Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Real Reason you Should Warm Up

Too often, you may find yourself pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so you skip the warm-up figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway.
Is a warm-up really necessary? What constitutes a "good" warm-up?

Enhanced Performance
A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury. Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental.
Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.
Along with more blood flow comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.
An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.

Injury Prevention
Scientific studies on linking warming up with injury prevention are difficult to administer. Few athletes want to go through a muscle stress test to see what it takes to tear a muscle.
Old studies on animal subjects determined that injuring a muscle that has gone through a warm-up process required more force and more muscle length than a muscle with no warm-up. This study is in line with the anecdotal data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.

Mental Preparation
Part of a warm-up process includes getting your head ready for the upcoming activity. Mentally preparing for the upcoming workout, or event, is thought to improve technique, skill and coordination.
This mental warm-up also prepares you for the discomfort of a tough workout or race. If the mind is ready to endure discomfort, the body can produce a better performance. If the mind is unwilling to endure discomfort, physical performance will certainly be limited.

How Much Should I Warm Up?
There is no hard evidence as to how much warm-up is needed before a workout or a race. Most recommendations are in the 10- to 20-minute range.
A general recommendation for warming up is that it should be specific to the activity you're about to perform. This is easy for running, swimming, or biking; simply start at a lower intensity and gradually increase intensity as you progress through the warm up period.
For more complex exercise, like strength training, a dynamic warm-up of gradually increasing intensity and complexity of exercises is best. You'll be taking your muscles through the range of motion to come in the workout as well as preventing injuries by stretching muscles that are usually too tight, and activating muscles that are usually underused.

In order to perform at your best and minimise the risk of hurting yourself, take time for an adequate warm-up. Below is my Dynamic Warm-Up, which is best to do before a strength training workout.
Dynamic Warm Up
Walking down and back 10 yds
Knee pull to chest
Walking lunges with rotation, then Backwards with an Overhead reach
Side Step
Cross-over side step
Side Lunge
Single leg reach In place
Prone Hip opener/chest opener

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mental Health and Exercise

Want to alleviate stress or cope with depression? Exercise may help. Increasingly, there is evidence from researchers that certain levels of physical activity can positively affect mental health. Let's take a look at what research has discovered about the connection between exercise and mental health.

A growing body of research over the last 10 years shows that physical activity and exercise also improve psychological well-being. Published data show that people with higher levels of fitness are capable of managing stress more effectively than those who are less fit. It appears that cardiovascular exercise is the method that most benefits stress reduction. The research indicates that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, performed three times a week (sessions lasting over 20 minutes) for up to 12 weeks, has the most influence on stress management.

The antidepressant action is one of the most commonly accepted psychological benefits of exercise. Patients diagnosed with depression have credited exercise as being an important element in comprehensive treatment programs for depression. Cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective in producing antidepressive effects. It also appears that both a one-time exercise session and chronic exercise training programs have a positive effect on people with clinical depression. The effects of exercise on depression seem the same for men and women.

The results of over 30 published papers show a link between acute and chronic exercise and the reduction of anxiety. There appears to be much debate about whether low-intensity, moderate-intensity or high-intensity aerobic exercise is most beneficial. (If you’re not sure at what intensity you should exercise, consult with a personal trainer.) It appears that even short bursts of 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercise stimulate anti-anxiety effects. The research also indicates that people who train for periods of 10–15 weeks receive the greatest beneficial effects.

Get in a Better Mood
It appears that cardiovascular and resistance exercise can positively affect various mood states, including tension, fatigue, anger and vigor (a psychological variable defining vitality or energy) in normal and clinical populations. Plus, it has been shown that even a single session of 25–60 minutes of aerobic exercise (at low, moderate or high intensities) increases positive mood feelings while also decreasing negative mood feelings. Researchers need to further research resistance training to learn more about the connection between it and mood state.

Full Article and References

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

US News Ranks Top US Diets

US News evaluated 38 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals.

Best Diets Overall:
1. DASH Diet: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), was originally developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure. This diet promotes the foods we've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy), while shunning those we've grown to love, (calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat). This healthy eating pattern is key to deflating high blood pressure and may also promote weight loss. The DASH diet is also ranked #1 for Diabetes and Heart Healthy Diets.

2. Mediterranean Diet: It has generally been accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts, and other healthful foods. The diet claims to promote weight loss, then maintenance, and to promote heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control.

3. MIND Diet: The MIND diet is a new hybrid of two balanced, heart-healthy diets (DASH and Mediterranean) that may lower your risk of mental decline. The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, huts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Check out the full results

Have you tried any of these dietary approaches? What has been your experience with them? I hope your new year has had a great start. Please contact me if you'd like any more information.