I have utilised the services of numerous trainers in my health and fitness journey, and they have been very good. However, my current trainer has drawn me back to the joys of my childhood.
Her programming model is raw and instinctive. It’s a refreshing change from the empirically driven and rigid protocols that I’ve used in the past (rightly, a necessity in clinical settings).
She gives me no leeway in getting everything done when we train. She always drags me outside; and sessions are generally impromptu. They are never excessive in length, and may occur more than once in a day.
There are no set rest intervals, little predictability, and without fail, I am left puffing, sweating, and smiling.
And I’m yet to suffer an injury. Continue reading
Recently I’ve noted a number of reports on Australians who aren’t taking holidays.
In fact, almost a third of Australian workers have no planned leave in the next 12 months.
In a rare moment of nostalgia over the weekend, my mind was cast back to my youth in the ’80′s. I saw a video clip from 1986, where a lady was dancing with total abandon to herself. It may have been my ignorance to the big bad world at the time, but I was taken by the simplicity of it all. No special effects, REAL instruments, images of books with tangible paper pages. Classic ’80′s production epitomising the world in which I grew up. Continue reading
Do you ever think that you would feel better if you could run 5km’s without stopping? Or 10km? And does your picture of health involve a person who does this multiple times per week, perhaps with the resemblance of a smile on their face?
Are your barriers to achieving this for yourself centred around time, ability or pain? If so, read on, because I’ve got some good news. Continue reading
Damn it’s cold outside! This was my thought as my knuckles were becoming numb on a frosty Adelaide Hills’ morning on my regular run!
We are all no doubt struggling through some of these colder months, so I thought this was the perfect time to talk about how our body’s natural warming system could possibly be a way to keep ourselves from putting on weight.
Scientists our now discovering that a type of fat storage tissue called Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) is more important than we first thought.
In fact only 50g of BAT can account for up to 20% of someone’s daily energy expenditure!
So what is this BAT and how do we get more of it?
My baby girl was introduced to lamb-shanks recently. It was a balmy evening on Sydney’s Darling Harbour, and she was captivated by these hunks of meat served up beautifully over mashed potato. Continue reading
What would be your response if you tuned into the radio – a respectable radio like ABC Radio National – and you heard a leading researcher being interviewed and he was excited about the fact that they are very close to developing a vaccine that would desensitise you to a poison??
Well, this happened to me today, and I was stumped to know what to really think, especially because:
The poison is gluten and the disease is coeliac.
Among all the bad news on the radio as I drove to work this morning, I heard that the Heart Foundation has released data from a new study stating that now 25% of Australian kids are overweight or obese, and that they are tipped to be the first generation EVER to live less than their parents.
This is depressing on so many counts – the emotional/psychological load on these kids because of the behaviours we, as adults, allow them to assimilate; their decreased quality of life; and the financial burden on society… just this point alone has so many ramifications. just ask yourself, who is going to look after their parents in their later years??
Now, I know that we keep talking about changed eating habits, increased screen (tv, computers, etc) time, and decreased movement at school. but lets face it: are these things really to blame? or are we, as the example setting parents/adults allowing and driving our kids towards these behaviours?? I authored an article (A decrease in the association between the physical activity patterns of Australian parents and their children; 1985-1997) published in 2005 in the Journal of Science Medicine and Sport, which showed that not only are kids playing less sport now, but also the strength of our influence over their behaviour seems to be decreasing. I guess all you have to do is look at the empty parks around our neighbourhoods that once upon a time had fathers kicking the footy with their sons…
I think there’s also another force at play here, and that is sport, or at least sports-based Phys. Ed. I think that this model rewards the genetically gifted kids (those that can play sports well, and hence also enjoy it), and not kids who are less coordinated/skilled, who may still be trying hard. We all know what happens to these kids, don’t we? they struggle to pick up the intricacies of the game, are the last picked to be part of teams, and eventually develop lack of self-confidence, which leads to avoidance behaviours. What happened to ‘play’? what happened to the notion that schools should be trying (supposedly) to equip our children to succeed in life as adults? is being able to catch and throw a ball with a Lacrosse stick going to make them more influential and valuable citizens, and fulfilled human beings?? how about instilling in them healthy behaviours; to understand that it is ‘movement’ that will save their lives?
There are programs in the States (of A) that now equip children with Heart Rate monitors and reward (and grade) children based on their relative intensity of work, rather than on their skills. this way all children can work within their skill limits and still achieve great outcomes in health. An interesting concept I think.
So, adults, get out and PLAY with your kids! show them that you enjoy moving and being active; that its not a chore, but a reward! We have amazing bodies, which thrive with movement!
Sixteen years ago as a work experience student I had my first exposure to a gym. I was looking for something that I was vaguely interested in, and thought exercise was cool so I ended up at my local workout centre. My lasting memory from this time is of men and women doing bench presses and bicep curls in front of mirrors. They watched their chests and arms intently, admiring their shapes. The moves that they performed were mechanical and repetitious, and required little thought. I suppose this simplistic type of routine allowed attention to be directed towards the appearance of one’s body under exertion.
Then, on every wall, were large pictures of male and female icons. It was as if these were to serve as a constant reference as to how we should LOOK. The problem as I saw it was that these people were in pursuit of an aesthetically based ideal that had been determined by somebody else (and their airbrush, perhaps). In reality, what was genetically, functionally, metabolically and specifically ideal for them may have actually looked quite different.
The pursuit of aesthetics through exercise is disappointing. It minimalises the amazing and complex processes that occur within our bodies when we move, and lands us in a realm where ultimate satisfaction is rarely acheived or maintained. Exercise with intent breeds internal intelligence. It challenges and alters the paradigm of exercise, and opens a world of possibilities that lay beneath what we can see in the mirror.
I’m sorry, but I have to get this off my chest. I came across some incredibly irresponsible and short-sighted ‘journalism’ today (Thurs may 20th, 2010) in Adelaide’s The Advertiser. On page 3 of the ‘news’paper the first paragraph of the centre story states that “the secret to old age could have nothing to do with lifestyle and everything to do with genes.” the rest of the story goes on to celebrate a lady who has just had her 101st birthday (a very happy birthday and congratulations to her!), and to report that scientists have identified the “Methuselah genes”, named after the oldest person in the Bible, who lived to be 969.
I guess that perhaps our public is not confused enough about what to believe about their health, so we might as well tell them now that they don’t have to do anything at all! its all out of their control!! after all, these genes are found in only 10% of young people, and in 30% of centenarians – what more evidence do we need for crying out loud!!! and we have all heard of someone who was a fit marathon runner and died of a heart attack! and better still, we all have an uncle Albert who drinks and smokes a pack a day and just turned 92, don’t we?!
Well, I guess this begs the question: how did the other 70% get to be centenarians?? why is it that the highest concentration of centenarians occurs in non-developed Western countries/regions? could it also be that Methuselah’s contemporaries (and she would have had a few!) got to live as long as they did because they weren’t exposed to the stresses of modern western environments, or the processed foods, or the degrees of sedentary behaviour our communities experience? could it be that they experienced a degree of spiritual health not found in our society? could it be that perhaps their lifestyle had something to do with it? Have we wondered why most (if not all) centenarians are thin? maybe its because their overweight counterparts don’t get to live that long?? or wait, maybe its just genetics that keep them thin!! because in the absence of any real genetic shift in humans for thousands of years, our genetic pool has suddenly altered in the last 6 or 7 decades.
My goodness, I hope you excuse my sarcasm, but a pen (or press) can be a very powerful weapon, and we should’t be handing licenses to use them publicly so easily.
So, lets follow on with our journey through the benefits of exercise, and here is one that is going to get you listening! exercise will slow down and even reverse the effects of ageing! and in particular, this is related to resistance training, or the lifting of weights.
We know that when we lift weights we ‘damage and tear’ muscle fibres. this is that feeling of muscle soreness (not to be confused with joint or injury pain) that we get 24-48 hrs post exercise. Our body repairs these muscle fibres in such a way to protect them from being damaged by similar loads again in the future. this is done by building new bigger muscle fibres.
Now, we know that the amount of muscle we carry is imperative to our health. It not only helps us burn more energy on a daily basis but a lack of it is associated with many chronic diseases such as diabetes.
As we age we tend to lose muscle mass, at the age of 60 we tend to lose 1% per year which doubles into our 70s. The great news is that resistance training can help slow this rate of decline and has even been shown to increase muscle mass in 70-80 year olds!
So, not only do we increase the size of our muscle as it rebuilds, but we can actually make it look new again through resistance training.
Lets take a quick detour through micro-biology to better understand this outcome. as we know, all cells in our body are in a constant state of repair and replication, and this happens through the copying of our DNA code. as we age and continue to go through this replication process, the DNA code becomes damaged, so the quality of new tissue is likewise damaged.
There’s a specific structure in muscle fibres called a mitochondria, which is where energy is produced (this is one of the reasons why increasing muscle mass is so important for weight management). as mitochondria replicates, it also degrades in quality through this process, which leads it to produce an increasing amount of ‘damaged’ by-products. Of particular interest are ‘free radicals’, which create a an oxidative (or rust like effect) on cellular tissue, thus further degrading it (this is the reason why we are encouraged to consume ‘anti oxidants!).
So, back to our muscle rebuilding story. when a muscle is damaged, its mitochondria are totally destroyed, so they can’t replicate anymore. So in the new muscle fibres the mitochondria are built using genetically untouched mitochondrial DNA.
It’s effectively like we are using new parts to build our muscle rather than recycling the old ones. Therefore our muscles look younger under a microscope, they function better which makes us feel like we have more energy on a daily basis.
So make sure you include resistance based training into your weekly schedule. The Australian Activity guidelines encourage us to exercise on most days of the week, but the American guidelines also include a recommendation for 2-3 weights sessions a week. make sure you look for registered Exercise Professionals to ensure you get the most out of your exercise sessions!