Monthly Archives: March 2013

Summer Hydration Tips

As the warm, or just plain hot, summer months approach, many fitness enthusiasts worry about hydration.  Especially as the weather becomes friendlier, people want to exercise outdoors.  Opting for something with flavor, like a sports drink, rather than just plain water, will not only make you more likely to drink it, but can have other post-workout benefits as well.

For most people, the food we eat today has enough salt in it to keep us from facing a deficiency.  If you are training for a marathon or exercising very hard for several hours a day, you burn through more salt through sweat than the average person and will need to make a point to replenish the fluids in your body.  When we work out for extended periods of time, the important nutrients we lose are called electrolytes.  Types of electrolytes include potassium and sodium, which are essential for proper hydration, maintaining fluid balance and preventing muscle cramps.  That’s why, as an athlete, it’s so important to replace them after we sweat them out.

Plain old water isn’t loaded with electrolytes, so the best place to get them quickly is by drinking a sports drink.  While all good sports drinks contain at least 15mg of sodium, there are also sports drinks that offer various amounts of both carbohydrates and protein in addition to sodium and potassium.  These drink choices are absorbed and maintain fluid balance faster than plain water, getting your body the fluids it needs right away.  Carbohydrate-protein sports drinks have been tested and are shown to possibly hydrate better than regular, no protein, sports drinks by aiding with fluid retention.  The calories from carbohydrates in sports drinks have also been shown to improve endurance, increase energy, promote faster recovery and limit any immune system suppression that can happen after a tough workout.

When a workout leaves you wiped out, stick with your sports drink.  Energy drinks might quench your thirst and give you a big boost of energy after a tough session, but they’ll also dehydrate you while leading you to an energy crash no one enjoys.   Make sure you’re maintaining hydration all day; don’t worry about it only after you’ve worked out.  Don’t worry about getting your eight glasses of water a day, instead, drink to match your thirst and use your urine as a gauge for maintaining proper hydration.

Have questions about sports drinks or when to use them?  Email us at Info@FitNicePT.com

Strength Training Basics

The key to any strength training program is knowing what your goals are.  Strength training uses a variety of resistance techniques to achieve any number of goals, and your routine will vary greatly based on what your goals happen to be.  Weight training is a great way to burn fat and gain muscle no matter what your age, but it becomes especially important as we get older.

Muscles burn twice as many calories as fats do, so building muscle is a great way to enhance your metabolism and burn more calories every day.  When setting out to gain muscle and lose fat, it’s important to have a basic idea of what kind of routine you need to use to reach your specific goals.  There are lots of options for strength training equipment available, and you might be surprised how much you can do with just your own body weight.  Resistance bands, machines, free weights, and medicine balls are all other good choices for building muscles.  Picking a method for your training regimen has to be based on what your ultimate goal is.

If your goal is to ‘tone up’, you want to decrease body fat while simultaneously increasing muscle definition without busting out of your t-shirt.  In contract, those who want to buy bigger t-shirts for their biceps are trying to ‘bulk up’.  The average person is not interested in bulking up, lifting very heavy weights for a few reps every day, coupled with the strict diet required for reaching body building goals can really get in the way of day to day life.  That being said, everyone should lift heavy weights.

That may sound like a contradiction, but what you and I think of as heavy is a walk in the park to someone who body builds, just check out the Olympic records!  When your muscle becomes fatigued, it tears a little bit.  The body’s effort to repair these tears is what makes you sore and helps those muscle burn calories that take those unwanted pounds off.  Lifting light weights will get you results, if you have the time to do enough repetitions to fatigue your muscle.  You might have to do 100 reps with a 5lb weight to feel a little burn, but only 12 with a fifteen pound dumbbell.  Our time is valuable, so cutting down the reps by increasing the weight you lift will keep your workout moving along.

Whether we like it or not, muscle mass decreases with age.  It’s important to replace that muscle as we age regardless of what type of weight you’re lifting or how much time you spend doing it, as long as the muscles get tired.  Strength training of any type is also going to help keep bones dense, making them less likely to break and aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis.  Building muscle can also help with balance, making dangerous falls less likely to occur.

Now you have an idea of what you’re getting with a strength training routine, so go get started!  Have questions?  Want help?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats are the three macronutrients you cannot live without.  Protein is the building block for every part of your body, and helps build and maintain muscles, which are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. The amount of protein required for each person’s diet depends on the activities you engage in during the day.

A typical way to tell how much protein you need to take in each day is to multiply your body weight by 0.37 then convert to grams, so a 200 pound person would need to have 74 grams of protein per day.  Athletes who are involved in heavy physical activity, such as heavy weight lifting or endurance exercise such as long runs, should increase their protein intake to between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein per day for each kilogram of body weight.

Pregnant women also want to increase protein intake.  As the building blocks for everything in our bodies, it’s important to see how necessary protein is while a baby is developing.  Pregnant women should increase protein intake by about 10 grams per day over the recommended amount in order to help their baby’s brain, eyes and cardiovascular system work perfectly upon their arrival.

Too much protein can harm your body by stopping up kidneys and putting you at risk for dehydration.  If your caloric intake is made up of more than 30% protein, it causes a buildup of toxic ketones.  This can cause your kidneys to over work trying to clean those ketones out of your system.  As the kidneys work, they produce a byproduct called ammonia, which the liver converts to urea.  In addition to this extra strain on the kidneys and liver, too much protein can cause dehydration, especially if you are exercising frequently.

Over indulgence in protein is something to be on the lookout for if you are using a Paleo diet, being careful to keep the ratio of protein to other macro nutrients (carbohydrates and fat) appropriate.  Cross fit and Paleo go well together, but it’s important to make sure you get all the nutrition you need.  People who run lots of miles every week usually need around 3,000 calories per day, so having the grains restricted by a Paleo diet just won’t work.  Before you decide to have a Paleo diet, examine your activity level and make sure you know how much is too much.

For help planning or changing your diet, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com.

Staying Fit During Pregnancy

Your body is constantly changing during a 40 week pregnancy.  Your balance changes, your weight increases, and your bone structure can be altered too.  Working out will ease labor and delivery as well as helping you get back into pre-pregnancy clothes sooner.  Here are some ways to make sure you continue to have a healthy fitness routine for the duration of your pregnancy.

Stick with your current activities.  Be sure to stick with exercises you are comfortable with, rather than starting something new.  Gestation puts enough strain on the body all by itself, making it work even harder adjusting to a completely new mode of exercise can cause big problems.  If you’re a runner already, stick with it, but talk to your doctor about bringing mileage and intensity down.  Cross training?  Keep at that too, being careful of listening to your body and trying not to twist.  As with any exercise, make sure your physician has approved it for you.  If your doctor warns against something, or your body says ‘no’, listen up.  Pushing too hard during exercise can harm both you and your baby.

Stay off your back.  After your first trimester, the weight of the baby can slow blood flow going from the lower body back to the heart and cause damage.  The best core exercises during pregnancy will keep abs toned and strengthen pelvic floor muscles, examples are side planks and Kegels.  For more of a challenge, try planks or crunches on a stability ball.  Adding balance exercises with your core work will help prevent dangerous falls as your center of gravity changes.

Get into yoga.  Yoga will help strengthen much needed pelvic floor muscles for delivery, and breath control is a big part of pain management.  Yoga is also a good source of balance work, and the stretching component is guaranteed to help relieve some of the discomfort associated with pregnancy.

No matter what mode of exercise you choose, wear the right clothes, making sure your sports bra has enough support and you won’t overheat.  Your heart rate should stay below 140, so heart rate monitor would be a good investment.  A body temperature over 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 minutes can be harmful to the baby, and swimming is a great way to control some of these factors.  Swimming will bring your heart rate up, keep muscles working, and since you’re buoyant, there’s a lot less wear and tear on joints compared to going out for a jog.  The pool will also help maintain a safe body temperature and prevent overheating.

Keeping in shape during pregnancy also means you’ll get your pre-pregnancy body back faster after your baby is born because you will have packed on fewer pounds throughout its course.  Have questions about staying in shape during your pregnancy?  Email us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Spring Cleaning

As the weather slowly warms up, the outdoors become a manageable place to work out again, and thoughts start heading to summer.  It’s also time for Spring Cleaning.  This is the best time of year to change your fitness and nutrition routine, and here’s why:  Merriam-Webster defines spring as a time to “grow, to begin, or to come into being.”  While you’re cleaning out the closets and attic, take the chance to clean out your fridge and organize the kitchen, or to put all the clothes hanging on your treadmill in their proper place.

Cleaning out your fridge and organizing the kitchen is a key part of making a change in your diet.  Getting the processed, fatty foods out of the way makes plenty of room for nice fresh spring vegetables like asparagus and fruits such as strawberries.  With less clutter when you open the door, healthy choices will jump out at you and those salads will taste better than ever.  One big benefit of changing up the contents of your ice box is the chance to refill it with lean meats and fresh vegetables for the grill.  You can also limit the severity of typical spring allergies with your diet.  Consuming less dairy and sugar will prevent mucus from becoming thick and allowing allergens like pollen to get stuck in your body.  With all sorts of tasty ingredients handy and a nice neat kitchen, cooking a healthy meal this spring will be a piece of cake.

Spring is also a time to throw some variety into your exercise routine.  Bike trails are open and, hopefully, dry, plus the foliage hasn’t come grown in enough to make the paths overgrown.  Running trails that feature fitness stations are a great place to get pumped up during March and April.  You can head onto the beach for a session, and since the boardwalk isn’t crowded with tourists, it’s a welcoming and scenic spot for an evening walk with the family.  If you aren’t quite ready to head outside, gyms often change class schedules with the season, so you have a chance to get out and try something different that fits right into your day.  With all the healthy eating, you’ll start to lose weight and feel better, and that makes something new a lot friendlier.

Want more information and about spring cleaning your diet and exercises routine?  Ask us by sending an email to Info@FitNicePT.com!