Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer is Here! The Importance of Staying Well Hydrated

Summertime is the perfect time of the year to take your fitness routine outside. Fresh air, open skies, and a variety of scenery make for an enjoyable exercise experience. But as the temperature begins to rise, it’s critically important to make sure your hydration levels allow for a productive and healthy workout.

Yes, I know, there’s nothing sexy about drinking water. But realize that it’s impossible for your body to lose excess fat if you’re not drinking enough. Your body is made up of over 70% water, making consuming it in sufficient quantities a crucial, yet simple component to achieving your fitness and/or weight loss goals.

Water plays several key roles during exercise and the fat loss process. Any time you burn stored body fat for fuel, waste by- products are created and introduced into your blood stream. By simply drinking a bottle of water during your workout you begin the process of flushing out and removing excess waste by-products.

Water is also very important for muscular contractions. Without the right water balance, your muscles can’t contract at normal intensity levels, leading to poor performance and a decrease in the effectiveness of your workouts.

For example, a drop in body water volume of a mere 1% can cause a reduction in performance of over 10%. That means you’ll have to exert yourself much harder during a workout to achieve the same results had you been sufficiently hydrated.

Also, water promotes a thermogenic state, which essentially increases your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism, the more calories and fat your body has the potential to use effectively throughout the day.

And finally, water helps reduce the soreness you feel after an intense bout of exercise. Muscular contractions (like those you experience during exercise) stimulate the release of a chemical called hydroxyproline from the connective tissues and muscle cells. This chemical is very irritating to the nerve endings and is the direct cause of delayed onset muscle soreness (the soreness you feel the day or two after you workout). Your body will naturally bind this chemical and remove it, if well hydrated, both during and after exercise, and will speed the process of recovery dramatically.

How Much Water?

While the old, but unsubstantiated rule of 8 glasses per day has held up just fine, multiplying your weight by the number .55 would provide a more accurate estimate of the number of ounces of water an exerciser should consume in a day. If you're in a hot environment all day, for example working outdoors, you should make a concerted effort to increase that number a bit further. I suggest you always have water with you. A bottle of spring water should be fine. Sipping it throughout the day, even if you are not experiencing thirst, can act as a valuable step in making sure you’re well hydrated.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Personal Trainer's Aren't Perfect!

The Worst Shape of My Life...

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE Cincinnati, Ohio

Have you ever gotten out of bed with the feeling that you may well be the most out of shape person in the world?

I have.

I was 19 years old, a sophomore in college and had been finished with competitive soccer for 18 months. During that period I ate a lot of food, studied hard, took lots of naps and didn't move very much. I put on 45 pounds of pure fat and felt horrible.

And then one day out of desperation I went for a jog around the block. It was tough; I was winded and unsure if I was going to make it. It was a far cry from my lean soccer playing days.
But something happened just after completing that modest jog. I felt tremendous. My energy level soared, my outlook on life was enhanced and the world seemed crisper - I felt alive. And I made a secrete promise to myself to bring exercise back into my life forever - never again will I feel tired, stressed out, moody, fat and lethargic.

Now almost 20 years after that experience, exercise is not only a regular part of my personal life, it's my passionate livelihood. But the reality of exercising and eating healthier foods consistently is that it's not always easy. In the 20 years since being 45 pounds overweight, I've had various levels of commitment to my health and fitness. I've ranged from fanatically focused to just going through the motions to maintain reasonable health and bodyweight. And recently I did put on 5 pounds during my wife's pregnancy. (Empathy weight, I suppose).

But through it all, exercise remains one of my top priorities. I fondly remember the days when I could train hard for 2 hours, but today I prefer to work hard for an hour and use the second hour to be with my young daughter. And with this shift in priorities my most enjoyable workout involves exercise that includes my daughter in some way.

Staying fit and healthy is a choice. We all have legitimate reasons to put off exercise, but we also have many more powerful reasons why we must exercise. Exercise allows us to be more productive, more vibrant, work more effectively, focus more clearly, have a better mental outlook, just to name a few. Develop your own compelling reasons why you make consistent exercise and quality nutrition consumption a part of who you are.

Below are some fun exercise ideas to help get you moving, in spite of the reasons we can't:

  • Dance to your favorite music in your living room. Invite your spouse and the kids to join in!
  • Pretend you're playing the biggest game of your life in your favorite sport - and play hard for 30 minutes!
  • Join a boot camp, or other group fitness program. They are a lot of fun and get you in shape fast.
  • Go in the backyard and play vigorously with your kids and the whole family gets a workout.
  • If you have kids under the age of four, put them in a jogging stroller and get in short jog before dinner.
  • Join a power walking, jogging or running group - Cincinnati Running.

And just because you're no longer 14 doesn't mean you cannot go swimming, ride a bike, or play your favorite sport! Tennis, racquetball, soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, even golfing without the cart, are all great ways to get your exercise in.
If you have a reason not to exercise, I have the solution.

Click here to eliminate any excuse you have for not exercising!