Keeping it Real: Outdoor Strength and Conditioning

There is no good time for disruptions, but sometimes it seems as if an evil fairy arranges for them to occur at the worst possible moments. It’s been a week full of disruptions (and it’s only Thursday!), so tonight the last thing I felt like doing was commuting and having to interact with other people in the gym in order to get my strength and conditioning training done.

Fortunately, I’ve been working on a program which emphasises body-weight exercises, and I’m now able to chin and pull my own body-weight (albeit not very many times.) So I really needed very little in the way of equipment – just some bars for pull-ups and dips, and a bench for back extensions and box jumps.

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Staying Hydrated

Something that I have had trouble with in the past has been staying hydrated when my training load has been heavy. Sometimes it can literally feel like if you’re not training, you’re showering, sleeping or trying to fit enough food in your stomach to fuel your next session, and amidst all of this is can be surprisingly easy to neglect to drink enough. Couple this with a failure to replenish the electrolytes that allow your body to actually retain the water that you drink and fairly soon you’re dealing with dry skin and eyes, muscle cramps, headaches and reduced performance.

My training load today was quite heavy, but I managed to avoid these side-effects of dehydration by:

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Exercise and Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid is an important gland in the endocrine system. Most people don’t pay attention to thyroid function until they’re experiencing some of the side-effects of a thyroid disorder, which can influence everything from metabolic rate to mental health.

As is the case with most chronic health conditions, exercise can play an important role in helping a person to maintain their quality of life, but only if understood and applied correctly.

Below is a very brief overview of common thyroid conditions, their causes, symptoms, and the implications that they can have for exercise.

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Injury and Exercise: Emma’s Story

Exercise can be a double-edged sword – done incorrectly or inappropriately, it can cause acute injury, but the deconditioning which occurs as a result of a lack of exercise can also predispose a person to injury, usually of the chronic kind.

There is a lot of confusion as well around the role or place of exercise in a person’s life when injured. Many people assume that total rest is needed for recovery, while others want to prove their mettle by “pushing through” injury.

The truth is that exercise is extremely important in recovery from, and management and prevention of, injury.

Late last year, a regular client, Emma, experienced a bad flare-up of sciatica, a condition which she had dealt with intermittently for years and which had required frequent chiropractic adjustments.

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Exercising When You’re Very Overweight

This is a sensitive issue but one that does need to be addressed. There are many people who start exercising because they are severely over-weight or obese, and they want to improve their health and quality of life. Exercise, healthy eating and achieving a healthy body-fat percentage all lower the risk of sedentary lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes, so if you’ve decided that it’s time to start a new healthy lifestyle you’ve made the right decision.

If you haven’t been very active recently though there are a few things you will need to take into consideration.

You should get a check-up done with your family doctor to make sure that there are no restrictions to the exercise you can do. For example, if your doctor finds that you have high blood pressure you will need to modify your exercise to minimise isometric poses, heavy weights lifted over the head, or positions where your head is lower than your heart, as these all increase blood pressure. Your doctor’s recommendations will be the best starting point for you to tailor an exercise program to meet your individual needs, but here are some general tips from me:

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Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Do you need to break through a weight-loss plateau? Are you bored with your fitness routine? Worse – are you just bored?

It seems that the older we get, the more we get stuck in a rut. Yes, some things need to be done with consistency. There is a time and place for a comforting and convenient routine. But be careful not to let your life get so entrenched in routine that you are doing the same thing, day in and day out, losing all sense of adventure.

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What To Expect After Your First Six Weeks

For my regular PT clients who are working on losing body-fat and toning up, I take measurements every six weeks. We do girth measurements of upper arm, chest, waist, hips, thighs and calves, as well as measuring weight and body-fat percentage. There are also less tangible “measurements,” based on clients’ self-assessment of things like energy levels, body image, health, strength and fitness.

Although when most people present themselves to me they tell me they want to lose weight, what they really mean is that they want to be slimmer and firmer. This means we need to increase lean muscle while reducing body-fat. We’ve all heard about how muscle weighs more than fat, which is why it’s necessary to measure more than just body-weight to accurately reflect the progress of a fat-loss regime.

So what can you expect after your first six weeks?

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