Fitability

Deb Bailey AFPA, MAT, CanFitPro, YMCA

Protect Your Knees

 One of the most common sites for injury is your knees. In fact, there are dozens of separate documented types of knee ailments and injuries. Chances are that you’ve fallen victim to at least one of them in the past. The knee is essential to walking, running, kicking, sitting, using the stairs and getting up from a chair. If the knee weren’t there to bend, none of these activities would be possible. However, the knee doesn’t think for itself! This hinge joint will do whatever the hip and/or the foot will tell it to do – which makes the biomechanics of your leg crucial to good knee health. So here’s a checklist of things to look at:

1.            Assess your shoes. Worn-out shoes can cause knee problems. If they are worn down at the heel, or you’ve been wearing them for quite a while, your shoes can’t absorb shock as well as they used to. The average shock absorbing capacity of athletic shoes is reduced by 50%, after you’ve logged 300 hours in them, and goes down to 20% after you’ve worn them for 500 hours. So do the math on the “real age” of your shoes – and go shopping for new ones.

2.            Ditch the high heels. I know fashion dictates that women wear these, and they do flatter our legs – but they are very harmful to our knees! In fact,

Read more: Protect Your Knees

Meditation and Fitness

Meditation is often thought of as an activity best suited to people involved in yoga, tai chi and other forms of thoughtful movement - not as a benefit for an athlete or workout enthusiast. But studies have shown time and again that there are several benefits to the wider community. They include:

Better Heart Health. Meditation can dramatically lower your risk of heart attack or stroke.

More Efficient Immune System. Meditation can improve the electrical activity in your brain and this may have a supportive effect on your immune system.

Improved Sleep Pattern. Taking time to relax thoroughly during the day can help you get a better night's sleep.

Improved Blood Pressure. Meditation can help lower blood pressure to a safer level.

Better Results in Your Workout. When we visualize ourselves doing our sport or workout with great form and "see" ourselves succeeding, we tend to get better results from our actual workouts.

It's a Great Stress Buster. When we practise mindfulness, focus on breathing and empty our minds of stressors and irritations, we wake up our parasympathetic nervous system. This system helps us to become calm, relaxed and focussed, allowing us to deal better with stress as it comes along.

It seems as if everyone I meet has been the victim of some nasty virus this winter. Colds, the flu, sinus infections - you name it, someone's had it.

 

But when you feel a bit better, you like to get back to your exercise routines right away - after all, you've wasted enough time lying in bed, right? But how much should you do? Should you push yourself to your pre-sick activity level, or take it really easy for a couple of weeks?

 

First, determine if you are still a bit sick. There's that grey area when you definitely feel a lot better that you did, but you tire easily, you're still hacking and coughing, still running a bit of a fever. This is not the time start working out again. Sure, go for a walk, do stretches, even a bit of core work, but don't drive yourself to grey-faced exhaustion and into a relapse! Your immune system is already busy healing you - don't task it with intense workouts. Take it easy until you are really totally healthy.

 

At that point, you will have lost some of your exercise capacity - up to 30% or so. The strategy here is to start at about 2/3 of your exercise intensity and volume. In other words, work out regularly, but dial it down. The most important thing to do is listen to your body, not your buddy!  S/he might want to score a new personal best this week, but your job is to stop when you have reached your limit.

 

Gradually increase your intensity and volume of exercise, monitoring your body's message to you, keep up good nutrition and hydration, and get 8 hours of good sleep each night. That's the best prescription for regaining your fitness after an illness.

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