Fitness & Wellness

Reduce Your Risk Of Back Pain And Even Stop It With Exercise

Reduce Your Risk Of Back Pain And Even Stop It With Exercise

There’s a lot to be said for modern health care. Pain killers are wonderful for coping with injuries and modern surgery has come a long way in relieving many chronic problems. But what if you could prevent the problem or even cure it with something you can do at home and the only side effects are improved energy levels, appearance, health and weight loss. You’d jump at the chance, wouldn’t you? Well it’s true, you can stop taking so many aspirin or ibuprofen and reduce your risk of back pain and even stop it with exercise.

Back pain is not only a common health complaint, it’s the most common one.

If you looked at statistics you’d see that back pain is the leading cause of disability at the workplace. It also is a leader when it comes to causing opioid dependence. With the opioid crisis so prevalent in our country, more and more physicians are refusing to write prescriptions and more and more patients with children are reluctant to take those that are written home. However, there are some simple methods to help reduce the potential of back pain and even eliminate it if you already suffer from it.

Non exercise movement, can help relieve pain and prevent it.

Non exercise movement are things like getting up from your desk and walking around frequently can dramatically reduce the potential for back ache. Standing and walking are two great deterrents and one of the reasons the standing desk is becoming more popular. It improves circulation and as long as you have proper posture, can do worlds to strengthen your back muscles.

Just a half hour a day could bring relief from back pain.

While you can exercise more, a number of studies show that people who exercised regularly, not only lowered the potential for back pain by 33 percent, but if they were already sufferers, reduced the amount of pain they had significantly. Other studies focused on those who already had problems and found that exercise reduced the risk of the pain leading to a total disability by 38 percent. There are even specific exercises for pain in various areas of the back that work wonders. According to the American College of Physicians, you should try these first before using medication, particularly for lower back pain.

  • Some of the recommended treatments use mindful stress relief and are psychological in nature. Stress can cause the body to react in a number of ways, back pain is one.
  • Core exercises help strengthen the stomach muscles that also support the back. When you have strong stomach and back muscles, you’re less prone to back pain.
  • Sitting for long periods actually shortens your muscles that connect the lower lumbar with the upper portions of the pelvis and femur. That can cause pain when standing.
  • Weight loss, regular stretching, quitting smoking and eating healthy all contribute to reduced back pain and should be incorporated into your lifestyle change plan.

The Cause Of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness---DOMS

The Cause Of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness—DOMS

If you’ve been working our regularly, but included new exercises into your normal workout and find you suddenly have pain a day or two after the workout, you may have delayed onset muscle soreness—DOMS. During workouts, your muscles contract, they shorten or lengthen when the muscle is producing force. Each phase has a name. When the muscle is shortening, it’s concentric, but during the lengthening phase it’s called eccentric. It’s believed that during the lengthening process—the eccentric phase—that the potential for DOMS occurs.

Why do you get DOMS?

When you stress your muscles in new ways, it often causes microscopic tears in the muscles. These tiny traumas sets of an inflammatory response. That causes electrolyte shifts and intramuscular fluid. The biochemical markers that occur with these small tears are lactic dehydrogenase and creatine kinase are found in the blood of people suffering from DOMS, making it a logical conclusion.

The symptoms of DOMS vary in degree.

Your muscles will have an achy feeling about one or two days after you injured them. It’s normally after a very strenuous, new-to-you type of exercise. Also, people first starting a program of regular exercise after a long delay of inactivity will often experience it. The affected area will be still and tender and even passive stretching causes pain to increase. The range of motion and muscle strength is reduced, with potential swelling in the area. Light exercise often helps with the pain.

You should exercise during this time, just not aggressively exercise the sore area.

Don’t give up your workout program just because of this pain. It goes away in three to five days. Instead, switch to a lighter exercise that doesn’t involve the sore muscle group. If your pain is in your arm, there’s no reason you can’t go walking or do exercises for the lower half of your body—within reason. Avoid a heavy workout that could exacerbate the pain and slow the mending process. Remember, even though the pain is uncomfortable, it’s a sign that you’re getting stronger and fitter.

  • If the pain doesn’t go away in three to five days or is debilitating constant and severe, seek medical attention. It could be something more serious.
  • Take aspirin or other over the counter pain remedy to help soothe the pain. Natural anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, such as turmeric, can be used on food or taken in capsule form.
  • Alternating heat and cold on the affected area can also help bring relief. One study showed that the massaging warm bubbles of a hot tub helped, too. Consider hot showers or hot soaks in the tub as an alternative if you don’t have a hot tub available.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you have muscle soreness or DOMS. It’s a sign that your muscles are getting back into shape.

What Is The "Exercise Is Medicine" Movement?

What Is The “Exercise Is Medicine” Movement?

Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) is a global movement that the president of the American College of Sports Medicine—ACSM—initiated. It’s an effort to improve the knowledge of doctors to the benefits of exercise and urges physicians to assess each patient level of physical activity and even use exercise as one of the prescriptions. When doctors find a patient that’s inactive and needs assistance, a referral to a local resource for help getting fit is given to the patient.

Why is this movement important?

For years personal trainers and people involved in the world of fitness have been helping clients become fit and healthier through exercise and diet. Unfortunately, many physicians don’t have the knowledge or training to promote this. In fact, many receive only a few hours of training in the benefits of exercise and an average of less than 20 hours of training in nutrition. In the 1980s, only 37 percent of medical schools provided just one course in nutrition. The rest had none. Today, that number is even lower, averaging about 27 percent. The reason is obvious, there’s so much information in our fast moving world of technology, that the basics, exercise and a healthy diet, are left behind.

The new approach is providing more training and using specialists.

Exercise in medicine is a movement to help doctors recognize the need for changes in lifestyle to achieve a healthy body. It’s a hope that physicians will identify people at risk for serious conditions and help them reroute their lives before their body succumbs. Some schools of medicine, such as the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, which opened in 2012, adopted physiology and exercise science as part of their curriculum, to help new physicians understand the importance of fitness and use that information to help clients live healthier.

Will this movement take hold and change medicine?

If a patient comes in with uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure, the physician will still prescribe the necessary medications to get them healthier. If it’s an enlightened physician, he or she will also prescribe exercise and diet and help the patient find the resources to make the changes easier. Instead of just treating the symptoms, the doctor will take an active part in helping the patient treat the problem that caused the symptoms.

  • Before you start any program of exercise, always get a physical, to ensure you have no hidden conditions that could cause a problem or a known condition that might require monitoring of medications.
  • Be aware that exercising and healthy eating are two foundations for a healthy body. It needs to be part of your healthcare plan regardless of your age.
  • If you have a serious condition or are recovering from a lengthy illness or condition, such as a stroke or heart attack, always tell your personal trainer. Make sure you give your okay to your doctor to discuss your health with your trainer to get the best merging of medicine and fitness that’s available.
  • Even though Exercise Is Medicine has been around since 2007 and supported by the AMA and Office of the Surgeon General, not all doctors or insurance companies are aware of the benefits or program. Check to see if your doctor and/or insurance company is.

It's All About Your Mindset

It’s All About Your Mindset

No matter what you decide to do in life, your success or failure is based on your mindset. If you believe you’ll achieve something, you will. If you believe you won’t achieve something, the chances are that you’ll be right, too. While some people object, saying that they really believed that they’d achieve their goals, but failed miserably, it’s just not true. If they truly believed they’d achieve a goal, they wouldn’t have quit after just one misdirected attempt. They’d continue trying.

Thomas Edison said it best.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Edison when asked about the 10,000 failures he had when trying to create the first practical incandescent light bulb. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That reply is almost as important as the actual accomplishment. It’s inspiring and should be remembered by anyone that has an important goal. You may have tried other times, but just found out what didn’t work for you. Edison also said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” If your mindset is that you’ll succeed, you’ll work toward success no matter what the obstacles.

Make sure your goals are realistic.

This may sound like a step backward, but it’s not. If you want to lose 40 pounds and have a gorgeous beach body in a week after living a sedentary lifestyle for years, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you set a realistic goal that includes being able to achieve more in your exercise program, such as shedding 8-10 pounds in a month and increasing the number of reps you can do, you’ll be successful if you work hard. The goal should be difficult and challenging, but still within your capabilities.

Enjoy your workout and you’ll keep working toward your goal.

Part of a successful program is enjoying what you’re doing. If you dread every minute of working out, you’re doing something wrong. Ways to improve your attitude is to include fun things in your exercise program. Nobody says every day needs to be spent in the gym. You can go dancing, ride a bike, hike with the kids or rock climb. Even when you’re in the gym, mixing it up can make it a lot more fun. Personally, I love the kettlebells. I save those for my special treat at the end of each workout and often just do a kettlebell routine because I enjoy it.

  • Eating healthy is as important as exercise. Don’t prejudge healthy food. It doesn’t all taste “healthy.” You know what I mean, like vitamin soaked cardboard. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious and some nutritious meals are elegant and flavorful enough to serve in the most expensive restaurants in town.
  • Spend time with positive people. If you have people in your life that are continuously making you feel like a failure, avoid them or replace them with someone that lifts you up and keeps you going. If you can’t avoid them, remember that only you decide whether to believe what they say.
  • Get a workout buddy. A workout buddy can make your exercise time more fun and even help you stick to a healthy diet. By sharing a workout time, you’re less likely to skip that day at the gym.
  • Believe in yourself and know that you can accomplish any goal, you just have to be willing to do what it takes to succeed.

Returning To Fitness After Surgery

Returning To Fitness After Surgery

If you’ve always been fit, you’ll be a more likely candidate for a swift recovery after a surgery or serious condition. But there are pitfalls you have to avoid and a process to follow when returning to fitness after surgery. To muddy the waters even more, one study used a questionnaire to discover surgeon’s and GP’s recommendations on how much time to take off work that required after a 25-year old had unilateral inguinal hernia repair. The recommendations varied from one week to 12 weeks. General Practitioner’s recommended a period between two and thirteen weeks. That wide response was just for one type of surgery and one age bracket. You can see that it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific time frame for all surgery, all fitness levels and all ages.

Take it slowly when you start back to your fitness routine.

You may think you need to go to the gym to start working out immediately, but the truth is, getting up out of bed and walking is the first step to getting back to your fit self. Getting out of bed and starting a walking routine helps you heal faster, so do light stretches during the first week. If stretching causes pain at the surgical site, don’t do it. Let your body have time to heal that area. By the end of the first week, you should be logging in between one and three miles a day. That doesn’t mean all at once, but throughout the day. Each person has to listen to their own body to find the right amount and pace of post operative exercise.

Listen to your body and your doctor’s advice.

Today, most doctors encourage light exercise quickly following surgery. In fact, they may even suggest short walks the same day or the following day. Studies and years of experience show it helps the body heal faster. By the third to the fourth week, if your physician says it’s alright based on your recovery, boost up the intensity of your exercise. Brisker walks, riding a stationary bike and low impact aerobics can be included. Avoid exercises that put excess strain on your body or high impact exercises, such as heavy lifting, sprinting and jumping.

It’s a fine balance between moving to fast and moving too slow.

While no exercise actually slows recovery time, to intense or too much exercise can too. If you exercise hard, raising your heart rate significantly, the altered tissue at the surgical site may experience increased blood volume in the area, which can cause increased swelling and scarring. It can break apart stitches if done too quickly—five days or less after surgery—and sweating can spread germs to the area and increase potential infection.

  • Like in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Surgery in the chest cavity and lower should require a slower return to fitness than head surgery.
  • Listen to your body and follow what it’s telling you. If you get exhausted after a short walk, don’t try to go further, but rest and try walking again a little later. If you feel abnormal pain, stop and check with your health care physician.
  • Don’t expect to pick up where you left off, ease back into fitness.
  • Discuss your situation with your personal trainer so he or she can create a program best for your situation. Make sure you have the okay from your health care professional or professionals, before getting back to the gym to your old fitness regimen.

Is Cross Training Right For You?

Is Cross Training Right For You?

Cross training offers a plethora of benefits, but even with that said, not everyone does it. Before you know whether cross training is something you should include in your workout program, you need to identify exactly what cross training is. If you’re a runner, you might cross train by taking up boxing or martial arts. For weight lifters, swimming or running might be how they cross train. In other words, it’s training in a variety of ways.

You’ll not only train all your muscles, you’ll also get train in all areas of fitness.

You know that runners are getting cardio when they train, but running doesn’t offer strength or flexibility training. Luckily, as in our example earlier, boxing and martial arts training do provide training in those areas. This can help you avoid injury. What also helps you side step injury is the fact you’re not spending all your exercise time pounding the pavement. It gives you adequate recovery time while you’re still building endurance with the cross training you chose.

You’ll get better in the sport of your choice.

You’ll boost your flexibility, strength and/or endurance when you cross train. It can improve your overall performance in your primary sport by building up all areas of fitness. For runners, it can provide a burst of power that you and increase flexibility making muscles more efficient. With strength training added, it can increase stride power for faster times.

Cross training can make runnning more fun.

If you love to run, that’s great, but if it’s all you do, one day you’ll start thinking of it as “same-old-same-old.” Variety is the spice of life and cross training is the spice you need for working out. You start to look forward to days at the gym, while also maintaining your love of running. Changing things up is good and it prevents you from getting into a rut.

  • You need to switch your focus after a big race and give both your mind a body a rest. Cross training can keep you in shape and provide an alternative.
  • When you cross train, it boosts your motivation by providing concrete results. You’ll see the improvement in your primary sport, which will increase your desire to do more cross training and training in the sport of your choice.
  • Cross training workouts shouldn’t have the same intensity as your primary sport workout. If you’re primary sport training was intense, your cross training workout should be moderate active recovery sessions.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight, cross training can improve weight loss. You’ll be approaching from mult-muscle groups and boosting your caloric output.

Healthy Date Night

Healthy Date Night

If your date nights are becoming the same old thing, dinner, drinks and a movie, you might be ready for a change. You can create a healthy date night to make a change and get fitter in the process. The date night might involve an earlier trip to the store to get the makings for a healthy supper you prepare together and some activity that will get you moving and healthy. Choose food that’s easy to make, such as salad fixings, a side vegetable and lean meat to grill. You can eat before you go out, but most people opt for putting together the meal afterward and then relaxing.

Consider a picnic along a hiking path.

A Saturday or Sunday afternoon hike on the Humber River Trails with a picnic lunch can be perfect for a date. Make the lunch a healthy one and you’ll have a date that will make your body say thank you. Veggie and chicken pinwheels, vegetarian muffulettas, healthy wraps and fresh salads provide filling nourishment that won’t fill you out. The hike will also burn calories. Plan the route ahead of time to ensure you’ll return before it gets dark.

Go roller skating, ice skating or roller blading.

Choose roller blading, ice skating or roller skating for a date night. Centenial Park Skating Club has a free Try It Out-Learn to Skate Day. It’s part of Canada’s new Canskate program that offers loads of fun whether you want to choose figure skating, hockey, speed skating or just skating for enjoyment. There are several roller rinks in the area. Roller skating can be fun and healthy. If you or your partner don’t know how to skate, think of how romantic it will be holding each other close for support.

Peddle your way around the countryside with a romantic bike ride.

While you might not talk as much as you would hiking when riding a bike, you can use the picnic time to achieve that. You can plan a romantic destination or just make it one that has picnic tables and a place to eat. Don’t forget to take extra bottled water, especially on warm days. You’ll have fun and love cuddling together for a good movie at home after the day is over.

  • Rent a jet ski or go kayaking and you’ll burn calories while having fun.
  • If you haven’t bowled in years, it may be time to try it again. Most bowling alleys have balls available and rent shoes, so you don’t even need your own equipment.
  • Go dancing. There’s nothing more romantic than a slow dance or more invigorating than a fast one. Stick to just one drink and then drink plenty of water the rest of the night. You might even consider ballroom dance lessons as another option. After all, the rumba is the dance of love.
  • Get pampered and spend a day at the spa. Try a massage, sauna or pamper yourself with a wrap. After the spa, eat at a restaurant with healthy organic options.

Have You Tried Boxing As A Workout

Have You Tried Boxing As A Workout

If you’re ready for something different to help get or keep in shape and lose weight, it’s time to try boxing as a workout. Boxing provides a total body workout that will leave you tired, but feeling great. Training for a match requires you to punch a heavy bag, with professional ones weighing 100 pounds or more. It takes a lot of strength to do that, so you’ll be toning your muscles while you train.

It’s more than just resistance or strength training, it’s cardio training, too.

If you’re tired of the same old treadmill cardio or hate running and cycling, take up boxing to get your cardio workout and you’ll have a lot more fun. It’s almost like HIIT—high intensity interval training—because you go at top speed for a while and then switch to low gear and quickly back to high intensity. It certainly gets your heart pumping and that’s the ultimate goal of cardio. Just like HIIT, it burns calories fast.

You get a full body workout.

You never are stationary when you’re boxing or training to box. There’s foot work and constant movement. You’ll be bobbing, weaving and punching your way to total body agility and strength. While boxing isn’t known for flexibility, you need to improve your range of motion to protect your muscles. Stretching before working out can help and also help your boxing skills. You workout from top to bottom training all muscles as you go.

When you box, your muscles have to work in synergy.

Boxing trains your muscles and joints to work together. Just throwing a punch at a bag involves many different muscles that work in unison with joint movement. The back and abs are involved in throwing a punch. In fact, the power comes from kenetic energy that starts at the lowest part of your body, your feet, and works its way up to pack all the power in the punch.

  • Boxing improve the composition of your body, burning fat and replacing it with more muscle. The more muscle you have, the more energy you burn. That helps you lose weight and keep it from returning.
  • You’ll relieve stress and enjoy every punch you throw at the bag. Most people who take up boxing will admit, they often put a face on the bag and that face is someone that gave them woe earlier in the day.
  • Boxing improves hand-eye coordination. That improves reaction time and reflexes.
  • Boxing leaves you feeling empowered. Knowing you can handle yourself, feeling strong and having the skills and strength to throw a punch changes women from potential victims to victors.

This Is Your Year!

This Is Your Year!

If you want to tackle your fitness goals for a healthier, fitter life, could be your year! Only you have the ability to make it so. No matter what your fitness goal, achieving it will not be easy, or you would have already done so. Whether you want to lose weight, build your endurance, improve your functional fitness or get healthier, only you can make it happen. You decide whether you’re going to be successful this year.

Make your goal or goals something you’re passionate about achieving.

Your own passion is what drives you to achieve the goal. Did you finally decide you’ll no longer feel bad about being overweight and instead love yourself and do something about the excess pounds? Do you want to be able to keep up with the kids or grandkids when you go for a hike or simply want to be healthier? Did your doctor suggest you start a program of regular exercise to help a specific condition or extend your life? All those are good reasons to start a workout program and will get you excited enough to begin a program.

Starting the program is a huge step, but sticking to it is even more difficult.

One reason you should be passionate about your goal is that it motivates you to continue until you see progress. You need to be specific about the goal and it needs to be achievable. If the goal is big, such as losing more than 10 percent of your body weight, you need to break it down to smaller goals that are achieved in a shorter time frame. Achieving a goal helps you stay motivated.

If you’re not certain how to start, a personal trainer can help you.

Some people don’t know where to start. They may not even be able to create a specific goal. That’s okay because personal trainers can help. The trainer will listen and then suggest a way to word the goal. For others, creating a route to achieve that goal is where they face a downfall. Trainers do that for you. Finally, trainers can put you on a program that will help you reach your goal safely and quicker. As a trainer, I love seeing the faces of clients when they finally are successful in achieving a goal. I am only successful when you are, so I work hard to ensure you are successful.

  • Trainers can help you learn how to eat healthier. It may include substituting one food for another, cooking differently or simply ensuring you have healthy snacks for between meals.
  • If weight loss is a goal, both exercise and healthy eating play an important role in achieving it.
  • Regular exercise and eating healthy are lifestyle changes that you commit to for the rest of your life. Luckily, healthy eating isn’t dieting. It’s all about making smarter choices when it comes to food.
  • This could be the year you break out of your shell and uncover the you that you were meant to become. It won’t take long to see results, but it will take perseverance, dedication and passion.

Is Cardio Making You Fat

Is Cardio Making You Fat

No matter how far you run or how much your pedal the stationary bike, you may be on the path to nowhere and might actually be sabotaging your efforts to lose weight. While cardio—endurance training—plays an important role in everyone’s fitness program, it may not be the best way to lose weight. In fact, it may cause you to gain weight. Is cardio making you fat? Many factors affect the answer to that question. If you’re only doing cardio and nothing else, you may be running toward extra pounds rather than away from them.

Are you doing the same cardio every day?

If you’re running the same length of time and at the same pace, you might be setting your body up to become more efficient. Efficiency is a good thing, right? Not when you want to lose weight. When your body repeats the same movements for a while, it finds ways to burn fewer calories and become more efficient in that movement. That causes plateauing, making it harder to lose weight. The whole goal for cardio when it comes to weight loss is to burn calories. You have to change your exercise program on a regular basis to maximize the calorie burning effects.

You may be burning lean muscle tissue rather than fat.

If you’re not getting enough calories and exercising too long, your body wants to store the fat. It prepares for leaner times and that store of fat may be what it needs for survival. When you initially start the workout, your body uses the glycogen that is stored in your muscles and liver for fuel. After about 30 minutes that runs out and then the body burns fat stores if the exercise is moderate. High intensity exercise can cause burning muscle tissue instead, which also occurs if your diet is too low in calories.

Your body produces cortisol if your caloric intake is too low or your cardio too rigorous.

Cortisol is the catabolic hormone that converts muscle tissue into energy. Cortisol is a stress hormone and that’s exactly what you’re doing to your body at that point, stressing it. Cortisol is also associated with the accumulation of abdominal fat. Not only are you burning muscle tissue that helps you shed weight, you’re also adding to any weight around the middle, which is normally what people want to lose.

  • Don’t give up cardio entirely. Variety is the spice of a healthy life. You should have at least some cardio or endurance training in your workout routine, just as you should have balance, strength and flexibility exercises.
  • If you want to shed pounds, while retaining lean muscle mass, strength—resistance—training is the route to go.
  • Not only does strength training maintain and build muscle tissue, it also helps protect against osteoporosis as you age.
  • A healthy diet that’s lower in calories, but not excessively low, combined with resistance training, helps you shed fat faster than you would with a moderate or rigorous cardio workout.