Tag Archives: running

Fitness Debunking #2

I’ve touched on this subject once before in a previous article, Go Barefoot, but here we go again!

Myth #2: Running barefoot is better

Truth: It all depends on body type and discipline

By: Gretchen Reynolds

Shoes alter how we move. As soon as you put toddlers in cute little loafers, their walking changes: they take longer steps and land with more force on their heels. In the January 2010 issue of the journal Nature, Harvard scientists reported that urban schoolchildren in Kenya who wore shoes ran differently than unshod rural youngsters. Most of the urban children struck the ground with their heels, causing impact peaks, or shock waves, to travel up their legs. The barefoot runners landed lightly near the front of their feet.

A compelling finding, sure, but practically useless. Unless you were raised in the bush, you grew up wearing shoes, and as repeated biomechanical studies show, our bodies cling stubbornly to what they know. When researchers from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse outfitted recreational runners with barefoot-style running shoes, about half of the runners continued to strike the ground with their heels, just as they had in their old shoes. But if you hit with your heels and no longer have cushioning to dissipate the force, you amplify the pounding instead of reducing it. “It’s tough to relearn to run,” the scientists cautioned in their report.

Meanwhile, landing near the front of your foot, as adept barefoot runners do, can be beneficial but is no guarantee against injury. Biomechanics research shows that forefoot striking sends shock waves up your leg, too, but in a different pattern than when you heel-strike. These forces move mostly through the leg’s soft tissues instead of the bone, meaning less risk of a stress fracture—but more chance of an Achilles injury. In other words, your body takes a pounding from running, barefoot or not.

Get over it: The truth is, going barefoot can be good for your body. It all depends on your susceptibility to specific injuries and how you make the transition. If you’re ready to give it a try, experts agree you should start slowly. “Go for a ­typical run,” says Stuart Warden, an assistant professor at Indiana University’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “Then take off your shoes for the last quarter of a mile.” Gradually increase the barefoot distance by a quarter-mile at the end of each run. And, above all, concentrate on form: land lightly, don’t overstride, and try not to hit the ground with your heel.

The biggest mistake barefoot newbies make is overstriding. Adopt quicker movements that cover less distance. If you’re on the fence about whether barefoot is right for you, use the following chart as your guide.

Injury: Sore knees
Switch: Worth a try. Barefoot running can lessen knee pain.

Injury: Achilles tendon problems
Switch: Probably not. Striking your forefoot increases stress on the Achilles.

Injury: Heel pain or plantar fasciitis
Switch: No. Without perfect form, you’ll be pounding that sore heel without any padding.

Injury: Sprained ankle
Switch: Could be beneficial after the ankle heals. Going shoeless can improve the body’s pro-prioception, or spatial awareness, reducing risk of another sprain.

Source: http://www.outsideonline.com

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Fitness Debunking #1

For the next few days I’m going to be posting some great fitness myths. Let’s start with running cramp prevention.

Guzzling water prevents cramps

Truth: Water and electrolytes have little to do with muscles seizing up

By: Gretchen Reynolds

For years we’ve heard that exercise-­induced cramping is caused by dehydration and the associated loss of sodium and ­potassium. We’ve been urged to load up on ­bananas or chug salty sport drinks before and during workouts. But in 2011, South African researchers studied hundreds of Ironman triathletes, a group frequently felled by muscle cramps. To check for signs of clinical dehydration, researchers took blood samples just prior to the event’s start, for measuring levels of sodium and other electrolytes, then drew blood again at the finish line. Forty-three of the Ironmen cramped during the race, but the afflicted were no more dehydrated than the other competitors were, and they had comparable electrolyte levels. The principal difference between the two groups was speed: the tested group finished faster.

A team of scientists at North Dakota State University in Fargo reached similar conclusions. In a 2010 study, the researchers asked a group of fit young men to fill up with ­water, then induced cramping by zapping them with a series of low-level electric pulses. They did the same after the men rode stationary bikes in a heat chamber, with some of them losing up to 3 percent of their body weight to sweat. Since it took the same number of electrical shocks to induce cramping again, the spasms “were likely not caused by dehydration,” says professor Kevin Miller, who led the study. Instead, he believes that muscle cramps are due to exertion, fatigue, and a cascade of accompanying biochemical processes.

Get over it: Miller can’t tell you how to eliminate cramps altogether—there isn’t enough research—but stretching seems to be the best option to relieve acute cramping once it’s set in. That and pickle juice. In one of Miller’s recent studies, cramp-stricken ­cyclists who drank 2.5 ounces of it recovered 45 percent faster than those who drank nothing. Miller speculates that something in the acidic juice disrupts the nervous-system ­melee in the exhausted muscle.

Source: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/injury-prevention/Myth-4.html


10 Simple Ways!

Another two short articles from Self Magazine! There have been some great articles in that magazine as of late, definitely check them out.

Self’s 10 Simply ways to…

Cut 100+ Calories – Hanna Howard

  1. Swap 2 regular beers for 2 light ones. Saves 100 calories
  2. Order thin-crust pizza, not regular. Saves 151 calories
  3. Take the top off a tuna sammy on sourdough; add a slice of lowfat Swiss cheese; nuke. Saves 137 calories
  4. Dress salad with 2 tablespoons lowfat balsamic, not Caesar, and add 1 tbsp Parmesan. Saves 115 calories
  5. Munch on 1 cup air-popped popcorn, not chips. Saves 123 calories
  6. Exchange a whole egg in your omelet for 1 egg white, and trade full-fat cheddar for lowfat. Saves 142 calories
  7. Grease pans with cooking spray not oil. Saves 100 calories
  8. Enjoy pasta with 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 tbsp Parmesan, instead of Alfredo. Saves 101 calories
  9. Have half a bagel instead of a whole one. That leaves room for 1tbsp PB and 1 cup OJ. Saves 127 calories
  10. Top fro yo with fresh berries, and skip teh chocolate chips and crumbled graham crackers. Saves 114 calories

Sneak in exercise!

  1. Walk to your destination if it takes fewer than 30 minutes to get there.”- Jennifer Bikel
  2. Do bicep curls with any heavy bags you haul to and from work. They’re as unwieldy as kettlebells, so balancing them forces more muscles to fire.”- Marissa Stephenson
  3. Dance with your kids. I even break it down to Toddler Tunes!” -Carla Levy
  4. Clench your butt muscles while climbing stairs.” – Kristen Saladino
  5. See if you can hold a plank pose for three consecutive minutes every day.”- Jaclyn Emerick
  6. Eke out crunches during television commercials.”- Allison Baker
  7. Bike to meet pals on the weekend.”- Alex Samuel
  8. Wear a watch that monitors calorie burn.”- Nicole Kwan
  9. Perform leg lifts and bridges while you talk on the phone.”- Lindsey Palmer
  10. Set your clock 30 minutes ahead so you have time to run before work.”- Lindsey Benoit

Is Your Best Workout Written In The Stars?

Ever wonder if you are predisposed to enjoying certain activities? Some people believe that your zodiac sign dictates your whole life path; Ellen Barrett and Barrie Dolnick have created a program based on star charts. Even if you don’t believe it, this article offers a nice way to change up your workouts. Have you tried these zodiac workouts or are they bunk? If so how did it compare to your regular workout, which did you prefer?

Article written by Tracey Minkin

What’s Your Workout Personality?

Wondering why that kickboxing class just didn’t work for you? Maybe it wasn’t in the stars. Zodiaction: Fat-Burning Fitness Tailored to Your Personal Star Quality, by Ellen Barrett and Barrie Dolnick, says you’ll have better luck if you match your workouts to your sign. Any scientific basis for this? Not exactly. But if you’ve had a tough time finding the right regimen, this celestial fitness guide just might help.

Libra
(September 23–October 22)
You Libras want to look good, but hate grueling, marathon-length workouts.
Watch out for: Solo sessions. You need a partner or group to keep you focused.
The stars say: Stick with group-exercise classes like hip-hop dance or aerobics. You’ll love the company and knowing exactly when you get to stop.

Scorpio
(October 23–November 21)
You love a physical challenge, with a bit of suffering thrown in.
Watch out for: Low-intensity workouts. You’ll lose interest quickly.
The stars say: Aim for workouts requiring extra effort, like ballet, long-distance running, or triathlon training.

Sagittarius
(November 22–December 21)
Your adventurous spirit craves scenery changes and new, exciting workout goals.
Watch out for: Static, repetitive exercises. They’ll lose their luster in no time.
The stars say: Indulge your curiosity. Learn to swing dance or sign up for a long-distance bike ride.

Capricorn
(December 22–January 19)
For you, hard work comes easily, so you’re drawn to activities that play to your perfectionism.
Watch out for: Plateaus. More than any other sign, you need to keep adjusting your fitness goals to stay motivated.
The stars say: Climb a mountain—no joke! You Goats even love the incline settings on the treadmill.

Aquarius
(January 20–February 18)
You need a workout that allows for creativity.
Watch out for: Structure. You hate being told what to do, so you’re better off going for no-pressure plans.
The stars say: Mix things up with small bursts of cardio that are as quirky as you are, from sprinting in your neighborhood to rebounding on the trampoline.

Pisces
(February 19–March 20)
You’ll exercise all day if the environment’s pleasing.
Watch out for: Loud music and aggressive crowds. Workouts are your Me Time.
The stars say: Find your ideal workout surroundings. Swimming outdoors or walking on a treadmill with a nice view suits you perfectly.

Aries
(March 21–April 19)
You crave numbers like “miles run” and “calories burned.”
Watch out for: Wimpy workouts. They’re no match for your boundless energy.
The stars say: Indulge your need to roam with outdoor biking or inline skating—and don’t forget your stopwatch.

Taurus
(April 20–May 20)
You’re a bit of a homebody, but that Taurean vanity can get you moving.
Watch out for: Fitness boot-camps and personal training. You really can’t stand being bossed around.
The stars say: Home-based DVDs suit you. Any kind of stretch-and-strengthen program like Pilates or yoga is ideal.

Gemini
(May 21–June 20)
Your shifting energy means you’re up for anything, but easily bored.
Watch out for: Monotonous workouts. Biking the same route every day won’t hold your interest, and you’ll end up ditching exercise altogether.
The stars say: Head off the yawn factor with activities with built-in variety, like run-walk intervals or team sports.

Cancer
(June 21–July 22)
You can be athletic, but you hate the crowds of people at the gym.
Watch out for: Intimidating workouts. Your psyche prefers a low-key approach.
The stars say: Keep it noncompetitive. Try solo runs or strolls in the park with your pooch.

Leo
(July 23–August 22)
Your great stamina makes high-energy workouts a snap. And you love trainers who will praise (even worship) you.
Watch out for: Repetition and arrogant instructors. You need the spotlight squarely on you.
The stars say: Go for workouts you can look good doing, like Pilates or salsa classes.

Virgo
(August 23–September 22)
You can be compulsive about working out and get stressed when you miss a session.
Watch out for: Setting unrealistic goals. You tend to be too tough on yourself when you don’t meet them.
The stars say: You hate it when other people’s schedules mess you up, so choose solo calorie-blasting cardio like biking.

Source: http://www.health.com/health/article/print/0,,20410678,00.html


Headaches, Be Gone!

If you’re one of the 90% of Americans who suffer from headaches and migraines, this article from Fitness Magazine may give you some hope.

Head Off Brain Pain

Doctors might want to start prescribing gym memberships to migraine sufferers.  according to a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, regular exercise can reduce the number and intensity of head pounders. Patients who took up a 10-week running program reported a drop of about 40 percent in the quantity and intensity of migraines- as much as they’d get from some meds, says study author Stephanie Darabaneanu, Ph.D., of the University Clinic of Kiel in Germany. Exercise may reduce levels of stress hormones that trigger headaches. Any Aerobic exercise should do the trick, as long as you work out for 50 minutes at least three times a week.

I should mention to you, that if you have a really intense headache, you should AVOID weight lifting and power exercises; Which can increase blood pressure, making your head pain go through the roof!


Pool Workouts

By taking one step outside your door, you can tell that today it’s too hot to workout outside. With the heat index pushing us up over 100 degrees before noon, it is essential that you stay hydrated and sufficiently cool. Though you can’t go for a bike ride or a quick jog out in the sun today, you could absolutely go for a swim. Check out these fabulous pool workouts (written by Bari Lieberman) from Self Magazine.

Escape The Heat With This Full-Body Pool Workout (No Swimming Required!)

It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes, put on a bikini and jump in the pool. (That’s how Nelly’s song went right?) Sure, it’s summer… sun, high temps and lots of sweating are expected. Heck I’m a born-and-raised Floridian, summer is the only season I know! But just because this week’s heat wave is causing a mass exodus indoors, doesn’t mean you’re bound to the treadmill, or even a gym for your workouts!

While air conditioning is great, extreme heat requires extreme cool down measures like a refreshing dip in the pool. Even if you’re not a swimmer, you can still get a full-body workout with these water exercises from Mark Hendricks, Group Fitness Manager at Greenwich Equinox in New York City. Plus, working out in the pool is so much fun, you’ll forget all about the scorching temps. Just don’t forget your sunblock!

So grab a noodle (floaties if necessary) and jump in!

Cross Country Ski
1. Mimic the cross country skiing action: while one leg moves to the back the other moves to the front with opposing arms (if your right leg is back, your left arm is forward), allowing your spine to rotate.
2. Do 16 reps touching the bottom and 16 suspended (feet not touching the pool floor) for a total of 3 sets.
Muscles used: Total body with focus on lower body and spinal rotation

Jumping Jacks
1. With legs together arms to side, jack the legs and arms wide allowing feet to turn out, then bring back together. The advanced version is done suspended (not touching the bottom)
2. Do 16 reps touching bottom and 16 suspended (feet not touching the pool floor) for a total of 3 sets.
Muscles used: Total body with focus on inner and outer thighs

Hurdles
1. Keeping your feet together, leap forward while sweeping arms forward and down. The more explosive the movement the more cardiovascular it becomes.
2. Do 16 reps for 3 sets.
Muscles used: Total Body with focus on lower body

Seahorse
1. Standing upright with noodle held in front of body, dive forward leading with the noodle until you are in flat against the water’s surface (stomach down), similar to a plank position but with arms fully extended, holding onto the noodle.
2. Bend at the hips and knees, bringing knees in to chest. Then place feet on floor.
3. Do 16 reps for 3 sets.
Muscles used: Total body with focus on abs

The Dory (you know, that fish from Finding Nemo)
1. Place aqua noodle between legs and float in a seated position (end of noodle will be at the chest in the front and near the upper back).
2. Bend knees in front of you at a 90 degree angle (like sitting in a chair) with arms outstretched, pointing away from the body at water’s surface.
2. Sweep straight arms down to the side of the hips (lowering them below water) and slightly behind midline, retracting the shoulders at end of range of motion. Legs remain at 90 degrees throughout the entire exercise.
3. Do 30 seconds work followed by 15 seconds rest for 3 sets.
Muscles used: Upper back and core.

Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen! Just because you’re in the water does not mean you are safe from harmful UVA/UVB rays. Make sure to wear a water and sweat resistant formula to reduce the chances of smearing off your sunscreen once you step into the water.


Running With Distraction

Have you ever passed a jogger and found they had their music turned up so loud on their music player that you heard the music they had playing through their headphones? Every time this happens to me I can’t help thinking, “If I were an attacker, this person would have never heard me coming”. Coming from a background of Self Defense teaching, I find loud music playing over earbuds as you run, particularly dangerous. Playing music as you run can be motivating, engaging and helpful to your routine, but blasting music over your earbuds can be dangerous if you can’t hear people or traffic coming. This article from Women’s Health lays it all out.

Deaf to Danger

By now, most of us have learned to curb the urge to update our status, check our email, and fire off “I’m running late!” texts while behind the wheel. But we still zone out to music or fiddle with our iThings while walking, jogging, or biking. The problem? Distracted exercising may come with risks similar to those of distracted driving: Last year, for the first time in four years, pedestrian deaths rose, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. And experts are blaming our beloved, never-leave-home-without-‘em gadgets.

As a result, some state lawmakers are trying to crack down on exercise multitasking. In New York, for instance, a pending bill would, make it illegal for walkers and joggers to use any kind of electronic device while crossing the street. Measures in Oregon and Virginia, if passed, would fine bicyclists as much as 90$ for riding under the influence of technology. While these proposals may not become enforceable laws (unlike with distracted driving, you’re usually putting only yourself at risk), they make one thing clear: Tuning out during a workout can be very hazardous to your health.

Hear No Evil

Hit any busy jogging path or park and you’ll have an easier time counting the people who aren’t wearing earbuds than those who are. Thirty-five percent of Women’s Health readers told us in an online poll that when exercising outdoors, they always listen to music- and that their tunes are as essential as their sneaks and sports bra.

Music isn’t distracting only because it siphons off your ability to hear other noises like a car or –super scary-an attacker approaching, says Diana Deutsch, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of California at San Diego who researches the perception of sound. “Music floods the brain and takes over your thought processes,” she explains. “You concentrate on the lyrics, or the music evokes certain memories or sends you into a daydream.” Some scientists speculate that music may even have the power to dampen your sight. “The tempo can interfere with the rate at which your brain perceives images that are passing by you, which could trip you up,” says Deutsch. In short, music draws your attention away from what you’re doing and increases you risk of literally running into a dangerous situation like an oncoming bus, a malicious stranger, or a lamppost.

Press Pause

But your peppy playlist doesn’t just compromise your safety: it can also interfere with the quality of your workout. “Many people exercise while listening to music because they don’t want to think about how uncomfortable they feel,” says Stan Beecham, Psy.D., a sport psychologist in Roswell, Georgia. “But being distracted severs the connection between your body and mind, so you’re no longer tuned in to the subtle signals your body relays, like when it’s ready to speed up and when it needs to slow down.”

Music stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, says Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., a sport psychologist at Brunel University in London and author of Inside Sport Psychology. So the jolt you get when a hearty beat like Lady Gaga’s “Born this way” comes on is very real. When timed right, it could give you the thrust you need to hammer up a hill or cross a finish line. But starting a run with that song could cause you to overexert yourself and then fizzle out faster than the Swiftenhaal affair. On the other hand, music that’s too mellow may prevent you from pushing yourself to the next level, says Michael Sachs, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Muting your brain to your body’s reactions can also increase your risk for injury. Suppose you tweak an ankle or knee. “You’re not going to be able to pick up on pain sensations from a minor injury if you’re zoned out to music,” says Sachs. Instead of stopping, you might run, pedal, or skate through it until the pain becomes so severe that it intrudes on your music. “By then, the injury may be more serious than if you had stopped and addressed the initial ache immediately,” he says.

Can’t bear even a trail separation from your jams? With just a few simple adjustments, you can make your workouts safer and more effective while still rocking out.  But if you’re ready to give wireless workouts a go, check out “Your Workout: Unplugged” below.  You actually may start to prefer the symphony of your surroundings.

*Your Workout: Unplugged*

Ready to sweat in silence? Put these tips into action and you’ll get even more from your workout while keeping yourself entertained.

>Tap Into Your Breath-Whether you’re running, biking, or walking , try matching your inhalations and exhalations with what your feet are doing. For instance, while running, inhale over four footfalls (right left right left) and exhale for the same length. “Counting will keep your mind occupied but not distracted,” says Stan Beecham, Psy.D. “At the same time, you’ll be taking slower, longer, deeper breaths.” This pumps oxygen into your bloodstream, which feeds your muscles and boosts endurance.

>Do Fartleks (Swedish for “Speed Play”)- “This is the adult version of “I’ll race you to the mailbox,” explains Matt Fitzgerald, author of Brain Training for Runners. Here’s what to do: Periodically kick up your speed from one landmark- a tree or stop sign- to another. Try sprinkling eight fartleks into a 45-minute workout. “The hard work of sprinting won’t feel as difficult because the end of each burst will always be insight,” says Fitzgerald.

>Scan Your Body- Starting with your right foot, notice what it’s doing. Is it turning in? IS it turning out? Now focus on your left foot. “The goal is for your body to be as symmetrical as possible. You want to use both sides evenly,” says Fitzgerald. Work your way up to your calves, knees, hips, shoulders, arms, neck, and head. Notice how your body feels. If you encounter any tension, imagine those muscles releasing.

>Play Mind Games- Keep a mental list of the different out of state license plates that go by or count how many squirrels you see. If the urge to listen to music hits, sing to yourself. When you need to stop and cross a street, you’ll have much more control over the music that’s playing in your head than if you were using an iPod.

*Please Don’t Stop the Music*

If the thought of running without Cee Lo, Usher, or Bono wipes out your motivation to lace up, use these strategies so you can tune in without completely tuning out.

>Make a Playlist -Hit play before you start moving and don’t touch your iPod again. Fussing with your music removes yet another sense-sight- which makes things even more dangerous. If you need to make a quick adjustment, stop moving.

>Upgrade Your Earphones -Many women run with one earphone in their ear and the other tucked under a bra strap, thinking it’s safer than using both buds. But that’s not the case, since the brain relies on both ears to determine which direction a noise is coming from. A solution: Auria earphones (auria.com). They sit on the outer part of your ear without blocking your ear canal, so you can still hear ambient noises.

>Use As Needed -You can get a rush from a song or playlist the first few times you queue it up. But listen too often and you can become desensitized to it, says sport psychologist Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D. Try using music only for the most challenging parts of your workout. Karageorghis recommends songs with 120 to 145 beats per minute (BPM). “The level of stimulation this range provides creates just the right degree of arousal,” he says. Some tunes to try:

Song                                                 Artist                                    BPM

“The Time(Dirty Bt)”                 Black Eyed Peas                        128

“We No Speak Americano”    Yolanda Be Cool &DCup         125

“Barbra Streisand”                    Duck Sauce                                  130

“Happiness”                                 Alexis Jordan                             129

“Lights On”                                    Katy B                                            129

>Go Insturmental- Create a playlist of wordless songs. “It becomes more like background music, so you can stay present and aware,” says Stan Beecham Psy.D. Here’s a 55-minute mix:

Song                                                         Artist

“Black Mud”                                      The Black Keys

“Zeplike”                                            Slighty Stoopid

“Complication”                                Nine Inch Nails

“Lester Had a Coconut”                The String Cheese Incident

“Pink Batman”                                  Dan Deacon

“Blue Mountain Hop”                    Bela Fleck

“Untitled”                                          Neural Milk Hotel

“Any Colour You Like”                 Pink Floyd

“Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”                   Led Zeppelin

“Shoe Goo”                                        Particle

“Welcome Ghosts”                          Explosions in the Sky

“Baker’s Doze”                                  Galactic

“Milestones in the Sunshine”    The Jazz Mandolin Project

“Time Stretch”                                 Bassnectar

“Lord Leopard”                               Caribou


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