Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Department of Parks and Recreation(al) Exercise

For many people walking through the doors of a gym on a regular basis is just not going to happen. In fact, gyms count on this. When a gym establishes its capacity, it does so accounting for a given percentage of its paying membership not coming! You don't have to spend your money on a gym membership that you know you will never use. There are other ways to get your exercise.

When I was in school for Chiropractic, I already had years of personal training experience. Some of my friends at school had similar experiences. We designed the ultimate out door workout. In fact, it was so intense, that we could only do it once a week. We started this workout in a group of 4 guys and it turned into an unofficial group fitness routine that weekly saw up to as many as 25 people come down to participate! Why? Because it was fun. For you, what I was doing might not be fun, or even possible. We were flipping 500 pound tractor tires, dragging over 100 pounds of kettle bells, swinging sledgehammers, doing pull ups in trees, and running sprints across the two acre yard. There are modifications for all skill levels. You can exercise outside, have fun, and challenge yourself at the same time.

The easiest exercise we can all do outside is going for a walk, or a run. The biggest hurdle people encounter when going for a walk or a run is lack of progression. Put simply, most people just don't push themselves hard enough to garner the results they want. For these types of people, fartlek runs can be extremely effective. I know, "fartlek" sounds silly, but it's a real word. An example of a fartlek run goes as follows; when you go outside, pay attention to the telephone poles on the block. Walk from the first one to the second one. Jog from the second pole to the third pole, and sprint from the third pole to the fourth. From the fifth pole to the sixth pole, the pattern resets, and you walk. Fartlek runs are runs in which there is a set interval dictated by a given time or distance.

Maybe the most fun way to exercise is to go to a park. Don't think playing in the swings is a workout? Think again. Sure, if you just sit there and allow momentum to do its thing, you aren't getting much of a calorie burn, but do some work and you are looking at a core strengthening, calorie burning fun time. Each time you kick your feet out in front of you, the quadriceps (leg muscles) and abdominal muscles contract. Bringing your feet in for the back swings works the hamstrings and the muscles of the lower back. Do you bring your kids to the park and watch them play tag? Why not play with them? It is great aerobics, and it is a fun, free way to bond with your child. If you walk or jog to the park, it just adds some bonus time to your enjoyable workout.

For the challenge seeker, parks can be a great place for exercise too. Monkey bars are pull up bars, and pushups on swinging plank bridges are much harder than pushups on solid ground. Running to the park is of course always an option as well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kettle Bells

Ahhh Kettle Bells. If you don't know what they are, Kettle Bells (usually made out of cast iron) are like dumbells with more versatility, and sex appeal. Most "globo-gyms" have them now, but since management doesn't know how to fit them in with all of their bells and whistles, the bells get stashed away in a corner somewhere to hide like the scar you only show people when you want to impress.

The design of kettlebells is such that they are extremely bottom heavy (due to the heavy ball of iron at the bottom of a "U shaped" handle. This design makes the bells perfect for swinging and generating momentum. The fact that the kettlebells are completely sodered and have no moving parts makes the durable for activities like throwing and dragging which you would never do with dumbells.

Trainers all over the place are beginning to use kettlebells to add some spice to their client's workouts. But are they right for you? Are they even right for said trainer's client? The type of movements that kettlebells create in the human body can be very aggressive and very dangerous, especially when done improperly. When done correctly, Kettlebells can be an extremely safe, and effective way to build muscular power and endurance. Especially in the core.

Kettlebells are meant to be used in rythmic fashion. As you go through the necessary repititions, you develop momentum. For a healthy back and healthy hips, this is perfectly safe. For someone with flexion intolerance however (pain when bending forward, a typical symptom of disc bulge or herniation), this is not a good thing and it should be avoided unless under proper supervision. If you think you are in good health, experimenting with kettlebells might be a fun way to vary your workout. I always tell my clients that gym memberships are accessories to fitness, not necessities. Give me body weight, resistance bands, and body weight straps and I can take you through a workout that will make your head spin and your fat melt. However, the addition of free weights in the form of dumbells and barbells can be helpful to the process. Kettlebells should be viewed the same way.

Remember, it takes years to sculpt the perfect body. No special technique or "state of the art" video is going to give you the overnight results we all wish were out there. Unfortunately though, it only takes one bad rep to really hurt yourself. Make sure before using exercise equipment you are not familiar with it to get the advice of someone who has some expertise in the area. You know what, even if you are familiar with the exercise equipment, ask someone anyway, maybe you will learn something new.

Until next time, eat food, move freely, and live well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Krill Oil Supplementation

The use of traditional fish oil in the United States has become a relative common place in modern society. No one would look at you funny if you told them you were taking a pill or two a day of your favorite brand of fish oil to keep your cholesterol down. Fish oil has great influence in our blood chemistry to lower the level of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), the bad form of cholesterol. It also has the ability to elevate the amount of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), the good form of cholesterol. There is no question; fish oil is a great nutritional supplement. Today, I’m going to introduce you to something better, Krill Oil.

Krill oil comes from a fish source just like traditional fish oil does. There are many similarities between these two nutritional supplements. However, there are several differences that set Krill Oil apart from the alternatives. Krill Oil is derived from a shell fish called Krill that primarily inhabits the Antarctic Ocean. The Antarctic ocean is far from the shores of the nearest industrial port of call and hence has significantly less pollution than waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where most traditional fish oil is found. The most notable toxic chemical lacking in the Antarctic Ocean that is readily found in the Atlantic is toxic mercury. Unfortunately, many fish that inhabit Atlantic waters are high in mercury. Since this is where most traditional fish oil comes from, many fish oils are also high in mercury. Ingestion of excessive mercury can be problematic for the normal functions of human physiology and should be avoided whenever possible. Now I’m not making a claim that all fish oils have high mercury levels, but are you going to do the research on every brand out there to find the safest choice? What will you do when you find out that it’s two to three times the price of the product you currently use? I have good news. The Antarctic Ocean is not full of Mercury, and neither is Krill Oil, so your research is already limited. But the lack of Mercury in Krill oil certainly isn’t its only benefit when compared to traditional fish oil

Krill makes up the largest biomass of all animals in the world. Simply put, Krill oil is far more sustainable than traditional fish oil and is therefore more environmentally friendly. Okay, so you’re not concerned about the environment enough to change your supplementation, I get it. There is more. Krill oil contains an important substance called Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin allows the Krill oil to be absorbed into the blood stream more than twice as readily as traditional fish oil! What that means to you is two fold, smaller pills (less than half the size) and no more fish burp. Just like egg white is the ultimate protein source, Krill Oil is the Ultimate omega-3 source, almost all of it gets used. Fish oil pills have to be so large because less than half of what you take is absorbed by the body. That’s also the reason for the fish burp. It takes so much longer to digest fish oil that some gets left be hind in your gut causing that unpleasant tasting burp. With Krill oil, fish burp simply does not happen.

Krill Oil has antioxidant properties. You might be familiar with the term “anti-oxidant”. Researchers believe that there is a strong relationship between anti-oxidants and the prevention of various cancers. Fish Oil does not have anti-oxidant value.

I don’t work for a major Krill Oil manufacturer, so my stake in you beginning a Krill Oil regimen is nothing. We do carry Krill Oil in my office, but no profit is made on its sales. I wrote this blog because I want you to know the facts. If you are currently taking fish oil and you like it, continue, and pat yourself on the back for being proactive when it comes to your wellness.

Thank you for your attention. Until next time… Eat food, move freely, and live well.