Archive for Exercise
Who you select to be your Personal Trainer or Exercise Therapist can determine how successful you will be in achieving your fitness goals.
Like other professional service providers such as a physicians, lawyers, or accountants, you should look for a Personal Trainer with the right mix of skills, expertise, and capabilities. And you want someone with the right personality fit for you.
The following are some questions to ask when you evaluate a Personal Trainer, Exercise Therapist or Fitness Professional.
1. What Certification do They Have?
Certification and training is becoming increasingly important in the fitness field. The problem is that there are a large number of organizations providing certification programs and the standards among organizations vary.
Keep in mind that there is no regulatory body for Personal Training looking out for you. Other professional groups have such bodies. For example, in Ontario, the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario requires that all practicing Physiotherapists pass an exam every five years and be subject to the regulations of the College. The College does not represent the interests of the Physiotherapist; it represents the interest of you, the public, to ensure proper delivery of service.
Several of the Fitness certification bodies such as a the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) require that their members possess a degree in the health field, pass an series of qualifying entrance exams and complete ongoing education to maintain their certification.
Why is certification important to you? Three reasons:
- The person who possesses the certification from one of these bodies has demonstrated a level of competency and knowledge in their professional area as defined by the body.
- The person has to complete continuing education to maintain certification.
- The person has access to ongoing research and literature from these bodies in the area of fitness and health.
2. What is Their Approach?
Ask them how they work. Do they do an assessment? What is involved in the assessment? Will you be exclusively working with them or will they bring in an assistant?
If you have expectations of how things work and do not want to be surprised, ask these questions.
3. Do They Have the Specialized Skills Required to Meet Your Needs?
As you can probably tell from the first point, Fitness Professionals, like many other professionals, are specializing. That is good since each of the major areas of fitness requires domain expertise and a Personal Trainer can only have domain expertise if he or she commits time to the area.
Some Fitness Professionals are starting to focus on areas like sports conditioning (in some cases for specific sports), the aging adult, and women’s issues. You should consider looking for someone who has expertise in your area.
4. What are Your Fitness Needs and Goals?
If you can clearly answer this question, you will be able to quickly determine which Personal Trainer is right for you.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition and an exercise program will be instrumental in addressing the condition, then you should be looking for a Personal Trainer or Fitness Professional who can assess the condition and design a program that is both effective and safe. More than likely, that Fitness Professional will have a medical background. A Registered Physiotherapist with a background and credentials in fitness conditioning will probably fit the bill.
If you play a specific sport, then you should be looking for a Personal Trainer who has a track record of training athletes in that sport. Quite often, these type of Fitness Professionals have worked at the university or even the professional sports levels.
Maybe you are into bodybuilding – either competitive or recreational. Again, you will want to look for someone who has trained others in this specific area.
5. Is There the Potential of an Injury?
Your Personal Trainer may not have the right training or background to deal with someone with a pre-existing medical condition. The possible result: a new injury or aggravation of an old injury.
Make sure that they are qualified to assess and treat specific conditions.
You should make a point of asking questions related to each of the points I brought up. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for client references if you are unsure about the person.
Good luck with your search and your fitness program!
Starting a regular exercise program and sticking with it can be quite a challenge for many of us. Each of us is unique and what techniques motivate us can differ from person to person. If you are a very social person, then group exercise activities may be best for you. If you are the competitive type, then signing up for a 10K race or another challenge will keep you motivated and on track.
What I think is important for you is that you need to recognize what strategy or technique works for you and that you use it.
I have been helping people achieve their fitness goals for many years and based on my observations of what works and what does not work, here are seven suggestions on how to motivate yourself to exercise.
1. Know Your Long Term Fitness Goal
If you keep focused on your long term fitness goal the better the chance you will stick with your program day-in and day-out.
I find that long term fitness goals fall into one of three categories:
- Your Health: Are you concerned about your health and the changes your body is going through as you age? As we get older we lose muscle and bone mass. The level of fitness you are at between 40 and 65 years of age often indicates your level of fitness at 80 and can mean the difference between having to live in a nursing home and being able to live independently.
- Sports or Activity Conditioning: You may be someone who regularly plays organized recreational sports and need a conditioning program to optimize your performance and reduce your risk of injury. Or you may be planning a trekking holiday overseas and want to make sure that you are in condition for the activity so that you enjoy everyday of your holiday.
- Vanity: Are you starting an exercise program because summer is coming and you want to look slim and trim in your bathing suit? Many people regularly exercise in order to look and feel good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. The results of an exercise program can be quite rewarding and build positive self esteem.
2. Exercise With Other People
Research has shown that the more social an exercise activity is, the greater the likelihood that people will continue to participate. This is frequently a successful strategy because the group activity allows people to socialize while they workout, friendly competition among the participants keeps members motivated, and people feel socially accountable if they are a no-show at a training session. This is why group exercise classes such as dance, aquafit and spinning are so popular.
The downside of group classes is that the instructor may not be a trained fitness professional or may not have assessed your specific fitness needs, and may be encouraging you to do exercises that could risk injury.
3. Work With a Qualified Fitness Professional
If you are able to find a Fitness Professional or Personal Trainer who is capable of assessing your needs and developing a program specifically to meet you goals, and that you personally like, then this is probably an effective strategy for you. Working with a qualified and skilled Fitness Professional has a number of benefits:
- You gain regular access to a domain expert who can coach you through the various stages of an exercise program.
- It creates a situation in which you are accountable to someone for regularly attending your program.
- A properly designed exercise program will take into account your needs and capabilities allowing you to achieve your goals free of injury
You will gain the most from the Fitness Professional when they provide you with a fitness assessment, program design, and initial implementation of your routine. After that, you can pace your sessions.
4. Compete Against Your Peer Group
One strategy that I have used in the past to motivate a client is to have the client complete a fitness assessment and then I show them how they stand compared to their peer group. This does not work for all clients but works wonders for the competitive Type A personalities.
One of my clients is a successful high achiever professional who works in Ottawa during the summer and relocates to Florida as winter approaches. I had not seen him for awhile and when he called me, I knew (and he knew) that he had become quite de-conditioned. I gave him a fitness assessment and when I showed him the results, I made a point of comparing his results to people in his age category. When I showed him his low percentile results compared to his buddies in Florida, that was enough to get him back to a regular exercise routine.
5. Put a Stake in the Ground
I have had several clients over the years who have successfully employed this technique. Basically, they kick-start their exercise program by committing to themselves that they will meet with me twice a week for several weeks until their exercise program forms into a habit. They know themselves well enough that once a habit is in place, it will stick.
6. Pick an Activity You Enjoy
You can increase your chances of sticking with your exercise program if you incorporate physical activities into your regimen that you enjoy. Golf, tennis, non-contact ice hockey and soccer are popular recreational sports for adults. Work with your Personal Trainer or Fitness Professional on an exercise program to supplement your favourite sporting activity so that it is even more enjoyable.
7. Exercise and Socialize With People Fitter Than You
Don Wildman is the retired founder of Bally Fitness. Now in his late 70′s, he is more active than most men 30 years younger than himself.
Wildman’s secret to fitness? Wildman eats healthfully and takes lots of supplements, but the key element to his fitness strategy is younger friends. ”Old guys don’t train anymore, so all my buddies are real young,” he says. “They’re more fun. They push you, and you push them, and you forget how old you are.”
These are seven strategies that I have seen work. Do you see yourself in one of these? Find the one that works for you and you will be on the road to success.
As we age, our bone mass decreases – potentially leading to osteoporosis. In fact, our bone mass peaks at around the age of 30 and after that it starts to decline. The rate of decline depends on a number of factors and women experience a more dramatic decline than men. There are a number of things that you can do to slow down the rate of bone loss – with an exercise program for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis being a key factor.
A number of factors determine your peak bone mass at around 30 and your bone mass as you get older. These determinants include:
- Nutrition: Research has shown that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and low fat dairy products is best for your bones. This type of diet is rich in calcium and is a natural and important source of micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, copper and boron – each of which is involved in the making of new bone. You should also limit your red meat intake.
- Hormonal Factors: Your hormonal balance can greatly affect the health of your bones and the maintenance of your bone mass. A pre-menopausal woman should monitor menstrual periods to make sure that they are regular since this is a leading indicator of hormonal balance.
- Your Genes: Genetics has a significant impact on your bone health. Look into your family history and see if there is a history of fractures. Did your mother (or grandmother) suffer a hip fracture?
- Exercise: The type of exercise program you follow can greatly affect the quality of your bones. Make sure your exercise program is designed to build and maintain bone structure. (More on this later in the post.)
What You Should Do
- You should try to follow a lifestyle that builds as much bone mass as possible. This will involve following a nutritional program that builds, not reduces, bone mass. Limiting coffee and alcohol and abstaining from smoking.
- You should pursue exercise activities that stress your bone structure in novel and unexpected ways.
- Women need to monitor hormonal balance because the onset of menopause has a dramatic affect on bone composition.
- You should also consult with your physician or pharmacist regarding any medications that are potentially bad for your bones. For example, Depo-Provera is a contraceptive injection that is known to lead to bone loss.
Four Principles of an Exercise Program for Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment
Your exercise program for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis should be designed with your bone health in mind. The programs that I develop for my clients are based on four key principles:
- Bone Building is Site Specific: The effect of exercise on bone is specific to the location of the stresses caused by exercise. As a result, you should include exercises that stress different parts of your body at risk of potential fracture so that the bone tissue can be stimulated to build.
- High Mechanical Strains Affects Bone Health: The loads or stresses placed on your bones during exercise needs to be great enough to stimulate them. For example, if you can perform an exercise (using weights) with 15 repetitions and not cause muscle fatigue, you are probably not stressing the bone in that area enough to encourage bone building.
- Weight Bearing Exercises are More Important Than Non-Weight Bearing Exercises: Research has shown that weight bearing exercises are more important than non-weight bearing exercises for improving bone density. Any exercise where your bear weight through your skeleton is considered a weight bearing exercise. For example, brisk walking would be considered weight bearing whereas swimming is considered non-weight bearing.
- Keep Your Bones on Their Toes: Osteogenesis (the body’s natural process of laying down bone material) increases when the load on bone varies. If you repeat the same exercises over an over again, then your bones will learn to accommodate the strain and not build. However, if you mix up your activities and surprise your bones, then the cells in your body responsible for bone material will get busy building new bone.
Hopefully, you now appreciate that building and maintaining bone requires special attention to your nutrition, hormonal balance and exercise activity program. Your exercise program, in particular, requires special attention since certain exercise activities build bone better than other activities.
If you are interested in an exercise program for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, you can contact me with your questions.