Archive for September, 2009
An exercise program that promotes bone health will include exercises for balance, flexibility, posture, strength and aerobic (or cardiovascular) conditioning. Each of these exercise groups has a role to play in strengthening your bones and reducing your risk of a fall. A well-designed aerobic conditioning program can have a significant impact on the strength of your bones. Before you start your next aerobic workout, you should take the following points into consideration:
- Your aerobic program should include activities that incorporate weight bearing. Weight bearing exercises are exercises that cause you to carry weight or load through your skeleton.
- Not all exercise activity is equal when it comes to the benefits of weight bearing. For example, brisk walking has been shown to build bone but not as much as more intense physical activities such as martial arts, hockey or gymnastics. The more demanding the activity is on your bones, the stronger your bones will become.
- The weight bearing activities you incorporate into your exercise program should be consistent with your current level of fitness. If gardening has been your primary physical activity, then a brisk evening walk would likely be an appropriate start for you instead of playing basketball or jumping rope.
- Your choice of exercise should be based on a number of health considerations—this includes the health of your bones and their ability to resist a fracture. If your bones are fragile and are at a high risk of fracture, then the weight bearing exercises you choose will be very different than those selected by someone who is at a low risk of fracture.
Putting Weight Bearing into your Aerobic Workout
Examples of activities that would be appropriate for someone who is at a high risk of fracture and wanting maximum bone building benefit include:
- Brisk walking
- Nordic walking
- Stair climbing
- Low impact aerobics
Someone at a moderate risk of fracture and wishing to experience maximum bone building benefit include:
- Running or jogging
- Jumping rope
A person with a low risk of fracture has a wider array of activities to choose from. More strenuous activities should be part of their aerobic program, including:
- Martial Arts
Finding Out Your Fracture Risk
A bone mineral density test, also known as a Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), along with your family history, medication history, age and gender are used to help determine your risk for a fracture.
If you are comfortable using the web to research your health information, you can go to my web site www.melioguide.com to take a fracture risk questionnaire. At the conclusion of the questionnaire, you will be given your fracture risk and assigned a free comprehensive exercise program based on your fracture risk and activity level.
Following a bone building aerobic exercise program will not only help you strengthen your bones, it will also help you build muscle, lose fat, reduce back pain and make you fitter and firmer.
I feel unsteady when I walk on uneven surfaces, is there something I can do?
Yes, with some testing Margaret will be able to identify what areas you need to work on to improve your balance. As the saying goes, unless you use it you lose it! Just 5 minutes of balancing exercises a day will make a significant improvement in our stability.
How does my balance system work?
In order to balance, we rely on three systems in our body:
- Our vestibular system or inner ear.
- Our visual system or our eyes.
- Our somatosensory system also known as our joint and muscle position sensors.
The exercises listed below are to help train your joint and muscle sensors. These exercises use very little or no equipment and can be done in the comfort of your home. Margaret can do testing to determine if you need vestibular training.
How do I prepare myself for working on my balance?
Stand in stocking or bare feet. Keep the arch of your foot dynamic and not flattened out. Keep your knee over your feet. Stand with your ear, shoulder hip and ankle all in alignment. Imagine your tucking your belly button into the small of your back with your pelvis in a neutral position. Maintain this position whenever possible throughout the program.
Can you take me through some exercises that work on my balance?
Start by standing between two chairs.
1. Place your feet together holding the chairs, let go of one and then the other chair. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
2. If you feel steady with your feet close together then do the following steps a – c with your feet together otherwise stand with feet shoulder width apart to do the following:
- Sway your body side to side; keep your body straight and do not pick up your feet or bend your knees – move as though you were a solid structure from your ankles to the top of your head.
- Sway your body forward and backward (onto the balls of your feet then onto your heels).
- Imagine that your body is cone shaped with the point of the cone at your feet and the round part at your head, keeping your feet still – see how perfectly round you can make the circle- circle in both directions.
3. Holding the top of each chair transfer your weight to one foot and pick up the opposite foot. You should not let your raised foot rest on your supporting leg.
When you feel confident release the chair with one hand, then the other and hold this for up to 30 seconds with your eyes open. Repeat the test standing on the opposite foot. If you are successful you can go to exercise #7. If you cannot hold for 30 seconds go to exercise #4
4. Staying between the chairs you can now take a full step forward and hold that position. Repeat with the other leg forward.
5. Step forward with your feet on a line but several inches apartas if walking a tight rope, with one foot directly in front of the other. Repeat with the other leg forward.
6. Now bring your feet closer together so that your heel of your forward foot is touching the toes on the back foot. Repeat with the other leg forward.
7. Keeping your left foot in place during first half of the exercise; step forward onto the right leg as if to take a step, transfer weight onto the right leg and then step backward onto the right leg; repeat the motion 6 times. Repeat on the other side
8. Repeat as in #7 but now step in line—as if walking a tight rope.
9. Standing on one foot as in the 2nd exercise; move the opposite leg in slow controlled movements forwards, return to your side, sideways, return, backwards return. Build up to repeating the sequence 6 times on each leg.
How do I make the exercise program more challenging?
You can modify any of the exercises and create new challenges:
- On a softer surface such as a thick carpet, an exercise mat, out on the grass or in sand!
- Keeping your arms crossed in front of you.
- You can also train with a partner and toss a ball back and forth, under hand, overhead, from the right, from the left.
- You can cover one eye or close your eyes.
Are there Gym Ball exercises that can help me with my balance?
The following exercises should be done once you have received personal instruction and have been fitted for the correct size ball.
- Sitting pelvic tilts, pelvic shifts, pelvic circles on the ball.
- Sitting knee lifts.
- Sitting leg lifts with extended leg.
- Four point balance on the ball.
- Three point balance on the ball.
- Kneeling on the ball.
Nothing comes more natural to us than breathing. The first thing that we do when we enter this world is to breathe. Many of us need to relearn this most natural of activities since it has been altered by the stresses in life. If you watch a baby sleep you will notice that his/her breathing originates from his/her diaphragm. Do you have the same breathing pattern?
What is natural breathing and why is it important?
When we are anxious, nervous or stressed with day-to-day living our breathing patterns are quite often shallow. Stress tells our body to get ready to fight or run and so we start to breath with our upper chest and neck muscles.
By taking time each day to focus on natural breathing we can recalibrate ourselves, address the stress and anxiety we feel and improve our outlook on life. You will also be relieving tension from our neck muscles. Your goal should be to breath naturally and completely from your diaphragm like a child.
How will correct breathing make me stronger?
Your diaphragm is your largest respiratory muscle. It divides the space between you thoracic cavity and your abdominal cavity. It makes up the superior portion of your inner core. The other key muscles that make up your inner core include your back muscles (multifidus), your deep abdominals (TVA) and your pelvic muscles.
Aside from getting more oxygen to your working muscles, when you use your diaphragm correctly, your completing the team of muscles that keeps your spine stable, assisting in your overall stability.
How are breathing and meditation related?
Breathing is an integral component of the meditation process. In order to achieve a meditative state your breathing needs to be rhythmic and full.
Can you describe a breathing exercise that I can use on a daily basis?
If you have never practiced diaphragmatic breathing, a good place to start is laying on your back with a pillow under your thighs and a small pillow under your head and neck.
Once you are in a comfortable starting position:
- Bring one hand to gently rest on the area of your abdomen just below your rib cage and above your belly button.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth. Your breathing pattern should be natural and relaxed.
- Allow your diaphragm to come down and pull air into the bottom of your lungs. You should feel your hand rise with each inhalation and fall with each exhalation.
Regardless of the sport we play or the job we do we all need to maintain good cardiovascular health. How do we determine the fitness level of our heart and circulatory system? This Health Brief has been prepared by Function to Fitness Physiotherapy and Personal Training to assist you to develop an exercise program that incorporates a healthy level of cardiovascular training.
Before we start, we highly recommend that you consult with your physician before you undertake any strenuous exercise, particularly if you have had health problems in the past.
How do I determine if my heart is healthy?
There are three things that provide us with an easy insight into the health of our heart and vascular system:
- Resting Heart Rate
- Blood Pressure
- Exercise Recovery Time
1. Resting Heart Rate (RHR):
Did you know that your heart pumps blood through a 168,000-mile journey through all your veins and arteries about 100,000 times every day? When your heart is strong it pumps fewer times. The average individual has a RHR of 72 beats per minute. World-class marathon runners have resting heart rates in the low 40′s range—that’s a lot of saved beats a day!
Your heart is responsible for making sure your 45 trillion cells in your body get the nourishment they need. Your RHR is easy to monitor and should be checked once a month. The best way to calculate your RHR is in the morning while in bed before you start moving around.
- Locate your pulse either at your wrist or the side of your neck.
- Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get the rate per minute
- Write down your RHR on your training log
- Be consistent by testing at the same time of day.
2. Blood Pressure:
Your blood pressure measures the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your arteries. When your heart contracts, the pressure of the blood increases. The first reading that you get when taking your blood pressure is called systolic pressure. When your heart relaxes between beats, the pressure levels off and this pressure is referred to as diastolic pressure. An individual’s blood pressure can vary greatly both on a daily basis and a seasonal basis
The World Health Organization has established standards for blood pressure. The normal range for Systolic pressure is 110 to 140 mmHg and for diastolic pressure it is 85 to 90 mmHg.
3. Recovery Time:
The length of time it takes your heart to return to (or close to) its pre-exercise rate is your recovery time. As you become more fit (in a cardiovascular sense) you will strengthen your heart and make the transition from exertion to rest easier. A fit heart should have a recovery time of 3 minutes or less.
How do you exercise your cardiovascular system?
Any physical activity that elevates your heart into its training range and sustains it for a minimum of 20 minutes*, 3 times per week, is an appropriate minimum level of exercise for your heart.
* Studies show that a cumulated time is as beneficial as a solid workout time
Below is a formula used to determine your target heart rate training zone.
Age predicted maximum heart rate (APMHR) = 220 -(your age)
The acceptable training range for most individuals is 60 – 90 % of APMHR.
What is protein’s chief function?
Protein is used for building and repairing muscles, tissues, red blood cells, hair and finger nails and for synthesizing hormones. Protein is necessary for reducing the risk of iron deficiency anemia and to improve healing. Excess protein does NOT build muscle bulk—strength training does.
How much protein do I need?
To determine your daily needs, simply multiply your weight in pounds by one of the following:
0.4 to 0.6
0.6 to 0.9
Adult Building Muscle Mass
0.6 to 0.9
The above information was taken from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook
What foods should I eat to get protein?
It’s easy to get your protein requirements because protein is found in most foods. The following are some examples of foods and their protein levels.
- Meat, poultry and fish have 7 grams per ounce
- Beans, dried peas, lentils have 7 grams per 1/2 cup cooked
- One large egg has 7 grams
It is possible for athletes to get enough protein by eating a balanced diet. Protein supplements may not be necessary, but they can be a convenient way to increase protein intake, especially for vegans.
Should I eat before I workout?
A healthy snack before you exercise will help energize your workout. A preexercise snack will help:
- Prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) with its symptoms of lightheadedness, fatigue, blurred vision, and indecisiveness—all of which can interfere with top performance!
- Settle your stomach, absorb some of the gastric juices, and reduce hunger.
- Fuel your muscles, both with food eaten in advance that is stored as glycogen, and with food eaten within an hour of exercise
Does it matter what I eat after my workout?
What you eat within the first few minutes after a workout is known as your “recovery meal.” This small meal is the most important and underrated part of training. It sets the stage for how you will feel for the rest of the day and affects the next training session.
Recovery eating is essentially reloading the muscles with glycogen. Fifteen to thirty minutes after exercising, the muscles are like sponges, waiting to refill the glycogen stores that have just been exhausted. If athletes refill within this time range, they’ll be revved to go. If they miss their window of opportunity, they’ll feel sluggish and lazy for the next event.
Carbohydrates coupled with protein appear to be the most effective combination for restoring glycogen. Eating a snack (such as a peach with yogurt) within fifteen minutes of the end of a workout and then eating a regular meal two hours later maximizes muscle receptivity.
Who doesn’t like to take it easy every once and while, especially after working all week, attending to your domestic affairs and working-out on a daily basis? However, you should view rest as an important part of an overall health regimen, encompassing specific programs that allow your body (and mind) to renew itself on non-workout days
What kind of activities should I do on my rest day?
The following activities help your body to prepare for your next workout and recover from the last one.
Remember : Work + Rest = Success.
1. Hot / Cold Contrast: If you do not have access to a hot tub you can get the same benefit by switching the shower settings. Alternate between 2-3 minutes of hot and 30 seconds to 1 minute of cold. Repeat 3 – 4 times. If you do this at the end of the day you may want to end with the hot setting. However, if it’s early and you are looking to start the day invigorated you can end with cold.
Why it works: In a hot tub or a hot shower your blood rushes towards your skin and away from your internal organs to help keep the internal organs from overheating. By contrast, a cold shower or plunge will cause your blood to rush away from your skin to keep your internal organs warm and safe.
2. Active-Isolated Stretching: Your rest day is a good time to spend extra time on your flexibility. This will optimize your muscle length, reduce your chances of injury and assist with recovery. Remember that AIS stretches are only held for 1-2 seconds and that you exhale with each assistance portion of the stretch. The rope should only add 10% range to your stretch. The movement should be very active.
Why it works: Improves oxygenation and nutrition to the muscles promoting growth and repair; stimulates your circulation and lymphatic drainage which helps eliminate metabolic wastes. Improves flexibility and health of muscles, tendons and ligaments.
3. Foam Roller: As per instructions use the foam roller for your quads, IT bands, quads, gluts your back and your lats. Talk to me about this if I have not covered it yet!
Why it works: Rolling your muscles acts as a gentle massage helping to increase the blood flow to the muscles, nerves and connective tissue.
Should I avoid all physical activity on my rest day?
No. I recommend that you have an active rest day: Go for a walk, an easy bike ride or a light jog. And remember to sleep and eat well to support your goals!
The following are some important tips regarding your posture when you strength train:
- When weight lifting it is critical that you use good posture.
- Your feet should be hip-width and parallel to each other.
- Your knees should have a slight bend
- You should allow your buttocks to sit back slightly with a neutal arch in your low back.
- Your spine lengthened to comfortably make yourself as tall as possible.
- Tuck your chin slightly and relax your shoulders and arms (let your shoulders roll back, not drop forward).
- Your ear, shoulder, hip joint, (knee, and ankle – in standing) should all align when viewed from the side and you should be comfortably balanced on your feet.
- Finally, your tongue should be resting on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth.
Most of us are in the habit of starting the morning with an orange juice or stopping at Starbucks for a coffee on our way to work. However, one beverage that we should make part of our daily drinking ritual is water. It is an important part of your health regimen and care should be taken to ensure that you are drinking adequate amounts of the right water on a daily basis.
Why do I need to drink water?
Water’s main function is to maintain a stable environment inside and around your cells. Water helps you get sufficient nutrition and helps in elimination of waste in cells.
How drinkable is municipal water?
Many municipal water supplies are contaminated by a variety of chemicals. Drinking unfiltered water out-of-the-tap is not advisable.
What type of water should I drink?
You can consider installing a whole-house filtration system to reduce your exposure to toxins, heavy metals or chlorine. Alternatively, you can install a filtration system under your sink and use individual carbon filters on your shower heads.
How much water do we need?
One of he leading authorities on water and its affect on the human body is Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. In his book, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, he suggests the following formula for a normal hydration level:
Your body weight in pounds ÷ 2 = Daily intake of water in ounces
Sodas, fruit juice and coffee contain water. Is that good enough?
Coke (or any other soda), tea and coffee are not proper water replacements. In fact, coffee, tea and sodas are diuretics that draw more water out of your system than they put in. Consumed in large amounts they are also responsible for drawing calcium from your body.
Juices are high in sugar and calories and so they should be used in moderation.
How do I get started?
If your water intake is much less than the recommended amount you calculated above you should increase you water intake gradually over a period of two to three weeks so that your body has time to adjust to the re-hydration process.
Does it matter when I drink water?
Yes. Here is what is recommend:
- Drink two eight-ounce glasses of water first thing in the morning and before eating or drinking your coffee, milk, juice or tea. This will replace what you lost at night and start your day hydrated.
- Drink one eight-ounce glass of water 15 to 20 minutes before each meal or snack. This will assist your digestion.
After writing the article entitled “Menopause: Your Change, Your Life”, I received some feedback from Mary Wood, an Edmonton based Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) and owner of CURA Physical Therapies. Mary offers services related to pelvic health.
The following is a summary of Mary’s comments.
Within three years of menopause, women may begin experiencing the symptoms listed below. Pelvic floor exercises known as Kegels, can help with all the symptoms when done correctly and regularly. If you have been doing them and they have not helped or you are unsure if you are doing them correctly, you should consult your physician or a Physical Therapist who works in the area of pelvic health.
- Bladder urgency
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
Bladder urgency and recurrent urinary tract infections
Good bladder habits can limit or eliminate both potential problems and include:
- Drinking adequate fluids (toilet water after voiding should be a light lemon yellow color)
- Check for and limit bladder irritants in your diet (caffeine, citrus, aspartame, spicy foods). By eliminating the possible irritant for 5 days before reintroducing it in your diet, will allow you to determine the impact that it has on you.
- Normal voiding is 5-7 times in 24 hours (1 time overnight). Usually going every 3 hours.
- Should be able to hold 2 hours but don’t wait longer than 4 hours
- ALWAYS sit on the toilet (don’t perch or hover). Let nature takes its course, don’t push or strain.
- Don’t void (pee) just in case or if it has been within an hour.
- Limit the possibility of constipation by obeying the first urge to have a bowel movement.
- Talk to your doctor if the symptoms persist.
Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
To reduce the symptoms of vaginal dryness you could try avoiding harsh soaps, over washing, dampness (hanging out in a wet swim suit), wearing non-chafing breathable underwear, using antihistamines and smoking.
We mentioned the three important key points to help with vaginal dryness and painful intercourse but got the order wrong! Moisturization should come before lubrication. Both of which will make utilization easier!
Several non-prescriptive moisturizers include:
- KY Moisture Beads
- Vitamin E (before you go to bed at night)
These products can and are often used throughout the rest of a woman’s life.
2. Personal Lubrication (non-prescriptive)
Personal lubrication can be considered for any genital sexual activity. There are numerous products on the market which include:
Some individuals have experienced negative reactions to the warming lubricants. It is recommended that you use them cautiously.
Some of the prescription products available include:
- Estring: contains estradiol; one ring lasts 3 months
- Premarin Vaginal Cream: contains conjugated estrogens; to be used cyclically, i.e. 3 weeks on/1 week off or as directed by your physician
- Vagifem: estradiol in vaginal tablet insert form; insert daily for 2 weeks, then twice weekly or as directed by your physician
Regular sexual intercourse helps maintain pelvic health. However it may not be possible for a variety reasons affecting either partner or the lack of a partner. Some women experience vaginal shrinkage. Options include manually stretching the opening on your own, use of a vibrator or use of devices like epi-no.
Women experiencing pain or bleeding during or after sexual intercourse should talk to their doctor.
As health care professionals we should ensure that our female clients are healthy in all aspects of their lives!