few minutes to warm-up and aches and pains linger past where we think they should.  College expenses are for real and maybe a Brady Bunch family happens after divorce and a second shot at marriage.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The constant through all of this is the accumulation of poor health habits that lead to serious health risk factors into our 50’s and beyond.  June is National Men’s Health Month and when we have Father’s Day to celebrate one of our major achievements of raising offspring.  One of the best features of the human body is its resiliency.  Regardless of how bad you treated it in the past, there is opportunity to completely change the future.  No, you can’t naturally grow back your hair without weaves and potions.  You also can’t recover quickly from a hard night of drinking anymore.  What you can do is make small daily changes that add up to major positive outcomes in 90 days or less.

Look at your father and his health, what kind of picture is he?  Remember, the beer can doesn’t fall far from the trailer, so if you do not want to follow in those footsteps, the time is now to make those edits.  Here’s how:

  • Cut down the alcohol to weekends only and find more ways to drink water daily
  • Meal prep for taking lunch into work and better choices at dinner (also saves $$$)
  • Get 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise (21 minutes per day)
My client Neal Hightower and I

Life is a process, and the results of these actions will not all become apparent until a few months down the road.  Changing a habit, good or bad, takes 60-65 days, so this will be a challenge with ups and downs.  Nowhere did I mention bench press 300 lbs, run 10 miles a day, or eat only tofu.  Stop making up bullshit excuses like these.  Any man can adapt to these changes over time and turn their lives around.  Your LIFE DEPENDS ON IT AS WELL AS THOSE WHO RELY UPON YOU.

If you need help, I am here for you.  Go to my website and look at my online course to help you overcome chronic pain.  Order my book and get expert insight into your health.  Listen to my interviews from around the country.  Get my free video series and report about back pain.  Let me be your guide to a healthy and active lifestyle.  You only live this life once, invest in yourself and you are guaranteed a 100% ROI!

“Peter Pan Syndrome” and Turning 46

The ongoing joke, that to me never gets old, is I’m turning 29…..again!  I’m sure you have a similar line or thought when it comes to your birthday.  Some people deal with the passing of the years better than others, and admittedly, I do not.  On May 25th I turned 46. 

Every year since I turned 40, I weigh and measure my body fat percentage at the health club I work at.  Each measurement has been in the single digits for body fat, and weight around 163-165 lbs.  Yes, I am very thankful for my dedication to a healthy and active lifestyle.  Many people from my graduating high school class have not taken care of themselves, and it shows. 

We can’t change time and stop aging.  All we can do is take care of each day to the best of our ability for the future.  In my mind, and I’m sure in yours, I have similar thoughts and rationales like I’m in my late teens to early twenties.  Those are the years that still form a big part of my self-image and likely keep me young at heart.  Living back in the same town I graduated high school from for the last 6 years, my close friends are the same as 1990-1993.  Surrounding myself with them keeps me in that mental and emotional space of 25 plus years ago. 

Mardi Gras Day 2019

Exercise and fitness have always played a large role in my life.  I played organized sports from first grade through college, including two years on the Southern Miss Men’s Club Soccer Team.  Working out was something I’ve done since junior high with push-ups and pull-ups in my room.  I do not know how to be sedentary, and that choice shows in how I have aged physically and mentally.  What you do now at your age plays a major role in your condition twenty years from now.  Studies show that active people in their 40’s have less physical and mental health problems in their 60’s compared to sedentary ones.

My grandmother and son in 2017

My grandmother on my mother’s side turned 94 a few days before my birthday.  She has moderate dementia and is also physically healthy with no serious issues.  My family is constantly amazed she goes for a short walk daily and is adamant about it.  From her late 50’s through now, exercise and fitness have been a part of her life.  She never did anything extreme or competed in contests.  She went to the senior center a few times a week and/or walked a few miles at home.  Her diet wasn’t anything special and she ate moderately healthy, drinking whenever she wanted.  I made her quit smoking when I was in elementary school and she never looked back.  Do I have good genes?  A focus on moderation combined with good genes can enable me to live a long life.

Even with science on my side, I am not embracing closing in on 50 in a few years.  To me, that is OLD, and I am not old.  Peter Pan syndrome is real!  I do refuse to “grow up” to an extent with reducing my physical activities and cutting back on the amount of weight I lift in the gym.  This month of May I bench pressed 225 lbs and squatted 315 lbs again.  Age is not and will not be an excuse for me.  I am hitting the golf ball farther than I ever have, yes thanks to some lessons also.  Overall, I am not slowing down and do not look to do so any time soon.

Elite level obstacle course race

Are you exercising regularly and eating in moderation?  Do you feel and/or look older than you are?  How you age is your choice, not a genetic disability.  Being in my mid 40’s was a contributor to why I wrote my book, The Athlete in the Game of Life.  You may not feel and look 25 anymore and wonder where the time went.  Now is the time for you to take steps for the next 20 years to make sure they are what you want them to be.  You are only competing with yourself and can only control what you do.  Unfortunately, you cannot truly play defense against Father Time.  You can only go on the offensive with healthy habits, and teach those after you to use you as an example of what to do. 

Compete, and compete hard in your game of life.  It is worth every grueling session now for the enjoyment later.  When you need help, I am here for you.  My website has great info on my coaching programs, online course, and ordering my book.  You can be the best athlete in your game of life, I promise!

Do You Know the Biggest Muscle on Your Body & How to Engage It?

What is the biggest muscle on your body?

  1. Pectoral muscle (chest)
  2. Gluteus maximus (butt)
  3. Latissimus Dorsi (back)

I’ll answer that question shortly in this blog post.  Giving it away now defeats the purpose of reading and building anticipation! 

Let’s look at the function of each muscle and see if you can figure it out.  The pectoral muscle is used to extend your arms horizontally in a pushing motion.  The latissimus dorsi is used to lower your arms from an overhead position and helps to bring them back from a fully extended horizontal position also.  The gluteus maximus is used for hip extension.  If you workout regularly, hopefully you are using all of the muscles equally throughout your weekly routine.  If you don’t workout at all, lack of use is a direct cause of pain and weakness.  Any clue yet to the answer?

If you guessed B. Gluteus maximus, you won!  And no, J-Lo is not the only person to enjoy this biological feature.  Every person needs to have strong glutes for lifting objects with their legs, not their low backs.  Incorporating the biggest muscle on your body for squats, deadlifts, and lunges is paramount for power and strength.  Surprisingly enough, doing squats, deadlifts, and lunges does not specifically work your glutes unless you have learned to activate them.  Even the most active gym goers out there typically sit all day at their jobs, much less those that abhor any type of exercise.

Yes, your glutes are needed for many activities besides sitting on them for 8-10 hours a day.  If you like landscaping and gardening around your house, you need them to lift bags of mulch, flats of flowers, and pavers for a new walkway.  Similarly, if you enjoy remodeling and redecorating houses, you need your glutes to pick up heavy furniture and boxes.  Your glutes are responsible for helping you maintain good posture and be able to get up out of a chair without using your hands.  None of these activities are done in a gym or for anything athletic, these are activities of daily living that require the biggest muscle on your body to be functional.

From a biomechanical standpoint, your glutes are the primary mover for hip extension.  Hip extension is involved in standing up, walking, running, and proper posture.  When your glutes are weak from sitting, the muscles in your quadriceps and low back take on their role, leading to low back and knee pain.  Again, none of these motions are specifically for sports or in the gym.  Here are three exercises you can do to strengthen your glutes, and they can be done by men and women!

Bird Dog
  1. Bird dog – get on your hands and knees with a straight back.  Extend the opposite arm and leg simultaneously.  Keeping your fully extended and raise your leg as high as you can using your glutes to lift it.  Do not rotate or tilt your body to compensate.  Repeat for the opposite side.
  2. Romanian Deadlift/Straight leg deadlift – start with no weight or light weight depending on your experience.  With your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly flexed, hinge at the hip and push your hips back.  Keeping your back straight and head aligned with your spine, lower your torso down to parallel to the ground.  Your weight is on your heels and toes may raise slightly.  Feel the stretch in your hamstrings as you go down.  Focus on using your hamstrings and glutes to contract as you raise back up to the starting position.
  3. Glute bridge – lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor close to your butt.  Push through your feet and raise your hips as high as you can, then lower them down slowly.  Your arms are relaxed next to your torso with palms up.  You can do this with both legs or one leg at a time for added difficulty.  You will feel a stretch in your quadriceps and hip flexors and your hamstrings working.
Glute bridge
Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

Regardless of your athletic ability and workout experience, including these moves will help you activate your glutes for all of life’s activities.  Low back injuries are reduced, proper postural alignment can be achieved, and increased enjoyment of the activities you like most are all possible when you practice these basic movements.  If you are wondering do I include these movements into my normal routine, the answer is a resounding yes!  I practice what I preach.

For an all-inclusive workout, learn about my course Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening.  I guarantee it will work for you or your money back.  You can also order my book and read about why your having pain.  Pain is not normal, and you do not have to live with it.  Go to my website, mattpeale.com, and find free videos and a report that can change your life today!

Coffee or Exercise for More Productivity at Work?

An important meeting is 30 minutes that needs your utmost attention and participation.  Your boss is expecting you to fill in vital details that can close a huge sale.  The problem is you’ve been sitting and staring at spreadsheets for the past hour and about to fall asleep.  What is the best course of action?

  • Drink 2-3 cups of coffee to wake up
  • Do nothing
  • Walk up and down the stairs in the emergency exit for 10 minutes, 15 minutes before the meeting
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Typical thoughts would be the first choice.  Some may try to push through and step into the room like a superhero and nail the presentation.  Science and the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Report by the CDC states the last option is best. 

I know what you’re thinking, “how can walking up and down the stairs for 10 minutes do anything but get me sweaty and out of sorts?”  Let me calm you fears, my friends, with some facts not fake news.  These are some of the findings in the CDC’s report from 2018.

  • A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity will reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep, reduce anxiety symptoms, and improve cognition on the day that it is performed.
  • Strong evidence demonstrates that acute bouts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity have a transient benefit for cognition, including attention, memory, crystalized intelligence, processing speed, and executive control during the post-recovery period following a bout of exercise.
  • The largest positive effects are observed from 11 to 20 minutes after the bout of activity.

Granted, the CDC is under fire for their confusion on pandemic guidelines.  These came out two years before the word coronavirus was trendy.  Also, they spent 10 years researching and updating their original report from 2008 to deliver these guidelines, not 10 days as it seems now. 

You can apply these principles to any complex task you have at work.  They also apply equally well for your children before taking tests.  Maybe schools should read this evidence, but that’s another story for another day.  Of course, you know the physical benefits a few added steps can do for your heart, lungs, and weight loss. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The key phrasing in all of this is moderate-to-vigorous.  That means your breathing is a little labored, yet you can still hold a conversation.  It is not a leisurely stroll around the parking lot or to the break room for another donut.  Some exertion is required, also does not require playing a 90-minute soccer game.  Using that as your template, there are many activities you can do that you enjoy achieving moderate-to-vigorous.  Point is, do it!

An even better part of these findings is they occur naturally.  You do not have to make crystallized intelligence and processing happen, they do automatically in the brain just from elevating your heart rate to moderate-to-vigorous.  How awesome is the human body?!  All of these are organic byproducts of moving around a little more with slightly higher intensity.  No purchase necessary and no negative side effects. 

If you do not experience what a 10-year study says, I will send you a $10 gift card to the coffee store of your choice!  Email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com and give me your details why the evidence did not work for you.  If you need more suggestions, email me also.  My aim is to help you perform better in your career.