Merritt Clubs Blog


Fight Cancer with Exercise Routines and Great Nutrition

Posted by RaySa

Apr 29, 2013

Turning the tables on cancer can be accomplished by investing in a high-quality fitness program. Many people who have breast, cancer, mesothelioma or another type of cancer often experience financial dilemmas due to the high costs of medical bills and a decrease in work hours. However, fitness programs do not have to be expensive or difficult, in order for them to be effective in helping a cancer patient to regain control over his or her life.

How Does Nutrition Play a Role in Helping Cancer Patients?

Not only do nutritious fruits and vegetables provide amazing antioxidants which are known for boosting the immune system, great nutrition in a cancer patient’s life will also help to boost energy levels which will make it easier for the person to begin a regular workout routine. When a consistent workout schedule is developed, it is important for the individual to eat a diet that includes whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruit and meals that are loaded with vegetables. Beneficial vegetables include radishes, peppers, onions, kale, broccoli, spinach and carrots. Other helpful food items that will benefit a cancer patient include low-fat cheeses, small amounts of very lean meat and nuts that are rich in protein. The list of beneficial foods for cancer patients is very long, and will vary with the individual patient. Therefore, it is important to speak with your doctor to develop a nutrition plan appropriate for you.

Setting Up a Successful Exercise Routine

It is common for many people, whether they have an illness or not, to begin a fitness routine wholeheartedly and then drop it after a few weeks. This is primarily due to the fact that people often lose interest in a boring routine that consists of going through the same exercise motions each time they work out. By remaining flexible and embracing creativity, a person will stand a better chance of keeping a healthy workout schedule. Going golfing, swimming, yoga and signing up for dance classes are just a few ideas people can consider when they start thinking about possible exercise activities. In addition to these activities, step aerobics and running/walking are also exercises that will provide great benefits by reducing anxiety and boosting energy in a person who is fighting cancer.

The American Cancer Society published an online publication that provides good information for anyone who wants more information on how exercise can be a benefit to people who have cancer. The article lists benefits such as better balance, reduced amounts of pain and more energy. Each of these benefits plays a big part in improving comfort, self-esteem and energy.

Additionally, it is also important to speak with your doctor to ensure you are participating in beneficial physical activity that is not too rigorous for your condition. Similar to your nutrition plan, you want to make sure that it coincides with your current physical condition, diagnosis and treatment plan.

Written by: Melanie Bowen


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Topics: living with cancer, health fitness tips, Merritt blog, foods that fight cancer, eat smart, exercise routines, Fitness for a Cause, Awareness and Support, fighting cancer

24 Hour Gyms May Help You Sleep Better

Posted by RaySa

Feb 11, 2013

Exercise and rest are both vital to your wellbeing, and 24 hour gyms may help you sleep better. If you’re tossing and turning because your schedule doesn’t match the nine to five world, maybe you need a new fitness club.

You’ve probably heard advice about not exercising vigorously right before bed, but you may not have known why. It’s based on the theory that intense aerobic exercise increases stimulating hormones like adrenalin in your blood and raises your body’s core temperature slightly. Once elevated, your body temperature stays higher for a while and then falls to a temperature a bit lower than normal about six hours later. That cooling off makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

This is all great if you get off work at 5, squeeze in a kickboxing class and loll around for several hours before bed. If you travel extensively or have a schedule that varies due to shift work or different classes each semester, it gets a lot more difficult.

A 24 hour gym will let you work out whenever is ideal for you. In addition to avoiding intense activity before bed, you may also want to work out as soon as you wake up no matter what time that happens to be. Some studies show that people burn more fat during workouts before breakfast or anytime their stomachs are empty.

We should mention that some experts think that working out regularly is the important thing and don’t attach much importance to the time of day so experiment to find what works for you. Almost everyone does agree that reducing your exposure to light for a couple of hours before you retire promotes better rest. That’s because TVs, computer screens and other sources of light trigger your brain to stay alert making this another good reason to visit a fitness club earlier in your day or evening.

Merritt Athletic Clubs is the largest fitness center operation in the Baltimore area with several 24 hour gyms to fit your lifestyle. These include the 24 HR Downtown Athletic Club, Buckingham, Canton, and Cranbrook facilities. Contact us to learn more.

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Topics: health fitness tips, how to sleep better, Merritt blog, fitness and health clubs, Fitness Tips, wellness and health, 24 hr gyms, fitness centers, best time to workout, get healthy, 24 hour gyms

A Personal Invite From Trainer, Karen Martinez to A.L.I.V.E.

Posted by RaySa

Jan 29, 2013

Pictured: Trainer, Karen Martinez with A.L.I.V.E. participants.
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Topics: health fitness tips, Merritt blog, fitness program, merritt alive, reverse disease, A.L.I.V.E., how to get healthy, aggressive lifestyle intervention, new exercise, healthy diets

Top Four Tips for Improving Kids Fitness

Posted by RaySa

Dec 27, 2012

Kids fitness has become a national conversation over the last decade. As childhood obesity grows, many parents are concerned about keeping kids active, and promoting good physical and mental health. Consider our top four tips for improving your kid's overall fitness level.

  1. Be a role model. First, your children need to see you set a good fitness example. This doesn't mean you must run a marathon while pushing your toddler in a stroller. Simply promote an active lifestyle. Walk short distances instead of driving. Take regular walks or bike rides around your neighborhood. Encourage kids to walk themselves instead of riding in a stroller once they are old enough. When asked to participate in an activity, such as when your toddler brings you a ball, take the time to do it. Go to a local playground. Use the swings and slides yourself.
  2. Provide alternatives. Exercise does not have to be structured or scheduled. Spontaneously have a family dance-off to your kid's favorite music. Throw a frisbee. Rollerskate, rollerblade or skateboard in a safe place. Play a game of hide and seek. Let your child choose the activity.
  3. Stay active even when it's cold. Sometimes it's hard to keep an active pace when the weather is not ideal. However, puddle-jumping in rain boots or making snow angels in your snow suit can be a lot of fun. Explore summer destinations, such as the beach, in the winter. Find a local indoor swimming pool or play area. Merritt Clubs offer indoor swimming lessons starting at six months of age and an indoor play area for children to use while their parents are working out. Many team sports and extra curricular activities are offered through the winter, such as hockey, arena football or dance classes. Find out what's available in your area.
  4. Emphasize the social benefits. Children do not often understand the health benefits of being fit. However, they do like being with their friends. Meet a group at the park, skating rink or other favorite spot. A group of researchers recently studied the effects of giving children peer mentors to promote physical activity. The study followed 800 children from 10 different schools. The results showed that students from the peer-mentored schools took 1,000 more steps per day and had better overall cardiovascular health. The students only participated in the peer-led activities once every two weeks. However, the social interaction was a catalyst for improved physical activity on a daily basis.

The benefits of keeping kids physically fit go way beyond fighting obesity. Experts agree being active improves their sleeping habits, posture, self-esteem, concentration, bone and muscle structure, balance, developmental skills, flexibility and social skills.

Merritt Athletic Clubs are focused on family health. Contact us to find out about the many amenities available to families.

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Topics: cardiovascular health, health fitness tips, kids obesity, family fitness, childhood fitness, Fitness Tips, merritt fitness, family health, fitness examples, kids fitness, Awareness and Support, top fitness tips

The Curse of the Cupcake

Posted by Karen O'Donnell

Aug 20, 2012

photo credit: xsomnis (
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Topics: food and diabetes, health fitness tips, Fitness Tips, exercise and health, obesity and health, Awareness and Support, diet lifestyle change, nutrition, healthy diets

How to Achieve A Lifestyle Change with The Right Training

Posted by Eric "Scott" Landers

Jul 26, 2012

Personal training: finding the right solution that gives lifetime results.

Plenty of people say that they wish they could afford to pay for personal training. They say they would love to do it but it’s too expensive. If you happen to be one of these people I have a few reasons why paying for personal training is not only inexpensive, but it may actually save you money! Research shows that people who are more physically fit and exercise regularly have less of a chance of developing long term health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. For many people time is money so if you are wasting time, you are wasting money. Having a trainer can help you be more efficient with the time you spend on your personal fitness. Third, if you could pay a certain amount of money to be happy with the way you look and feel every day, how much would you be willing to spend?

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, staying fit, affordable training, training exercise program, best way to lose weight, training tips, Premier Health & Fitness Cente, fitness goals, Baltimore fitness, lifestyle change, eric landers, strength and resistance training, workout plans

Eat Smarter with High Antioxidants that Help Support Your Immune System

Posted by RaySa

May 11, 2012

Start Eating Smarter

Eating the right foods can help lower your cholesterol, ward off disease and protect your heart. Go ahead power up your diet, your body with these Super Foods.

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, the superfoods, Fitness Tips, cholesterol and diet, nature made, disease and prevention, how to get healthy, how to lower cholesterol, fitness and wellness, get healthy, foods that lower, nutrition, what foods are superfoods

How To Improve Body Composition, Health and Daily Performance

Posted by Maritza Rodriguez

May 10, 2012

Buenos Dias!

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, health and exercise, loss weight exercises, synergy, sports and health fitness, Fitness Tips, body fat ratio, weight loss healthy, optimum health, synergy fitness, sports nutrition, meaning of synergy, healthy diets

Strength training benefits - it is not just for athletes or bodybuilders!

Posted by Maritza Rodriguez

Apr 27, 2012

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, strength training benefits, aerobic workouts, Fitness Tips, resistance workout, strength program, the best exercises, benefit of exercise, strength training workout, strength and resistance training, the best way to lose weight, workout weight training

10 Super Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

Posted by RaySa

Mar 14, 2012

There is a surplus of super-foods that may never see the inside of a shopping cart, if you don’t put them there. Some you've never heard of, and others you may have simply forgotten about. This list is the best of the bunch. Make a place for them on your table and you'll instantly upgrade your health.


These grungy-looking roots are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable, which means they pack tons of flavor underneath their rugged exterior.

Why they're healthy: Think of beets as red spinach. Just like Popeye's powerfood, this crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments -- called betacyanins -- that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.

How to eat them: Fresh and raw, not from a jar. Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple single-serving salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.

You can eat the leaves and stems, which are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Simply cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash thoroughly. They're now ready to be used in a salad. Or, for a side dish, sauté the leaves, along with a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.


Absent from most American kitchens, this cruciferous vegetable is a major player in European and Asian diets.

Why it's healthy: One cup of chopped cabbage has just 22 calories, and it's loaded with valuable nutrients. At the top of the list is sulforaphane, a chemical that increases your body's production of enzymes that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, Stanford University scientists determined that sulforaphane boosts your levels of these cancer-fighting enzymes higher than any other plant chemical.

How to eat it: Put cabbage on your burgers to add a satisfying crunch. Or, for an even better sandwich topping or side salad, try an Asian-style slaw. Here's what you'll need.

4 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
Juice of two limes
1 Tbsp sriracha, an Asian chili sauce you can find in the international section of your
grocery store
1 head napa cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
1/4 cup toasted peanuts
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Whisk together the oil, lime juice, and sriracha. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. The slaw will keep in your fridge for 2 days.


Guava is an obscure tropical fruit that's subtly acidic, with sweetness that intensifies as you eat your way to the center.

Why it's healthy: Guava has a higher concentration of lycopene -- an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer -- than any other plant food, including tomatoes and watermelon. In addition, 1 cup of the stuff provides 688 milligrams (mg) of potassium, which is 63 percent more than you'll find in a medium banana. And guava may be the ultimate high-fiber food: There's almost 9 grams (g) of fiber in every cup.

How to eat it: Down the entire fruit, from the rind to the seeds. It's all edible -- and nutritious. The rind alone has more vitamin C than you'd find in the flesh of an orange. You can score guava in the produce section of higher-end supermarkets or in Latin grocery stores.

Swiss chard

Hidden in the leafy-greens cooler of your market, you'll find this slightly bitter, salty vegetable, which is actually native to the Mediterranean.

Why it's healthy: A half cup of cooked Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, supplying 10 mg each. These plant chemicals, known as carotenoids, protect your retinas from the damage of aging, according to Harvard researchers. That's because both nutrients, which are actually pigments, appear to accumulate in your retinas, where they absorb the type of shortwave light rays that can damage your eyes. So the more lutein and zeaxanthin you eat, the better your internal eye protection will be.

How to eat it: Chard goes great with grilled steaks and chicken, and it also works well as a bed for pan-seared fish. Wash and dry a bunch of Swiss chard, and then chop the leaves and stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok, and add two garlic cloves that you've peeled and lightly crushed. When the oil smokes lightly, add the chard. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are tender. Remove the garlic cloves and season the chard with salt and pepper.


This old-world spice usually reaches most men's stomachs only when it's mixed with sugar and stuck to a roll.

Why it's healthy: Cinnamon helps control your blood sugar, which influences your risk of heart disease. In fact, USDA researchers found that people with type-2 diabetes who consumed 1 g of cinnamon a day for 6 weeks (about 1/4 teaspoon each day) significantly reduced not only their blood sugar but also their triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Credit the spice's active ingredients, methylhydroxychalcone polymers, which increase your cells' ability to metabolize sugar by up to 20 times.

How to eat it: You don't need the fancy oils and extracts sold at vitamin stores; just sprinkle the stuff that's in your spice rack (or in the shaker at Starbucks) into your coffee or on your oatmeal.


Although the FDA classifies purslane as a broad-leaved weed, it's a popular vegetable and herb in many other countries, including China, Mexico, and Greece.

Why it's healthy: Purslane has the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any edible plant, according to researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The scientists also report that this herb has 10 to 20 times more melatonin -- an antioxidant that may inhibit cancer growth -- than any other fruit or vegetable tested.

How to eat it: In a salad. Think of purslane as a great alternative or addition to lettuce: The leaves and stems are crisp, chewy, and succulent, and they have a mild lemony taste. Look for it at your local farmer's market, or Chinese or Mexican market. It's also available at some Whole Foods stores, as an individual leafy green or in premade salad mixes.

Pomegranate juice

A popular drink for decades in the Middle East, pomegranate juice has become widely available only recently in the United States.

Why it's healthy: Israeli scientists discovered that men who downed just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for a year decreased their systolic (top number) blood pressure by 21 percent and significantly improved blood flow to their hearts. What's more, 4 ounces provides 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.

How to drink it: Try 100 percent pomegranate juice from Pom Wonderful. It contains no added sugars, and because it's so powerful, a small glassful is all you need. (For a list of retailers, go to

Goji berries

These raisin-size fruits are chewy and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. More important, these potent berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years.

Why they're healthy: Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings -- a method of gauging antioxidant power -- of any fruit, according to Tufts University researchers. And although modern scientists began to study this ancient berry only recently, they've found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance -- a risk factor of diabetes -- in rats.

How to eat them: Mix dried or fresh goji berries with a cup of plain yogurt, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or cold cereal, or enjoy a handful by themselves. You can find them at specialty supermarkets or at

Dried plums

You may know these better by the moniker "prunes," which are indelibly linked with nursing homes and bathroom habits. And that explains why, in an effort to revive this delicious fruit's image, producers now market them under another name.

Why they're healthy: Prunes contain high amounts of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, antioxidants that are particularly effective at combating the "superoxide anion radical." This nasty free radical causes structural damage to your cells, and such damage is thought to be one of the primary causes of cancer.

How to eat them: As an appetizer. Wrap a paper-thin slice of prosciutto around each dried plum and secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the plums are soft and the prosciutto is crispy. Most of the fat will cook off, and you'll be left with a decadent-tasting treat that's sweet, savory, and healthy.

Pumpkin seeds

These jack-o'-lantern waste products are the most nutritious part of the pumpkin.

Why they're healthy: Downing pumpkin seeds is the easiest way to consume more magnesium. That's important because French researchers recently determined that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels. And on average, men consume 353 mg of the mineral daily, well under the 420 mg minimum recommended by the USDA.

How to eat them: Whole, shells and all. (The shells provide extra fiber.) Roasted pumpkin seeds contain 150 mg of magnesium per ounce; add them to your regular diet and you'll easily hit your daily target of 420 mg. Look for them in the snack or health-food section of your grocery store, next to the peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Antioxidants explained...

The science is clear: Plant foods are good for you. And the credit often goes to chemicals they produce called antioxidants. Just as the name suggests, antioxidants help protect your cells against oxidation. Think of oxidation as rust. This rust is caused by free radicals, which are unstable oxygen atoms that attack your cells, inducing DNA damage that leads to cancer. Thankfully, antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which keeps the rogue atoms from harming your cells.

So by eating more antioxidant-rich foods, you'll boost the amount of the disease-fighting chemicals floating in your bloodstream. The result: Every bite fortifies your body with all-natural preventive medicine.

By: Paula Chaney, Personal Trainer at Towson

Have a Question? Ask a certified personal trainer or lifestyle and weight management consultant, click here

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Topics: health fitness tips, 10 super foods, super foods, Fitness Tips, recipes for healthy snacks, how to get healthy, healthy foods diet, nutrition, heath tips, powerful antioxidants