Born To Be This Way…

Filed under :Exercise, Health promoting, Run Club

Humans were born to be physically active.  Biologists today suggest that the human species is an endurance predator.  Hundreds of thousands of years ago we were in constant motion, since then our genes didn’t change much but our lifestyle did.  Bernd Heinrich, is a biologist and an author of the book “What Animals Can Teach Us about Running and Life,” described how our human ancestors were hunting antelopes by driving them to exhaustion.  Although, antelopes may seem as very fast animals, they are sprinters; while our metabolism allows us to keep going (therefore, we are capable of completing very long runs).

Nowadays, we do not have to hunt or run away for our safety.  This lack of activity is disrupting to our biology – physically and mentally.  We have to activate our endurance metabolism to keep our bodies and brain in optimum.  This doesn’t mean that you have to run 10 miles a day, this simply means that you should start moving, walking, jogging, or doing any physical activity that you enjoy (varying in intensity on different days of the week).

There are many misconceptions about running or doing vigorous physical activity (70-90% of your HR). The main one is – cause of injuries (especially joint or knee injuries).  The reality is that injury doesn’t always have to do with: intensity, duration, or frequency.  Injury just happens.  It’s possible to try to prevent it with appropriate measures and reduce its severity.  Overuse injuries are the most common ones and can be prevented by allowing sufficient recovery time between workout periods.  In reality, your body gets stronger with exercise.  Your bones, muscles and joints become more resistant to injury with more physical activity.  Your knees are not like car tires that run out at a certain point; they are capable of repairing and building on new tissue to become ever stronger.  Think about it this way; you can see your muscles get toned and become stronger with exercise.  You can’t see your bones or joins, or the chemical processes in your brain, but as your muscles tone up, all of these other part of your body do so as well.  When you are being physically active, your whole body participates in the positive changing process.

We may be born to run, but we are also programmed to take advantage of plentiful periods and conserve energy.  Food is usually not far from hand, about several steps to the fridge.  Therefore it is important to make an extra step to incorporate some physical activity into our lifestyles.  Making goals, workout schedules, signing up for group fitness or various races is a great way to stay committed!

You were born to be physically active, push yourself, and see how much you are capable of!



Targeting This, Toning That…

Filed under :Exercise, Health promoting

The reality is that most people are not satisfied with their physical appearance, mostly due to weight issues.  Overall body fat or especially local fat distribution is typically the main concern.

When consulting with nutrition or fitness specialists, people ask how to reduce the amount of fat in a certain area/part of their body.  For example, an overweight woman might ask how she can get her arms firmer with more muscle definition/tone, or a man asking how to get rid of the “beer belly”.  These kinds of people usually assume (or prefer to assume for the sake of ease) that activating the specific muscle under the adipose tissue (fat) will decrease the amount of fat in the desired area. People often will work out a certain part of their body with the intention of decreasing the amount of fat in the area (bicep curls to decrease arm fat or crunches to decrease belly fat).  This is a very big mistake that so many make, which leads to frustration and basically no results.

A human body has a certain amount of fat cells.  When fat is stored in these cells the body decides where to store it as well as where to dispose of it (fat loss).  This fat distribution is affected by factors such as age, genetics, and gender (hormones). It is basically impossible (or at least very tough) to target the loss of adipose tissue in a desired area.  When the body is losing fat, the fat is basically removed uniformly throughout the body.  Usually, the toughest part to get rid of that fat will be the abdominal area (It’s most practical to carry fat in that area; due to human anatomy, it is the center of the body).

Therefore, if you want to lower the amount of fat in a certain part of your body, you will have to make a caloric deficit as well as increase in energy expenditure (physical activity).  Cardiovascular activity lasting about 60 minutes, about 5 times a week is best.  Your body will dictate where you will lose the fat (usually uniformly).

When you do not have excess fat weight on your body, you may use the basic principles of strength/weight training to target a specific muscle group in your body or tone certain areas.  Specificity is basically the main principle you would want to apply in this situation; in which you apply or perform exercises that target the desired outcome or perform particular movements to train for a certain sport or athletic event.  For example, for hockey players – targeting the inner and outer thighs is best, basketball players – should target the shoulders, etc.

It’s important to remember that there is no easy way out when it comes to your physical appearance and health.  To feel your best you should: aspire to live a healthy lifestyle, eat right, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day preferably all days of the week.  When you rich the healthy body fat, you may start working on specific areas of the body for toning and muscle definition.