Warn Up and Down Properly: Before any exercise or sport it is imperative to warm up properly. Regardless of the weather but especially in winter it is necessary to move blood into the muscles to prevent injury. Dynamic Stretching which involves simulating the range of motion of the exercise you are about to preform is an excellent way to attain this warm-up. It entails working with momentum and not holding at the end position. Static Stretching which involves elongating the muscles through extensions is most productive after finishing your work out. It stretches the muscles to the point of slight discomfort in an effort to relax the muscle after an exercise has been preformed.
One of the best exercises for building a strong core is an exercise known as the “Plank”. This can either be performed with full extension of the elbows or as shown above. Try holding for 30 sec. then move on to longer periods of a minute or two. A strong core is so important for optimum performance in any sport as well as for maintaining a strong back.
Some say music came about when man first started listening to birds and noticed their success with mating calls. They then tried to duplicate these sounds in hope that they would be as successful in drawing a mate. The more skilled the musician, the better were his chances. Others feel that hunters tried to duplicate the sounds of the hunt and in so doing put their daily activities to a rhythmic beat. Some believe it originated in the loving bond between mother and child. The term “motherese” was derived from the playful voice the mother had adapted for this purpose. These remnants of what was prehistoric music are closely related to what we now classify as folk, traditional or indigenous. All we do know is that the first indication of man using a drum dates back to 6000 B.C. in the Neolithic period. It is universal and all cultures seem to have developed their own style of music independent of each other. The effects of music are more subtle then eating, talking, sleeping and love making and seem to be present in almost every situation we deal with in life. Since there are few activities such as music in which the whole brain is used, it has been shown to greatly stimulate our capacity to remember and learn. We hear music at weddings, funerals, religious services, dances, sporting events, elevators, restaurants, gyms and even when we simply have to wait on a line. It is also a major part of every advertising campaign. Billions of dollars are spent annually on buying some genre of music. Music does not interfere or distract but enhances the experience. Today we have expanded and experimented with music and have crossed over into its therapeutic use. It has a positive effect on pain management, aided in the use of less medication during childbirth, boosts immunity, and slows breathing and heart rate which has been beneficial to people with high blood pressure and migraines. Soothing music when accompanying a dinner can be an aid to someone who is attempting to practice mindful eating or help them take the time to chew properly. Pop music has a calming effect when someone is subject to having to endure long lines of which we all encounter in our daily lives. Fast paced energetic tunes can serve as a great motivator in aerobics whether it is broadcasted on a loudspeaker at a gym or heard on earphones while jogging. We sometimes take music for granted and are at times unaware how it is responsible for changing our emotional state. Next time you are feeling a little low, whistle a happy tune and see if it helps.
Intense exercise, especially if it is going to last several hours, requires a sufficient amount of carbohydrates in order to supply you with ample energy. Since we don’t store glycogen (blood sugar) in the same ratio that the body stores fat, it needs to be restored quickly. Drinking chocolate milk after strenuous exercise is one of the best ways to do this. The sugar in milk (lactose), its potassium and its protein combined with the extra carbohydrates in low fat chocolate milk provide the body with an excellent ratio of carbohydrates to protein which stimulates recovery. This is extremely useful if you are going from one strenuous activity to another. Maybe there is a reason why kids prefer chocolate milk.
Sources: Fitness Magazine and Nutrition Action Newsletter
The Activity Nook…
For those of you who are having trouble incorporating exercise as a part of your lifestyle, have you ever considered working with a personal trainer?
A knowledgeable personal trainer can:
1. Work with your current level of fitness and design a program specifically for you.
2. A good trainer will help you set realistic short term goals as well as long term goals.
3. Working with a professional will help you stay motivated and encourage you to exercise regularly.
4. A trainer can alter a program immediately if he or she notices your needs are changing.
There are at least 500 amino acids in our bodies. They are the 2nd largest component next to water in our muscle, tissue and cells. The classification was first made in 1806 by two French chemists by the names of Vasquelin and Robiquet who first isolated the compound in asparagus. It has since been established that amino acids are the structural units that make up protein in other words the building blocks. When a protein is digested what is left is amino acids. They in turn break down food, help our bodies grow, repair muscle tissue as well as protect and nourish enzymes in the brain. Some amino acids are more abundant in the body and have been classified into 3 categories. The first is the essential group. They are classified as such not because they are more important but due to the fact that they cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained externally either by food or supplementation. Good sources would be meats, eggs, dairy, whey and lentils. The second class are non-essential and a healthy body has the ability to produce these on its own. The third are known as conditional which are basically non-essential amino acids that are only called upon to deal with stress and illness. The use of amino acid supplementation has become widely used by bodybuilders but lately the medical field has seen their benefits in fighting depression as well as treating fibromyalgia. Since they deteriorate daily and do not have the ability to be stored, it is essential that we replenish them to prevent muscle degradation. Understanding the importance of amino acids and how they provide energy, aid in muscle strength, fat loss, mood and brain function are only a few of the physiological processes that can only be maintained by proper nutrition.
As we age our bodies have a tendency to lose muscle mass which is known a sarcopenia. There are many proteins on the market today all of which promise to help us retain and build some of that muscle. One of the richest form of protein comes from Cottage cheese. Cottage cheese contains what is know as Casein protein. This is a slow acting protein which can be beneficial as a late night snack. It enters the body slowly as it nourishes and feeds necessary protein to your muscles as you sleep.
Cottage cheese and apple sauce are a great combo especially as a late night snack ( I prefer a 1% creamy brand of cottage cheese)
Partner up-Whenever possible train with a partner. Whether it be running, weight training or simply speed walking. Having a partner may be the incentive you need to go the extra mile when walking or running. While training with free weights, a partner can also prevent you from injuring yourself. Working with a partner can raise your level of fitness especially if you both have the same goals.