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From 0 to 1000km ‘Ride as One’ – Multiple Day bike event prep: Screening – The right start

From 0 to 1000km ‘Ride as One’ – Multiple Day bike event prep: Screening – The right start

bikefit2016_picScreening is a critical part of our solutions for our clients to set up the right start before beginning their exercise journey. And so my exciting journey from 0km to 1000km in one week would be no different! Establishing the right screening process to address my weaknesses and asymmetries is the first step I took.

My Bike Fit experience

I enlisted the skills of my great colleague and friend Shane Burgess from SmartHealth to conduct a bike fit assessment. I just purchased a beautiful new bike, and I’ll have to increase my kilometres on it quite significantly from month to month, I wanted to make sure that the steed and I fit each other like a glove!

You see, my left leg is 5 millimetres shorter than my right leg. Add to this all the little physical quirks you develop after decades of exercising and pushing your limits… including the many stacks on my mountain bike when I also push my age by feeling like I’m a kid again – lead to interesting challenges on a road bike. On a road bike your pelvis is relatively fixed by the mandatory narrow saddle, and your feet are firmly clipped onto the pedals. This set up, while great for speed and power transfer, creates interesting pressures when your movement is not smooth and symmetrical! After a couple of hours of adjusting cleats, inserting spacers between my left shoe and the pedal, and tinkering with about every movable part of my bike, I was ready to start accumulating kilometres! The feeling on the bike after this process was impressive. I truly felt extremely balanced and efficient!!

Max posture

Movement Screening to set up gym training

The next step was to have my colleagues at iNform perform a Movement Screen on me to ensure that my training off the bike was also targeted to improve on my weaknesses, and ensure that I can maximise my return on investment from my time training in the gym.

I’ll write much more about the specifics of my training to improve my strength and functional capacity in future entries of this blog series. The aim will be to give me the best possible chance to enjoy the Ride as One, complete the ride, and be able to move afterwards!

What can you take away from this?

I once learned from a valued colleague of mine the following sage advice: “spend two thirds of the time allocated to a project planning it, and you will succeed”. To be honest, I don’t think y impatience has ever allowed me to follow this advice to the fullest, but I do know that before embarking on any significant challenge it is imperative to set things up right from the beginning, to avoid costly mistakes (injuries, pain, wasted training) down the track. So what ever your physical challenge, be it to run your first 5kms, a City to Bay, or a marathon; or to enter a new season of elite level training; make sure you get the right assessment and screening process first to target your training to your specific needs!

More about setting up the right team next week!

What can the Olympics teach us about ageing well?

What can the Olympics teach us about ageing well?

The Olympics are arguably the grandest sporting event to take place. 11,551 athletes from 207 different nations competed in 306 events in 28 sports. What we have seen in Rio 2016 is a age diverse group of athletes competing to be the world’s best. The really interesting part of all this is that it can show us that age can become just a number rather than a limiting factor. Ie: You are only as old as you think and act.

Let’s look at the numbers:
Oldest Olympian in Rio: Mary Hanna, 61yo equestrian (Australia)
Oldest Gold Medallist @ Rio: Kristin Armstrong 43yo (U.S. cyclist)
Oldest Gymnast in Rio: Oksana Chusovitina 41yo (Uzbekistan)
Oldest track and Field Athlete: Jo Pavey 42yo 10,000-meter running (Great Britain)

Now I am fully aware that not everyone wants to complete the copious hours of grueling training to become an Olympian. Some could not think of anything worse than even playing a sport, but what it shows you is that your life is not over once you hit that certain age that you deem “as being old.”

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you actually were?”

Physiologically it is understood that the body changes with each passing day, with the rate of regeneration decreasing as well as general degeneration of vital pieces of our bodies. Our V02max (which is numerical value that describes how much oxygen your body can use per kilogram of body weight) decreases as we age. One of the reasons for this is that for everyone (fit or unfit) our maximal heart rates decrease as we age. This reduces the output from the heart each beat and also the delivery of oxygen to the working muscles. This can lower general performance and endurance.

So, how are these older individual’s still competing against the world’s best and winning?

Training is the answer.

In the general population (on average) our V02max declines by approximately 10% per decade after we hit 30 years of age. Individuals who train in higher
intensities can reduce that drop to 5% per decade. That is 50% more oxygen moving around their body in comparison to someone who sits in an office all day.6a0120a92f5af5970b019aff7b6976970c-600wi

The typical rate of decline in muscle mass in the general population is quite similar to aerobic changes. Research has estimated that from 40 years of age, muscle mass decreases 8% a decade until we hit around 70 years of age after which losses increase to about 15% a decade. However strength training can minimise that loss. The cross section on thighs of a younger athlete, an older athlete and an inactive (sedentary) individual highlights that muscle mass can be maintained if trained.

The one thing that is highly noticeable is the domino effect of decreased muscle mass and strength. The loss of strength and muscle tissue lead to reduced mobility, followed by a decreased basal metabolic rate, increased body fat percentage, decreased metabolic enzymes, decreased insulin sensitivity, and finally a decrease in bone mineral density.

Whilst a majority of us over 30 are not trying to gain selection in an Olympic team, training like athletes can have us feeling better, more mobile, lighter, and most importantly not “too old”



AM vs. PM: Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening?

AM vs. PM: Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening?

Most people generally decide whether to exercise in the morning or evening, or possibly a combination of the two simply due to time availablility or individual preference. Some people swear by the 6am workouts that gets them pumped for the rest of the day, others wouldn’t dare break a sweat before lunch, but is there a ‘best’ time of day to exercise?

Have you ever considered the possible benefits or negatives of which time of day you decide to exercise? 

Several studies have focused on this exact question and looked at varying physiological processes to see the change to morning and evening exercise. One study compared the differences in a maximal exertion treadmill test on untrained individuals randomly performed once in the morning and once in the evening. Recording heart rate, oxygen consumption, respiratory exchange ratio, rate of perceived exertion and total exercise time, they found no significant difference in performance during maximal exercise. Due to variations in body temperature, a longer warm up may be required in morning training due to a slower increase in body temperature, which may have an effect on ventilation responses and rating of perceived exertion.

Exercising in the morning has been linked to a better night’s sleep. Exercising just before bed can affect sleep due to increased levels of endorphin’s and serotonin. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, it’s best to make sure you don’t exercise within two hours of going to bed.

One study focused on the effect morning and evening exercise had on the hormones; growth hormone (important for human development) and cortisol (helps the body manage stress). Previous research has shown that these two hormones response to exercise is dependent on other factors, such as: workload, mode, duration, anaerobic vs. aerobic, diet and fitness level. When such factors are controlled, it was found that time of day does not alter growth hormone response to exercise; however, peak cortisol concentrations in response to exercise were found in the morning.

Another study focused on the psychological responses to exercise and found no significant changes in anxiety, depression, anger or mood following high intensity exercise in the morning or evening, concluding that mood and anxiety responses to exercises are similar whether exercise is performed in the morning or evening

So what can we take from all of this? While some studies have shown possible benefits to exercising either in the morning or evening the vast majority show no significant change and agree that it really doesn’t matter what time of day you exercise – the most important thing is to pick a time of day that works best for you, because after all exercising any time of day is better than not exercising at all.

People watching: do you have enough strength??

People watching: do you have enough strength??

6 Strength levelI love people watching. My ‘creative expression’ is understanding human movement, and helping others move better so that they can get more from life. This is what I do, every day, and I love it. In fact, this is not a job, but somehow, a part of who I am. As such, I would struggle to be in a public setting, and not look at how others move, at their physical strength, and wonder how I could impact their life through some simple tweaks (yes, if we have shared a physical space, I have probably been checking you out!!).

I recently participated in a great community event that had people walking, running, cycling, pushing prams and riding scooters to raise funds for some great welfare projects. And as I watched those around me, I was conflicted. On one hand, I was so happy to see so many people out being physically active, enjoying the outdoors and each others’ company and support. But on the other hand, I was concerned by the lack of physical strength that I saw. Now, to clarify, I wasn’t expecting to see a whole bunch of body builders or rugby forwards walking around! But what I tend to look for, what catches my attention, is the capacity for humans to keep good posture, good joint alignment when moving. I saw a lot of knees that simply buckled inwards with every step, shoulders and ribcages that collapsed with fatigue, and this during not much more than a 6km walk. Please understand, I’m not being critical – it was great to see all those people out there – but my concern is that all those signs of physical weakness tell me that there is a greater chance that they may develop aches and pains; and that they would simply struggle more than they should doing general activities of daily living… such as walking!

So the issue is not that I saw ‘unfit’ people, but people without enough muscular strength to keep their bones and joints in optimal alignment and function. While as many as 60% of Australians don’t do enough physical activity (to get a health benefit), a 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report states that a whopping 80% (!!) don’t do any muscle strengthening activities!

So while general aerobic fitness is important, weight training has greater benefits for bone/joint health, general mobility, and those common activities of daily living such as getting into and out of chairs, bathing, dressing, opening jars, and picking up your shopping!

My strong (pardon the pun!) belief is that we should build strength first, and then focus on overall fitness. This way you will have those activities of daily living covered, and then prepare your body for the greater demands (such as ground impact and repetitive movements) that will come with greater fitness activities.

The current Australian Guidelines (2014) recommend an adult “do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week”. So why does such a small part of the population (only 20%) adhere to these guidelines? There are observed socio-economic trends, which may be driven by education, but primarily access opportunities to gym equipment. This may also be a reason for the population as whole… it is simpler to go for a walk or jog, but strength based moves typically require a little more knowledge and equipment.

Do yourself a favour: get stronger! Your life will thank you! We are here to help!

Creating change: Do you need to be unhappy before you can make long lasting behavioral change

Creating change: Do you need to be unhappy before you can make long lasting behavioral change

There is no doubt, we have all tried to change something in our life. Whether it was losing weight, sleeping better, eating healthier or moving more. Did it work? Has it lasted or have you slipped back into old habits?

Angry-Cat-Meme-No-14A well-respected lecturer in the area of behavioural change and well being has explained that for long lasting change to occur there are four criteria that need to be met:

1) Discontent
2) Vision/Dreams/Goals
3) Education
4) Continuous deliberate action

It is very important to realize that changing a behavior (such as inactivity) will not just happen because you know you should. It definitely will not happen just because a fitness professional tells you to or if your partner mentioned that you are putting on weight. Even though we all wish it were easy, it’s not that simple.

Change needs discontentment. You need to be unhappy about the behavior or the consequences of it. Why? Because it means that you deem it to be truly important. If deep down you don’t think it is as important as everything else that is going on in your world, then the change will not last. You may be able to start but all the other important aspects may slowly start taking over again.

Take this common example: You have been warned by your GP that your blood glucose levels are rising and you are at risk of developing diabetes if you don’t do something. They advise that you should look to exercise more and eat less. Whilst this scares you into healthy behaviours for a little while, it isn’t that tangible and while it may make you unhappy at the time, it is not in the forefront of your mind.

Wind this forward 3 years and your doctor informs you that you are now diabetic. You have to start taking medication and pricking your finger to measure your blood glucose levels 1-2 per day. This makes you unhappy and every day (maybe every few hours) you think about it. It is this importance that can truly allow long term change.

Now what happens if you don’t want to get to that stage before you are in pain or diagnosed with a disease? Well, think about what it is that makes you unhappy and why you may really want to change. Really think WHY! It has to be internally driven. You need the other three criteria, but if it is not intrinsically important to you, then the change in behaviour may not last.

Next week we will discuss how you need a vision to change, in order to make your life better.

Get That Monkey Off Your Back!

It’s 2016, the year of the Fire Monkey in regards to the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the year of the Fire Monkey are characterised as being ambitious and adventurous, but irritable. In Australia, we see the monkey as being cheeky and mischievous. What can we take from this Chinese Zodiac that could help our health and fitness? Read on….

Being ambitious and adventurous are superb characteristics and I feel they can help lead to a healthy and active lifestyle. Being adventurous might mean you like to try new things, like mountain biking, going on walking holidays or buying a new plastic kayak for the summer. Being ambitious will only help to drive you to succeed in these new pursuits. Being irritable? Well, we all get irritable from time to time, what better way to cure irritability than to get out on an adventure!

“Research has shown that increased sedentary time is associated with a decline in health”

In Western culture we have a common term, ‘get the monkey off your back’. This can be used in relation to many scenarios where there is an issue or situation that continues to be problematic. One that comes to mind is barriers that prevent people from getting their daily and weekly exercise.

Why is this important?
Research has shown that increased sedentary time is associated with a decline in health. You may have heard the term ‘Sitting is the new smoking’.

There are many excuses that are often used in place of regular exercise. Common examples are a lack of time or being too tired, needing new shoes or new equipment. Whatever it is that is preventing you from getting into a regular exercise program is a barrier, and that barrier is a monkey on your back! Find a solution, break down the barriers and give the monkey a flick. Don’t let it weigh you down, let it drive your ambition and sense of adventure.

Get out there, enjoy nature, enjoy life.


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