Which exercise is best for the waistline?
I often get asked this question when people are keen to shed a few kilos from around the midrift. Many people think that to lose the gut you need to exercise it, therefore crunches must be the way to go. This myth has been around for many years and is totally unfounded, you simply cannot spot reduce fat by exercising that region! What’s even worse is that crunches are potentially a very damaging exercise to your spine, but that’s another blog in itself (if you’re interested, Scott Wood has a good blog about this topic which you’ll find by clicking here).
However, there is some good science about the best form of exercise to reduce the waistline and shed those extra kilos.
So the City to Bay has been run and won for another year. And for many South Australians this event marks the culmination of many months of hard work in preparation, and I applaud all those who acheived this goal for 2011. I too am such a person, partaking in my very first City to Bay. I thoroughly enjoyed it, for more so than just the simple joy of running on a beautful spring day.
To an extraterestrial observer, the sight of this mass of humanity snaking through Adelaide’s CBD and South Westerly suburbs would have resembled a mass migration such as those seen accross the Savannah lands of Africa.
But on closer inspection, one fascinating difference bewteen this lyrca-clad, ear-phone wearing procession, and a herd of migrating Wildebeest would have been observed. In a herd of Wildebeest, in fact in a herd, flock, school or swarm of any creature other than homosapiens, each member of the pack moves in basically the same way as each of its bretheren.
Humans on the other hand- well let me put it this way, there were 34,000 entrants this year, and I reckon there were about 34,000 running styles too!
There was heel-striking, toe-striking and something in-between. There was slouched postures, forward-leaners and straight backers. Head’s were bobbing up and down, shaking side-to-side and some barely moving at all. Some fists were pumping, some were cradled into the body like they were in slings, and some were waving around the hips like a salsa dancer’s. Some legs were shuffling, some were bounding, some were prancing, some were cutting side-to-side like an ice-skater’s, whilst some were flailing around like egg-beaters.
Our alien voyeur would surely find this quite perplexing, and I do too. Why do humans run so differently to one another? Structurally, we are all basically the same. We each have the same muscles connecting the same bones, with the same organs providing the various fuels.
I believe we all run so differently because basically, most of us don’t know how to run. More specifically, I think that we have forgotten how to.
When a foal is born, it’s horsey mummy and daddy don’t teach it how to run. It figures it out by finding the most efficent method, and then it never stops. Human’s are the same. Noone teaches a toddler how to run, they just figure it out and then go 100 miles and hour at it. And in most cases, they do so with great efficiency and speed.
But then they stop. And they sit. And they keep on sitting. And after some period of time,they lose the knack for running. When running is taken up later in life it is often assumed that all we have to do is start walking then add a little air time to it and that is running. And whatever it looks like, hey, that is just how I run buddy. The way many people run (or more accurately, jog) is simply an extension of how they walk, and many people walk terribly, but that is another blog. But even if you do walk well, running well is an entirely different movement pattern.
In any given year, 80% of runners will get injured. I believe it is because most runners run badly. It is a simple technique thing and it can be corrected through training. I have been training for a trail Ultra-marathon for the past 14 months. For the first 9 months, my sole focus was on improving my running technique. I have been able to progress in this time, from being able to run perhaps 10km with pain in my shins and lower back the following day, to now being able to run 25km easily, 40km in one day, and multiple 20+km runs in the course of a week with not one injury developing. Not even a slight niggle.
This is of course, a case study of one, so I won’t be publishing anything in Nature just yet, but it has convinced me that running technique is fundamental to running well. I believe there is a single perfect running style for humans that anyone can learn if they devote the time to it, and I will delve into this in great depth over coming blogs.
In my last blog post I outlined the importance of treating our dietary changes as only ONE aspect of the four pillars to our health. These changes should be lifelong behaviours rather than searching for a quick fix.
However the scientific evidence of the most appropriate changes to our diet can guide us in our journey for weight loss and better health.
When we start to look at these studies, some interesting patterns appear as to the most successful ways to lose weight….. (more…)
I googled “diets” the other day and the first page I came across was a list of diets from Wikipedia. There in front of me was over 100 diets each name more obscure than the next!
It’s not a wonder that the consumer gets awfully confused about the best way to eat, jumping from one diet to the next, hoping that the next one on the list is the magic pill they’ve been looking for. (more…)
One of my previous blogs, ‘Pain? It’s all in your head’ certainly caused quite a stir. I attribute this mostly to the tabloid-style title I gave it, which may have paled the complexity of our experience of pain. So I thought a little clarification was in order to help broaden our understanding of the physiology of pain, and also how our perception can influence our experience of pain, here goes.
(advertising) only feeds our society’s often skewed perspective on pain. This does nothing to empower us to change, in fact it intentionally intends to disempower us. (more…)