Fitness Junkie


Warm Up to Rev Up
July 16, 2008, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Fitness Fix | Tags: , , ,

 

Did you include a warm up in your last workout session? 

 

Our bodies – like a car – runs more efficiently when warmed up.  Yet many tend to forget why we do it in the first place and many even decide to skip it all together and go straight to the workout.  That’s like starting your car in below freezing temperatures and then taking off.  Not to say it hasn’t been done.  If you can remember how your vehicle performed during those first few minutes then you have an understanding of how your body performs when it’s not properly warmed up.

 

Why warm up?

 

  •      Reduces risk of injury.  Safety first.  When you warm up, blood vessels dilate as it delivers more oxygen to your muscle cells reducing your chance of injury to muscles and joints.   In a study with teenage handball players, those who were provided a specific warm up had significantly fewer injuries than those who didn’t.   
  •     Initiates mental focus.  Your breathing rate increases when you exercise at a light to moderate pace before your workout.  By focusing on your breath, form, speed and reps what your doing is getting your mind away from your day’s events or wakes you up to start your morning right.  It helps you focus on the now… not on what’s happened or what needs to get done later.
  •     Supplies energy.  An effective warm up prevents early onset fatigue.  What’s an effective warm up?  5 to 10 minutes of activity.  Your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is how hard you feel your body is working on a scale of 0 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal exertion).  By maintaining your RPE at a moderate intensity (RPE between 12 to 14), your heart rate increases and your body temperature rises revving you up for the strenuous activity ahead.
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Do Cherries Cause Bellies?
July 7, 2008, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Fitness Fix, Stay'n on Track | Tags: , , , ,

In a recent study published in New Scientist magazine, it was found that the type of simple sugar we put in our mouth can ultimately impact where the fat in our bodies will develop.  Thirty-three overweight and obese adults were put on a normal diet for 10 weeks followed by another 10 weeks in which half of the group received their calories from fructose and the other half from glucose.  Both groups gained the same weight, however, those who ate the fructose accumulated more fat around their middle than the glucose group did. 

Fructose, is a form of carbohydrate commonly found in fruits and fruit juices.  However, the body has limited storage space for fructose so when you eat too much of it, it turns to excess fat.  Also, if the majority of carbohydrate calories come from fructose – because fructose is directed to the liver for processing – it does not supply enough muscular energy when working out. 

Glucose, on the other hand, is used by the body to feed muscle cells and replenish glycogen stores.  And, because the body has a higher storage capacity for glucose, you can consume more glucose without worrying about the excess weight gain.

AsI write this…. I’m pigging out on one of my favorite fruits:  cherries.  Certified by the American Heart Association, cherries are not considered just a fructose containing fruit.  It is labeled a “superfruit” because of its antioxidant and heart protective properties.  Research also suggests that cherries can reduce inflammation and arthritic pain as well as reduce the risk of diabetes and memory loss.

But, of course, after reading the results of the study… I’m staring at my belly.  With 5 weeks left before the photo shoot and another 3 weeks of the cherry season left, I’m trying to devise a strategy to have my cherries and eat it too.  So the question then is how do I eat the cherries and burn the calories before my body can convert them into fat?  🙂

My strategy?  I will eat fruits and drink fruit juices before 1pm.  This way, I allow my body to burn the simple sugars during the day instead of eating it later so that it gets stored as body fat during the night.  Ultimately, the total intake of fructose containing foods depend largely on current body weight, activity level and timelines for losing weight/gaining muscle.  With morning cardio sessions and strength training sessions in the evening, I know that the calories from the cherries I eat before 1pm will burn away.

By identifying your goals (i.e. reasons for eating fruits) and being aware of what your body needs, you too, will be able to make the choices right for you.