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
March is a month of mayhem in Adelaide. With the festival coming and going and the V8′s long gone from our streets, I have sensed a great deal of fatigue in those who have tried to keep up with the frenetic pace.
It is like we need a tank of that high octane fuel to get us through to Easter!
However, with a few simple tweaks of our metabolic engine we may be able to develop a machine powerful enough to see us through these busy times with plenty of energy in reserve. Continue reading
Having recently completed my first official ‘mini ultra’ 50km marathon, one of the most common queries I received was about when I was going to do my carb loading, so I thought I would put forward my opinion on this concept!
Carbohydrates are stored in the body, and unlike fat, storage space is limited. Our muscles are the primary storage site, however our liver has a small capacity to draw upon for various functions. Upon requirement of energy, stored carbohydrate (in the form of glycogen) is converted into glucose and utilised as fuel.
Now, the body uses two primary fuel sources – carbohydrates and fats. For rapid production of energy, carbohydrates provide the bulk of the fuel. This occurs predominantly during high intensity exercise. At low and moderate intensities, fats contribute a greater proportion of fuel as the process for breakdown is more complex and requires oxygen. At any given time the body is using a mix of these two sources but the contribution of each is dependant upon what we are doing.
The average human body can hold somewhere between 1600-2400 calories of energy from glycogen.
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!
In an earlier post we promised to outline the many benefits that exercise can provide you, and this is our time to deliver! now, before your eyes roll back in boredom, I have to tell you that the more that we look at this the more exciting and brilliant this concept of moving your body becomes!!
To be honest, over the last couple of months I’ve fallen in love all over again with my profession. I get the incredible opportunity to make people’s bodies healthier on a day to day basis by simply making them move at intensities and complexities greater than they are used to!
Another thing that I’d like to clarify is what exercise is NOT good for. My point here is, as is published in an earlier post, that I find it a shame that people become disillusioned with exercise because they expected their 5 visits to the gym to provide them with results that are unrealistic. check out the linked blog article http://informhealth.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/the-balance-between-diet-and-exercise-in-weight-and-fat-loss/ for more on the balance between nutrition and exercise to lose weight. as it indicates, exercise alone results in relatively small weight loss when compared to dietary changes. BUT what is exercise good for then in this case??
now, outlining the many benefits of exercise is a massive undertaking, so we’ll be taking you along on an exploration journey over the next few weeks as we let you in on some fantastic evidence.
Back to our topic for today – the effect of exercise on weight loss: as stated in the linked article, exercise can help reduce as much as half a kilo of fat per week with a gruelling schedule. Very importantly we do know that exercise provides you with the best protection against weight GAIN! therefore being one of the best prevention strategies against the obesity epidemic. There’s a range of physiological reasons that help to explain this:
Exercise, especially resistance training (lifting weights) helps maintain and/or increases your lean body mass (muscle), which means you have a bigger ‘engine’ to burn more energy on a day to day basis.
Exercise, especially at high intensities, results in your cells being more effective fat burners, so not only are you burning fat while you exercise, but also during the rest of the day – try interval based training to maximise this!
Another great mechanism is that exercise makes you more insulin sensitive, meaning that you are better able to metabolise (burn) energy and are less likely to store fat as a result.
Now how is that for a start on getting you excited about getting more active?! next week we’ll tell you about the benefits of exercise on stress management and sleep quality.
till then! in the mean time, if you have any questions on this don’t hesitate to contact our Exercise Physiologists at http://www.informhealth.com