What About Sports?

tennis

photo by Petr Kratochvil (click image for more)

I work in an exercise rehabilitation clinic and prescribe hundreds of different types of exercises.

I believe in exercise.

volleyball

photo by Paul Cooper (click image for more)

Yet I am surprised at how few adults in our society continue to play their favourite sport once they hit their 30’s and beyond. Usually, once the demands of family and work set in, they turn to mechanical treadmill and dumbbell routines. Fitness has officially become a “must do” and not a “I wanna do!” This is highly unfortunate and in the long term promotes increasing sedentary lifestyles.

One simple alternative is to play a sport as part of your fitness approach. There is far less routine in an individual or team sport than in a repetitive gym routine. Further, sports tend to use the body in a safer and more natural manner than many exercise machines and heavy weight workouts do. And they almost inevitably work the core muscles much more than most people’s weight lifting or cardio routine.

Everyone who already plays a sport should add sport-specific exercises to improve their performance.

swimming

photo by Anna Langova (click image for more)

That’s what the pros do. Yet most people who are not professional athletes usually do not see playing sports as a legitimate means of getting or staying fit.

Having thought about this, I’ve concluded that people assume they can go “all out” in the gym, but unless they are professionals,

there are no “all out” avenues for them in their beloved sport. Thankfully, this is is false.

With a 5 minute phone call to your local rec centre or YMCA, you will be shocked at how much friendly competition is available for the average joe.

I feel that because competition is missing from many individuals’ fitness lifestyle so is the natural motivation to do better and better. If you are willing to compete at something, the psychological and physical rewards increase tremendously. And please don’t get me wrong. I know how life can get crazy busy. You don’t have to join a league that comes with fees and a tight practice schedule, etc, etc.

kung-fu-pose

photo by Peter Griffin (click image for more)

But you can join rec leagues that allow you to jump in and compete any time you are free.

My wife and I are raising and homeschooling 4 young children. I have my own practice and am involved at church. Yet 4 times per week my wife attends the YMCA and does a lot of TRX group classes. This group factor is an indirect but real form of competition. It is as much competition as she wants and so she thrives on it. It pushes her harder than solo workouts.

I have fallen in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I train under Adam Zugec at ZUMA. Whenever I show up I have the opportunity of getting friendly competition. The competitive element keeps my mind focused, gets me off my worries and I workout harder than I otherwise would without even noticing it! 

Whether it is swimming, racquet ball, tennis, hockey or a running group, the social and physical benefits of a group or competitive environment is available for the non-professional athletes. I highly recommend it.

 

HOW TO START — and finish — A YEAR LONG FITNESS REGIMEN

man-swimming-in-pool-871278587620eIzC

photo by Vera Kratochvil (click image to see more)

Most people feel like they are drowning when trying to maintain a long term fitness plan. This is completely unnecessary. Thankfully, by following one simple rule, anyone can successfully start AND FINISH a year long fitness regimen.

In this post we show you exactly what to do and what NOT to do in order to achieve your goal.

The really good news is that it is very simple and easy to follow, the bad news is, it won’t produce the overnight results you desire. It will take some time. BUT if you have a little patience you will get what you have wanted your whole life: a transformed body and 100% consistency in the gym.

Beginners and those who’ve traditionally found it very difficult to make a commitment to consistent training without constantly catching colds, burning out or running out of time and energy, have all done so for the exact same reason: THEY TRAIN TOO MUCH. 

Training puts a strain on your muscles, nervous system, immune system and psyche. ALL of these systems need to be allowed to adapt slowly if you are to begin and successfully continue a fitness regimen for years to come.all your systems

Come January of each new year, the gym population doubles with people on New Year’s resolutions. These poor souls strain themselves 5 days a week at maximum intensity to pay for their Christmas indulgence and for last year’s sedentary lifestyle.

photo by Vera Kratochvil (click here for more)

photo by Vera Kratochvil (click image for more)

Within 6 weeks these people are gone only to show up a month or two later to begin the on-again, off-again cycle which will eventually lead them to quit altogether.

Quite simply, these people force their bodies — which have been inactive for some time — to do something they absolutely cannot do. They are defeated before they even begin. Either their psychology gives up or their immune system or they get injured. And all their efforts are wasted because they have not transformed their bodies. You cannot make up for lost time by simply going “nuclear” on your gym intensity.

THE SOLUTION: THE EASY-DOES-IT PROGRAM

The easy-does-it program slowly increases your training frequency over a period of 8 and a half months. Yes, you read that right. 3 quarters of one calendar year. Along with good nutrition and proper hydration and sleep, it is the only way to allow all 4 systems to adapt to the permanent increase in physical activity without getting behind in recovery and therefore causing pain, fatigue, constant illness or mental burn out.

Here’s how to apply it (CLICK TO ENLARGE):

The key to success is PATIENCE!! This approach takes nearly 9 months to get you to the “PERMANENT CYCLE” listed at the bottom of the above figure. Throughout the entire program, make sure to be tuned into your body. If you feel you’re getting sick, take one or more days off (if not the whole week). The key is to respect your body and its already busy lifestyle and to slowly allow all your systems to adapt to a consistently more physically demanding lifestyle.

We strongly recommend you hire a trainer to show you routines appropriate for your desired intensity levels (i.e.: mild, moderate and severe). Once you reach the permanent frequency cycle, continue to adjust your intensity from mild, moderate and severe as your body will not be the same on any given week (or even day). Especially make sure that you still throw in plenty of mild workouts into the mix during the weeks in which you’re training 5 times. Never train at maximum intensity more than 3 times per week. Ever.

photo by George Hodan (click image for more)

photo by George Hodan (click image for more)

Further, mix up your training = inside the gym, outside the gym, swimming, cycling, running, power walking, therabands, machines, dumbbells, kettle bells, etc. The more variety the better.

This approach is modeled after the fact that a body responds to frequency NOT intensity. Otherwise put, if during the year you were to train at high intensity for 8 weeks, burn out, and then take 4 weeks off to recover (typical overtrain + don’t train cycle of burnouts), you’d get 35 weeks of intense training AND a full 17 weeks off. This may not seem horribly bad, but because the intensity was too high, your body would actually resist the workouts in hopes of preserving its vital functions and staying healthy. Much of the effort would be too much for the body and it would under-react to training by minimizing fat loss and muscle-gain.

loose jeans

photo by Petr Kratochvil (click image for more)

Plus, due to the multiple weeks off, the body reacts by “weathering the storm” of the 8 weeks of workouts. Which means that even with all that sweat n’ blood, the body refuses to really get toned up because the workouts are not consistent and followed by huge down time. And the body, above all else, listens for consistency not intensity. And when you take more than 2 full weeks off in a row, the body is undoing all the hard work of the 8 weeks of training. This is a very frustrating lose – lose scenario that keeps millions of people from permanently staying on a fitness cycle and get the result they so desperately want.

These 4 weeks on + 1 week off cycles allow your systems (i.e.: muscular, nervous, immune, psychological) to recover should one or more of them be getting behind.

Eat right, drink plenty of water, buy a new mattress (if you have to) and train your body in slowly increasing frequency and intensity. By next year you won’t recognize yourself in the mirror.

Fitness Prevents Dementia

“A walk a day keeps Alzheimer’s away!”

No joke.

A recent study by the Edinburgh University showed that people over 70 who walked during the week had less brain shrinkage then those who were sedentary. Researchers followed nearly 700 people for 3 years, performing before-and-after brain MRI’s to determine their findings.

The study also claimed that reading books or doing crossword puzzles does not seem to help as much as regular, non-strenuous exercise.

Seniors who walked during the week had less damage to the inner part of the brain (i.e.: the white matter) and they had more outer brain (i.e.: gray matter).

So it appears you can increase your brain size with even a mild form of regular exercise.

A Harvard Medical School article stated that a review of literature on depression examined evidence going back to 1981 and concluded that in younger and older patients with depression, regular walking was an effective treatment for emotional problems.

It appears something even as simple as daily walks can significantly enhance mental and emotional well being.

If you are simply starting out with an exercise program, walking 3 to 5 days per week is enough to see a boost in your brain’s health.

As time goes on, a good idea is to diversify your activities. Joining a local recreation centre offers access to swimming, weight lifting and other fitness activities. This keeps you interested and it keeps your brain and body adapting to new acitivities. Which increases the degree to which your brain grows and benefits from an active lifestyle.

So you see, it’s easy to make your brain healthy and stave off unwanted ailments!

Get out there and enjoy a nice walk today.