Overtraining Hinders Athletic Performance

Now that summer is in full swing, many children – and adults – are making the most of the beautiful weather and are participating in numerous sports teams.  All that sports conditioning and athletic training are great for your energy levels and weight management, but it could actually hinder your athletic performance.

A University of Guelph study is the first to show that overload training may alter firing in the body’s sympathetic nerve fibers, which could hinder performance.

“The theory behind overload training is that you train to the point of complete exhaustion, so that when you rest and recover, you will be able to perform at a higher level than before,” said Alexandra Coates, a PhD student in human health and nutritional science and lead author of the study. “But that may not be entirely correct.”

The study revealed that “muscle sympathetic nerve activity, which constricts the muscle’s blood vessels and indicates stress in the body, increased in over-trained athletes.” In layman’s terms, this means that an athlete’s nervous system is temporarily altered by overtraining.  So, athletes who follow a consistent fitness and training schedule may have better endurance and long-term performance.

As a Certified Athletic Trainer and the founder of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic, exercise facility working with children through senior citizens – and professional athletes such as Jerome Couplin III, formerly of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams – in the Washington, DC, area, I am routinely asked, “How can I ensure that my child or I am safe while athletic training?”

I think it’s important for kids – and adults – to excel in sports and love the simple pursuit of play while protecting your health.   Here are my suggestions for preparing for athletic training and the demands of playing summer sports:

  • Before playing organized sports, make sure you or your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, performed by a doctor or a nurse practitioner or qualified clinician under the supervision of a physician. Whomever performs the exam, the same practices should be followed including the need for a medical history.
  • Ensure you’re warming-up and cooling down.  Stretching before and after practices and games can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, such as muscle tears or sprains, and ensure bone and joint health.
  • Encourage your athletes to drinks fluids (water is the best option) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity in order to stay hydrated.  Even if the child isn’t thirsty, insist he/she drink water.
  • Know the signs of dehydration.  Even mild dehydration can affect your child’s athletic performance and make him/her lethargic and irritable. Left untreated, dehydration increases the risk of other heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
  • Don’t over-train.  According to BodyBuilder.com, “Along with persistent fatigue, you may be also experiencing these symptoms of overtraining:”
    • Persistent muscle soreness
    • Elevated resting heart rate
    • Increased susceptibility to infections
    • Increased incidence of injuries
    • Irritability
    • Depression
    • Loss of motivation
    • Insomnia
    • Decreased appetite
    • Weight loss
  • If you – or your child – do over-train, rest.  To see improvement in one’s strength and fitness you must rest. The rest period following hard training is a magical process which takes at least 36 hours to complete. By skimping on rest, complete regeneration cannot occur.  If the amount of training continues to exceed the rest period, however, the individual’s performance will plateau and decline.

About Fitness for Health:

Do you or your child want an athletic edge for fall sports? Want to train like a professional athlete?

Try EDGE Training – Athletic Performance Development to improve hand-eye coordination, visual reaction time, peripheral awareness, agility, balance, proprioception and athletic conditioning utilizing the latest in exergaming technology.  All are areas that will make the difference – and give you the EDGE during game time.

Call 301-231-7138 to register for a FREE tour or attend our Open House on Sunday, August 4, from 5pm – 6pm.

Walk Your Way to Weight Loss

Enjoy the beautiful summer weather by walking your way to weight loss.

Walking is the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way to exercise, but a study suggests there’s actually a magic number of steps to aim for if you’re truly looking to shed pounds while walking.

As written in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, data included each participant’s age, BMI, heart rate, and breathing rate so they could learn of any correlation between walking and overall health.

Is there a “magic number of steps”?  According to the study’s co-author, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke, the answer is yes.  100 steps per minute (about 2.7 miles per hour) is the magic formula for it to be considered moderate exercise, where your heart rate increases by 50 to 70 percent. When you break it down, it’s just under 2 steps per second, which definitely sounds doable for a healthy individual. She states, “This rate applies to anyone under the age of 60.  Currently, federal guidelines say that Americans should exercise at least for 30 minutes each day, so you’ll need to ensure that you get those 3,000 steps in within that time period.”

So, turn up the intensity of a walk and burn more calories quicker with these simple habits:

  • Walk faster. People often wonder how you might burn more calories per mile at slow speeds. This is because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn’t helping to carry you along. Your body walks more efficiently at moderate speeds. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Brisk walking, at a pace that makes it tough to talk, which means at least two miles in 30 minutes, is a good way to lose weight and maintain weight management while athletic training. Your goal should be to work out at about 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. (To calculate your target heartbeats per minute, subtract your age from 220, and then multiply that number by 0.705.)
  • Add incline. Walk up a hill or stairs to add cardiovascular conditioning and athletic training to your workout.  This not only increases your calorie expenditure but also tones the muscles in your buttocks and thighs because it demands more from your legs.
  • Walk with a buddy. Activities – especially athletic training – is always more fun with a friend. Research confirms that a support system helps maintain long-term, weight management.
  • Find a fun walking partner. According to 30 Tips When You’re Walking for Weight Loss by Eat This Not That!, “It’s no joke: genuine laughter may cause a 10–20 percent increase in basal energy expenditure and resting heart-rate, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. That means a 10-15 minute giggle fest could burn up 40 to 170 calories.”
  • Stay hydrated. According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, staying hydrated helped healthy people burn more calories. The research states, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%.” So, remember to drink water while walking and burn calories quicker.

Regular exercise – especially walking – is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy while improving bone and joint health.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain weight management.

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight or maintain weight management as an adult or combat childhood obesity?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.

Our Diets are Improving – But We Can Do Better

Are you planning on eating your fill of hot dogs, chips and potato salad this Fourth of July? You’re not alone. Everyone indulges sometimes – and we should – in order to ensure we’re not cheating ourselves out of the simple joys of life. But, we also need to eat healthier in the long-term to prolong our lives and remain healthy into older age.

Americans are eating healthier! In fact, a study finds that improved diets have prevented 1.1 million premature deaths over a 14-year period. Unfortunately, overall, our diets could be improved though.

While the consumption of healthy foods such as fruits and whole grains increased, the consumption of vegetables and healthy omega-3 fats did not, according to the study, published in the journal, Health Affairs. At the same time, the intake of sodium increased over time.

The two most significant changes in the U.S. diet that the researchers observed during the study period were a decrease in the consumption of trans fat (by nearly 72 percent) and a decrease in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and juice (by about 36 percent). (To learn how your family’s weight management may be sabotaged by sodas, read our previous blog, Is Your Family Pouring on the Pounds?)

“Our findings provide further justification for promoting healthful diets as a national priority for chronic disease prevention, as well as for legislative and regulatory actions to improve the food supply more broadly,” study author Dong Wang, a doctoral candidate in the nutrition and epidemiology departments at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Fitness for Health can help you build a healthier body by creating a customized, exercise regimen that addresses your – and your kids’ – unique concerns this holiday season.  Whether you want weight management, tone, build muscle, increase flexibility or improve your athletic training, we can help you reach your goals!  Learn how we can help your family lose weight and combat childhood obesity today!

Women’s World Cup Workout

Are you jealous of the speed, agility, core stabilization and leg power of your favorite World Cup athletes? In honor of the Women’s World Cup, here are a few tips to help you begin athletic training and become ready for the soccer field:

Speed:

  • Include sprints into your workout twice a week.  Sprints should last 10 minutes.  According to Human Kinetics, “Five minutes of the speed workout should be devoted to doing 10 all-out quality sprints at distances ranging from 10 to 50 yards (9-46 meters). Athletes should have about 30 seconds of rest between sprints so that they are breathing easily before their next sprint.”
  • To improve your speed, you must stretch correctly so flexibility training is critical.

Agility:

  • Jumping rope is great. Try some of these variations: typical two-foot jump, stride jumps (swap forward foot on each jump), crossover jumps or single-leg jumps.
  • Use a speed ladder.  A speed ladder is a vinyl ladder you roll out onto a flat surface. Run through the ladder (always as fast as possible) with one foot in each space. Then, do two-foot jumps forward. Step sideways on the left and step the right foot in, then the left foot in, then out to the right, then back to the left and so on. Try shuffling sideways straight through the ladder leading with the left foot, then back leading with the right.

Core Stabilization

  • Plank – Lie on your stomach with your forearms/elbows on the ground.  Rise up so that you are resting on your forearms and toes. Your stomach should be drawn in with your back straight.  Hold for 30 seconds – 2 minutes.  Repeat 5-10 times.
  • Superman – Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended.  Retract your shoulder blades down and in towards the midline of your spine with your ab muscles drawn in.  Maintain this position while lifting your opposite arm and leg.  Ensure your hips stay in contact with the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds.  Repeat 10-20 times.

Leg Power:

  • Parallel Squats – Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing straight forward or slightly outward.  Place a weighted bar (or even a broom handle) across the back of your shoulders.  Push your hips backward and lower your butt until the top of your thighs are parallel to the floor.  Your feet should be flat on the floor with your weight on your heels.  Rise back up to your starting position while keeping your heels flat on the ground.  Repeat 10-20 times.
  • Lunges – Stand like you are beginning a Parallel Squat with a weighted bar or broom handle across your shoulders.  Take a step forward with one leg so that your front knee is aligned over your heel.  Drop your back knee straight down until it is about 1/4 inch from the floor.  Use your stepping foot to push you back into your starting position.  Repeat this sequence with your other leg.  Do 15-25 reps on each side.

Are you ready to take your athletic training to the next level and train like a professional athlete?  Learn about Fitness for Health’s EDGE Athletic Training for adults and kids.  We can help you become stronger, faster and more explosive while improving bone and joint health and maintaining weight management. Just ask EDGE Athletic Training participants Jerome Couplin III, former NFL linebacker and current player in the Canadian Football League, or Professional Boxer and Boxcino 2015 Jr. Middleweight Champion John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson.

Need a Vacation Day? Meditate

Do you need a vacation this summer but are strapped for cash? Try meditating.

A new study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology says that just 15 minutes of meditation can have the same positive effect on your well-being as one vacation day.

A team at the University of Groningen researched 40 students and community members in an 8-week study which required them to meditate for 15 minutes a day for two non-consecutive weeks while completing daily mood surveys. The researchers tracked when participants went on vacation, which allowed them to study how a short meditation session can affect their mood while taking a vacation day.

The team found that just 15 minutes of meditation was associated with similar effects as a day of vacation on aspects of mindfulness.

Christopher May, study author and assistant professor at the University of Groningen, said, “Both meditators and vacationers reported heightened awareness of their environment and greater equanimity in experiencing their emotions.”

Even the busiest person can find 15 minutes a day to meditate in order to refresh and alleviate your mood!

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Want to learn how to improve your exercise habits?  Need motivation sticking to an aerobic schedule?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a child at heart, Fitness for Health can you help you achieve your fitness goals.  Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn about our exercise and sports programs.

Do You Have a “Dad Bod”?

Happy – almost – Father’s Day! Do you or your father have a “dad bod”?

Did you know that you don’t have to run wind sprints and complete athletic training for hours a day like a NFL quarterback in order to be in great shape and continue weight management? It’s true!

What if you just want to get healthier? Do you need to have the public’s perception of the “perfect” body to be in shape? Not necessarily.

For some, aspiring to achieve a sculpted body may be a motivating factor in making healthy changes and renewing commitment to athletic training. However, if you do the work and don’t get as toned and muscular as some of the athletes you see on TV, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy and out of shape. It is possible to have a “dad bod” (or a “mom bod”) and still be healthy.

As a Certified Athletic Trainer and the founder of Fitness for Health, an exercise facility working with children through senior citizens and professional athletes in the Washington, DC, area that specializes in athletic training using state-of-the-art, exergaming technology, I believe that, ultimately, fitness has less to do with how you look and more about how you feel, and what your body can do. It’s all about working toward being the healthiest you can be. If aspiring toward the “perfect body” helps you get there, that’s fine. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve it; being “ripped” is not the end-all, be-all of health.

About Fitness for Health:

Do you or your child want an athletic edge for fall sports? Want to train like a professional athlete?

Try EDGE Training – Athletic Performance Development to improve hand-eye coordination, visual reaction time, peripheral awareness, agility, balance, proprioception and athletic conditioning utilizing the latest in exergaming technology.  All are areas that will make the difference – and give you the EDGE during game time.

Call (301) 231-7138 or register for a FREE tour or open house to learn more.

Which Exercise Personality Are You?

Do you live for your Thursday night group training session? Or do you gravitate to long solo spins through the countryside? Are you stoked to hit the gym to lift? Or do you need a nudge?

How you answer those questions comes down to specific characteristics that make up your personality, according to a new study published in the journal, Heliyon.

According to MSN.com, “In the study, researchers analyzed data including activity type, frequency, and the personality characteristics of more than 400 physically active adults. They found that certain characteristics influenced a bunch of factors about working out, including what types of routines you prefer and how frequently you break a sweat.”

“Matching your workouts with your exercise personality not only increases your enjoyment, but also the likelihood that you’ll stick with it,” explains lead investigator Allyson Box, who began this work as an undergraduate student at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, in a press release.

In my experience as a Certified Athletic Trainer and the owner of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic, exercise facility working with children through senior citizens in the Washington, DC, area, I also believe that making your workout fun can often be the difference between failure and success and mediocre or amazing results.

Many people say they hate working out because they haven’t found a fitness routine that matches their personality style.  Take inventory of your likes and dislikes: Do you like your workouts to be social, or do you really want some alone time? What about fast-paced workouts? Or, do you need quiet time to reflect the day’s happenings? Air conditioning or the outdoors? Use the answers to determine what types of exercise to try next.  The only way to find out what you like is to be open and try new things!

People like to do things that they’re good at—and express distaste for anything that doesn’t come to them at least somewhat naturally.  So, take advantage of your strengths to create an enjoyable exercise program.  A review published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that people’s confidence in their exercise ability is the highest predictor of how often they exercise.  So, if you lack eye-hand coordination, maybe joining a rec league baseball team won’t e enjoyable. But, if you have those awesome “mom arms” that comes from carrying around a 30-pound toddler all day, weightlifting might be a fun fitness choice.

Whatever kind of daily exercise you choose – whether it’s kickboxing, group yoga, hiking or creating your own workouts using playground equipment while your kids are on the swings – make it fun for yourself and you’ll keep up with your fitness routine while seeing great results!

Are you in need of fitness assistance?  Fitness for Health can help you create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun and sustaining weight management.  We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your and your children’s exact needs while helping you reach your unique health goals. From first-time gym-goers to NFL professional athletes looking for athletic training, Fitness for Health has fitness programs to help people of all ages and abilities reach their fullest potential. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes so families can become active together.  Call us at 301-231-7138 to see learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your health.

5 Reasons to Exercise This Summer

Although it is true that sustained exercise helps you achieve a great body and improves bone and joint health, it also improves your overall wellness and keeps your mind sharp.

Summer is just beginning!  And, that means people are focusing their attention on outdoor cardio and athletic training, remembering their New Year’s resolutions to improve their health and maintain weight management, and hitting the gym to get ready for summer vacations to the beach.

Here are five reasons that you need to work out today:

  1. Extend your life.  Medical research has shown that by walking briskly for at least 150 minutes – not even 2 hours – each week (the minimum World Health Organization exercise recommendation), you may increase your life expectancy by 3 ½ – 4 ½ years!
  2. Ensure your heart remains healthy.  By exercising or athletic training for as little as 30 minutes a day, you can reduce your risk of a heart attack by 30% – 50% and your risk of having a stroke by 25%.
  3. Become happier.  When you exercise, you produce endorphins in your brain.  Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to elevate and stabilize your mood, decrease overall levels of tension, improve sleep and increase self-esteem.  Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
  4. Improve your brain function.  Just one cardio workout pumps extra blood to your brain which delivers oxygen and other nutrients the brain needs to perform at peak efficiency. Cardio exercise also provides the brain with endorphins and brain-derived protein (BDNF) that enhance functions such as memory, problem-solving skills and decision-making abilities. And, it doesn’t matter the age when you begin to work out! Beginning a fitness for seniors program helps to maintain and improve cognitive abilities.
  5. Bring your sexy back.  We all know that exercise burns fat, but, if you want to get lean and fit, you’ll need to intensify your workouts to firm, thin and strengthen. Yes, exercise can help you lose your love handles, but it’s also the loss of excess fat deep inside the body that boosts your overall looks and your health.  There are two types of fat – subcutaneous (what you can pinch) and visceral. Visceral fat pads the abdominal organs like insulation and is far more difficult to lose.  It can also kill you.  Excess visceral fat fuels low-grade inflammation in the body and is tied to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer and dementia. It can also upset the balance of important hormones that affect your skin, hair and general appearance.

Remember, “use it or lose it!” If you don’t use your body to its fullest potential now, you risk losing your flexibility, muscle tone, heart strength and cognitive abilities later in life.

So, what are you waiting for?

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight or maintain weight management?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.

Walk Your Way to Losing Weight

In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day and the impending beautiful weather, let’s celebrate the beginning of summer and get walking!

No matter your fitness level, walking is the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way to exercise. But if your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight “fast,” an easy stroll isn’t going to cut it.  A 150-pound person burns less than 100 calories on a leisurely half-hour walk.  But, take heart.  Those burned calories add up.  Over a year, a daily, 30-minute walk could mean a 10-pound weight loss!

So, turn up the intensity of a walk and burn more calories quicker with these three simple habits:

  • Walk faster. People often wonder how you might burn more calories per mile at slow speeds. This is because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn’t helping to carry you along. Your body walks more efficiently at moderate speeds. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Brisk walking, at a pace that makes it tough to talk, which means at least two miles in 30 minutes, is a good way to lose weight and maintain weight management while athletic training. Your goal should be to work out at about 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. (To calculate your target heartbeats per minute, subtract your age from 220, and then multiply that number by 0.705.)
  • Add incline. Walk up a hill or stairs to add cardiovascular conditioning and athletic training to your workout.  This not only increases your calorie expenditure but also tones the muscles in your buttocks and thighs because it demands more from your legs.
  • Walk with a buddy. Activities – especially athletic training – is always more fun with a friend. Research confirms that a support system helps maintain long-term, weight management.
  • Find a fun walking partner. According to 30 Tips When You’re Walking for Weight Loss, “It’s no joke: genuine laughter may cause a 10–20 percent increase in basal energy expenditure and resting heart-rate, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. That means a 10-15 minute giggle fest could burn up 40 to 170 calories.”
  • Stay hydrated. According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, staying hydrated helped healthy people burn more calories. The research states, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%.” So, remember to drink water while walking and burn calories quicker.

Regular exercise – especially walking – is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy while improving bone and joint health.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain weight management.

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Do you want to lose weight, focus on weight management as an adult or combat childhood obesity?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.

Are You as Fit as a 101 Year-Old?

Are you as fit a 101 year-old? You may not in as good of shape as you thought.

“I’ve always been active and involved in sports,” says John Nagy, a chirpy 101 year-old. “And I love the social part of training.” Nagy is in a crew of about 30 mature fitness enthusiasts, all over the age of 70, who train daily at the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence (PACE) gym at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. They are part of an ongoing research project on strength and longevity spearheaded by Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., the director of PACE and a professor of kinesiology. “The data shows that being strong is as big a mediator in terms of long-term health as anything,” Philips says.

“Muscle is protective against cancer, it enhances survivorship in people with cancer, and it reduces the risk of mortality in people with hypertension, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.” A new The Journal of American Medical Association study revealed that if you can do 40 or more pushups in a row, you’re 96 percent less likely to deal with heart problems in the next decade than someone who can’t do 10.

As explained in a Men’s Health article, Phillips expects that in five years the government recommendation regarding strength training will be beefed up.  Instead of suggesting two strength sessions per week, Philips believes that it will recommend three to five. “Strength really is a buffer to mortality,” he says. “And more importantly, it extends your health span, so you can maintain a higher quality of life for longer.” He continues, “Starting around age 40, most people begin to lose muscle mass. It’s imperceptible at first but accelerates to about a pound per year by the time you’re 50. It’s easier to mitigate the slope of that decline by training more when you’re younger than it is to try to rebound when your muscle has wasted away.”

You’re never too old to increase your level of physical activity and exercise!  Any exercise that gets the heart pumping may reduce the risk of dementia and slow the condition’s progression once it starts.  So, fitness for seniors is especially important!

Are you overwhelmed by how to begin a fitness program?  Do you think you need a personal trainer?  Do you feel that exercise may feel like a chore?  Maintaining physical fitness can be easy – and fun!

  • Include your grandchildren in your new active lifestyle. Play catch or walk to the playground and push your grandkids on the swings.
  • Have a pet? Taking your four-legged companion on a brisk walk is a fun way to increase your heart rate and improve circulation.
  • Listen to your favorite song and dance for a few minutes! Be careful that your “dance floor” is clear of objects and that you have adequate room to “boogie.”
  • As the leaves – and branches – continue to fall during the unending rainstorms, increase cardiovascular endurance by raking leaves and picking up sticks. The raking motion will strengthen your arms and lifting the bags of leaves provides weight training.
  • Instead of working out for 30-minutes, try breaking fitness activities into three 10-minute “mini workouts” throughout the day. Begin your new exercise program slowly with moderate exercise and work your way up to more vigorous and challenging activities.

Regular exercise is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

As you age, staying active mentally is just as important as staying active physically.  At Fitness for Health, we can help you achieve both. Our unique approach to senior wellness focuses on helping you strengthen and maintain the skills that other workouts often overlook – including gross motor skills, mental processing, visual motor skills, personal training, group fitness classes and bone and joint health.  To learn more about our senior wellness programs, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.