Exercise and Fitness

Staying active at “that time of the month”

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The belief that women should avoid exercise or athletics during their menstrual periods, because it can affect performance or increase the risk of injury, is not necessarily true. Good training may reduce the risks of injury and enhance performance much more than trying to time exercise around one’s periods.

Health benefits of hiking: Raise your heart rate and your mood

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Hiking is good for you both physically and mentally. It provides a great cardiovascular workout, improves balance, and is a natural stress reliever. Hikes can range from gentle strolls to uphill terrain, so there’s always a way to challenge yourself. Look for trails near you by checking out local, state, and national parks.

Less than 1 in 10 teens gets enough exercise: What this means for them and says about us

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Teens don’t exercise enough, and with a third of U.S. adults classified as obese, it’s important that exercise is encouraged in children and teens. Starting healthy habits when they’re young keeps kids healthy into adulthood. Studies show that obese adults rarely lose the weight, so it’s better to keep the weight off in the first place. A lot has to do with our biology but also our lifestyle, and we can change the latter. So let’s get our children and teens moving.

The truth behind standing desks

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Because sitting for long periods is linked to a greater risk of premature death, the popularity of standing desks is growing, but a study of calories burned while doing various activities suggests the caloric benefit of using a standing desk is not as significant as previous studies suggested.

Your best cycling days may still be ahead

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

I loved riding my bicycle as a kid, and whizzing along wooded roads with friends on crisp autumn days. For me, the images of blurred leaves and sunshine are still fresh, as are the feelings of freedom, joy, and the wind on my skin. Now, only an occasional bike ride with my children reminds me […]

The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Basic push-ups engage your body from top to bottom. They work several muscle groups at once including the arms, chest, abdomen (core), hips, and legs. How many you can do at one time offers a simple way to evaluate your strength and muscular endurance and is an easy tool to help you improve. To find your starting point, perform as many push-ups as you can with good form.

Get up, stand up, for your health: A little exercise offsets a lot of sitting

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Sitting has been described as the “new smoking.” While that may sound discouraging if you’re always driving long distances or sitting in an office chair for hours on end, there is something you can do about it. Moderate exercising like walking the dog or riding a bike for just an hour a day could alleviate or even eliminate the dangers caused by sitting all day. And if you’re worried about a full hour, benefits still come from spreading those 60 minutes out throughout the day.

Can exercise help relieve teen depression?

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Depression isn’t confined to adulthood. One recent survey showed that nearly 11% of adolescents ages 12-17 were depressed. But one treatment commonly used to combat depression in adults may also be beneficial for adolescents who suffer from depression. According to a recent meta-analysis collected from rigorously evaluated studies, adolescents may experience improvement in their depression symptoms if they incorporate exercise into their treatment.

Female athlete triad: Protecting the health and bones of active young women

Elizabeth Matzkin, MD
Elizabeth Matzkin, MD, Contributor

Women who are especially active may be susceptible to a spectrum disorder known as the female athlete triad, a combination of symptoms rooted in inadequate nutrition that can ultimately lead to a greater risk of osteoporosis.

Beating osteoarthritis knee pain: Beyond special shoes

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

For people suffering from knee osteoarthritis, one long-standing solution to knee pain was the use of “unloading” shoes. These shoes use stiffer soles and slightly tilted insoles that help to reposition the foot and ‘unload,’ or decrease, the pain on the knee. But a new study revealed that these shoes might not be any better than good walking shoes at relieving pain from knee osteoarthritis.