How to Prevent Strength Training Injuries

In the Tivity Health Silver Sneaker newsletter, Lou Schuler shared that with a few simple precautions, you can get the results you want without taking unnecessary risks.

He write that the kid flying around the gym was in fantastic shape, no doubt about it. After lifting, jumping onto a stack of boxes, and running sprints while pushing a weighted sled, he barely looked like he was breathing hard. I’d guess he was 20, one-third my age, and as I watched him, all I could think of was how many parts of my body would explode if I attempted his workout.

It’s a lesson I learned the hard way—several times. All it took was a knee injury from jumping, pulled muscles from sprints, an injured elbow from lifting fast, and worst of all, a back injury from the time I continued lifting heavy weights even though I knew something was off that day.

You can learn from my mistakes, and from the advice of my friend Chad Waterbury, D.P.T., a physical therapist and veteran personal trainer based in Santa Monica, California.

“Any injury is avoidable,” Waterbury says. The trick, as I know all too well, is to understand what not to do before you do it.

Start by checking with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program. Then, follow these tips to ensure that avoidable injuries are actually avoided.

Watch Your Back and Shoulders

These are your two most vulnerable areas, Waterbury says, but for different reasons.

Lower-back injuries often arise from a lack of strength in the muscles of your hips and pelvis. “An older person might do the leg press to strengthen the glutes,” he says. But that movement only develops one function of the muscles: straightening your hips when they’re bent. The glutes also are responsible for pulling your legs away from your torso and outwardly rotating your thigh bone.

The best exercise for those functions, Waterbury says, is the side step with a miniband. Put the band around your thighs, just above your knees, and take long steps to the side. He recommends doing band walks for a minute or two twice per day, making sure to do the same number of steps in each direction.

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Hints for Exercising in the Winter

College of DuPage Nursing Student Julia Walczak shared that whether you are a seasoned athlete or a busy adult trying to fit a bit of exercise in your hectic lifestyle, learning how to consistently exercise during these cold winter months is a good idea to get you out there and moving while making sure you don’t freeze.

Performing the same exercise during the winter as that performed during warmer months may actually burn more fat, according to recent research by Dr. Shephard at the University of Toronto’s Medical School. Although it takes about 10 days to acclimate to the cold weather, according to Dr. Shephard, so don’t rush into it too quickly!

 “The 2008 Scottish Health Survey,”a government survey done by the Scottish Government that had supported the hypothesis for an increased mental and emotional well-being being associated with exercising outside found that  running outside is more beneficial to mental and emotional well being than indoor running on a treadmill.

A few tips for exercising in the cold:

  1. Dress right! – Wearing layers is the most important way to control your warmth, since you can always remove any extras.

Recommended garments include:

  • Running tights
  • A long sleeve base layer shirt
  • Warm socks – either wool or synthetic
  • A windproof jacket and waterproof pants
  • Gloves/Mittens
  • Either a hat or headband to cover your ears
  • A scarf or mask to cover your face.

In addition to these garments, any number of layers can be added such as, sweaters, heavier weight shirts and pants until you feel comfortable exercising outside. The goal is to dress warm enough to feel slightly cold when you step outside, so you are comfortable during exercise; if you are too warm you can simply remove layers off to prevent excessive sweating.

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Tender Exercises for Arthritis Sufferers

Roger Sims from www.locostmedicalsupply.com shares that arthritis sufferers experience joint pain that can make some physical movements difficult. You may worry that exercising with arthritis will only intensify your pain and possibly cause more joint damage.

Research shows that staying active and engaging in exercise can be helpful for maintaining mobility and managing pain. During exercise, there may be some initial mild pain that will recede as you start to improve your muscle strength, joint lubrication, circulation, and range of motion.

If you have arthritis and plan to use exercise as part of your wellness plan, participate in activities that will still be gentle on your joints.

As you use exercise to manage arthritis, start with the more gentle options and increase your activity over time to check your limits. If you experience moderate or severe pain, take a break from exercise and possibly consult with your doctor.

This guide highlights some of the best exercises for arthritis sufferers.

Flexibility Exercises

Exercises for flexibility allow arthritis sufferers to maintain or extend their range of motion. These gentle stretching movements can help ensure your joints will extend through their full motion. Stretching also helps to keep joints lubricated, which further enhances your range of motion.

Flexibility exercises are recommended for daily use. If you are using an exercise routine, stretching is a necessary warm-up.

During a stretching session, start with dynamic or active movements. Dynamic movements mimic those in particular sports activities. For example, if you intend to go running, practice some lunging movements as part of your warm-up.

Use gentle and rhythmic movements as part of a dynamic warm-up stretching session. These dynamic movements will prepare the body for activity by increasing blood flow and muscle temperature. Practice stretch and hold movements only after an initial five-to-ten-minute active warm-up.

Stretching at the end of an exercise session will also be helpful for flexibility. During this time, your muscles are still actively ready for this type of motion.

One great flexibility exercise is yoga. This is slow and gentle. It can help to increase your range of motion and does not place much stress or pressure on your joints. You may also find it emotionally relaxing, which also provides great body benefits. Read more

5 Clever Exercises to Do from Your Wheelchair

Roger Sims from www.locostmedicalsupply.com shares that continuing to exercise into your senior years can be a challenge, as the aging process can naturally make you less energetic and less mobile. This is particularly true for wheelchair users, as this further limits your options for exercise and other physical activities.

However, this does not mean you must resign yourself to a sedentary lifestyle, as there are many exercises that are both beneficial for your health and suitable for those with impaired mobility.

The benefits of staying active into your senior years are enormous, helping to combat many medical conditions and diseases, such as muscle wasting, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. Staying as fit as possible is also beneficial for improving mental health and maintaining independence, as well as boosting your immune system, vitality, and energy levels.

Regular exercise can improve your quality of life in many ways, keeping you healthier, happier, and more energetic well into your later years. Although wheelchair users have fewer opportunities for participating in physical activity, there are several ways to overcome the hurdle of limited mobility and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Mobility equipment can be of great use to wheelchair users with some leg function, as it can make walking short distances and performing exercises from a standing position possible. However, there are also many highly effective exercises that can be performed from a seated position.

Here are five clever exercises to do from your wheelchair, which can all be of great help in strengthening your body and boosting your health.

Seated Cardio Workout

Cardio is a great exercise for burning calories and getting the blood pumping, promoting a healthy cardiovascular system, and helping to prevent illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. You may think that an effective cardio workout requires a high level of mobility, but there are plenty of ways to raise your heart rate from a seated position.

Experiment with exercises such as “picking fruit,” in which you raise alternating arms one at a time over your head, “chair marching,” where you raise one arm in time with the opposite leg before switching sides, as though you were marching in place, and rowing motions.

These are all great actions for an effective cardiovascular exercise routine and should be performed daily. Starting off small by dedicating ten minutes each day to cardio is a great way to begin, and you can increase the time you spend doing it as your fitness grows.

There are several excellent seated exercise videos available online which are easy to follow, and developed by personal trainers to deliver the best and most effective cardio workout from a seated position. Read more

How to make a morning workout routine a reality

A morning workout routine seem like an obvious answer, but how do you actually, you know, do it?

Yes, you can turn yourself into an early riser. But not overnight.

“It’s possible, but you have to adjust gradually,” says Dianne Augelli, a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

“The body can take an hour or less of (sleep schedule) change,” Augelli says. If you normally go to sleep at midnight and get up at 8 a.m., you will not feel rested if you suddenly switch your bedtime to 9 p.m. and get up at 5 a.m. (The American Sleep Association recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults.)

You probably won’t be able to make yourself go to sleep that early anyway, Augelli says. “You can’t force yourself to fall asleep. Sleep doesn’t work that way. But you can begrudgingly force yourself to wake up,” she says.

That would mean you might fall asleep at midnight and get up at 5 a.m., and that’s no good. In fact, mortality increases when we habitually get less than six hours a night, Augelli says.

Instead, change your sleep schedule by 30 minutes at a time, Augelli says. Start going to sleep at 11:30 p.m. and getting up at 7:30 a.m. Do that for about a week and then roll back another 30 minutes. Do that for about a week and then roll back yet another 30 minutes. Repeat until you land at your desired wake-up time without needing an afternoon nap that day.

Weekend cycles should stay fairly close — within an hour or two — to the weekday cycle: “Our bodies don’t know what a weekend is. It’s social construct, not a biological one,” Augelli says.

She has some advice for getting to bed earlier — and sleeping better:

• Keep the bedroom cool and dark.

• No coffee within eight hours of bedtime.

• No alcohol within a couple of hours of bedtime. Alcohol puts us to sleep faster but then messes with our “sleep architecture,” reducing or even preventing the deepest, most restorative types of sleep. It also may increase the need to use the bathroom throughout the night.

• No large meals within two or three hours of bedtime.

• Shower before bed to cool the body.

• No screen time of any kind within one or two hours of bedtime.

• No working, reading or emailing within an hour of bedtime.

• Turn on bright lights in the morning right as you wake up.

Even if you wake up rested, how do you get motivated to go to a class or out for a run?

Do something you enjoy: Melissa Westman-Cherry, a Washington resident and daily gymgoer, says that when she started working out a little over a decade ago, she chose evening Zumba classes; she needed a class that felt playful in addition to being physically strenuous.

“It was a really fun class, and it got me into a routine,” she says. These days, when she’s not in class, she enjoys catching up on TV shows when on the treadmill. (Right now, she’s serial-watching “Parenthood.”)

• Work up to it: It wasn’t until Westman-Cherry, 46, had established a consistent workout habit that she switched her workouts from evenings to mornings (when her daughter was born).

“I think it would be hard to go from not working out at all to working out at 5 in the morning every day,” she says. Now she gets up at 4:40 a.m. every day and is at the gym by 5 a.m. Her routine is so set that her dogs don’t even get out of bed when she leaves before sunrise. They know to wait until 7 a.m. for their walk.

• Remove the obstacles: Westman-Cherry doesn’t necessarily consider herself a morning person, but getting her workout done early is the only way to fit it in. She makes sure she sets out her clothes, water and car keys the night before.

“Plus, there’s a sense of pride in having accomplished so much so early in the morning,” she says.

• Look for outside motivation: Accountability and peer support can also help, says Leslie Swift, 48, a daily exerciser in the Washington area.

“If other people can get themselves out of bed, then so can I,” says Swift, who counts among her exercise preferences spinning and boot camp.

Her other motivators: That first delicious, energizing cup of coffee with just enough milk to give her fuel for the workout, and the high she feels during and after a hard workout.

Becky Schechter, a 38-year-old D.C. resident and working mom with two young children, says she does best when someone else designs her strength-training routine, which is why she does a morning boot camp twice a week when she’s not running.

That said, she always makes sure she has a backup plan if it rains: Old boot camp routines she can do in the comfort of her home.

• Make consistency a priority: “Exercise has to become a part of your lifestyle the same way that brushing your teeth is a daily routine,” says Art Weltman, professor and chairman of the department of kinesiology at the University of Virginia.

Preventing diabetes and osteoporosis, maintaining strength and a healthy weight, improving mood and mental wellness — these benefits occur when we exercise regularly, Weltman says.

Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day five times a week. This is better than 150 minutes on the weekends to prevent injuries and feed the brain natural antidepressants as regularly as possible. Can’t string together 30 minutes at a time? Split it up.

“You wouldn’t dream of walking out the door without brushing your teeth,” Weltman says. “We need to make physical activity just as natural a part of our day.”

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Do this, not that when exercising

Joshua Steckler, owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition shared in the Daily Herlad Newspaper that any exercise is better than no exercise, but if you’re taking the time to work out, make sure you’re choosing exercises that will truly improve your health and fitness.

Below are some exercises that are too commonly performed in hopes of measurable results, but often lead to injuries or disappointment. A better alternative is given for each exercise.

Plank vs. crunch

The crunch with hands behind the head is a staple exercise in many people’s abdominal routine, but there are just so many better options out there.

Lying on the floor and pulling the head forward while rounding the torso a few degrees may create quite a muscle burn if done long enough, but it does not strengthen the core as many may think.

Crunches performed incorrectly can actually strain the neck and accentuate poor posture.

Instead of the crunch, try any version of the plank. Read more

Working out at home

Jennifer Dawson, the Content Manager for a small health and wellness site, shared with Healthy Lombard that when you come home after a long day at work, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise when the couch looks so comfy. But there are so many health issues stemming from a sedentary lifestyle, such as increasing the risk for certain cancers and contributing to anxiety and depression. This is why it is all the more important to develop a home fitness routine that will motivate you to be aware of your health in a fun way.

In order to inspire yourself to work out at home, the key is to make it an enjoyable activity rather than something that you dread. The truth is, you are the only one who has power over how you look and feel. Instead of spending money on an expensive gym membership, become your own personal trainer by adopting these at-home fitness techniques.

Add Fitness to Your Everyday Chores

Besides doing an at-home workout routine like P90X, you can easily add simple workouts to common activities that you already do around the house each and every day. No matter what you’re doing, you can turn any household chore into an opportunity to exercise. Washing the dishes? Do some calf raises while scrubbing in the sink. Loading the laundry? Do standing pushups against the machine in between armfuls.

Another easy way to add exercising to your routine is to remember to mix relaxation with fitness. If you plan on watching television for a half an hour, make sure you get up after the show has ended and do some lunges or jumping jacks. Treat it like a rewards system for yourself. Before long, these tiny exercises will add up to make you more physically fit without disrupting the at-home routine that you’re already used to.

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A Workout that you will enjoy doing!

Health concept

Imagine a world in which you learn something is good for you and immediately find the motivation to follow through with it. Say, exercise. What a dream, right? No one’s disputing the fact that regular exercise leads to healthier bodies and happier minds. However, so many of us still find ourselves in and out of workout routines, skipping our morning run for a few extra minutes of shut-eye, and feeling frustrated when we realize we’re back where we started, huffing and puffing after a few weeks away from the gym.

 

So, how do we get out of this start-and-stop rut? A recent study at Iowa State University shows that people are more likely to continue exercising if there is something intrinsically rewarding about the process. This could be something physiological, like the endorphin rush, or it could be the quality time you spend with a friend in the same workout class as you. It takes time for your mind to recognize this reward, but once you’ve created a habit of working out, you won’t have to think about whether or not to work out—you’ll simply prefer to do so.

 

In starting a workout routine, it’s important to find something you’ll enjoy that is also beneficial to your body and mind. A good place to start is cycling. (Full disclosure: cycling has always been one of my favorite workouts because you can sit, instead of standing like you do when running. Whatever gets you out the door, right?) Cycling has a number of benefits, including:

 

  • It’s low impact. You’re not pounding the pavement, and thus, are not stressing out your bones.
  • It’s fun. Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? After you crashed into the bushes a couple of times and finally went soaring? The feeling of cycling, whether indoors or outdoors, resurrects that elation you felt the first time your dad let go of the handlebars.
  • You’ll have increased cardiovascular fitness and muscle flexibility with regular cycling. Sign me up.
  • Cycling regularly will improve your posture. When you cycle, you’re working out all the major muscles in your body, including those core muscles that hold up your spine. You probably won’t even notice you’re doing it.
  • Your bones will grow stronger. The prevalence of osteoporosis is on the rise, as people are continuing to live longer. Consider how grateful you’ll be when you know you’ve done what you can do prevent this.
  • People who cycle regularly have lower levels of fat. Need I say more?
  • Regular cycling can lead to decreased levels of anxiety and depression. Over and over studies have proved that people feel better when they’re exercising. It’s the least you can do to improve your mental health.

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Top 5 Exercises to Increase Height For Kids

Gregory Brown, a chief editor at ConstructMuscles.com, shared that if you have a child, you need to prioritize for him to grow healthy and strong. What we want for the child is to start making fitness a habit. We need to teach them that sleep is important, eating is the way to go and grow, and exercising is just as fun as playing with your friends. We can always teach kids how to live in the fitness world by having fun and breaking a sweat.

It is a saying that when you put yourself in physical stress all the time while you are young, your growth spurt will lessen. It is time to put that nonsense to rest. We are going to show you Exercises that will allow your kids to get taller, and make them grow up healthier each day. We are going to take it easy, and see how the children will have fun while getting their fitness fix.

Exercises For Kids

What we are going to see on this article are exercises that you can do anywhere and anytime. They are functional movements that can be done under time-controlled pace. Think about as a High Intensity Interval Training without the “High Intensity.” What we will focus on is for the children to have fun, and not make them feel groggy or tired. The youth are always full of energy, and they can do this every single day before or after they go to school.

  1. Jumping Jacks

In any fitness center you go to, you barely see people do the Jumping Jacks. It is one great warm-up movement to get your blood running about. For Kids, it is all about stretching their arms, legs, and spine.

  • To perform this, jump and spread your limbs wide open, but not sudden to avoid any injuries.
  • You can clap at the top of your head, or just fully stretch out your arms above your head.
  • While the limbs are spread out, the legs should be beyond hip-width apart.
  • Then, back to standing tall.

It is such an easy warm-up, yet it is fun to do for kids. You don’t need any equipment, but a decent amount of space for you and your kid to move around.

 

  1. Hanging on The Playground Bars

It is also a great chance for you and your young one to have a bonding session. Just guide your child through the Jungle Gym bars. The reason for them to do it, is to have the same purpose of stretching their limbs and spine. You don’t need to do it on a daily basis. Just be cautious of your child’s surroundings to avoid hurting the others. It is one of those exercises that you can do on a DIY Pull-Up Bar if you have one at home.

 

  1. Squat Jumps

Another functional movement that is applicable to any demographic available. Tell your child or your younger sibling that even strong athletes do it to motivate them to exercise with you. Studies show that, jumping can boost your child’s growth and bones. It is the reason that some kids want to play basketball, so that they can grow as tall as the professionals that we see on TV.

  • Just tell them squat down, like how they would sit on a chair,
  • Then, jump as high as you can and repeat the process.

Tip: add a game to it such as, “

 

4. Stretching Movements

When you get to wake your kid up in the morning, try to ask them nicely to try and reach their toes. It will lengthen their hamstring muscles, and get a good stretch to their healthy spine. It is a good practice to get their mobility done. Then, after they try to reach for their toes, make them reach for the ceiling and tell them to reach for the sky.

Since there isn’t much movements involved besides stretching, accompany them while you are at it. On the first days, they might not be ecstatic to do it, until they get curious and do it with you.

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How to Prevent Strength Training Injuries

Lou Schuler wrote for Tivity Health’s Silver Sneakers  shares the following insightful story:

The kid flying around the gym was in fantastic shape, no doubt about it. After lifting, jumping onto a stack of boxes, and running sprints while pushing a weighted sled, he barely looked like he was breathing hard. I’d guess he was 20, one-third my age, and as I watched him, all I could think of was how many parts of my body would explode if I attempted his workout.

It’s a lesson I learned the hard way—several times. All it took was a knee injury from jumping, pulled muscles from sprints, an injured elbow from lifting fast, and worst of all, a back injury from the time I continued lifting heavy weights even though I knew something was off that day.

You can learn from my mistakes, and from the advice of my friend Chad Waterbury, D.P.T., a physical therapist and veteran personal trainer based in Santa Monica, California.

“Any injury is avoidable,” Waterbury says. The trick, as I know all too well, is to understand what not to do before you do it.

Start by checking with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program. Then, follow these tips to ensure that avoidable injuries are actually avoided. Read more