Fitness for Health

Doctor NickThe question that who is fitter out of a marathon runner vs. a sumo wrestler cannot be answered so simply. When we talk about ‘fitness’ often people only think about aerobic fitness. Fitness is such a broad term and a complex subject which can include health and skill related fitness. These components of fitness include endurance, agility, speed, strength, power, flexibility, balance and skill.

Health related fitness is often divided into several other components which form our overall health status:

– Endurance: This is also sometimes known as stamina and is the ability of your body to continuously provide enough energy to sustain submaximal levels of exercise This type of fitness has enormous benefits to our lifestyle as it allows us to be active throughout the day, for example walking to the shops, climbing stairs or running to catch a bus. It also allows us to get involved in sports and leisure pursuits.

– Strength: vitally important, not only in sports but in day-to-day life. We need to be strong to perform certain tasks, such as lifting heavy bags or using our legs to stand up from a chair and maintaining posture. Strength is defined as the ability of a muscle to exert a force to overcome a resistance.

– Flexibility: the movement available at our joints, usually controlled by the length of our muscles. This is often thought to be less important than strength, or cardiovascular fitness. However, if we are not flexible our movement decreases and joints become stiff. Flexibility in sports allows us to perform certain skills more efficiently, for example a gymnast, dancer or diver must be highly flexible, but it is also important in other sports to aid performance and decrease the risk of injury. In daily activities we must be flexible to reach for something in a cupboard, or off the floor. It also helps to improve posture, reduce low back pain and improve balance during movement.

– Body Composition: the amount of muscle, fat, bone, cartilage etc that makes up our bodies. In terms of health, fat is the main point of interest and everything else is termed lean body tissue. The amount of fat we carry varies from person to person and healthy averages vary with gender and age. A healthy amount of fat for a man is between 15&18% and for women is higher at 20-25%. It is important to maintain a healthy percentage of body fat because excess body fat can contribute to developing a number of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes and places strain on the joints, muscles and bones, increasing the risk of injury.

In conclusion fitness cannot be defined as any one thing; it is broken up into many components. These components are all very important in activities of daily living. Most sports involve all of the fitness components however some may be more important than others. So the answer to the question, ‘who is fitter between a marathon runner and a sumo wrestler?’ The marathon runner would be fitter in terms of endurance and body composition however the sumo wrestler would be fitter in terms of strength and power.

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Lazy Sunday @ Moomba

Good Morning boys and girls, there is only one thing better than waking up on a Sunday morning and having the day all to yourself, and that is knowing it’s a long weekend and you have Monday to relax to.

If your stuck for ideas on what to get up to today then you are in for a treat because over the long weekend Melbourne’s annual Moomba festival is running. With loads of activities and fun things to see and do your sure to be in for a great day. There is the music stage with performances from Lisa Mitchell, The Verses and Ross Wilson to name a few. Along with a carnival, silent disco, the Moomba Parade, Waterskiing and a fire show just to name a few things. But how can you forget that today is also the day of the Birdman Rally, so get down there and have a laugh at some crazy people jumping into the Yarra river.

The Moomba Festival is located in the heart of Melbourne, spilling across Alexandra Gardens, Birrarung Marr and the Yarra River, between Princes Bridge and Swan Street Bridge.

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Struggling To Find Healthy Snack Options?

Eating regularly can help to maximize energy levels and concentration, and can help improve food choice. Take food with you to make sure something suitable is always available.

Select from the following low fat, low glycemic index foods. As with everything however, remember portion control is the key

– Fresh fruit.

– Canned fruit in natural juices.

– Low fat flavored yoghurt such as Yoplait light, Nestle, or Vaalia.

– Light Fruche or Le Rice.

– Dry Crackers such as Ry Vita or Vita Wheat topped with low fat cheese, low fat dip, tomato, jam, honey or vegemite.

– Homemade popcorn.

– Fruit loaf topped with jam or honey.

– Fruit salad.

– Skinny milk cappuccino.

– Sultanas.

– Mixed dried fruit.

– Handful of mixed dried fruits and nuts.

– Low fat yoghurt and mixed nuts.

– Fruit and bran muffin

– Breakfast cereal and low fat milk.

– Grainy toasting muffins

– Commercial salsa dip with oven baked pita bread.

– Low fat fruit smoothie.

– Low fat dips and chapatti bread.

– Low fat milkshake.

– Low fat soy milkshake.

– Toasted soy linseed bread or fruit toast

– Hard Boiled Eggs

– Rice Crackers

– Tinned Tuna

– Tinned bean and corn mix


What The Hell Is Eccentric Strength Training?

Eccentric Resistance TrainingWhen a muscle contracts the length can either change or stay the same. If the muscle length remains the same it is known as an isometric contraction, an example exercise is holding the plank. Whereas if the muscle length changes it is known as an isotonic contraction, an example exercise is performing a bicep curl. An isotonic contraction involves two phases; the shortening phase (i.e. the up phase of a bicep curl) which is called a concentric contraction and the second phase is the lengthening phase which is known as an eccentric contraction (i.e. the lowering phase of a bicep curl).

Research has shown that eccentric training, where the muscle lengthens, can be more beneficial for optimal performance training. With eccentric training, muscles are able to create more for less work. This means that eccentric contractions use less energy and actually absorb energy that will be used as heat or elastic recoil for the next movement.

While energy costs remain low, the degree of force is very high. This leads to muscles that respond with significant increases in muscle strength, size and power. Research has shown that increases in both strength and muscle fiber are higher in eccentric training than in traditional concentric training. In old age, loss of strength and muscle mass is commonplace. Eccentric training enables the elderly, and those with the same problems, the ability to train muscle groups and increase strength and resiliency with low-energy exercise.

Performing eccentric dominant contractions have been shown to also assist in injury prevention. This is particularly true for hamstring injuries. By conditioning the muscle eccentrically they will become stronger at longer lengths and therefore decrease the risk of hamstring injuries. Some great example exercises are deadlifts and back extensions.

In conclusion eccentric contractions use less energy, even though they create more force than concentric actions. Performing these types of muscle contractions can have significant benefits in decreasing the risk of injuries. Furthermore due to significant increases in strength and power seen in eccentric contractions it is optimal for improvements in training.

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What Are The Implications Of Strength Training In Children?

Strength Training In ChildrenHave you ever heard anyone say, “don’t let children do any strength training because it will stunt their growth!” The latest research has shown that strength training can actually be very beneficial for children both physically and mentally. Not only is it beneficial but there has been no documented evidence that any child has injured themselves when performing strength training exercises. Whereas if you have a look at the emergency room on a Saturday afternoon it’s full of children who have hurt themselves playing sport. So when should they start?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends strength training for children as young as six years old. In general, if a child is old enough to participate in organised sports, he or she is ready for a strength training program.

Research has shown strength training helps children maintain a healthy body weight, benefits skeletal and joint development as well as improves sports performance. ACSM reported that strength training programs can prevent as many as 50 percent of all preadolescent sports injuries.

Among the general developmental benefits of strength training is its ability to increase bone mineral density, thereby decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. In fact strength training is most beneficial for young women before the age of 16 and young men before the age of 18. Evidently, the benefits acquired are long term.

In addition to decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, strength training:

– strengthens ligaments and tendons

– readies soft tissues to produce the forces associated with play, making them more pliable and resistant to external forces

– improves motor fitness skills, such as jumping and sprinting, which are often required in sports performance.

Most importantly because strength training is structured similar to play (i.e., periods of high-energy activity alternated with longer periods of rest), it can be fun for children.

As with any physical activity, certain precautions should be taken for the participant’s safety. Adult strength training guidelines and programs should not be applied to children. For example children should never perform a maximal weight lift or ballistic movements (i.e power lifting exercises).

So there you have it, young children can be involved in strength training programs. However certain precautions must be taken, for example they must do it under qualified supervision by a person trainer or gym instructor. The program will start off with body weighted exercises and progress to weighted exercises such as using dumbbells. It is important to start training at an early age as this will improve body mineral density for later in life. Overall strength training helps children maintain a healthy body weight, benefits skeletal and joint development as well as improves sports performance.



Diet and Exercise Impact on Chronic Disease

The leading killers in Westernized countries are chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. There is a strong correlation between a poor diet, physical inactivity and an increase risk in chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases have an immense burden to society by increasing medical costs and human suffering. There has been overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources which links most chronic diseases seen in the world today to physical inactivity and inappropriate diet consumption. In fact recent data estimates that physical inactivity and poor diet caused 400,000 deaths in the year 2000. At the moment this ranks second, however soon inactivity and diet will soon rank as the leading cause of death in the United States.

These health problems have virtually been non existent in underdeveloped countries, but as they develop more like westernized cultures chronic diseases have increased. People changing their diets and becoming more sedentary is on the rise.

For years diet has been known to play a key role as a risk factor in chronic diseases. Foods high in fat and energy-dense with a substantial content of animal foods have replaced diets which were typically largely plant-based. Diets are a major preventative; however it is just one risk factor. Physical inactivity is another major risk factor which is an important determinant of health. Recent studies have emphasized the importance of regular physical activity in decreasing the risk of chronic disease which needs to include both aerobic and resistance training.

The evidence suggests that an adoption of an ongoing healthy lifestyle is more effective in preventing chronic diseases than quick fix ‘weight-loss’ diets. The scientific evidence supporting the value of daily exercise and a diet focusing on the consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for the prevention and treatment of the major diseases seen in industrialized countries today is overwhelming.