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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Running for life or death?

       As an endurance athlete, I was startled by the Wall Street Journal article  "When Running Is Bad for You"/ "One Running Shoe in the Grave". Not only because of it's alarming title; it struck a nerve within me as well as cause quite a stir in my running group.  The article was also brought up by several clients and members of the group, when they asked my opinion on this issue. There where so many in fact, that it prompted me to delve into the article further and attempt to truly understand the potential dangers we face.

        Initially, when I read the article I noticed that all of the photos where of Triathlons which is an entirely different entity then marathon running solely. A slight digression, I know, but an interesting selection by the author.  The primary study referenced in the Wall Street Journal, is an editorial published in the British Journal Heart. The British Journal Heart is an international peer review journal for professionals in the health care field. In a brief, The Wall Street Journal article,  focuses on the new research metrics that are being tested on "Older" athletes, that are not competing solely in running events.The author discusses how previous research measured primarily the number of deaths during races. While the new research focuses on the negative impact it has on the longevity of runners as they age, specifically those who run over 25 miles a week.  The article included an opinion from two different Sports Cardiologist, one of which authored the paper. The other cardiologist, is a former elite marathon runner, opposes the new research. He believes the researchers are "manipulating the data" as well as strictly focusing there research on association as a runner. Thus, overlooking other potential causes for the negative findings like, pre-existing conditions or diseases. While both sides of the research have valid points, for me the article comes down to reconciling in some way my conflicting passions.  I will have to both agree and disagree with the findings. Tempering my athletic brain with my training profession, so that can both advocate caution to some while, half heartily accepting them for my own training philosophy.

      At the end of the day for me; running/training goes way beyond what health benefits I receive; it speaks to my soul. Every time the ever popular "GO" word is uttered it ignites my competitive drive and urges me forward even when the finish line is invisible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

10 ways to stay fit at work

Top 10 ways to stay healthy at work
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back to the business of life. This New Year start by making small and meaningful changes in your lifestyle that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.  
Despite the fact that Americans work more than any industrialized country in the world, we take fewer vacations, retire older and work longer days. This alone can impact ones health and can lead them to chronic conditions like high blood pressure, arthritis, depression and obesity. The average American works 35-45 hours a week, and in cities with larger populations, it can be as high as 50 hours!
You need to decide that fitness and wellness are important to you and then take measured steps towards your goal. Don’t over extend yourself and exercise like never before to achieve your fitness and wellness goals. This year try to do something different...

1    1. Meal planning and portion control
80% of losing weight depends on your diet. The science is simple “calories in, calories out”. The objective is to burn more calories than you consume. Try to plan your lunches and dinners so that you don’t over eat. Even if you have a client meeting at a restaurant, look up their menus in advance or ask the waiter to “put the sauce on the side” or have it “grilled instead of fried”. Portion control is important because without it, you are more likely to over eat. Having visual cues on how much a serving of veggies or rice looks like can help you make better decisions. For example, one cup of rice or pasta is the size of a tennis ball.   
2. Stretching
Sitting at a desk for more than 2 hours at a time causes the muscles, ligaments, and tendons to become shorter. Do simple stretches at your desk to help elongate the muscles and decrease pain (especially back pain). Tight hamstrings can be a precursor to low back pain, and tight shoulders can lead to neck pain or migraines.
3.  Organize a boot camp/ fitness class
Grab a group of buddies and organize a fitness class. With camaraderie and moral support, you can achieve weight loss together. Select a certain date, time, and location to meet up and work out for an hour.
      4.  Take stairs, or go for a walk
If you’re not experiencing any hip, knee, or ankle pain, then taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to improve cardiovascular endurance and build up the strength in your legs. Taking walks throughout the day are great as well, but with less impact on the knees.
      5 . Set your workstation to improve your posture
Setting up your work space can help prevent back and neck pain, tight muscles, and poor posture. Modifying the sitting posture in an office chair can work wonders for your muscles and joints. Utilize the lumbar support in your office chair and position the computer at eye level so you’re looking straight ahead.
6.  Exercise in your office (planks, jumping jacks, pushups, squats)
If possible, try doing some circuit training in your office for 30 minutes a day. It can improve your fitness levels tremendously. Here is an example circuit that should take less than 30 minutes to complete and uses no weights or machines: 1 min plank hold (a plank is when you are lying face down with elbows under shoulder and toes/knees on the floor, pull yourself up and keep your core tight) 1 min jumping  jacks, 15 pushups (on or off knees), and 15- 20 squats (pretend you are sitting back in a chair and standing up). Rest for 1 mins and repeat 3 more times.
      7.  Hire a trainer
If you’re new to exercise and you don’t want to hurt yourself or you’re pressed for time, then a trainer is what you need. Find an experienced trainer who can travel to your job and kick your butt for an hour. This is a great way to get in shape fast with fewer injuries! The trainer should monitor your diet, correct your form, and provide you with homework that you can do on your off days to speed up the process.
      8.  Avoid temptations (holiday cookies, snacks)
 Encourage co-workers to bring healthy snacks, or organize a healthy happy hour. This leads back to meal planning and having a back-up snack, like fruit, in case you have a sweet tooth during the middle of your day.
      9.  Park your car further away, or bike /walk to work
These are simple ways to get more exercise in by moving more to improve your cardiovascular endurance and decrease obesity. Here in the district, there is a bike share program you can take advantage of.
      10.  Start a “Biggest Loser Contest” or any other weight loss competition.
This gets your competitive spirit involved. It’s simple biology that humans are competitive beings. Just think of sports, politics, and jobs, we love to win!  So getting everyone’s competitive juices flowing is a sure way to weight loss success. Having a cash prize or tickets to an important event will even get the laziest person to try to lose weight while having fun doing it.