Warm up vs Training prep
FIT TIP: When you’re about to challenge your body physically, it’s very important to conduct the right preparation. Tradionally, a bit of a jog and some static stretches was about it. And this was the same right up to high level sports teams!
Training prep should look to involve all of these key components:
• Raise core body temperature to competitive levels
• Increase soft tissue compliance
• Expose the muscles and joints to the ranges of motion and speeds that they will encounter
• Complete any specific individual corrective exercises that may have been prescribed such as glute or shoulder stability
• Switch the mind onto “ready” mode, priming you for high quality learning or performance expression
There should be a consistency in approach dependant on your activity, so that if you play soccer, for example, the warm up should reflect the functional demands of that sport – running, jumping, lunging, tackling, kicking, dodging, weaving, twisting and bending and progressively increasing intensities.
The ‘warm-up’ should also be used as a mental ‘switch on’, a time where focus is narrowed to the aims of the exercise session.
This is why the warm-up should be varied and involve some decision making drills. If it is the same old drills, it’s very easy to switch off and for it to become a mindless task which reduces performance in the exercise session.
In many cases, there is still a belief that prolonged static stretches are critical to warm up. My belief, grounded in research, is that prolonged static stretches are fine, but are best left to after the session or performed at a time separate to explosive activity. The reason being is that they can decrease the force-to-failure point of a muscle, meaning that the muscle itself is easier to tear for a period of about 30 minutes afterwards – clearly an undesirable outcome from exercise!
So next time, when you’re planning on some warm-up drills, think about making them progressively more taxing both physically and mentally and see if you perform better during the exercise session.
Lose weight = sleep better, be happier
FIT TIP: A new study has found that people who lose at least five percent of their body weight via a gradual, healthy process, can also enjoy improved mood and better sleep.
The study of 390 obese men and women by a team at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that those who lost this amount of weight slept an average of almost 22 minutes more each night than they had done previously. However, weight loss below this limit resulted in no significant improvements to sleep.
Quantity of sleep wasn’t the only benefit though – improvements in quality of sleep, and in mood were also recorded in the participants who lost more weight.
Lead investigator, Dr Nasreen Alfaris, said ‘This study confirms several studies reporting that weight loss is associated with increased sleep duration.’
The mood elevation probably isn’t so ground breaking though… of course if you lose weight you’ll be feeling good about that! I could have told you that without commissioning an expensive research project
Problems with being too thin
FIT TIP: Yes, I said too thin. Sure, it not a problem facing the majority of the population… but there are some serious problems for those people who are too thin. Generally this means very low levels of muscle, fat and bone.
1) Slower metabolism. This will eventually lead to fat gain. If you are underweight you will have less muscle to maintain a higher metabolism, and at some point in the future you won’t be thin anymore!
2) Malnourishment. Basically you aren’t eating enough nutrients to maintain a healthy body. This will lower your immune system amnd make you more sick more often.
3) Bad posture. Lack of muscle tissue means that you won’t be able to hold your body in the correct position, and you will slouch and risk common conditions such as a bad back, hips knees and ankles.
4) Increased risk of injuries. Muscle tissue holds joints in place and protect them. Less muscle means the body’s joints have less support and do more of the work. Connective tissue like tendons and ligaments are not repairable… but muscles are! Also bone density issues such as fractures and osteoporosis are much greater with less muscle.
5) Feeling cold. Muscle provides heat generation for the body. Fat is insulation. With decreased levels of both you will feel the cold much more – leading to increased chance of sickness (especially now in winter!).
So maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t just mean become skinny. Fat is healthy in the right quantities, and lean muscle tissue is the best thing we can add to our body!!