Archive for June, 2008

Sport Fitness and Nutrition – For the Winning Edge!

Many studies have shown that exercise and sports can be very beneficial to one’s health. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, exercise or regular physical activity not only helps maintain the proper functioning of our body’s systems,  but it also prevents the development of certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, among others.

 

Engagement into sports is a great way for one to get or stay in shape, and to acquire a healthy well-being. In order to attain the maximum body-wide benefits of sports, it is important to know what “fitness” really means and what its key components are.

 

Sport fitness has two dimensions: 1) physical, which is an athlete’s capacity to meet the various physical demands of a certain sport without being in a fatigued state, and 2) motor, which is an athlete’s ability to perform successfully at their sport (“Conditioning,” n.d.). There are nine essential fitness components that comprise each sport, and these are the following: endurance, strength, power, agility, flexibility, balance, speed, coordination, and reaction time.

Nutrition plays a critical role in one’s fitness. One might think that an athlete’s nutritional requirements vary significantly from that of a non-athlete, but that is not the case. Although athletes obviously have a higher energy requirement than those individuals who choose to be a couch potato, both have similar needs for carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water or fluids. However, athletes’ carbohydrate needs are generally much higher than those who are less active. This is because carbohydrate is the most efficient energy source of the body -- especially during moderate to high-intensity exercise. In contrast, fat provides energy during prolonged, low-intensity exercise. In short, whether fat or carbohydrate is used as energy source depends on the intensity or duration of the exercise.

 

Proteins, on the other hand, are more essential in the repair of muscle tissues than they are in providing energy during exercise. However, a 4-month weight loss trial conducted in Illinois suggested that a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrate combined with exercise increases loss of body fat.

 

But how exactly does carbohydrate from breads, rice, fruits, etc. provide us with the energy that we need? How about the protein and fat that we get from animal products such as meat, fish, poultry? Sports nutritional information involves the pathways on how these macronutrients are converted into energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

ATP is continually produced in the body since it is not easily stored and is readily used up by the body. There are two general pathways that allow the conversion of nutrients into energy. These are 1) aerobic metabolism (which requires oxygen), and 2) anaerobic metabolism, which doesn’t require oxygen. These pathways can be further subdivided, and the combination, the activation of a single energy system, and the progression from one system to another, will depend on the duration and intensity of exercise.

 

For instance, a 100-meter sprint uses the ATP-Creatine Phosphate (CP) system wherein stored ATP in the muscle is used as energy, followed by the conversion of CP into ATP. Such system provides approximately 10 seconds worth of energy without oxygen requirement. On the other hand, anaerobic metabolism or glycolysis creates ATP from the partial breakdown of glucose is used only for short, high-intensity exercises because there is such a thing as lactate threshold, which when reached can be painful due to the build up of lactic acid in the muscle. Lastly, aerobic metabolism is used for prolonged, low-intensity exercises. Such system uses oxygen in order to convert the various nutrients into energy.

 

Furthermore, adequate hydration is just as important as proper nutrition. Water makes up 60% of our body weight and is involved in almost every body process. Since athletes are involved in more strenous activities that dispose them to increased fluid losses, it is essential for them to drink more than the usual prescribed 8 glasses of water everyday for an ordinary, less active individual. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, cool water is the best fluid to keep an athlete hydrated during exercise that lasts for an hour or less, while sports drinks are very useful for prolonged exercise because they maintain blood glucose levels.

Indeed, proper nutrition and conditioning are key factors in achieving sports fitness and top performance. However, those who are easily pressured by their athletic feat --most especially during competitions-- tend to resort to the use of sports supplements. They are popular because they are readily available, and are known to give faster, effective results without requiring much hard work.

 

The use of sports supplement, also called ergogenic acids, claims to improve one’s performance and increase work output. However, their effectiveness and safety are often controversial. The most common sports supplements used by athletes are the following: anabolic steroids, prohormones or “natural steroids,” such as androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), human growth hormone (HGH), creatine, and fat burners. If one decides to use such, athletes must first consult with their doctors and make a careful evaluation of these products.

 

Attaining a peak level of performance in any kind of sport requires practice, constant training, and a great deal of hard work. If these are combined with an optimal sports supplement nutrition, any athlete can be on a winning edge, both competition and health-wise.

Tags: sports nutritional information | sports nutritional information | sport supplements | sport supplements | sport supplement | sport supplement | Sport fitness | Sport fitness

Blood Pressure and Athletes

Do athletes suffer from blood pressure problems?

We tend to think of athletes as being some way above the normal health issues that most of us deal with on a day by day basis. But in fact, sportsmen and sportswomen suffer from the same kind of ailments that we do - and blood pressure is no exception.

Research studies show that older athletes sometimes have an increase in their blood pressure levels and this should be closely checked. It’s a good idea for anyone over the age of seventy who is still involved in sport to see their doctor once a year for a check up. In general, exercise is thought to be good for your blood pressure and should have the effect of making the heart stronger and of causing a reduction in blood pressure. But this is not always the case. Even very young and very fit athletes can be found to have high blood pressure. The main problem is that many of them are never checked or tested and the problem only comes to light when they collapse or become unwell during sport.

How blood pressure affects athletes
Having a high blood pressure reading without being aware of it will put you at risk of stroke or of heart beat irregularity. In some cases hypertension can even trigger a heart attack. Headaches after competing are a warning sign. Unexplained loss of energy or a feeling of “palpitations” should always be investigated. Chest pain or collapse during or after exercise needs urgent testing by a specialist.

High blood pressure is not the only issue in athletes – low blood pressure can also be a problem. Now, of course, many athletes will eventually develop a low blood pressure level as a result of their training and the fact that the heart becomes more efficient. But this is not always the case and some will develop low blood pressure because of over training, anemia, medication use, dehydration or other reasons. Faints or funny turns in athletes – whether due to low blood pressure or not – need to be taken very seriously and investigated by a sports medicine doctor.

 

Blood pressure monitoring in athletes
Athletes training at a very elite level will have support from a team of sports scientists – but this is not open to most of us who simply compete now and again and enjoy the company and fun that training brings. My rule of thumb is this: if you are regularly involved in sport then you should have your blood pressure checked and make a note of the readings. If you are over the age of 35 then you should have your blood pressure checked once a year. Those over fifty need blood pressure and preferably heart checks more often than that. If in doubt you can buy yourself a cheap blood pressure monitor to check your own levels at home. If the readings are high then go see your doctor for a full check up examination.

 

Special concerns about blood pressure medications
Competitive athletes are bound by tight rules and regulations about what medicine they can and can’t take. The rules apply whether they are about to compete or whether they are in a non competition phase - often referred to as the "off season." WADA - the world anti doping agency - issue detailed lists each year of the drugs that are banned or permitted for athletes. Some blood pressure medications do appear on the list of banned substances - although the rules vary a bit between different sports. Sports competitors are allowed to apply for what's known as a Therapeutic Use Exemption in respect of a drug that their doctor thinks they need for genuine medical reasons and many do so every year. But there's another problem.

Most drugs used to treat blood pressure problems have side effects associated with them. Common side effects of blood pressure medications include fatigue, joint and muscle aches and impaired exercise tolerance. These side effects may only be of minor nuisance value to you or I - but to a highly tuned athlete, they may be devastating.

The treatment of blood pressure in athletes is a specialist area and only a few doctors worldwide focus on these areas. Many involved in sport simply just choose to "muddle along" - often putting their health at risk by doing so. If you compete in sport and have high blood pressure then please seek some medical advice. Don't delay - you might be putting your health (or even your life) at risk!

Tags: blood pressure athletes | blood pressure athletes | blood pressure in sport | blood pressure in sport | lower blood pressure | lower blood pressure | high blood pressure

Blood Pressure Avalanche

Blood Pressure Epidemic Hits The World

High blood pressure can kill you - and it does it in the most silent and insidious way.

Blood pressure problems are fast becoming one of the major health issues of modern times. You owe it to yourself to get fully informed about the dangers of having untreated high blood pressure.

Only a third of those with high blood pressure actually know they have it. Of those who do know, only a third are on treatment and only a third of those are treated to an adequate level. The overall numbers involved are scary and with the increased risk of stroke and heart attack that blood pressure can cause - the consequences can be catastrophic. Do you know what your blood pressure reading is? Do you have high blood pressure? If you don't know then do something about it today ... please !

Part of this blood pressure issue relates to our diet and our lifestyles but there could be more to it than that. Scientists are rapidly beginning to discover the deeper links to the genetic factors behind high blood pressure and are slowly fitting the bits of the big jigsaw together.

Smoking is a factor but smoking rates are dropping in western countries. Diabetes is also closely linked and there has always been a close connection between alcohol and blood pressure.

The blood pressure epidemic that we see nowadays also closely mirrors our ever expanding girth. Obesity is now so commonplace that we raise an eyebrow more at a slim person than at someone grossly overweight. Does weight loss lower blood pressure - you bet it does and the evidence is now very clear cut.

Interestingly however, it's not only high blood pressure that has been grabbing the headlines in recent times. It's alter ego - low blood pressure or hypotension - has also become an important issue for many.

Low blood pressure problems

Low blood pressure - the opposite end of the spectrum - can also be a major problem for those who suffer from it. The symptoms of low blood pressure are often vague and hard to pin down. Quite often it might take some time before you or your doctor figure out exactly what the problem is.

It can be difficult to find good quality advice about low blood pressure and even harder to sort out a workable option for low blood pressure treatment. Medication is not really suitable and sufferers are turning towards alternative therapies or other non medical approaches as they attempt to find relief from their symptoms.

Do you have blood pressure or do members of your family struggle with it? Do you even know what your own blood pressure numbers are? Please act today - read more, think it through, go get a check up done. It might just save your life.
Tags: treatment for blood pressure | treatment for blood pressure | low blood pressure treatment | low blood pressure treatment | low blood pressure problems | low blood pressure problems | lower blood pressure | lower blood pressure | high blood pressure | blood pressure

Physical Activity

Almost a million years ago, hunting and fishing were considered activities that consumed a lot of energy. To be physically active does not require one to be registered in a gym or run 5 miles on the racing track. When instructing in Huntington Beach personal training I try to teach my clients that physical activity can be considered as any kind of movement either natural or planned that a person does for a determined period of time. It increases your energy levels and it can also burn calories, depending on your weight. If you weigh 250 pounds, you will consume more energy than a person that weighs 180 pounds. Another thing that can alter the amount of calories burned while doing a physical activity is the time you spend on the movement and also, the rhythm you follow. For example, walking 5 miles per hour can burn more calories than walking 1.5 miles per hour.

In my Orange County Boot Camp I try to make people realize that physical activity can mean doing some every day movements like walking, riding a bike, and running up the stairs, even shopping and doing everyday chores in the house, especially if they are done frequently. Moderate physical activity does not increase appetite and can even result in a 98% loss of body fat when combined with a healthy diet.

Some subcategories on this field can be exercise and sports, by exercise we refer to any planned body activity done in your free time with the purpose of maintaining a fit body and healthy lifestyle. A sport is a specialized activity that requires training and is performed at different intensity levels; its main purpose is generally competitive in nature.

If you suffer from any kind of condition, such as diabetes, physical activity should be a priority in your day. It is also a great alternative for children, in the US, 25% of children are suffering from obesity and there are simple ways of dealing with this issue. If your kid does not like sports or is very lazy and in a difficult age, there are different games, including video games, you can enjoy as a family that involve physical activity. Children should get used to an active life, being physically active can help their self esteem and learning abilities as well as developing and maintaining healthy and strong muscle and bones. Enjoy the outside together as a family, you can plan an adventure in the woods, or plan a vacation that involve outdoor activities like water sports, hiking or walking around a big city.

Physical activity is not harmful in any way; the human body is made for moving, and if you don’t take it out for a walk, a dance, a spin, any kind of movement, the result could very well be a premature death. Walking at a fast pace for only 20 minutes a day can translate to losing at least 10 pounds in one year and contribute to a healthier cardiovascular lifestyle. At my Newport Beach Fitness Bootcamp I teach clients to consider physical activity a solution to fighting laziness, boredom and being out of shape. Stop with the excuses and take advantage of your time, it is never too late to make the decision of having a healthy body and heart.

So put it on your To Do list, get up, and get outdoors if you can and bring a friend, family member or loved one. Because you certainly want those you love to live a long and healthy life too.
Tags: activities | physical | appetite | appetite | energy