Stretching FAQs

This month I wanted to supply you with answers to questions I’m often asked on the topic of stretching. The American College of Sports Medicine holds the following positions on this often lengthy topic. View the complete article from the link below.

How long should a stretch be held?

Holding a stretch for 10-30 seconds at the point of tightness or slight discomfort enhances joint range of motion, with little apparent benefit resulting from longer durations. Older persons may realize greater improvements in range of motion with longer durations (30-60 seconds) of stretching. A 20%-75% maximum contraction held for 3-6 seconds followed by 10- to 30-seconds assisted stretch is recommended for PNF techniques (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation).

How many repetitions of stretching exercises are needed?

Repeating each flexibility exercise two to four times is effective, with enhancement of joint range of motion occurring during 3-12 weeks. The goal is to attain 60 seconds of total stretching time per flexibility exercise by adjusting duration and repetitions according to individual needs. For example, 60 seconds of stretch time can be met by two 30-seconds stretches or four 15-seconds stretches.

How often should stretching exercise be performed?

Performing flexibility exercises ≥2-3 days week is effective, but greater gains in joint range of motion are accrued with daily flexibility exercise.

https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/07000/Quantity_and_Quality_of_Exercise_for_Developing.26.aspx

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Sedentary, 65 and older? It’s never too late to start a physical activity program!

Over the age of 65, and sedentary, but want to start a structured physical activity program? Here are a few steps to safely begin a program and incorporate fitness into your life.

  1. Educate yourself on the weekly amount of structured activity needed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention individuals 65 and older that are in good health and have no limiting health conditions should strive for 150 minutes of aerobic (also known as cardio) activity per week as well as two total-body strength workouts. Aerobic activity needs to be performed at a moderate intensity. For example, on a scale from 1 to 5 – one being the feeling of lounging around the house and five being out of breath – you need to be working at a level 3, possibly a 4. A total body (legs, back, chest, abs, arms) workout should be performed at least two times a week. These basics requirements are for those active older adults that want to maintain their health, weight and fitness level. If you are want to achieve greater goals (improved health, weight loss, train for an event) then up to 300 minutes a week of aerobic activity and possibly an additional day of strength training is required. Fortunately, your aerobic activity doesn’t have to be in 60 minutes increments. Ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there can make your aerobic activity cumulative. Strive to meet the basic recommendations for structured activity as described above. This is your first step in starting a physical activity program.
  2. Find an activity, or two, that you enjoy. Does your gym, health club, fitness or community center offer group fitness classes? What about local churches or social clubs? SilverSneakers® programming is offered nationwide and can be found at most of these establishments. Look into class schedules to determine what works best for you. What about participating in a sport such as swimming or golfing? This may be the time to start a private lesson or join a league. Perhaps meeting a friend for a walk, jog or hike is more appealing. Ask your children or grandchildren about gaming systems such as the Wii, XBox or Playstation. These devices, as well as good old fashioned exercise DVDs, will allow you to workout in the comfort of your own home and for much less than a gym membership .  If all else fails, seek out a reputable and certified personal trainer for guidance. By opening your mind to what is available and identifying an activity (or two) that you enjoy, you’re more likely to exercise regularly.
  3. On a weekly basis, schedule and complete your activities. Just as you would schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist, schedule your activities. Write it on your calendar or in your daily planner. Use an app if you are tech saavy. Be specific. For example, “2PM on Sunday. I will walk 3 miles outside.” or “Monday at 11:30AM I will attend the group strength training class at the community center with my friend, Bob.” Scheduling and completing your activities will ensure your long term success.
  4. Make adaptions based on your limitations. With any new activity, the body will need time to adapt. Learn to make adaptations for orthopedic or medical conditions (this is where a personal trainer can be helpful). Take things slowly to prevent injuries. Modify the exercise to fit your abilities. If you have been sedentary, 150 minutes of weekly aerobic training might be unrealistic. Instead, start with 15-20 minutes, three times a week. After one or two weeks, progress the duration or frequency of the activity. Continue in this manner until your body can handle the increased activity level. Making adaptations will ensure that your body responds properly to the increased activity level and help prevent injuries.

Even if you are sedentary and 65 years or older, it is never too late to start a physical activity program. The body has a unique ability to respond to exercise regardless of its age. Delaying or preventing disease, improving mood, managing stress, and pain management are all benefits of regular exercise. Use these steps to incorporate fitness into your life and you will soon be able to achieve the physical results and health benefits you’ve always wanted.

Back in the day, were you a weirdo?

I thought this headline might catch your attention!

5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2.  If these numbers and distances are familiar, you might be runner! If not, you may still enjoy this creative video exploring the history of running and why back in the day, it seemed to be for weirdos!

Copyright VOX 2016

What Your Recovery Heart Rate Can Tell You!

Image result for heart rate

What is your recovery heart rate?

It is the difference between your exercise heart rate and 1-minute of rest. Example: 180 (peak exercise heart rate) – 130 (heart rate after 1-minute of rest) = 50 bpm (beats per minute) difference

What can it tell me?

Your recovery heart rate is a way to determine your physical state. The recovery number (which is the difference between your exercise heart rate and 1-minute of rest) correlates to your cardio (aerobic) fitness level; the higher the number, the better. If the number is low (20 beats or less) it is a sign that you are over-training (incomplete recovery) or the body is compromised (illness, stress). In extreme cases, it can even suggest a heart condition*.

What do I do with this “recovery heart rate” information?

Apply it to your workouts! Take your recovery heart rate after your initial warm-up and prior to your workout.  Determine if it is at or better than 20 beats per minute (bpm). If at or better, continue with your workout, but, if it’s 19 bpm or less, your body might be telling you it’s overtrained or comprimised.  If that’s the case, consider an easier workout or perhaps a day off. Regularly monitor your recovery heart rate and notice trends.

How do I determine my recovery heart rate?

Use your pre-workout warm-up (make sure it’s high intensity physical movement that corresponds to your fitness level) to elevate your heart rate. At the very least, move vigorously for one full minute! Note your peak (A) heart rate—-highest heart rate obtained during a single workout session—-during this time. Quickly move into seated and relaxed position. Record your heart rate after relaxing for one full minute (B).

Subtract your 1-minute recovery heart rate (B) from your peak heart rate (A). The difference is your recovery heart rate (see above). Determine your physical state by using the guidelines below.

< 10 bpm difference = Extreme caution

11-20 bpm difference = Low

21-40 bpm difference = Good

41-50 bpm difference = Excellent

> 50 bpm difference = Fit athlete

 

Whats the best way to take my heart rate?

You can take you heart rate manually by counting pulses at your carotid artery (neck), radial artery (wrist) or your heart. For a better reading, count for the full 60-seconds and apply light pressure at the artery. You can also take advantage of today’s technology. Using a heart rate sensor such as the Apple Watch, Garmin or Heart Zones Blink, makes heart rate readings easy and accurate!

* A low recovery heart rate doesn’t mean you have a heart condition. You would have to monitor this over time and consider all factors. Please discuss any irregularities with your physician.

 

 

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5-minutes of movement every hour has its benefits!

For those individuals that are sedentary, even low-intensity movement interruptions––five minutes every hour––can improve metabolic conditions.

The American Council on Exercise along with a team of researchers in the High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program at Western State Colorado University investigated the optimal frequency, intensity and time for reducing sedentary behavior to improve cardiometabolic health in middle-age and older adults.

Through this study we learn that improvements in one’s HDL, triglycerides and blood glucose can occur by simply moving, at a minimal intensity level, for five minutes every hour. In fact, duration and frequency proved more important than an increase in movement intensity.

Of course, these study results do not mean that regular, structured exercise is unimportant in the quest for better health. Rather, the focus should be placed on both regular exercise and reduced sitting time.

View the study’s results here.

Exercise Induced Inflammation

Read more about exercise induced inflammation and how to reduce it from the Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Balancing-Exercise-Induced-Inflammation

Foam Rolling Exercise Handout

Here’s a great handout that you can use for your regular foam rolling!