health

Holidays - Your Favourite and Most Hated Time of the Year

With holidays, festivities, large amounts of food and alcohol just around the corner, it's no wonder that people will fall into the trap of gaining weight just to try and lose it as a New Year's Resolution. The graph below shows exactly that.

Source: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012#t=article

With that in mind, here are some tips to avoid the holiday weight gain:

  1. Don't starve yourself. The strategy seems to work, starve yourself and "save" your calories until the end of the day when you have the family feast. I can tell you from experience of binging and starving, the cycle doesn't work and can leave to extremely bad habits.
  2. Stay well nourished during the day. Eat proper meals which will keep you full. When you have that big family dinner at the end of the day you won't be as hungry, not eating AS much of the bad stuff.
  3. Workout hard and early. With all those extra calories and energy you can kick those workouts in the butt. However, doing them earlier will help ensure you actually do knock them out. Why? Think about trying to go for a run after a Christmas feast. You are going to feel sluggish, tired and totally unmotivated.
  4. Remember, it's not the end of the world. The holidays are great because you spend it with the people you love. So go ahead and enjoy that time. If you go astray for a day or two it is not the end of the world. Remain consistent and you will be back at it in no time.

Benefits of Warming Up

When most people are crunched for time, what do they do? Forget to warm up and will jump directly into an exercise. This will greatly hinder your long term success. Let's review the benefits of warming up and how to properly do it.

  1. Warming up will increase your heart rate. Why is this important? Because more blood is going to be pumped through your body delivering more oxygen and nutrients so that your muscles will be able to perform better.
  2. When warming up, joints that have lubrication in them will become more dense. This will allow for the joints to take more impact and increase range of motion.
  3. Getting used to the movement and weight if doing resistance training. Imagine trying to squat 300 pounds without having ANY preparation. That 300 pounds will feel much heavier than if you gradually worked up to it. Mentally, the warm up will prepare you to perform that specific exercise.
  4. The muscles are less likely incur an acute injury (an injury stemming from an application of force). When the muscles are warmer, they are lengthened and can take more force.

Here are some steps to take you through a proper warm up:

  1. Start with light aerobic exercises to increase the body temperature and blood flow. This is normally 50% of your max heart rate.
  2. Perform dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that uses movement of the joints, holding only for 1 to 2 seconds. Follow this link for examples: http://greatist.com/fitness/full-body-dynamic-warm-up

3. Perform movement-specific warm ups. If you plan on doing sprints for your main exercise, the more you perform that exercise the better you perform. Warm up your sprints with 30%, 50%, 70%, 90% for example, before going 100% for your working sets.

Just like how mom told you to eat your veges, warm up before you exercise!

Health Benfits Not Many People Think Of

When people think about getting into shape, there is one thing that majority of people will think of. What are they? "I be more aesthetic," or the most common, "I will lose weight." But being health goes beyond so much further than this. So here we go:

1) Your energy levels will improve.

Why is this? You may think of energy as a percentage, and you have a certain percentage of energy you can spend in a day. Truth is, the body is constantly trying to increase the amount of energy it can produce. Energy, or ATP, can only reproduce when that ATP is consumed. When you exercise, your body can then create new energy and your body constantly wants to do this. So in fact, the more exercise you do, it allows your body to be able to reproduce more energy.

2) You will be more sharp and attentive

Relating to the last point, when you exercise you also improve blood flow. Blood carries oxygen which allows for more ATP production. You know what this means? More energy for your brain. Exercise actually increases the production of mitochondria, which is the cell responsible for creating ATP.

3) Reduce the risk of disease

Exercise time and time again has proven in studies that it lowers the risk of premature death and other diseases such as cardiorespiratory disease. Exercise reduces body fat which aids with diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The evidence is there people.

4) Improves mental health and helps combat depression

Exercise releases chemicals in the brain such as endorphins which improve feelings of pleasure. Not only that but they aid in distraction, confidence and social interaction.

What more are you waiting for? Be active and get moving.