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Lifting Iron! The Real Bone Strengthening Hero

Osteoporosis is a metabolic skeletal disorder that causes low bone mineral density (BMD), reduced bone strength, and increased bone fragility over time. Reduced bone mineral density makes your bones susceptible to fractures. This is a disease in which I share a family history of as both my mother and aunt had osteoporosis and battled the disease for years.

Osteoporosis affects 200 million people worldwide, both men and women, and if you think you are too young to worry about it, I suggest you think again because preventing this disease is something you should be starting in your thirties or younger as bone remodeling begins to decline. Facts point to more women suffering bone fractures than men, but in Canada we are looking at 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 8 men having a fracture over the age of 50!

My aunt once allowed me to take this picture of her with the promise I would put it to some good one day. So here I share it with you knowing that the image is one of a woman who certainly did not enjoy any aspect of what this bone disease brought her.

Aunty Doris!

Strength and Conditioning professionals have known that traditional guidelines suggest that resistance training would be a key component in improved bone health. Recent evidence has suggested that greater benefits may be achieved with a combination of controlled higher impact (loading) exercise and resistance training. (-1) This newer evidence recommending higher intensities combined with physician clearance should improve the efficacy of programming.

The Official Diagnosis:

Bone Mineral Density is commonly measured by a DXA scanner to obtain an official diagnosis of Osteoporosis. The results are primarily expressed as a T-Score from the scan to the spine or hip.

The World Health Organization defines osteoporosis as a spinal or hip BMD of greater than or equal to 2.5 standard deviations below the mean for healthy, young women. (T-score of −2.5 SD or below)

The Z-score, (another interpretation value obtained from a DXA scan), is a comparison of a person’s bone density with that of a person of the same age and sex, which is often used to scrutinize one’s BMD for secondary conditions such as illness or disease.

Another classification used to describe impaired BMD is osteopenia, which is characterized by BMD that is lower than normal (T-score between −1 and −2.5 but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis). Clients who have osteopenia are at a greater risk for developing osteoporosis over time.

What is the difference between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis?

Despite the fact that osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are completely different conditions, they are frequently confused because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disease. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease of the lining of the joints, is another common form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, which leads to the thinning or destruction of the cartilage, causing painful irritation of the joints and adjacent bone tissue. Bony growths may occur because of the abnormal rubbing together of bones.

Osteoarthritis:

  • Most often affects the hips, knees, fingers, feet or spine
  • Can be painful
  • Can be attributed to factors such as heredity, obesity and overuse or injury of joints

 

Types of Osteoporosis:

The current body of literature describes 3 common types of osteoporosis: primary, senile, and secondary.

Primary (Type 1) or postmenopausal osteoporosis is the most common type of osteoporosis which results in trabecular (spongy) bone loss. Because estrogen deficiency is believed to be the main underlying cause for this form of osteoporosis women are 8 times more likely to get primary osteoporosis than men. After the age of 45 when estrogen production slows and menopause begins a loss in bone density can begin and may lead to a 2–3% loss in bone density in the first 5 years after menopause. In men, bone loss (e.g., trabecular thinning) accelerates around the age of 45–50 years when there is a reduction of testosterone production.

Senile (Type II) osteoporosis often occurs after the age of 70 years, which results in both cortical (hard) and trabecular (spongy) bone loss. Women are 2 times more likely to suffer from senile osteoporosis than men and this form of osteoporosis often results from an age related vitamin D deficiency.

Secondary osteoporosis can occur at any age and is often caused by chronic diseases, endocrinopathies, metabolic conditions, nutritional deficiencies or absorption disorders, alcoholism, and certain medications.

 

What causes osteoporosis?

No single cause for osteoporosis has been identified. However these risk factors do seem to play a role in the development of the disease. Recognizing the risk factors may be valuable in terms of early detection and management of the disease. (-2)

Risk factors for primary Osteoporosis are:
  • Increasing age
  • Race: Caucasian or Asian
  • Nonuse of hormone replacement therapy in women
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excessive alcohol use (more than 2 drinks per day)
  • Excessive coffee use (more than 5 cups per day)
  • Tobacco use
  • Certain medications
  • History of falls
  • Low calcium or Vitamin D intake
  • Personal fracture or family history of osteoporotic fractures
  • Low body mass (less than 127 lbs BMI or less than   25.1 kg/m2)

 

Management: Whoa there are options!

Well as I see it there are several areas you can look into for management of this disease. Consultation with your medical and health professionals are needed as well your own ability to advocate for your health by education and behavior modification.

1 – Reducing Risk Factors:

The first step would be to take a look at your risk factors and decide if there are any lifestyle modifications needed to reduce or eliminate your risks.

 

2 – Drug therapies:

There are several medications and dietary supplements that are used for the prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis which include: bisphosphonates, calcitonin, and estrogen therapies.  All of these medications must be prescribed by your physician.

 

3 – Supplements:

The supplements that claim to help with Osteoporosis are vast and somewhat controversial. Calcium and Vitamin D are the main ones and the difficulty is in finding the consensus on type and dosage. Elemental calcium is key because it’s the actual amount of calcium in the supplement. It’s what your body absorbs for bone growth and other health benefits.

These over the counter (OTC) supplements are widely available so I suggest consulting a pharmacist or naturopath to review the choices you are putting the money into. This is definitely something to have a professional advice you on. Remember to tell your doctor what supplements you are taking as many calcium supplements for example interact with other common prescription medications.

The bioavailability of calcium is a term used to describe how much is available for the body to use as some food combinations and medications decrease how much your body can actually use.   Retaining the calcium you have ingested can be affected by salt and caffeine so these are factors to consider if your overall plan is using supplements to meet your daily requirements.

The recommended daily allowance and the upper level your body needs specifically are two considerations to address with your health professionals.

 

4 – Nutrition:

Nothing beats and well-rounded nutrition plan with lots of protein and vegetables. Dietary calcium is generally safe, but more isn’t necessarily better, and excessive calcium doesn’t provide extra bone protection. If you take calcium supplements and eat calcium-fortified foods, you may be getting more calcium than you realize.

There are three factors that are important in determining how much calcium we obtain from foods. We need to have enough vitamin D to promote absorption. The second factor is how much calcium is in the serving of food, and the third, whether the calcium is bioavailable as mentioned above.

Dark green leafy vegetables

Sure you can get calcium from dairy but the darker green vegetables can also help you meet your requirements.

Try some figs

If you’re looking for bone-strengthening fruits, figs should be near the top of your shopping list. Five medium fresh figs have around 90 milligrams of calcium and other skeleton-saving nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Fresh figs are grown in California through the summer and fall, but you can find them dried all year. And dried ones are just as good: Half a cup of dried figs have 120 milligrams of calcium.

Pass the potato

Two lesser known nutrients that help keep bones healthy are magnesium and potassium. If you’re low on magnesium, you can have problems with your vitamin D balance, which may affect your bone health. Potassium neutralizes acid in your body that can leach calcium out of your bones. One delicious way to get some of both of those nutrients is by eating a baked medium-size sweet potato with no salt, which has 31 milligrams of magnesium and 542 milligrams of potassium.

Canned fish with the bones ..if you can eat that!

Salmon and other types of fatty fish offer an array of bone-boosting nutrients. They contain vitamin D, which helps your body use calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Three ounces of canned salmon has 183 milligrams of calcium, and if  you can try and eat some of the small soft bones that get included in the canning process.

 

5 – Exercise Programming

Current evidence suggests a combined program of higher impact or loading activities and higher intensity resistance training is superior because of the benefits of improving BMD versus resistance training alone. (-3)

The higher loading of the musculoskeletal system forces the bone to adapt. (Wolff’s law) The imposed demand stimulates osteoblast activity to remodel and strengthen the bone. the bone remodels itself over time.

Despite these benefits I would recommend that strength training is programmed and monitored closely by a fitness professional. There are many movements that are currently considered to be controversial if you have a high risk of spinal fracture. (Flexion and rotation of the spine for example.) One has to build strength gradually and in a safe controlled environment as to not create a new problem while trying to improve on another one. The high risk of injury is the reason why many who suffer from osteoporosis have a fear of the gym, moving in general and lifting anything heavy. It would now seem that the very things that have been feared and avoided are those which should be done to get results.

Before implementing an exercise program, it is advised that physician clearance is obtained. Understanding the risk for fracture is key and liaising with your doctor is something any fitness professional should be able to do.

Please remember to share your medication history with your fitness professional.  It’s important for so many reasons. Often it is recored during the initial visit and updates are forgotten.

Stay current and safe and get stronger bones!

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright June 2017.

Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

Do You Know Where You Stand and How to Improve It?

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The Basics of Good and Bad Posture

Do you know where you stand in terms of your posture? Is it good or bad? Is there room for improvement?

A lot of attention has been given lately to posture and the difficulties of maintaining and improving it. Our societies shift to an “electronic and sitting world” works against our human structure of being balanced and moving in the ways it was intended making it hard to be good.

What is balanced anatomy and good posture?

Who should we look to for the answers because as I see it there are several ways we can discuss posture, and it can be simple or it can get really complicated. Few norms have been established that are scientifically backed. What’s good and bad is largely based on a visual analysis which is subjective and influenced by the experience and education of the professional you are working with.

As expected in these times we have many posture apps that will analyze and tell you how bad things really are. Where you are today is a reflection of your genetics, habits, history and environment from not just now but going back to your birth.  Early rolling and crawling patterns, walking to running development, and growth patterns have all contributed to your posture today. Your injuries and history all play a part in how your posture would be considered good or bad.

From the book Anatomy Trains, author Thomas Myers reminds us “There is no virtue involved in having a symmetrical, balanced structure. Everyone has a good story and good stories always involve some imbalance. There is no moral advantage to being straight and balanced.” And I add you may have bad posture but you can still be a nice person!

What’s your postural vocabulary?

Let’s go over the terms so at least in an effort to say yours is good or bad we are on the same page. This is the start of the confusion I see because you could have good posture standing and bad posture sitting or sleeping. Then there’s movement. Everything from an easy walk to sport specific movement analysis. The golf and tennis swing, soccer, sailing and cycling positions all can be looked at here. You can see pretty quickly that there are many variables and hence many more terms than simply good of bad.

Left – Right – Forward – Back – Straight – Bent – Tilted – Rotated – Shifted

Then there are the more standard postural adjectives:

Anterior – Posterior – Superior – Inferior – Medial – Lateral.

Good posture should have evenness of tone, length of muscles, ease, and generosity of movement. (-1)

We can also look at specific body parts. Are we are looking at just your head or your head related to your torso?  Perhaps your head is tilted to the left and your ribs to the right? Compared to what? We must be careful who and what we compare ourselves to.

Keep in mind we are not static and fixed creatures but dynamic and neurologically adaptive ones. As we attempt to classify and put you in a box of good or bad and needing correction I caution the trainers that I mentor to remember that we don’t have a looking glass. Getting so specific on the reason we are “compensating” and “imbalanced” and in discomfort can be a slippery slope in my opinion. Thinking of your posture as having severe faults will only limit your ability to improve them.

Every movement you do is trying to help you move better. The sooner you start to think of movement like this your “compensations” will take a new place in your mind and repair.  Something is holding on to your hip like that so something else doesn’t fall apart! Getting rid of the tension is Step 1, getting rid of why there was tension in the first place is step 2-10. And this usually needs repeating as it took you awhile for your body to get that way. It’s not simply going to change with only one nudge in the good posture direction.

One thing I’d like to remind you of here is that I’m a trainer and although I could pull out a goniometer to determine the precise degrees of rotation of you neck, shoulder, hip or ankle, I often don’t. I can work with simple assessments to find the clients limitations and program to improve them using efficient exercises that are within the clients ability and progressed appropriately. Assisting someone to move better and improve their posture is a privilege and one hopes than with so many factors involved the process will yield results. Results for goals in the sport of life, sport specific, or sport of aging with a good handle on nutrition, sleep, movement, and mindset are what I want for us all.

What can you do? What do you envision for yourself?

Sarah Cahill, strength coach with Women’s USA Hockey says she has a saying: ”You can’t be it if you can’t see it.” (-2) I’m here to tell you that with a commitment to movement you can change and improve your posture every day.

Is what you are doing working for you? Whether you are working with a professional or not ask yourself the age old question: Am I getting a training effect? Am I seeing results? Assessment, evaluation, and revision of the plan may be needed if your answers are not what you are looking for. Doing the same thing over and over and not getting results is a waste of your time.

  • Can you do a push up, a pull up and crawl?
  • Can you touch your toes? You should be able to.
  • Can you look over your shoulder, side to side and up and down without restriction or pain?
  • Can you pull a sweater over your head without pain?
  • Can you pick up something heavy? How heavy without hurting yourself?
  • Do you have pelvic floor issues and do you know these could be improved with posture and core work?
  • Can you squat down without rounding your back and having your heels lift off the floor?
  • Do you ever go barefoot and work on your balance?
  • Can you get up and down from the floor easily?
  • Can you kneel?

Who sets the limitations on your goals? You do!

Working to improve you mobility, stability and strength will all improve your posture. Visualize your improvements and set some goals for yourself that you never thought possible.

You can do it – and you should.

 

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright June 2017

Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

Anatomy Trains :Thomas Myers  2009 Page 229-232 (-1)

Dynamic Aging Katy Bowman Copyright 2017 p 120

(-2) below:

 

Physical Preparation with Chris Chase

 

Your Potato Metabolism

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Should you pass the potatoes please?

Is your metabolism fast or slow? Is there actually any truth to this idea and what factors influence your metabolism’s speed?

Have you been wondering if certain foods like potatoes are good for you? Seems like I hear they are fattening and weigh you down – pun intended. With so many varieties of potatoes available I also have wondered if choosing sweet potatoes or yams over white potatoes is really beneficial?

From thinking of them as superfoods to having a phobia about eating them at all here are some facts I uncovered to help get your potatoes in!

 

Metabolism: The body’s need for energy. The total amount of energy required for every physiological action.

 

Your metabolic rate is influenced by many factors including by your size, (therefore the energy needed to maintain vital functions), the thermic energy of feeding, exercise activity, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Our modern lifestyle does not sustain a high metabolic demand. Look at the factors below that influence it by answering these questions.

Do you:

  • have a physically demanding job?
  • live in a climate controlled environment all day?
  • consume a fair amount of foods that don’t require much digestive effort? (processed)
  • eat only when hungry?
  • stop eating when satisfied?
  • have disrupted sleep cycles due to stress, noise, and and exposure to artificial light?
  • live indoors rather than outdoors?
  • use escalators and elevators instead of taking the stairs?

So now you can honestly examine some truths to your metabolic rate with your answers. Your metabolic rate will increase after adjusting these factors on a daily basis. So I ask,  “What can you change?” to speed it up.

 

Body Composition: The relative relationship between lean body mass (bone, muscle, water) and fat

 

Your body composition is also influenced by many factors including energy balance, macronutrient intake (especially protein), age and sex hormone levels, exercise style/frequency/intensity/duration (e.g. resistance training vs marathon training vs walking), medication use, genetic predisposition, sleep quality and quantity, and stress. (-3) I hope you can start to appreciate that how you look and feel is more than just a calorie in and out!

 

So are potatoes good or bad for your body’s metabolism and composition? Which are really healthier?

 

The answer I hope you were looking for is yes but of course it depends! One of Precision Nutrition’s most popular infographics to date has been this one on potatoes which I have taken the info below from. How you prepare those spuds and of course you portion size are important but clearly potatoes can and should be part of your nutrition if you enjoy them.

 

 

Still thinking that the carbohydrates in potatoes will cause weight gain and slow you down?

 

The carbs in potatoes and sweet potatoes are mostly starch and fiber which help you stay lean and healthy. Potatoes contain beneficial resistant starch which like fiber, doesn’t digest at all. (-1) Resistant starch and fiber get fermented in your gut producing short-chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids can keep you feeling full for longer, decrease inflammation, increase mineral and nutrient absorption, and decrease the risk of colon cancer.

So say “Yes!” to potatoes, even white ones. Look at the chart below and please limit the fried and loaded varieties and eat the roasted, baked, and steamed varieties more often. Remember portion size and enjoy them in a balanced nutrition plan. They are a non-processed carb that will help you feel physically and psychologically satisfied.

 

Certified Sports Nutritionist Brian St. Pierre states, “It’s the context of someone’s entire intake that determines their body weight and body composition, not any one food. (-2)

Your long-term health, body composition, performance goals, and quality of life are all influenced by your nutrition. Of course you need nutrients and fiber, and protein, etc… but you also need satisfaction and satiety. Most people are not going to count their macros and calories long term so the focus and time needs to shift to educating ourselves on how minimally processed foods look, cook, and satisfy our needs.

Get your spuds in especially on more active training days for energy balance and enjoy the many benefits they hold for you!

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright June 2017

Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

References

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28443785

Certification Manual Precision Nutrition: The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Page 104

http://www.shiftn.com/obesity/zoom-map.html  Obesity System Map

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sweet-potatoes-vs-potatoes-infographic

Is a Calorie Really Just a Calorie?

(-3)

Gardening With Your Back in Mind

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Gardening is a Work Out - Treat it Like One!

We are well into the gardening season for another year and I’m reminded how my fitness level benefits my gardening abilities.

 

THE ROOT I DUG UP DESPITE MYSELF!

 

“I hinged and dug, and dug and fought hard with the roots. I pulled mightily on them and I wrestled with the root ball and nearly fell back. I got set again as I was going to win this battle! Determined to dig it out no matter what it took. Despite the stronghold Mother Earth had on this diseased plant I was going to succeed!” ~ Sheila 2017

Recalling my story Leanne Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of GardenWorks recently she laughed and said that happens all the time. “And then you stand up not knowing if you back is going to be a question mark or not!” she says.

In her systematic review of the benefits of gardening author Donna Wang reveals that gardening can be an activity that promotes overall health and quality of life, physical strength, fitness and flexibility, cognitive ability, and socialization. I love the idea that gardening is considered a health promoting activity than transcends both urban and rural communities, individuals and groups.

There is the idea that you can garden to become fit, when you really need to be fit to garden!

 

When we treat gardening like leisure time the physical loads we carry, shovel, load, bend, twist, and pull are factors for low back pain. Strong evidence exists that many gardeners overdo it and end up needing treatment for a host of injuries including gardeners’ back, hedge shoulder, weeder’s wrist, pruner’s neck, kneelers knee and more.

Let’s face it though gardeners get the job done one way or the other. Although we all benefit from their labor of love if you see yourself in this picture I suggest you read on to keep the green thumb alive and moving well!

I asked Dr. Olson and Dr. Col from Edgemont Chiropractic if there was a similarity between gardening injuries and the snow shoveling injuries they see in the winter. “Yes, there is – it’s a strength, fitness, and lack of awareness on how to move properly, the way the body was designed to move,” states Olson. “Overdoing it the first time out is something Dr. Col has seen. “Then patients end up being sore the majority of the summer, limiting the gardening they can actually do!”

The rules for proper movement and safely loaded training in the fitness and gym environment apply to the gardener as well. Gardening is a dangerous sport and often leads to back injuries as well as repetitive stress injuries to many other parts of the body. Didn’t we mention hands, wrists, elbow, shoulder, hip, and knees already?

So people are good at over-doing it and then end up on the doctor’s doorstep for the fix. It’s easy to get in the zone to get things done but preparing yourself to be stronger and move well as an overarching principle for your life will reduce the risk of injury, pain, and downtime from doing the things that you love.

 

Suggestions for gardeners from it’s time! Fitness and Dr. Olson and Dr. Col of Edgemont Chiropractic!

 

  • Do warm up exercises before hitting the garden. Foam rolling, glute bridges, planks, arm movements, squats, and walking.
  • Avoid excessive stretching before exercise/gardening as it may make muscles weaker.
  • Use movement patterns learned in the gym to bend over while weeding and lifting bags of soil out of the car. That means hinge with your hips and brace your core with breath while lifting pots and plants.
  • Keep the object as close to you as possible.
  • Get strength from the glutes and hips.
  • Changing positions often and take breaks/stretching every 15-20 min. Gives your body a break and avoids overuse injuries/stiffness.
  • Don’t bend over weeding for more than 20 minutes at a time – the stretch on your back ligaments will cause the muscles to tighten up and hurt later. Consider using the half kneeling position for weeding. (See picture below.)
  • Don’t do any heavy lifting after a period of being bent over – e.g. – weeding – back is very vulnerable after periods of full spinal flexion.
  • Brace your torso/core while digging to ensure maximum strength and energy transfer to the arms and legs while stabilizing and supporting the spine. Be mindful of twisting with a load as rotation and flexion combined can be very problematic for your back.
  • Keep hydrated while gardening.
  • Make sure to stretch/cool down after gardening. You just had yourself a workout.
  • Watch your grip on pruners and tools. Over gripping is a sign of a weak core!
  • Be careful with overhead positions, especially when you are not conditioned to do overhead work. Having good shoulder mobility without using back extension as a strategy to do the job is key to reduce injury.
  • Wear proper shoes for support, posture, and safety. No flip flops or rubber sandals!
  • Wear Gloves
  • Wear Sunscreen and a hat.
  • Use the right tools for the job. Short handles for tall people can be a bad combination!
  • Don’t be afraid to use benches/stools/tools to help keep proper ergonomics while gardening.
  • Use raised beds and containers where possible, especially if you have a back history.
  • If it’s too much for your strength enlist the help of a partner. It makes the job easier and safe!
  • Hire a professional if the job is out of your capabilities!! This may save you a lot of money in the long run!

Pictures of our basic movement patterns in the garden:

 

HALF KNEELING POSITION

DIGGING – NO ROUNDED BACK!

PLANT CLOSE TO BODY

HINGE HIPS BACK

BRACE TORSO TO PICK UP

 

WIDE STANCE IS EASIER ON YOUR BACK

NO ROUNDED BACK

HIPS BACK AND A WIDE STANCE

Join fitness professionals from it’s time! Fitness Results and Dr. Christine Col this Sunday, June 4th 2:00-3:00 pm for a complimentary clinic on “Gardening with Your Back in Mind.” Attendees will receive a discount coupon from Garden Works!

Call 604-988-8463 or email admin@itstimefitnessresults.com to register! 

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright May 2017

Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

References:

Leanne Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, GARDENWORKS

Edgemont Chiropractic Clinic

http://www.mnn.com/family/protection-safety/stories/how-to-avoid-common-garden-injuries

http://www.talarmade.com/topic/69-common-gardening-injuries.aspx

http://www.jstor.org/stable/40966920?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents (-1)

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01924788.2013.784942?src=recsys

 

Active Aging Fitness Results

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Interested in Healthy Aging? Lift weights!

The results are in! Two clients of it’s time! Results have taken themselves to Bodycomp Imaging for muscle mass, percent body fat and bone density testing and their results are revealed below. I’m excited to be able to share this because the proof is here and it’s significant.

Is getting in shape something that you do for a lifetime?

Yes, it’s a lifestyle and if you haven’t started yet, it’s been awhile for awhile, or you are a yo-yo exerciser (On again and off again) read on. I’m hoping you’ll be convinced that you can make “The Change” with a realistic training and nutrition plan, or keep the plan going if you already have one!

Last week I blogged about getting strong and I made a good argument for resistance training.  This week I’m here to share what happens when you actually do it! Convincing results I do believe. Just what is it going to take to get you moving and lifting weights?

The Three Big Whys on Weights:  Body composition, Sarcopenia, Osteoporosis

Peter Schwagley from BodyComp Imaging congratulated me on wanting to geek out on these why’s because he knows that what gets measured gets managed. Often we don’t think we have changed when indeed we have. I asked him to help me decipher the results of it’s time clients Rob and Louise Nicholson and also comment on what trends he is seeing in his industry lately.

What is the BodyComp?

The gold standard in accurate measurement of bone density, percent fat and muscle mass is using the DEXA scanner (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry). The scanner measures the grams of lean tissue, fat, and bone in your body while producing an x-ray type image of your body. The technology can also measure the fat and lean mass in each of your limbs as well as the torso.

Comparing the lean mass in your arms or legs to check for symmetry is a forward thinking idea, as having one limb with greater lean mass than the other can predispose you to injury.

The scan and interpretation of your results provide you with:

Whole body percent fat (less than 1.5% error)

The weight of your lean, fat and bone tissue in your arms, legs and torso

Analysis of your visceral fat and any relevant health risks

Whole body bone density measurement

Your personal caloric requirements based upon your lean tissue mass

 

But my weight hasn’t changed?

The margin of error on the scale and in our mind!

The DXA total body scan is accurate to 300 grams. The fat and lean components are accurate to 500 grams. A whole body scan percent fat value has about a 98.5 percent accuracy.

What are the standards?

This really depends because the standard and percentages change with age, and I sourced quite a few resources that varied by a percentage or two. Anything over 38% is high risk for metabolic disease.

The first chart below shows ideal percentages; the second chart shows ranges.

 

Where is your visceral fat stored?

Looking at where your visceral fat is stored is relevant as some research suggests that excessive accumulation of fat at specific body sites may be an important health risk factor. (Wilmore, Buskirk, DiGirolamo, & Lohman, 1986). For instance, it appears that extra fat around the abdomen and waist is associated with higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hyperlipidemia. Individuals who accumulate a lot of fat around the waist (apple-shaped) are worse off than those who tend to accumulate fat in the thighs and buttocks (pear-shaped). The apple-shaped pattern of fat deposition is more commonly seen in men; whereas women tend to be pear-shaped. (-4)

Android fat distribution describes the distribution of adipose tissue mainly around the trunk and upper body, in areas such as the abdomen, chest, shoulder and nape of the neck. (Apple shaped)

Gynoid fat distribution describes the distribution of adipose tissue mainly around the hips, buttocks, and thighs. (Pear shaped)

 

 

Lifting weights now can help you ace your golden years!

Personal trainer Paul Landini states in his article in the Globe and Mail, “There’s a clear commonality in the effects of sarcopenia and osteoporosis: both conditions can reduce one’s quality of life as they age by limiting mobility, making everyday tasks painful and potentially dangerous. A strong and muscular body acts as insurance against slips and falls, making our bones more resilient and our movements more stable, meaning we can keep doing the things we love to do for as long as possible.

Of course, the most effective way to combat these ailments of aging is to maximize your muscle mass in the years before their onset, mitigating the inevitable losses that are to come. If you’re in your 30s and you haven’t started lifting, now’s the time.”

Real People: Real Results

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob and Louise have both been training three times a week for the last few years at it’s time! Fitness Results. I asked Louise these two questions and I love her realistic answer below:

What is your nutrition like?

How often do you eat out?

“I think our nutrition is great. I shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store so we are always eating whole foods – things I make. Someone stopped me at the grocery store once to comment on what a healthy looking cart I had! I thought I was on the only grocery judger around, but I guess not. I think our only “bad” habit is our love affair with wine (and beer for Rob). Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to let dinner prep go without it!

As for eating out, not really that often. Most of the time, when we do we order something like steak and salad. Rob is more likely that me to be “bad” in a restaurant and order a burger with fries (and then I’m happy because I can steal a couple of his fries!).

When I’m cooking, I always try to think about a delicious protein and a fantastic vegetable dish to go along with it. I have no problem putting bacon into the vegetable dish, however. C’mon – it’s bacon! My brussels sprouts, kale, avocado and BACON salad is one of our mainstays. I’m always thinking about using healthy fats and because of that I always make my own salad dressing. Store bought ones scare me (what sort of GMO monster is canola oil anyway?).” ~Louise

I like to remind clients that THEY get results because they did the work! They are prioritizing exercise and nutrition.  The more I learn about the ever-evolving nutrition piece the more attention I want to give it!

 

ROB’S RESULTS

LOUISE’S RESULTS

The geek out on the results:

Louise has maintained her excellent percent fat with a little bit of additional lean mass gains in the last year. She is up 2.5 lbs of lean since her baseline and down 1.5 lbs of fat. Although she’s only down 1.5% from her baseline scan her android band (lower abdomen) is down 3.9% from baseline. Her bone density remains better than about 75% of women at her age. Her % body fat is in the fitness range for females her age. *Remember most females lost muscle in their 50s!! Well done Louise!

Rob’s doing a great job reducing fat and building lean mass. His weight hasn’t changed but his body composition has. He is showing a similar trend of greater fat reduction in the android band as Louise, than his whole body average so far. Rob is also an excellent example of the failings of BMI to assess health risks. His BMI is currently at 31.5 in the obesity range. This is mostly due to his lean mass being much higher than average. To get a “healthy” BMI below 25 he’d have to drop 20 kg of fat leaving him at a very unwell 3.4% body fat.

Peter’s Industry trends:  I’m seeing lots of people experimenting with ketogenic diets for fat loss, mental clarity and managing behavioral issues in children. Waiting to see better long-term data, but I have seen many examples of exceptional fat reduction with lean mass sparing. I’m seeing lots of non-weight lifting geriatrics looking into lifting heavy 1-2 x weekly for bone health and muscle sparing purposes – nothing bad about that!

There are so many reasons to make fitness a lifestyle and not something that you are inconsistent with. Achieving real results can be easier thank you think but it takes personal accountability. When we are faced with health issues we often step up our game and make the changes we need. Lead yourself to a healthier lifestyle before being told you have to by your health practitioner. It’s never too late or too early to start making “The Change!”

 

Read about Sarcopenia in last week’s blog. More about Bone Density and Osteoporosis in the weeks ahead!

Go Get Strong!

So You Want to be Strong?

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If living to your fullest potential is a goal for you then improving your strength should be a part of your plan.

If getting strong is as important as we hear and say it is then perhaps it’s time to look a little more closely at how you achieve it.

I heard last week Briana and Niamh mention on air to Jon McComb that one of the keys to improving balance was to improve your strength. Well, just how one goes about doing that is getting harder to figure out in today’s world. Like the latest nutrition plan or diet, I can’t imagine it’s that easy as a fitness consumer to decide what it is exactly you should be doing!

 

What does being strong mean to you?

What strong means to some people is a long way from what it means to others. To some, it might mean getting in and out of a bathtub or lifting your groceries from your car to your apartment without putting your neck or back out. To others, it would mean achieving personal records in the gym environment with pull, push, squat, or press movements. It’s interesting to note here that the underlying principles to improve your strength at all levels overlap. The principles of resistance, specificity, and adaptation to imposed demand have been studied extensively and can be programmed and applied to all fitness levels no matter what the goal is!

In his ebook “Strength is Specific” author and strength research review expert Chris Beardsley reminds us that “Getting strong is really, really important.”  I couldn’t agree more! I’m often called a strong lady and that makes me laugh because although I may look like it to some I personally feel I have a way to go because my own definition of strength is probably a little different than what you might have heard before. I include mental strength, meaning a positive mindset, being accountable and consistent, and achieving training results that make me feel good to my strength game.

‘Your biggest Strength may be found in how you understand and confront your greatest weaknesses.” ~Sheila

Consider what answers these questions bring to mind:

  • What does strong mean to you?
  • If you were stronger what would that look like?
  • Would becoming strong make you feel different?
  • Can getting stronger improve your balance, life, sleep quality, and energy?

Yes of course, and here are some other benefits of getting stronger:

  • Building or maintaining muscle is your best option for boosting metabolic rate. Under normal circumstances, metabolic rate begins to drop after age 20 at a rate of 2-3% per decade. By the age of 50, metabolic rate drops even faster, averaging 4% per decade. By age 70, metabolic rate has dropped as much as 30%.
  • Building muscle fights muscle loss as we age, technically called sarcopenia. Women can lose up to 5 pounds of muscle per decade, and men 7 pounds through their forties, but muscle loss can start as early as in your twenties!
  • For every pound of muscle, your body uses 50 calories more while resting. This helps to change your body composition.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury – Building muscle improves the structure and integrity of your body and raises the level of your baseline strength. The stronger you are the higher your absolute strength is.
  • Building muscle builds self-esteem – The mirror effect – a benefit you can see!

Want to hear how you can get stronger? I bet you do! It’s easier than you think! The keys are listed for you below, all you need to do is get rid of your excuses and start unlocking your strength potential.

Muscle Matters

The SAID principle is training language for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. This means that your body will adapt and grow stronger in response to the resistance training. Your age, history, and goals are specifics that tailor what the demand should be, and how often it needs to happen in order to gain results.

The variables involved in making strength specific are part of what keeps the gains achievable through adaptation. The same routine you have been doing for years produces the same result at best. The art and science of programming is just that. You can get creative and change up the exercises (art) and have some fun with it while keeping the specifics of scientific principles top of mind.

Muscle size (Hypertrophy) it seems is the single most important predictor of strength but other factors have been identified as being important, says Beardsley, who regularly reports on what research really means. Changes within the muscle itself, neural factors (your brain), and nutrition also play a role in your strength gains.

From a movement perspective, Beardsley cites the muscle action, velocity, range of motion, amount of load, and stability as key factors in increasing muscle size. I think a special mention here should go to the “range of motion” piece as he states “partial range of motion exercises probably improve strength at short muscle lengths because of joint-angle specific increases in neural drive. In contrast, full range of motion exercises likely improves strength at long muscle lengths because of specific gains in regional hypertrophy.” So training a shorter range of motion works and sometimes that is all a client can achieve because of injury, disease and their joint limitations. This is golden.

Maximizing the effectiveness of a strength-training program means designing it to fit the specific goal you want to achieve. (-1)

Sets, Repetitions, and Volume

Sets and Reps: Is there a magic sweet spot in training?: It’s not clear at this point in time what combinations of reps and sets is best. Old school training sets the rep range between 8-12 repetitions for hypertrophy and 1-5 repetitions for strength. The new school suggests you can grow muscle on any rep range between 3 and 30. Combining low/mod/higher rep ranges is more optimal and better results are observed training through a spectrum of rep ranges.

Remember total volume is an important factor for gaining strength but also an important factor to consider when assessing injury risk. We want to make progress on as little volume as possible for as long as possible to reduce the risk of injury. Research shows that experienced lifters (an older training age) need more volume to gain muscle. Sorry!

What works is highly debated and as the research continues on strength one hopes that it might become easier for the consumer and strength training professionals to deliver results.

Key Points For Getting Strong 🗝

In his article “Absolute Strength is the True Master Quality,” author Derek Miller explains how truly strong people train. To this, he says,“Remember when it comes to training, you want your future to thank your past.” (-1)

Have a plan and record your training progress so that your training plan progresses with safe and appropriate load increases.

Lift with a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).  How hard was it on a scale of 1 to 10. Periodize your program – remember safety and long term goals. Working at 10 out of 10 is setting yourself up for injury and overtraining. Vary the intensity of your training days.

Keep the Quality of Your Movement High (RPQ).   This couldn’t be more important! Find a coach to help you learn what this looks like for you! Continually working on your skill acquisition for quality movement is very important. Never train to failure and let the quality deteriorate. Keep the quality on the movement RPQ (Rate of Perceived Quality) to a 9 or better before increasing the load. Technical proficiency benefits the athlete in all of us!

Auto-regulation of reps in reserve for your last set.  How many can you do? Do you have any reps in reserve for your last set? Research shows that pushing out some quality reps is a good idea. Remember volume and quality!

Vary the spectrum of rep ranges, volume, and frequency.  Periodization and volume cycling – Undulating vs. Linear (old school) they are the same but different and the models of this training variable is highly researched! In my opinion, everything works for a while and then the demand must change to see change.

No right or wrong way, cookie cutter way, ultimate routine, for an individual in a given situation.

Hire a professional for professional results.

Nutritional support: I have to mention the importance of eating a high-quality protein with every meal, and possibly supplementing with Branched Chain Amino Acids  (BCAA’s) to promote muscle growth during training sessions. More to come in future weeks on the uber important topic of nutrition as I plow through my Precision Nutrition certification.

There are so many advantages to having more muscle on our body and increasing our overall strength.  I encourage to work on some of these keys and reap the rewards for yourself.

Physical Strength is measured by what we can carry. Inner strength is measured by what we can bear. ~Unknown

Enjoy the journey and get your strength on today!

Written by: Sheila Hamilton May 2017

Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

Fear of Falling? Improve Your Balance!

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Challenge Your Balance and Don't Lose it!

Balance is an integral component of fitness and well-being. It is the basis for posture, for locomotion, and it allows us to maintain independence as we age. We take balance for granted; however, it often begins to deteriorate with age.

Don’t fear! We hope to provide an overview of balance as an integrated system, share some strategies to prevent declines in balance associated with injury or age, and offer ways to improve balance and movement at all ages.

What is Balance?

 

Balance is the mechanism in which the human body prevents itself from falling. It includes the ability to progress through a deliberate movement and to maintain a static posture.

It is an integration of 3 biological systems:

  1. Visual – Your head position and what your eyes perceive. This system is under conscious control.
  2. Vestibular – An integration of head and body movements relative to gravity. This is controlled subconsciously by your cerebellum and inner ear.
  3. Somatosensory – The dominant sensory system for balance. This is controlled subconsciously by the receptors in your muscles. It provides the fastest sensory response as it bypasses the central nervous system.

All of these systems work together to keep the Center of Gravity (COG) within the Base of Support (BOS). When the COG sways too far outside the BOS, loss of balance can occur.

Benefits of balance training include a reduced fear of falling, increased walking speed, and improved physical function.

 

What Happens to Balance As You Age?

 

Aging affects every sensory system in the body, including those directly responsible for balance. Declining function in these specific systems coupled with reductions in strength, vision, reaction time, posture, drug-related dizziness, or diabetes (peripheral neuropathy) all contribute to loss of balance.

Injury can also affect balance – in all populations! Following an ankle sprain, for example, ligaments are structurally altered and balance and stability issues can result [1]. This can increase the risk of further injury if motor and muscular control are not addressed during rehab.

Loss of balance is associated with an increase in falls, and “falls are the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly population” [2]. Luckily, there are many exercises and activities that can limit the loss of balance and improve the performance of the aging person and all populations.

Where Do We Start?

 

We can’t entirely negate the age-associated declines in sensory systems. Therefore, we must take advantage of the things we can control to affect change.

 

Posture:

It’s common to see the beginnings of a ‘head-forward’ or ‘kyphotic’ posture in those over 60. Often these individuals do not trust their ability to balance, and look to the ground for visual cues and support. This results in a ‘stooped’ standing posture, where the COG migrates away from the BOS. As we know, the farther the COG is located from the center of the BOS, the more likely loss of balance is to occur. Posture is something we can change in the gym with consistent functional strength training.

Tissue Maintenance:

Coordination between multiple joints and segments including toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, and core is critical to maintain solid and adaptable balance. Soft tissue and fascial release using balls, foam rollers, or manual therapy are tools used to optimize tissue quality, function, and longevity. Take care of your joints and muscles and they’ll take care of you!

Practice:

Challenge your balance systems regularly to ensure maximal functioning. Use it or lose it! Confidence is gained through practice – we must make time every day.

 

Building Balance and Surface Stability

 

We are frequently asked which is better for improving balance: working on a stable or unstable training surface.

As a professionals, we support there is a time and place for both Stable (level ground) and Unstable surface training (wobble boards, Bosu balls, foam pads meant to reduce a person’s contact with solid ground), but that stable surface training is most effective for functional balance.

 

Unstable surface training (UST) is useful in the clinical environment as a rehabilitation tool, often following acute injury (ie. ankle sprain). It is less functional than stable surface resistance training as it fails to improve daily movements or performance [3].

 

When the goal is to improve overall stability, balance, and strength in daily life, stable surface training is much more effective. It is also much safer to practice. UST should only be used in the strength training environment when the movement is perfected on a stable surface; even then, there are proven detriments to force output, neural recruitment, and overall efficacy [3,4].

 

Improving Your Balance From The Comfort of Your Home

 

We have outlined several safe progressions for you to challenge your balance at home, scaled for all levels and ages!

Tips:

  • Use tactile feedback as a cue to help your body learn where you are in space when you are starting out.
  • Practice in bare feet for optimal contact with the ground.
  • Make the practice scalable! Build from 10 second holds up to 1 minute, then begin to blink or close your eyes completely.

 

Standing (at wall or unsupported)

Tandem stance

Single leg

Half Kneeling

Staggered

Inline

Dynamic

Cross-taps

Inline walk

Written by Briana Kelly and Niamh McGowan.

Briana Kelly is a Kinesiologist and Strength Coach at it’s time! Fitness Results in North Vancouver.  Niamh McGowan is a Physiotherapist and Certified Pilates Instructor at Trimetrics in North Vancouver.

Click here to listen to Briana and Niamh discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

 

References
  1. https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/a-more-effective-way-to-rehab-your-ankle-sprain
  2. Oddsson, Boissy, and Melzer (2007). How to improve gait and balance function in elderly individuals – compliance with principles of training.
  3. https://www.nsca.com/uploadedFiles/NSCA/Resources/PDF/Education/Articles/NSCA_Classics_PDFs/Is%20Unstable%20Surface%20Training%20Advisable.pdf
  4. Cressey (2007). https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Chris_West3/publication/6304755_The_Effects_of_Ten_Weeks_of_Lower-Body_Unstable_Surface_Training_on_Markers_of_Athletic_Performance/links/5519a3640cf2f51a6fea1ff7.pdf

Physical Literacy is Child’s Play

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Fundamental movement skills start at an early age!

Physical literacy is crucial to positive youth development and is a precursor to the confidence needed to create healthy and active habits throughout a lifetime.

What is physical literacy?

Physical Literacy is defined as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life” [1]. Simply, when a kid is physically literate, they have developed the ability to perform basic physical movements like running, jumping, kicking, and throwing. Familiarity with and competency in these fundamental movement skills allows for confidence to participate in different physical activities, sports, or games [2].

Why do we teach kids to read, write, or add? So they develop essential skills that will benefit their lives. Why is it any different with physical skills? When a kid is comfortable performing physical movements, they’re more likely to want to do them and to have fun doing it!

Are the kids in your life physically literate? What about yourself?

 

The impact of physical literacy

As we know, the positive impact exercise and physical activity has on adults is huge. It’s now common knowledge that “movement is medicine”: exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, overall morbidity and mortality, and has a positive impact on stress, depression, ADHD, and anxiety. However, more and more people are finding themselves sedentary – why are they no longer active, and why is it so hard to get back?

Physical literacy is the key. Someone who gains the confidence and ability to move well as a kid is more likely to remain active into their adolescent, teen, and adult years. Of course there are external factors in play, but how would our sedentary society be different if everyone felt confident in their physical literacy?

Gray Cook takes a look at those who experienced the typical Phys Ed class of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s [3]. He affirms:

Most of the people who were introduced to physical education in these decades do not currently know how to manage their health and fitness independently. Many are overly dependent on others for basic health and fitness fundamentals. What was the result of Phys Ed early in their lives? Was it designed to promote physical independence and proactive behavior to manage both health and fitness across a lifespan? Or did it just introduce somebody to the different sized balls that can be used in various sports?”

We support that formal Phys Ed classes are important; however, even more critical are opportunities for unstructured PLAY earlier in child development. Through these avenues, life skills are developed that can mitigate many of the lifestyle risk factors for poor mental and physical health.

How can we make sure our kids and grandkids are becoming physically literate?

Lead by example:

If you move, move well, and express enjoyment while doing so, your kids are more likely to follow in your footsteps.

Get outside:

Physical literacy is developed through exposure and practice. Encourage the kids to climb a tree, roll down the hill, or tag along for a hike. Nature is the best playground (though man-made ones can be pretty great too!).

Take risks and encourage failure:

Encourage your kid to try the monkey bars, or to kick the ball a little farther. Safe and manageable failures encourage progress and development, and work as a tool to exposed the type of education you need. Kids will spend time doing what they’re good at. The problem is, kids today are often good at video games or surfing the internet!

 

When does it start?

 

The implementation of physical literacy starts in the earliest stages of child development. According to Active For Life [2], a Canadian organization dedicated to the education and promotion of physical literacy, there are strategies available to develop the following skills at all ages [4]:

Age 0-2:

Crawling, sitting, rolling over, grasping

Age 2-4:

Running, throwing, catching, kicking, swimming

Age 4-6:

Falling and tumbling, hopping and jumping, skipping, biking

Ages 6-9:

Sport specific skills (like dribbling or striking a soccer ball, skiing, or gymnastics)

 

Check out this awesome video of Lylah, the next ‘American Ninja Warrior’ – Lylah exemplifies complete physical literacy as she moves through the challenging obstacle course!

 

What does this mean for adults?

 

At our gym, it’s time! Fitness Results, we work to implement many of these fun, fundamental movements into our programs. Whether it’s walking on a low balance beam, hanging from the ‘monkey bars’, or rolling around on the ground, we support these key movement patterns are crucial to core and body awareness and overall physical confidence. Come check us out to see!

Written by Andrea Brennan and Briana Kelly, Kinesiologists at it’s time! Fitness Results

Click here to listen to Andrea and Briana discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

Active at All Ages: A Senior’s Perspective

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There is no such thing as "too old" to start a fitness program!

This week’s blog post was inspired by Jim Hatcher’s presentation at the Strength Matters Summit, Chicago 2016

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to walk into a gym at any age. However, it can be even more intimidating to return to fitness after years of a sedentary lifestyle, or for the first time at all.

Where to start? What type of fitness is best for an aging population? Who’s the best person to guide you on your journey?

We hope that this blog can help ease the return to fitness while providing guidance and advice along the way. Read on for an overview of the benefits of exercise for an aging population, some of the common barriers people face, as well as tips from us and a few of our older clients, including their success stories. Finally, we’ve included a simple takeaway program you can try at home!

Benefits – It’s Never Too Late!

As people age, it seems to become harder to prioritize health and fitness. Obligations like careers or family life often take over while a fitness regime gets pushed to the background. Consequently, when these lifestyle factors coincide with sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass beginning around age 40), loss of mobility, strength, balance, and major changes in body composition can occur.

However, it’s never too late to return to exercise! In fact, “probably no other population segment would benefit more from resistance training to combat age-related muscle loss” [1]. Studies show muscle mass can be built at any age – even into the 10th decade of life [1]. No wonder more and more doctors are prescribing movement as medicine! Things as simple as sitting less and walking more can make the difference, but if even that seems formidable there are other ways to begin your journey.

If you’re ready to take the next step you can begin working with a health and fitness professional to help you achieve goals – anything from putting your socks on to getting back to hiking.

Break Down The Barriers!

Starting a fitness routine can be daunting. Some common obstacles the aging population face include:

  • Fear – fear of failure, fear of getting hurt; but consider the alternatives. Aging, sarcopenia, and an unhealthy diet are linked to disability, frailty, loss of independence, and of course increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
  • Physical Limitations – everything is scalable! As professionals who have trained people with various physical abilities, let us tell you that exercise and movement are for all. You don’t need to sweat to enjoy the benefit of good movement.
  • Accessibility or Money – there are many things you can do at home – see our simple takeaway program. Furthermore, walking is free! If you enjoy the company, there are many senior walking groups available in communities throughout Greater Vancouver.

Tips From Our Clients

“I feel like I’m living in somebody else’s body! Just do it!” – Lizz L (an ‘almost-73-year-old’ it’s time! client)

I sat down with Lizz, a client of it’s time! Fitness Results since January 2017, and she kindly shared some of the experiences and milestones she’s encountered. Formerly subject to chronic back pain, Lizz used to take five minute rests throughout her day to guard her back. Since embarking on her return to exercise with a trainer, she’s noticed major improvements in overall strength, mobility, and pain levels. Some of her highlights include climbing stairs and bathtub ledges without handrails, reaching her arms over and behind her head with ease, and lifting items from the ground or low surfaces without back spasms (as an accomplished cook, Lizz spends lots of time over the oven!). Of course in the gym, Lizz confidently deadlifts with a barbell and recently completed a Turkish Get Up! Lizz shared that she attributes these radical changes to specific exercises scaled to her needs, positive and supportive feedback, and a good attitude.

Further advice from our clients:

  • Look for trainers that understand your needs. Some exercises are for the “experts” – a good trainer is one that can scale these exercises to your experience and ability. Your training should be functional and 100% specific to you despite any history of injury, medical conditions, or physical struggles you contend with. Ensure your personal trainer understands your requirements and builds a program with your goals in mind. Goals can range from climbing Mount Everest to cutting your toenails or putting your socks on!

 

  • Seek a comfortable environment. You need to feel safe and confident in the environment you choose to train in. Being understood and listened to by your fitness professional is critical. Some gyms can be loud, competitive, or unclean; however, that can’t be said for all! A good trainer will find an appropriate quiet and welcoming time for you to train. Seek out a gym with a similar age group clientele with a community feel, and ask these clients about their experiences. They will give you honest feedback.

Tips From Us

Fitness is great but not all gyms are for everyone. The local recreation centre can be a great resource for you, but finding a facility that provides more guidance and supervision is preferable for the older client.

Key things to look for:

  • Trainers up to date on the research – credentials such as FMS, CSCS, BCAK, CSEP, KIN indicate continued education. Like any profession, personal training is not as well regulated as it needs to be. Ask your trainer when their last course was! Seek out kinesiologists or professionals who value continuing education.
  • An initial assessment – there is no way to know a fitness program is right for you unless a basic assessment is performed. It is a necessary screening tool to understand your history, your goals and to appropriately prescribe exercise.
  • A gym with friendly, knowledgeable staff; a clean, quiet, and tidy environment; and a community feel

Your Takeaway Program for All Levels

Myofascial release

Roll your feet and hips at a wall with a ball. Go gently, but work out those tight spots!

      

Seated neck mobility

Look up and down, side to side, and tilt your ear to shoulder. Breathe through the motions.

     

Seated thoracic mobility

Cross your hands at your chest. Rotate your torso slowly left to right, limiting movement through your low back.

Standing frog

While holding a table or counter, shift your weight back into your hips while bending your knees. Try to keep an upright posture.

Foot elevated hip flexor and hamstring stretches

Place one foot on a step, about 12” high. Use hand support if necessary. Rock forward to stretch opposite hip flexor. Next, shift weight to heel of elevated foot and straighten the knee to stretch the hamstring. Repeat on both sides.

      

Tandem Balance

Stand inline with your feet heel-to-toe. Use a wall for support if necessary. Work up to 60 second balance, then try closing your eyes!

Wall Plank

Activate that core! Place your forearms on the wall, shoulder width apart. Straighten your body and squeeze your glutes (bum). No shrugging! Shift weight into balls of feet and forearms. Hold up to 10 seconds.

Written by Andrea Brennan and Briana Kelly, Kinesiologists at it’s time! Fitness Results, April 2017.

Click here to listen to Andrea and Briana discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.

References

[1] Bouchard, Blair, Haskell; Physical Activity and Health (2007) – Resistance Training in Middle-Aged and Elderly People.

The Not So Fun Part of the Sun

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No one is completely safe from the sun.

It’s a bittersweet thought that the same sunbeams that can make us feel so good can also create some serious shadows on us in today’s world. While striving to be as healthy and fit as possible I’m once again facing a basal cell skin cancer – literally on my nose. Please take a moment to read this, share, and take action. Being prepared and planning ahead are keys to achieving our training and nutrition goals; so don’t forget to apply these principles when spending time outdoors and protect yourself from the damaging effects of our beautiful sunshine.

Here’s Why:

The Stratospheric Ozone Layer is Thinner Than It Used to Be

The sun emits energy over a broad spectrum of wavelengths: visible light that you see, infrared radiation that you feel as heat, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation that you can’t see or feel. UV radiation has a shorter wavelength and higher energy than visible light. It affects human health both positively and negatively. Short exposure to UVB radiation generates vitamin D which is good for us, but too much can also lead to health concerns from sun damage.

The amount of UV rays the ozone layer absorbs and shields us from varies depending on the time of year and other natural events. The atmosphere’s ozone layer shields us from most UV radiation, but the ozone layer is thinner than it used to be due to ozone-depleting chemicals used in industry and consumer products.

Scientists classify UV radiation into three types, not all of which are absorbed by the ozone layer:

UVA – Not absorbed by the ozone layer.

UVB –  Mostly absorbed by the ozone layer, but some does reach the Earth’s surface.

UVC –   Completely absorbed by the ozone layer and atmosphere.

Ultraviolet Radiation exposure causes many health issues, particularly for people who spend unprotected time outdoors.

One in Five People Will Develop Some Form of Skin Cancer in their Lifetime

Unprotected exposure to UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. These three types all have serious risks:

-Basal Cell Carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer tumors.

-Squamous Cell Carcinomas are tumors that may appear as nodules or as red, scaly patches.

-Malignant melanomas are the most serious form of skin cancer, and are now one of the most common cancers among adolescents and young adults ages 15-29.

Your Eyes Are Also at Risk from UV Damage

No amount of UV radiation is healthy for the eyes. Short-term exposure can cause sunburn of the eye, or Photo keratitis, and repeated exposure can increase your chances of developing eyelid skin cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

The World Health Organization estimates that cataracts account for almost 15 million blind people worldwide. About 20%, or 3 million, of these are most likely caused by UV radiation.

UV Radiation Causes Premature Aging of the Skin

The tan vs. wrinkle dilemma is a great debate in today’s popular culture. We strive to look young and wrinkle-free and yet continue to equate a healthy tan with beauty.

The fact is, chronic UV exposure causes premature aging, which over time can make the skin become thick, wrinkled, and leathery. Since it occurs gradually, often manifesting itself many years after the majority of a person’s sun exposure, premature aging is often regarded as an unavoidable and normal part of growing older. With proper protection from UV radiation, however, most premature aging of the skin can be avoided.

Other UV-related skin disorders include Actinic Keratosis. Actinic Keratosis are skin growths that occur on body areas exposed to the sun. The face, hands, forearms, and the “V” of the neck are especially susceptible to this type of lesion. Although premalignant, Actinic Keratosis are a risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma.

Because nobody knows the answer to this question about sun exposure: “How much is too much?”

Your UV Exposure Depends on a Number of Factors

The level of UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface can vary. Each of the following factors can increase your risk of UV radiation overexposure and consequent health effects.

Time of Day

The sun is highest in the sky around noon. At this time, the sun’s rays have the least distance to travel through the atmosphere and UVB levels are at their highest. In the early morning and late afternoon, the sun’s rays pass through the atmosphere at an angle and their intensity is greatly reduced.

Time of Year

The sun’s angle varies with the seasons, causing the intensity of UV rays to change. UV intensity tends to be highest in the summer.

Weather Conditions and Altitude

Cloud cover reduces UV levels, but not completely. Depending on the thickness of the cloud cover, it is possible to burn on a cloudy day, even if it does not feel warm. UV intensity increases with altitude because there is less atmosphere to absorb the damaging rays. As a result, your chance of damaging your eyes and skin increases at higher altitudes.

Reflection

Surfaces like snow, sand, pavement, and water reflect much of the UV radiation that reaches them. Because of this reflection, UV intensity can be deceptively high on these surfaces even in shaded areas.

You are Not Immune to the Sun’s Effects, Regardless of Age, Race, or Ethnicity.

Ethnicity and skin tone are factors in the incidence of skin cancers, but do not make you immune to the UV effects of sun exposure. While melanoma is uncommon in African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is frequently fatal for these populations. The statistics for health-related issues from sun exposure to children are rapidly increasing. It’s the lifetime UV exposure that takes the greatest toll on your health and as you age the risks continue to mount.

Indoor Tanning is Out

UV Rays from the Sun and Tanning Beds Are Classified as a Human Carcinogen.

Not only can the ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning beds cause premature aging, it also increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Indoor tanning before the age of 35 has been associated with a significant increase in the risk of melanoma, and recently sunbeds (UV tanning beds) were moved up to the highest cancer risk category—group 1— ‘carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

This fact according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization is true. The incidence of malignant skin cancers has significantly increased within tanning bed users.

More people develop skin cancer because of tanning beds than develop lung cancer because of smoking. Tanning beds are not safe and are starting to be banned in many countries.

Watch this if you want to cringe at the thought of tanning!

 

The fact is we live with ozone every day. It can protect life on earth or harm it, but we have the power to influence ozone’s impact by the way we live. Continue to educate yourself and do your best to support changes that will collectively improve our environment.  A little change can go a long way and I encourage you to lead by your own example using the suggestions below.

Actions You Can Take to Be Safe In The Sun

Wear Your Sunglasses

Wear sunglasses that protect at least 99% of UVA/UVB rays. This basic but important precaution is important for children as well. Prioritize a budget for good quality glasses.

Seek Shade

Finding some shade under a tree, awning or umbrella will help protect you. UV rays can reach you by reflecting off of surrounding surfaces so you still need to cover up with clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Cover Up

Cover up as much of your skin as you can with tightly woven or UV protective clothing. UV protection factor (UPF) measures the fabrics ability to block UV rays from passing through and reaching the skin.

Wear a hat with a wide brim hat and a scarf to protect the neck.

Use Sunscreen Properly

Sunscreen absorbs UV rays and prevents them from penetrating the skin. Sunscreens are rated by the strength of their SPF. The SPF tells you the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s UVB rays. SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB rays. Sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays.

Health Canada regulates the safety and quality of sunscreens in Canada. Sunscreen products are classified as drugs and must meet Canadian requirements.

Use sunscreen along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them. Remember that sunscreens are not meant to be used so that you can stay out in the sun longer. They are meant to increase your protection when you have to be outside. Sunscreen should be used on any exposed skin not covered by clothing.

  • Use an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Make sure the sunscreen is labelled broad-spectrum (offers both UVA and UVB protection).

Be a leader on the field as a parent or coach and ensure the athletes and kids are protected.

Know the signs of Skin Cancer

You should check your skin regularly for changes. This will help you know what is normal for your own body and recognize when something may be wrong. Tell your doctor if you see any changes in your skin. Get any unusual skin lesions and moles checked by your Doctor and ask for biopsies early, especially for lesions on the face.

Look for and note any new growth on your skin. These include:

  • pale, pearly nodules (lumps) that may grow larger and crust
  • red or pink patches that are scaly and don’t heal
  • new skin markings such as moles, blemishes, discoloration or bumps
  • changes in the shape, colour, size or texture of a birthmark or mole
  • a sore that doesn’t heal
  • an abnormal area that bleeds, oozes, swells, itches or is red and bumpy

 

Actions You Can Take for Collectively Improving Our Environment:

-Reduce your use of plastics – use glass and stainless steel.

-Recycle every single thing you can.

-Invest time reading labels and try to shift towards using non-GMO, organic products that are packaged in non-BPA plastics.

Actions You Can Take for Yourself:

Practice good nutrition and exercise regularly.

Think about the quality of food you are putting into your body before you put it in your mouth.

Eat more vegetables and fruit, less red meat and avoid processed meat.

Limit BBQ, broiling, and frying.

Make Vitamin-D–not UV–a priority. Vitamin-D is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests you get your recommended daily 600 IU of Vitamin-D per day from food sources or supplements.

Have a healthy body weight.

 

On a personal note: my battle with skin cancer continues. I will soon be having my fourth MOHS surgery in 12 years. This episode poses is a significant problem because of the cancers location.  My skin cancers haven’t looked like anything but a patch of skin that bleeds from time to time like a zit. “You are a victim of the times really,” as stated to me from Dr. Jennifer Guillemaud, the head and neck surgeon who performed MOHS surgery on me in Calgary, Alberta. (See link to MOHS below.) She speaks to me on the fact that in my parents’ era sunscreens were only just getting popularized. It’s true, as I recall spending many days as a child in my dad’s boat fishing for salmon without sun protection of any kind.

May the phrase “enjoy the sunshine!” take on a new meaning for you today.

Thank you to the team at it’s time!, clients, friends, and family for your support through this.

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