Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exercise and Pregnancy

I've never been pregnant before (shocker), but I've observed my wife and other women deal with pregnancies over the years. One thing that I've noticed is that no two pregnancies are the same. Some women seem to be able to go full steam up until their delivery date, while others are sick or even bed ridden just weeks into the pregnancy. I tell all my clients to consult a physician before starting an exercise program, but I really emphasize this if they are pregnant.

It used to be that if someone was expecting, they were told to take things easy and cut back on the exercise, but today we understand that appropriate exercise during pregnancy can benefit both the mother and the unborn child. Some of the benefits of exercise include:

* more energy
* better sleep
* improved muscle strength and endurance
* alleviate lower back pain
* stress reduction
* prepare you for a smoother delivery
* help you get back your pre-pregnancy figure quicker.

During pregnancy there are many changes to the body such as increased oxygen demand, increased blood volume and blood pressure, weight gain, hormone changes which cause ligaments to stretch, etc. As a result, special accommodations should be made and the following precautions should be followed.

-Avoid supine (lying down) exercises, especially towards the end of the pregnancy.
-Avoid contact sports, ballistic movements, and high impact activities.
-Walking, swimming, resistance training, and low impact activities are safer options.
-Avoid exercising in hot and humid temperatures.
-Don't be too intense or work out until exhaustion.
-If you haven't exercised regularly in the past, then you should ease into it slowly.
-Drink plenty of water before, during, and after working out.
-Listen to your body.

If you have a history of miscarriages, high risk pregnancies, or any other medical conditions, then you will want to take special precautions and as I said before, consult your physician. My hat is off to women who make the selfless sacrifice of enduring a pregnancy and giving birth. One way to improve your quality of life and maintain good health during pregnancy is to participate in an appropriate exercise program that is tailored to your needs and condition.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This week Your Fitness Quest is celebrating 2 years of posts. I thought I'd celebrate by keeping things short and sweet and just share some health and fitness cartoons instead of the usual boring post.

I thought I'd share a bit from John Pinette. He's best known for addressing the topics of food, overeating, and dieting in his stand up routines. I thought this was pretty funny.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Seasons of Fitness

When I hear the word periodization, I often think of changing up one's work out routine so you don't get in a rut. Phrases like muscle confusion and "shocking the system" come to mind.

It's normal for a body builder and other athletes to cycle their training and to go through various stages in order to peak at just the right time. I think that many average people also go through cycles or season when it comes to their fitness.

As Ecclesiastes says, there is "A time to kill and a time to heal: a time to tear down and a time to build up." I also think there is a time to run and a time to stop running. A time to lift weights and a time rest from lifting weights. A time to eat healthy and a time to indulge. The key is doing these things in moderation and letting those occasions be the exception rather than the rule.

I think going through phases or cycles with one's training is not only wise, but it is natural and mimics nature. Think of the seasons changing, the phases of the moon and tide, and even cycles of the human body. If we were rocks, it would be easy to keep everything the same all the time, but since we are living things, change is inevitable and expected, and I believe it is healthy.

The following fitness pattern is common for most people in the population.

January-Spring- Making resolutions and starting to get in shape (until they quit)
Summer-Picking things up a notch and trying to get in peak beach body condition.
Fall- Maintenance and tapering off.
Winter- Many people become sedentary and rest more during the holidays.

It's very common for people to gain weight over the holidays. For some, this weight never comes off again but just slowly adds up each year. I believe staying in shape year round is important and it's much easier to maintain your conditioning than to start over from scratch, but at the same time, it's not such a bad thing for someone to take things a little easier at times. I'm not saying exercise and healthy living is seasonal, nor am I advocating taking the holidays off and hibernating, but maybe it's not such a bad thing to take it a little easier at the end of the year as long as you avoid de-conditioning and keep your weight gain in check.

This year I've decided to try and fine tune my eating and lose several pounds during the months that are traditionally the hardest ones to eat right during. This requires some discipline, but if you stay close to your ideal weight and fitness levels, then it will be much easier to get back into peak shape once you attempt to do so, as opposed to going through the typical fitness seasons most people experience.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cold and Flu Season

With the colder weather approaching, I am reminded that cold and flu season is around the corner. I thought I'd give everyone a little reminder about keeping our germs to ourselves. I'm not a Germaphobe, but when I saw this clip it made me want to start washing my hands more frequently.

Here is a video clip of people sneezing in slow motion. It's an ad for flu shots, but I think it's a good reminder of how germs are spread. By the way, the proper protocol for dealing with a sneeze or cough these days is to turn your head into your upper arm/shoulder instead of your hands.

Sorry for grossing you out. Thank goodness for sneeze guards at the salad bar!