Category Archives: Injury Prevention

Attitude for Sustainability

sustainalbeLet’s take a look at one more critical difference between training for athletics/military and training for well-being.

Athletes and military professionals need to train right at the edge of a very fine line between improving skills and risking injury. Athletes and their coaches find that line and push the body as close as possible to that line, in order to stay in the competition. Step over that line and injury risk is greater than the training benefit.

This type of training does not consider what the body will be able to do ten or twenty years from now. It is focused on the next level, improving by pushing that limit as much as possible. There is only so long the body can sustain that type of training. At some point, an athlete needs to retire from competition, or at least semi-retire and take a few steps back from that line if they want to keep moving.

In training for well-being, choosing the level to train at considers what is needed to be well right now, as well as for the rest of our lives. This type of training does not require pushing to that risk/benefit ratio line. To the contrary, part of training for well-being is listening to the body to know when we are stepping too close to that line because we know an injury keeps us on the sidelines of life rather than out enjoying life. Training to be well considers how we feel, now as well as decades from now, by preventing injury, illness, and disease as much as possible. “Retire” from this plan too early, and that risk along with the rate of aging ramps up…fast!!!

Training for well-being means we find the types of movement that give us energy rather than drain it. You might be one who needs more adventurous types of physical activity, such as skiing or rock climbing. Remembering it is more important to be well than excel at that activity keeps it energizing and the risk/benefit ratio in check.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed the attitude of no, pain no gain, look better, be better, push harder, ignore the body, trick the body, is so enmeshed in the world of fitness we often don’t even see it! The confusion over these two very different ways of training the body has made exercise stressful (which is ironic because when we are stressed, the body preparing to move!). Even the word exercise overwhelms many people, which drains motivation in the long run, causing them to miss out on the great benefits of fitness for well-being.

Bottom Line:  It is not necessarily the activity, but the attitude that makes training for well-being so sustainable. The ultimate goal is feeling better on the inside (rather than getting better at some external goal). Let’s stay aware of activities that are more about proving ourselves instead of being ourselves, because when it is more about well-doing, it can take us away from well-being.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | November 14, 2016 · 4:18 pm

How Much is Enough?

enough-2Let’s continue to look at the difference between training for sports/military performance and training for well-being.

When it comes to fitness, how much is enough?   

  • How hard should I push my body?
  • How much weight should I lift? 
  • How many miles should I walk or run?
  • How many steps should I take? 

If what you are doing never quite seems enough, always feels like you should be doing more, you may have strayed from training for well-being.

In athletic training, there is always a next level to strive towards. That ‘never enough’ provides the motivation to push harder. For this type of training, then, we need to rely on external guides to inform about our progress. Numbers such as miles and minutes provide accurate feedback. Coaches help assess our performance, giving valuable information about how to keep pushing the limits to excel at the sport.

In training for health and well-being, enough is the level that allows you to achieve the definition of fitness for well being – “do activities of daily life with ease, having enough energy left over for recreation and to meet emergencies.”

For this type of training, you have a guide more accurate than the most advanced technology or experienced professional available. The best part is this guide is free and with you all the time! It’s your body! What your body tells you in the present moment is the most accurate and reliable information available for training for well-being.

What makes it not so reliable is when our mind starts dictating what the body “should” do.  I should not have pain with this exercise, it was fine yesterday. I should be able to lift that much weight, run faster, walk further. I should push my body harder to lose more weight. 

Our judgment about what the body is telling us right now squelches this most accurate guide. When we use the body as a guide, we realize we can have the ultimate “personalized fitness program” available. When we listen we might hear the body saying:

  • That pain you feel when you exercise is a warning signal… possible injury ahead!
  • Those tight muscles cannot tolerate what you are doing right now. The nervous  system has taken over and tightened the muscle to protect it.
  • That pain and stiffness you feel when I am still for a while means I need movement to help get rid of some of this inflammation.
  • When you feel exhausted after a busy, stressful, yet sedentary day, it is because I have been working hard all day, ready to move to respond to your stressor.  Please give me what I have been preparing for and move so I can really relax.  

It is really easy to get caught in the should’s when fitness marketing and the culture tend to mesh together sports training and well-being training. Using mindfulness is very helpful here for developing the skills for listening to our body without judgment, uncovering the most accurate and reliable guidance available when it comes to training for our own well-being.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

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by | November 9, 2016 · 6:32 pm

You Get What You Train For

bullseye

Let’s take a closer look at training for well-being versus training for athletics.

There is a principle in exercise science of specificity that basically says “you get what you train for.” The body will adapt to what you give it. If you want to be able to run faster, then practice running faster. If you want to be able to get up off the floor more easily, then practice strengthening the movements you need for that skill. If you want to be able to sightsee with friends all day, then gradually practice walking longer distances.

In sports training, the focus is on the physical skills needed for the sport.  In well-being training, skills for being able to enjoy life are the focus.

In sports training, the goal is to excel in the time spent in competition, for several seconds to a few hours. Well-being training is for functioning the best you can 24/7.

It is pretty obvious that one would not do the training program for a body builder to excel in competitive dance. Why then, do we use these and other sports training programs as the basis for fitness programs to improve health and well-being??? 

You get what you train for.  What do you want to train for? Sports training is fine, of course, as long as you know the results of training are very specific and don’t cross over well.

Be savvy. Ask anyone giving you fitness advice: What is this program based on?  Why am I doing this exercise? What specifically am I training for?  (And please don’t take “you are confusing the body” for an answer, unless you want a confused body.)

If your goal is to be healthy and well for as many of your 24/7s as possible, then check out what you are doing during as much of the 24/7 as possible. You see, when training to live better, it all matters – sit, stand, work, play, exercise, rest.  The specificity of training does not apply only when exercising.  It is a principle. It applies all the time.

Sitting with rounded shoulders. Guess what? The body gets used to what you give it. Standing in alignment, the body adapts to that too. We are always training for something (mentally AND physically).

For the  “all or nothing-ers” out there, this does not mean you move perfectly all the time. Simply pay attention to your body, check in often.

Bottom line: Training for well-being is an all-day awareness of how to give this body (and mind) what it needs to be well.

The body gets used to what you give it. What do you want it to get used to?

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

 

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by | October 4, 2016 · 5:56 pm

What are you training for?

I am noticing a bit of confusion in fitness lately – confusion between sports and military training and exercise for health and well-being. I want you to be a savvy fitness consumer who gets what you want from your investment.  Let’s take a look at the difference between the two approaches and see what you think:

Training for wellbeing.pngIf you were an athlete or military professional at some point in your life, the switch may be challenging. Those approaches to exercise can be strongly ingrained in your approach to movement. If you have done a fitness program with a sports-minded approach in the past, or admire those who do, this approach can be so enmeshed in your thinking about exercise, they can seem to be one and the same. But clearly, they are not.

Here are questions to ask yourself to be sure you are training for health and well-being:

  • Am I pushing through pain and discomfort in my fitness class/program?
  • Who is my primary guide for what is right for my body – a “fitness expert” or how my body feels with a certain exercise?
  • How often do I ignore and “tough out” pain with exercise?
  • How often do I get injured when I am on a fitness program?
  • Am I consistent with exercise all year long?
  • Does my exercise program leave me too sore and exhausted to move more throughout my day?
  • Am I  feeling and living better as a result of my training?

Are your answers more in line with the training approach on the right or the left of the chart above?

If you are ignoring pain, listening to a trainer more than your body, feeling sore and exhausted more often than energized, inconsistent with exercise, have a love/hate relationship with exercise, and/or have sustained an injury as a result of your training – you may be using a sports approach to health and well-being training.

If you feel better mentally and physically, have less pain and injury, are listening to your body, are consistent all year long, have more energy and stamina and strength to enjoy life – congratulations! You have found a fitness program for well-being.

This is not to say  sports, athletic, or military training is wrong – it is simply a different goal than training for health and well-being.  Sure, there is some crossover between the two ways of training the body.

The big difference is that sports/military training has a higher risk of injury and is not designed for sustainability long term.  If you want your weight loss to be sustainable – you need a fitness plan that is sustainable as well.

Look back at the blog series on fitness I did a few weeks ago for more informative about fitness designed for health and well-being.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | September 19, 2016 · 3:26 pm

Why?

whyIf a friend told you he wanted to improve his health and well being so he joined a football team, what would you think?

Well, I guess there are parts of playing football that could help.  He might improve stamina, strength, reflexes and enjoy the mental and social benefits.

Yet, there are risks of playing football, too.  If your friend loves playing football it could be worth the risk.

If that friend said he didn’t like it, but it would be worth it to be healthier and to lose weight, you might question his logic.

I see many people doing sports training when trying to exercise for weight loss or improving health.   It might not be called sports training, but by definition, that is what it is.

Exercise science (physiology) = The study of what happens in the body when we move – both during one single bout and when we move regularly to improve fitness level.

Sport science = Uses the knowledge of exercise science to improve specific skills in order to improve the ability to do a certain sport.

Clinical exercise science = a branch of exercise science that studies how exercise training can help treat medical conditions, including  heart diseases, asthma, back pain, elevated body weight, diabetes, depression etc.

You might notice some subtle, but very important differences.

Exercise science is the general science for all types goals for physical activity.

Sports science is training to do better at an athletic (or even military) activity.  Whether it is a personal goal of finishing a marathon or winning a team competition, for success the training sacrifices long term benefits for short term gains.

Clinical exercise science is training for being healthier by improving treatment of a medical condition and living better in some way.  For these results though, the plan needs to be one you can continue.    It is focused on the short as well as the long term benefits.

Yet, the difference between clinical exercise science and sports science are often mixed up in the fitness industry.  When someone works on improving their time in a plank exercise – is the goal to plank longer or improve their function?  Same with squat competitions, boot camp style exercise classes, and quick fix programs.  Is the goal to live better long term, or for some short term improvement doing that activity?

Our culture tends to value athleticism, overcoming the odds, pushing past limits.  These qualities get lots of media attention.  The average person exercising five days a week and is now able to play with his kids does not get much press.

This leads to lower motivation with exercise. I believe it is a big reason we still have about 80% of the US population does not get the recommended amounts of exercise to improve health and fitness.  Yes 80%!

A simple yet powerful question can decrease your risk of injury and loss of motivation.

“Why?”

Why am I doing this exercise, fitness class, exercise program, sports, competition, etc?

If you keep asking why until you get to the deepest personal reason.  Here you will find keys to lasting motivation.

Next, check to see if what you are doing is the best way to your personal definition of success.

Finally, create your own risk/benefit ratio.

List the potential risks:

  •  risk of the activity itself.  The higher the intensity, duration, frequency the greater the risk – especially if your body has not had time to adapt to it.   Does the exercise need to be that intense to get the benefits YOU want?
  • your current physical ability compared to what is needed for the activity – exercise at a comfortable challenging level is enough.
  • old or current injuries and/or medical condition,muscle weaknesses, etc.  We are only as strong as our weakest area.  Modify the activity to reduces strain and work on strengthening these areas too.

List the potential benefits:

  • benefits of the activity shown by exercise science
  • how this activity will help you get what you really want from exercise (IE; to be able to climb stairs easier, play with your kids, go hiking or biking again)
  • how this activity might improve your quality of life

Weight loss is probably one of the major areas for this confusion.  Yes, to lose weight one risk benefit 2needs to exercise.  Yet over exercising to lose weight brings risks for injury, loss of motivation and then not exercising – and this is one of the biggest risks for weight regain.  So consistency is the most important factor for any exercise program for weight loss.

When choosing an exercise program,  remember to ask why.   You will be more likely to stay motivated and reach your true success when what you are doing is designed to get you to YOUR goals.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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Filed under Barriers, Exercise and Movement Science, Fitness Consumer, Injury Prevention, Myths, Weight Loss

Know Sweat

sweat 4Sweat.  It seems folks either love it or hate it.

For some, sweat is a big motivator. They LOVE to sweat.

Others HATE to sweat (passionately).  It can be a major barrier for exercise.

Let’s sort the myths from the facts:

Facts:

  • Sweat is one way the body cools itself.  When sweat evaporates from the skin, it has a cooling effect
  • The amount of sweat we feel with physical activity depends on how much we sweat PLUS how fast it evaporates from the skin
  • Sweat rate and evaporation rate has to do with several factors:
    • temperature of the environment
    • humidity of the air – more humid, sweat does not evaporate as easily so it seems we are sweating more
    • other environmental factors such as wind and sunshine
    • genetics, hydration level, and clothing all effect sweat level too
  • Sweat is a good tool for knowing how much to re-hydrate after physical activitysweat3. Weigh yourself before and after exercise.  For every pound lost, replace it with 16 to 20 ounces of fluid (water is generally best unless sweating has been excessive).  If you would like more detailed information about fluid replacement, check out the American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand.
  • After weight loss surgery it is vital to monitor fluid loss and replace.  Stay hydrated by drinking small amounts of water during the day and weigh yourself before and after exercise to ensure you replace fluids lost.

Myths:

  •  “exercise until you work up a sweat”.   Truth is too many factors  affect sweating for it to be a reliable way to measure the quality of an exercise session.  Lets take biking for example.  Biking outside at a moderate to somewhat heavy intensity level but not noticing any sweat, you might think you are not getting enough exercise using sweat as an indicator.  In a spin class on a humid day,  exercising at the same intensity level with sweat dripping off you and you think what a great workout!.  Outside you probably sweat less because the temperature was cooler, and any sweat evaporated quickly in the drier air.  The exercise level was the same though – so the quality of the workout is the same regardless of the level of sweat.
  • ” sweat means more calorie/fat burning”   Truth is sweat does not mean fat is melting off the body!  Although it seems like it should be truth – this is a big myth!  Since “sweat suits” are still sold in many stores,  I will repeat this – Sweat does not melt fat!  It is time we let this myth go once and for all!

Using breathing level to monitor exercise intensity is a much more reliable tool.  Moderate to somewhat heavy breathing level is the goal.  At this level exercise feels  comfortable  or a comfortable challenge.  This level ensures you are burning as many calories as you can, at a level that improves fitness without increasing the risk of injury.

sweatsweat 5

Check out these images to the left that popped up when I searched for Sweat images. 

Lets abandon these myths and focus on what really matters.

So, enjoy sweating if you love it. Just don’t make yourself sweat more than needed.

If you hate to sweat, exercise in a cooler environment, dress cool, choose activities where you can stay cooler,  and keep a fan on you if you are indoors.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | October 1, 2015 · 7:35 pm

Healthy Summer Footwear

Summertime footwear is so easy isn’t it?  Just slide into a pair of flip flops and you are good to go.  No fuss, no muss…

foot painExcept…. you might notice that foot pain, like plantar fasciitis starts up again or worsens.

I know many of you know there is a connection there.  Wearing flip flops causes the pain to returns.  But, it is so hard to give up that summertime ease!

Since pain is simply a signal from the body that it is working too hard, let’s find ways to make summer easier on the feet so we can keep moving.

Even though it is not as easy to slip into, finding sandals with a back makes all the difference.  Why? Because the toes and muscles in the feet can relax.  Without support for the back of the foot, the muscles over work to keep the shoe on with each step.  It is subtle, but over time it makes a big difference.

Check out these “do it yourself”  ideas for making flip flops  better for the feet.  If you are not a DIY kind of person, here is a blog by Katy Bowman with other resources to look into.

flip flopsStepping a bit out of the comfort zone with summer footwear can actually help keep us moving more comfortably all summer long.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

These weekly emails are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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Filed under Barriers, Injury Prevention