Traveling isn’t just picking up and going. Without a set destination, this is best classified as wandering. You can always church it up a bit and call it exploring, but to be on a journey you have to have a destination, or at least a direction, before you can get on down the road. The same need for direction applies to our fitness journeys. Without some sort of goal (do 10 push-ups, walk a mile, touch your toes etc.), your just burning energy. Although “just get moving” is step 1, it should never be the last step for anyone. So, once you have a goal in mind, here comes step 2: “figuring out the best route.” The easiest route somewhere is the familiar one, but if you haven’t been then you’ll have to rely on outsider information. This is when the source of your directions, or map, becomes very important.
We know: the bones support the body's structure, the muscles move the bones, the nerves command the muscles to expand & contract; but what holds all of this moving stuff together? If you said the skin, you would only be half-right, so let's go a bit deeper into the body and find what is called the Fascial Network, or just fascia for short. Now I know fascia might sound like your loud girlfriend from high school, but according to Dr. Thomas M. Myers, it's actually an interconnected collagenous network of tissues that encases every organ, bone, muscles or cell in the body. How does this happen you ask? Well, at the beginning of life we grow from an embryo comprised of 4 different types of cells: neural, muscular, epithelial, and connective tissue cells. Connective tissue cells secrete or discharge a number of substrates and string-like fibers (collagen, elastin, & reticulin) that compose the area surrounding all cells in the body. This area is called the extra cellular matrix (ECM), which provides structural (whole body) & biomechanical (physical movement) support to the cells of the body, permitting intercellular communication (talking between cells) and adhesion (linkage/hold between cells). Basically, we are a mass of moving cells given form and function through the bond of our own self-made lemon Jell-O.
Wake Up - Sit, Eat Breakfast - Sit, Drive To Work - Sit, Get To Work - Sit, Go To Lunch – Sit, Drive Home – Sit, Get Home - Sit, Dinner – Sit, Relax – Sit. This isn’t a Health & Safety Department remix attempt to “Swimming Pools.” Nope, this is my lyrical description of our daily condition. This song is funny, but not too funny since it correctly describes so many of our lives to a T. The American Journal of Epidemiology estimates that the average American adult daily spends 60% – or upwards of nine hours –engaged in sedentary activities, aka seated. Even if you’re active five days out of the week for one to two hours each day, compare that with your time spent chilling and you’ll see sitting is the biggest block of your day. That’s 10 active hours per week vs. 63 sedentary hours! The real question is do you think your 10 hours a week of exercise is effectively combating that 63 hours spent just doing you?
In the New Year many strategies for personal change begin, but most don't know that their success starts within. No matter if your plan is improved physical physique, increased personal time reading, decreased electronic time, or honing a creative skill, the power to accomplish all things starts with your will. That's will as in power of the mind, or determination-not that death list. Have you ever heard of someone simply thinking themselves healthy; or better still, thinking themselves thin? No, really! If I told you that your own mind could be so powerful that it could will you into a healthier state of existence, would you even have time for that? Well then my friend, good old science introduces an example of mind power titled, "The Placebo Effect". According to The American Cancer Society, this effect or response results in a reduction of the patient's symptoms in reaction to a replica pill, injection, liquid, or procedure. Basically, the doctor takes you through the motions of treatment. You see it, believe it, and bam-you begin to feel better, all because you wanted to. This awesome mind power is already present within you, but like any other skill, it takes practice to make it real.
Take a minute to think of a skill that is essential to life and performed daily. Done? Now list all those physical or mental abilities we perfect throughout our lives - eating, walking, speaking, reading, writing, driving while texting and surfing Facebook. Why wasn't breathing at the top of the list? Can you think of a skill more necessary to life that is so under practiced? Taking 5 minutes a day to practice something free-that you're going to do anyway, which could save your life and will lead to healthier functioning-just sounds like a good time investment.
What is Physical Fitness (PF)? Well, According to the American College of Sports Medicine our PF has 5 categories: cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness, body composition, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Our ability in each category can be assessed and increased with some very simple methods, so let’s start our quest with Aerobic Fitness (AF). AF involves our ability (heart, lungs, and muscles) to utilize oxygen as energy for sustained physical activity. AF has been linked to: increased cognitive/mental ability, positive mood, restful sleep, proper sex functioning and lean body composition. Those are more than a few reasons to get aerobically fit. I bet now you’re thinking, “Just how do I improve my AF?” Well, the answer is: one simple old mile at a time. No matter if it’s the city or a country variety, any type of mile will do!
Have you ever heard the old saying: “There is more than one path to the same destination?” Well the same can be said for which type of exercise you choose to get to your fitness goals. Planning your way to fitness begins with knowing the paths ahead. The road to fitness splits into two forks: the aerobic way and the anaerobic way. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), aerobic exercises are physical movements that require oxygen as energy to fuel the body for activity (jogging, walking, swimming and biking). Aerobics are usually long, low intensity, periods of physical activity, and usually the best path to start walking toward fitness. Once you’ve travelled a ways and built a good aerobic fitness base, you may want to switch to the anaerobic path. Anaerobic exercises include short duration, high intensity physical movement bouts. The NSCA further states that, Anaerobic physical activities include those movements that do not require oxygen as energy to fuel the body (resistance training, interval/circuit training, jumping or sprinting). Aerobic exercise is the flat path that goes through the valley while anaerobic exercise is the one that switch backs up into the mountains.
Nap time, traffic, and parade routes are some of the things beyond our personal control. They make us tired, late, and annoyed but luckily what we say, do, and eat are still all on us. Taking control of your food intake will improve not only your mental and physical health but also your personal savings.
According to the USDA, food prepared outside the home is not only more expensive (averaging $731 million annually & $232 per month) but of lower quality (containing more saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol, and lower amounts of calcium) and ultimately raises overall caloric intake by 31%. Now couple these 3 negatives with the fact that the food-away-from-home industry (commercially prepared) is exempt to nutritional labeling laws, and you have two very big reasons to start learning to cook. Can you tell me what's really in the food you're eating? Well if you cooked it yourself you could!
Today's technology has brought great comforts to our lives. Each comfort we enjoy-the plane, car, couch and TV-comes with a hidden cost. Did you know that the relaxing act of sitting can actually have a negative effect on your health & wellness? Couple a nice sit, with a few TV shows and you're slicing away small chunks of your actual life. According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, for each hour an adult (25yrs+) spends watching TV, he or she loses 22 minutes of expected life. Relaxing and doing nothing, aka physical inactivity or your usual weekend plans, is currently ranked as the fourth leading global killer. Is the cost apparent to you now? So, now knowing that sitting is killing you slowly, are you rethinking your next weekend of binge watching Love & Hip Hop?
Order and progression are natural parts of our everyday lives. Some of those essential sequences include: infancy before adulthood, listening before speaking, learning before teaching, and completing elementary before high-school. This arrangement or sequence of development is also present in our ability to control the movement of our body. We gain physical control of the head before the legs, core before the fingers or toes, and perform gross motor movements (large movements = crawling/walking) before fine motor movements (small movements = grasping/writing). Merriam-Webster defines the development of physical control occurring from head to tail as cephalocaudal and development from trunk outward to the limbs then fingers as proximodistal. When we abide to the natural order of development, or better yet the plan, we produce results; and this same theory should guide fitness program design. In order to earn their movement rights, babies roll, sit, crawl, and stand well before walking or running; so why don't you? If these drills are not part of your training you could be missing vital steps in the development of balanced and secure physical structure.