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Fitness Myths iNformed

After discussing our last post on spring related aches and pains on radio last week (ABC 891 ‘Drive’ with Grant Cameron – wednesdays at 5.45pm) we’ve been told by a lot of people that they felt challenged to get out and get more active, which is fantastic!

However some of the approaches and concepts that people mentioned have needed a bit of guidance, so here are the top 5 typical fitness misconceptions that we often hear. Hopefully this will help you stay on a better, more informed path towards health and fitness!

  1. Spot fat reduction – we cannot target a specific body region for fat loss. eg. Situps to reduce abdominal fat. The body burns fat as a result of diatary modifications and/or exercise generally, and not from specific targeted areas. While some areas do lose fat quicker than others, this is hormonally and genetically predetermined. For more information on this check out an earlier post on doing sit ups to get a flat stomach
  2. Situps to strengthen the lower back – while abdominal strength is crucial for low back strength, the muscles that need to develop are those deep muscles of the abdominal region, typically known as the ‘core’. This does not include the rectus abdominis (RA) (or ‘six-pack muscle). The 6-pack is a superficial power muscle with little endurance and capacity for prolonged spine stability. In addition, the tuypical way of working it, crunches and sit ups, is a repetitive bending of the spine under load. Exactly the same movement that tends to hurt the back in the first place! stay tuned for a future post developing this argument further. In the mean time, if your abdominals need greater strength to protect your spine please see a quality exercise professional for guidance, as this is an area that if worked incorrectly, could hurt more than benefit form badly performed exercises.
  3. Weights bulk you up -of course doing resistance training (weights) correctly will increase muscle size strength and improve shape. However the progress is at best slow and requires significant effort. The most significant factors determining the speed and amount of muscle growth are the type of training you do, your nutrition, and hormonal levels. This last fact disadvantages females significantly due to their lower levels of testosterone and growth hormone. Interestingly we most often hear this concern from women! Body Buiders adhere to training routines similar to those of professional athletes (and many of them are just that), including 10+hrs in the gym weekly, very strict nutritional plans and hundreds of dollars on nutritional supplements and other ‘aids’. Unless you are willing to subject yourself to such a routine, you are in little danger of bulking up out of control!
  4. Pushing through pain & exercising when sick – have you ever exercised to ‘sweat out’ an illness/cold? firstly, pain beyond that normally experienced muscle soreness 24-36 hrs post exercise, is often a warning signal of a developing injury. training ‘through’ that will only increase the chances of you developing an injury. We recommend that you stop the activity that causes the pain and see a trusted health professional to rehab that weak ‘link’. We start all of our clients with what we call ‘foundation exercises’, which are designed to improve the function of postural and stabilising muscles and thus strengthen those ‘weak links’. In as far as ‘sweating out’ a cold: we know that long term, exercise improves immune function, but exercise has a short and acute supressing effect on the immune system. Exercise places a large energy demand on the body, which during a sickness, should be directed towards fighting that sickness. Exercise, then, while ill, palces a greater load on an already stressed immune system. the best thing would be to keep fluid intake high, eat a natural and colourful diet, and rest!
  5. All I have to do is exercise to lose weight – check out a previous post that goes into good depth about this argument/belief. To add to that information it is interesting to note how much exercise actually needs to be performed to ‘burn’ some common indulgences:
  • 1 SLICE OF MUD CAKE IS 1200 kj & WILL TAKE YOU

55 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 27 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)

  • 2 GLASSES OF WINE are 850 kj & WILL TAKE YOU

38.3 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 18.8 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)

  • 1 GLASS OF BEER IS 570 kj & WILL TAKE YOU

25.9 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 12.7 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)

  • 1x 55gm CHOC BAR IS 1200 kj & WILL TAKE YOU

54.5 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 26.7 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)

  • 1 50gm PACKET OF CRISPS IS 1100 kj & WILL TAKE YOU

50 MINS OF WALKING TO BURN OFF OR 24.4 MINS OF MODERATE CARDIO (JOGGING)

hmmm, food for thought!

Spring fitness solutions

With spring upon us we are already seeing a lot of our clients, and friends and family, starting to increase their physical activity. This is typically a result of the slighter longer and somewhat warmer days, and the impending approach of summer and its scantiness! Add to that ‘spring cleans’ and weeds in the garden, and there’s a lot more movement going on!

While all this is obviously a good thing, we are seeing a lot more aching bodies as a result; and we are hearing this from our health colleagues as well. So what is going on? I think that people often forget that they are coming out of a long and inactive hibernation, and their bodies are not ready for the loads, twisting and bending that’s being imposed on them!

So here are a few fitness tips and solutions to those aches and pains:

  • firstly, start slow. Allow your body the time to get used to the new loads you are subjecting it to.
  • Plan your activity, especially if it’s work around the house and garden, into manageable chunks. don’t get caught out with a job that’s too big and forces you to spend hours working right off the mark.
  • Focus on your posture while moving. You’ve probably spent endless hours in forward stooped positions at your desk and car with very little muscle loads. Aim to reverse this posture by sitting and standing tall, with an open chest. and try to maintain this posture while exercising an working.
  • If you are planning to start an exercise routine, perform exercises that will prepare you for the harder exercises that will come later. For example, if about to start running, go for longer walks to begin with, and introduce jogs in smaller chunks. Also, develop some strength in your legs by doing exercises such as squats.
  • If you develop joint pain during your activities don’t push through that pain, it could be the begining of a more serious injury. See a trusted health professional for advice.

If you would like more information on this or with preparing for your exercise goals an exercise physiologist at iNform can help with advice and practical tips.

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