Why A Heart Monitor

Dr. H. James Harrington said, ” Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t improve it.  if you can’t control it, you can’t improve it”.
Most people know what a heart rate monitor does, but, do not know why it is important.  A heart rate monitor is a great tool that does exactly what its’ name implies, it measures your heart rate, or how many times a minute your heart beats.  It is important for your safety and success as it lets you know how hard you are working, which ensures the safety of your fitness workout.  Whether you are a beginner who’s just starting to work out, or a professional athlete looking to hit specific fitness goals, a heart monitor allows you to see how hard you are working at the gym.
Think of your heart as a muscle and the harder you work it, the stronger it gets and aerobic exercise is the best way to work it.  The more you exercise your heart, the more you lower your resting heart rate (RHR).  A stronger heart pumps more blood per beat, so the same work is performed with less beats.   A healthy heart will help prevent cardio disease/heart attacks. 
For the maximum benefit from your cardio workout it is recommended you work out at 50% – 85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  To calculate your MHR, deduct your age from 220.  Keep in mind, that  your MHR can be off up to 10% using this method, as heart rate levels vary depending on your fitness level, nutrition, medications, genetics, and environment.  After you have calculated your MHR with the above method, check your heart rate monitor to determine if you need to lower or increase your intensity level.
We recommend a heart rate monitor for everybody that works out and encourage you to inquire at the front desk about our MyZone heart monitors ( We have made them very affordable for our members). In addition to measuring your heart rate, MyZone measures calories burned and your effort level, which allows you to set goals and evaluate your progress while enjoying a safe workout.

 

How to Enhance Physical Mobility as A Senior

There is always an excuse to be sedentary. However, for the estimated 46 million elderly people in the US who are aged 65 years and above, physical activity is very important for healthy aging and to increase mobility & functioning. The benefits of exercise or physical movement are enormous, including improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance. It also helps increases cognitive function, reduces obesity, lowers risk of diseases and medical conditions including cancers, coronary problems & hip fractures and promotes better mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. 

Elderly people can choose different types of exercise that are suitable to their physical condition. Seniors vary in their abilities to perform physical functions whether due to a chronic illness or the effects of aging. Going to the gym, performing floor exercises, vigorous walking or aerobics are possible options for seniors. What is important is to engage in physical activity, however small. More information on how seniors can enhance fitness levels are explained in this article. 

The Thermic Effect of Food

We burn energy (calories) when we metabolize the food we eat.  In other words, it takes energy to digest, absorb and process the nutrients we consume, and this is the “Thermic Effect of Food”.

The thermic effect of the different macronutrients are as follows:

Fat   2%-3%
Carbs   6%-8%
Protein   25-30%

The precise thermic effect varies,but it is obvious that it takes a lot less energy or calories to metabolize fats or carbohydrates than it does to metabolize protein.  Let’s say the thermic effect of protein is 25% and the thermic effect of fat is 2%. This means that if you were to consume 100 calories of protein you would end up with 75 calories, while if you were to consume 100 calories of fat you would end up with 98 calories.

In addition to protein, whole foods have a higher thermic effect than processed foods. One study  compared the thermic effect of a sandwich made with whole grain bread and cheddar cheese with a sandwich made from refined grains and processed cheese. The result – digesting the whole grain sandwich burned twice the calories of the sandwich made with refined grains.

In short, calories from protein and whole foods require more energy to digest than calories from processed foods. Keep this in mind if you are looking to lose weight.

Fruits and Vegetables

A recent study by the Imperial College London reports that two-thirds of English citizens have a hard time consuming three to four portions of fruits and vegetables a day. For years it has been recommended we consume five portions a day to lower the risk of stroke by 18%, heart disease by 16%, cardiovascular disease by 13%, cancer by 4% , and an overall risk of an early death by 15%.
The study shows we should be eating platefuls of fruits and vegetables; if five portions are good, ten portions are better. Dr. Darin, the lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial states,” We wanted to investigate how much fruits and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruits and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better”.
Ten portions leads to a 24% reduction in heart disease, a 33% less chance of stroke, a 28% less chance of cardiovascular disease, a 13% less chance of cancer and a 31% less chance of premature death.
It is recommended that you eat the “rainbow”, or the different colors of veggies and fruits to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Not all vegetables and fruits are equal. Some fruits and vegetables are better at preventing heart disease and stroke while green veggies are better at reducing the chance of cancer.
Following are examples of the recommended size of a portion of fruits and vegetables. One apple, one pear, one glass of orange juice, one tomato, one banana, three tablespoons of peas and two broccoli spears.
Keep this in mind the next time you are preparing a meal or reaching for a snack. Load up your dinner plate with vegetables and be sure to keep plenty of fruit on hand!

Pulled Muscles

The most common sports injuries are injuries to your muscles, tendons and/or ligaments.  These soft tissue injuries can be either an acute injury or a chronic injury.  An acute injury is an injury that occurs at a specific and identifiable time, and if not treated properly, can become a chronic injury. A chronic injury is the result of overuse and repetitive movements.

Pulled muscles are caused by:

Lack of proper warm-up;
Lack of flexibility;
Lack of conditioning;
Fatigue;
Over-exertion.

A pulled muscle is painful and can cause swelling, bruising and loss of function. The severity of the injury is determined by whether you have strained the muscle or torn the muscle.  A severe strain or tear may require medical attention.

The recommended protocol for treating a pulled muscle is the P.R.I.C.E. principle.  P.R.I.C.E. is an acronym for the following:

P- Protect the injury by stopping the activity;
R- Rest the injured muscle by avoiding any painful movements;
I- Ice the injured area ASAP, every 20 minutes of every hour you are awake.  Ice will reduce the pain and the swelling;
C- Compress the injury with elastic wrap to provide support and reduce swelling;
E-Elevate the injured area to further reduce swelling.

It is also recommended that you take anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve.

Keep the above in mind the next time you strain or pull a muscle during an activity.  Immediately stop your activity and follow the P.R.I.C.E. principle to lessen the severity of the injury and shorten the healing time.

Tips for Breaking Through a Fitness Plateau

This is the year you have committed to changing unhealthy habits and working out. Your diet is on point and the workouts are a regular part of your week. At first, the changes to your body are obvious, and people are noticing until it happens. The weight loss comes to a screeching halt, but you are still working just as hard! You have hit a fitness plateau and it feels like you have hit a brick wall. Here are some tips to kick start the positive momentum and tackle the plateau.

 

Give yourself credit for the meaning of a plateau

When the results slow or stop altogether it is easy to feel let down or like you have done something wrong. In reality, the plateau isn’t a sign of you doing anything wrong, it’s a positive sign that your efforts are becoming a part of who you are. It is a sign that you have changed your overall health level and your body is making adjustments. It is a new normal for you and your body is in balance.

 

Get F.I.T.T.

According to the American Heart Association, the best way to break through a fitness plateau is to use their F.I.T.T. System to mix things up. F.I.T.T.= “…frequency, intensity, time and type.” Changing one or more of these components of your workout routine can mix things up enough to jumpstart the changes you are looking for in your body.

 

An example of a change that can have a big impact is looking at what types of fitness you are focusing on and adding a bigger variety. If you are doing a lot of running, add in some weight training for strength. Adding cardio to a workout week that is mainly weight training can have a similar boost for change.

 

Build in rest and recovery and keep things fun

When you made a commitment to get healthy, you may have gone all out and skipped a simple bit of down time to let your body recover. Adding in time to rest and let your body recover can actually help to prepare yourself to improve. It is a misconception that if working out 5 days a week is working for you working out every day will work even better. It is possible to train too much if you are expecting change and not to just maintain a certain level.

Rest and recovery are essential aspects of avoiding burnout. If you overdo it in your workouts, you may get tired of what you’re doing and start taking shortcuts more often or skipping days you would normally hit the gym. Another aspect of avoiding burnout is keeping things fun. Try new forms of working out each week or seek out other ways to spice things up–for example, you might take your dog with you on a hike or try a Krav Maga class with a friend. When a workout is fun, you’ll actually look forward to doing it, and that’s a great way to keep yourself on track.

 

Change small things to see big results

Changing too many things at once may not give your body time to adjust and make changes. It is better to change a few things like doing a larger number of reps at a lower weight than your regular lift for several weeks, Not only is it suggested that you make small changes, but it is also good to give these changes time to work. You may not see immediate jumps in progress but over a few weeks, the momentum will show again.

 

Measure and celebrate all types of progress

Workouts or new fitness goals are usually tied to a certain magical goal of losing a certain amount of weight or something that is pretty easy to measure. Focusing on just the numbers of weight loss can be frustrating if you stop seeing the pounds fall off. As you workout, your body is going through a variety of changes that go well beyond just the number on the scale. Start to look at things like body measurements, changes in muscle tone, higher endurance and other changes you will see with improved health. There is a good chance you are still seeing changes, just maybe not the number on the scale.

Taking the time to do things like a selfie each week to track visible changes can do a lot to boost your mood and keep you motivated. You may find you are still making progress, just in a different way.

Breathing While Exercising

Proper breathing while exercising is extremely important. Breathing is how we supply our cells, tissues and organs with oxygen. With proper breathing we help:

* Lower blood pressure;

* Reduce stress by decreasing stress hormones and increasing the mood enhancing hormone, serotonin;

* Enhance athletic performance;

* Improve brain function and focus.

When we inhale, we bring oxygen into our blood to distribute, and when we exhale, we purge our body of toxins and gases, such as carbon dioxide. Proper breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through your nose and breathing into your abdomen, not your chest. To ensure you are breathing correctly, your abs should rise before your chest. If you breathe rapidly with shallow breaths you will often experience a shortness of breath, stressing your heart and lungs.

When exercising always exhale on exertion. Do not hold your breath, as this causes a drop in the energy in your cells, leading to fatigue.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to note that one method of breathing does not work for all workouts. During cardio workouts continuous breathing increases nitric oxide gas, which relaxes arteries and maintains the blood flow needed to sustain rhythmic activity, such as running. While lifting weights you want to inhale on the less strenuous phase of the exercise and exhale on the more strenuous phase. During free-weight exercises or body weight based exericses such as push-ups, a good rule of thumb is to exhale during the phase of exercise where gravity is opposed. Proper breathing will tense your core muscles and aid you in keeping the proper form. Proper breathing also keeps the systolic blood pressure (the active pressure) more normalized and helps prevent a spike in pressure, which may cause several adverse health conditions.

During stretching concentrate on slow, deep breaths. This will help you loosen up as you stretch your muscles and lower the chance of “pulling a muscle”.

If your workout involves plyometrics, it helps stabilize your body when you hold your breath during explosive movements. For example, to keep your body rigid you should focus on holding your breath when your foot strikes the floor.

When you are finished with a tough set of exercises your body is craving oxygen and it needs to be replenished. Remember to breathe deeply into your abdomen(diaphramic breathing), bringing in more oxygen to your body, aiding in a quicker recovery.

During your next workout, keep these points in mind and check yourself to ensure you have the proper breathing techniques. If you find you are not breathing correctly, focus on the proper technique and soon it will become automatic.

Creating the Workout Habit

Almost everyone would love to create the “Workout Habit” and live a healthy lifestyle. The hard part is creating the habit and making it part of your daily lifestyle. Following are steps you can take to help you make workouts part of your daily routine.

* The first steps to take are to make your workouts part of your daily schedule and to view your workout as a “cannot” miss appointment on your “to do list”. Block the time off on your schedule, and to help ensure that life does not get in the way, plan it for the first thing in the morning. To make getting to the gym easier, gather up what you need for your workout the night before and set it aside, so everything is ready for you. Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts.

 

* Find yourself a workout partner.  You are more likely to show up at the gym if you know someone is depending on you to be there.

 

* Try different forms of exercise until you find the workout regimen you like.  Once you have the workout you enjoy, it will make getting to the gym a whole lot easier.

 

* Start off slow and easy and build on it.  This will help you avoid injury and prepare yourself mentally and physically for more intense workouts to come.

 

* Look at exercise in a positive light and tell yourself that you, “want to workout”.  Remind yourself how great you feel after working out and visualize how the “new you” will look!

 

* Set a goal and commit to it by writing it down.  We are much more likely to commit to a goal if we have committed to it in writing.

 

* Remember, you will not always get a great workout in, but a bad workout is always better than the one you did not do.  Some exercise is better than none!

 

* Measure your workouts.  With today’s technology it is easy to track the intensity of your efforts.  It is a lot easier to improve something, if you have an accurate way of measuring it.

 

* Working out is like many things in life; If it were easy, everybody would do it!   Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts and keep in mind, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are absolutely right”!

 

Holidays

With the holidays upon us, all of us will be challenged to not overeat and gain unwanted weight. Here are some healthy eating habits you should keep in mind during the holidays and beyond.

The most important habit to create in order to lose or maintain weight is to eat “real food”. Your body naturally craves sugar and processed foods which taste good, but have very little, if any, nutritional value. Get in the habit of eating whole, unprocessed foods. Eat fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, olive oil, eggs, poultry, beef, pork, lamb and fish.

Your nervous system needs not to be stressed, for it to work properly. When you are stressed your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which slows your metabolism and does not allow your body to properly digest food. Exercising and sleeping eight hours a day are great ways to reduce stress.

To help break you of your bad eating habits and create good eating habits you should keep a journal and write down everything you consume. In addition to keeping a record of what you eat, it will also help if you write down how you feel after eating. Keeping records will strengthen your resolve and make you more aware of everything you consume, which will help break you of your bad eating habits.

Good eating habits also include eating slowly, eating only when hungry, and reaching for a piece of fruit when you have sugar cravings.

As we all know, exercise plays a huge part in weight loss/control. The holidays are busy times and to ensure that you get your exercise in, you must plan on it and make it part of your daily schedule!

To lose weight, keep weight off, and reduce your risk of obesity you must make these habits part of your life style and not just a diet. Remember, when you diet you starve yourself, and then when you eventually lose your resolve you give into hunger and stuff yourself. After stuffing yourself, you feel disappointed and go back to your diet and then end up repeating the cycle. This is known as the Yo-Yo diet.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a great, happy and healthy New Year!

 

Avoid the Summer Quitter in Your Head

At Champions, we train to be winners and to push ourselves.  We know not to give up but summer brings unique temptations with vacations, summer time schedules and parties. Keep your goals in the fore front and make a plan for the summer to be consistent with your workouts and healthy habits. You will actually enjoy the summer more by staying on track. I found this helpful article about talking to ourselves and not listening to the “quitter chatter” in our heads. Read and be envisioned to keep going…