Tag: active

Is your warm-up really warming you up?

Have you had to miss a workout due to an injury? Are you one of those people that don’t really warm-up before training or competition? Your warm-up or lack there of, could be the root of the problem.

Warming up is usually the first to go when an athlete or client is short on workout time and when I do hear of a warm-up it usually consists of sitting on an upright bike followed by static stretching. Most individual and team sports have updated their workout routines but many have continued to keep the outdated warm-up method of a linear jog combined with some static stretching on the field followed by a few drills before competition or practice. This “typical” warm-up does not adequately prepare athletes for the demands placed upon them in the session. Most injuries that occur at the beginning of a competition or training session are largely due to inadequate preparation for the activity. It is time for you to switch to a full body dynamic warm-up. A solid dynamic warm-up will help your muscles prepare for a workout, reduce your risk of injury, and increase your heart rate. The dynamic warm-up coordinates all of your moving parts- muscles, ligaments, and joints by challenging your flexibility, mobility, strength and stability all at once. Static stretching alone will not prepare the muscle and connective tissue for the active contraction and relaxation process that will occur during a dynamic sport or training session.

The Goals of a Dynamic Warm-up:

  • Increase core temperature.
  • Increase heart rate and blood flow to skeletal tissue which improves the efficiency of oxygen uptake and transport, as well as waist removal.
  • Increase activation of the central nervous system, which increases co-ordination, skill accuracy and reaction time.
  • Increase the elasticity of muscles and connective tissue, which results in fewer injuries.
  • Open up and lubricate your joints such as in the hips and spine.
  • Reinforce great posture.

This injury prevention warm-up can be used by athletes before they compete in any dynamic sport or even be used as a warm-up for your clients before they start a training session. The “typical” jog or spin on the bike is replaced with a more dynamic series of running drills or exercises that include multiple planes of movement to ensure a complete warm-up is achieved. Static stretching can improve joint range of motion and muscular relaxation and will help with recovery by assisting in waist removal. However, I personally choose to apply it during the cool down or after competition is finished. I believe the warm-up should have the athlete physically and mentally prepared to perform the dynamic actions of the activity at maximal intensity if required.

Examples of Dynamic Exercises:

  • Running Forward
  • Running Backwards
  • High Knee drills
  • Butt Kickers
  • Side Shuffle
  • Crossovers
  • Skips
  • Lunges with rotation

This active warm-up can take between 5 to 10 minutes. The key is to make the dynamic portion of the warm-up progressive and ensure the body is taken through the same ranges of motion that will be required in their training or game situation. Contact any of the personal trainers at the Seattle Athletic club to put together a warm-up routine that will help keep you injury free this year. For more information on developing your workouts to include a proper warm-up, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Jason Anderson.

Exercise and Your Brain

Muscles? Check! Heart? Check! Weight loss? Check! Brain? The shaking in our muscles, pounding in our heart and sweat on our towels make it clear that our strength, cardiovascular health and body composition are positively influenced by exercise. But what does brain health have to do with it? Although it may seem counter intuitive, exercise is a tremendous contributor to cognitive health. In a study by Wueve and others (2004) spanning from 1986 to 2003, 18,766 women reported leisure-time activity and took a baseline cognitive assessment in middle age and a final assessment at ages 70-81. Women who reported more physical activity throughout the years of observation scored significantly better on tests indicating cognitive health and the degree of cognitive decline. Women walking at an easy pace for just 15 minutes per day showed significantly better performance. Think about this! Just walking the equivalent of about half a mile in 15 minutes a day seems to be enough to change cognitive health over a lifetime! In fact, women who walked for 1.5 hours per week versus 38 minutes per week exhibited cognitive performance similar to women one and a half years younger. It is as if exercise can turn back the clock on cognitive aging!

A randomized controlled study by Colcombe and others (2006) sheds some light on to why this effect could be occurring. Older individuals who participated in three one hour sessions of moderate aerobic exercise per week for three months showed a significant increase in the size of their brain compared to older adults who only did stretching and toning exercise in that time. The study also found a significant decrease in brain volume as a function of aging and decreases in brain size are often found in conjunction with age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. This finding suggests that exercises’ influence on cognitive performance is based on being able to trigger brain growth. There are several ways that exercise can directly affect brain health, especially by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain during and as a long term result of exercise. Whatever the physiological basis for the effect of exercise on cognitive health, there is plenty of convincing evidence to suggest that exercise plays a pivotal role.

What is most amazing about the finding that 15 minutes of easy pace walking can increase cognitive health in older age is the incredibly short duration and low intensity of the exercise. Obviously, this does not provide an excuse to replace all your training with a slow walk at lunch time! Instead, it speaks to the incredible power of exercise to unlock great potential in every body. It is also a sobering reminder of the danger of giving in to a sedentary lifestyle. For many in our society, a whole day can go by with little more than walking from the car to a chair and before we know it we have missed our opportunity to bolster our cognitive health in such a simple way. Next time you consider skipping a workout or just sitting around, consider what your cognitive health means to you. Working, communicating with loved ones and enjoying a great book all hinge on cognitive performance; certainly a bit of activity is a small price. Try to build activity into your lifestyle; take the stairs instead of the elevator, park on the far end of the lot or take transit instead of driving. Also remember that all the Fitness staff members are here to help if you have any questions or are looking for a creative alternative to walking outside on a rainy day. Whatever you do to stay active, just make sure you can put a “Check!” next to preserving your brain health.

For information on how to balance physical training with mental training, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Hunter Spencer.

Family Time: Keeping Your Family Healthy and Active

As summer approaches and the kids are out of school it’s the perfect time to get your family involved in quality time together. One of the best and most fun ways to do this is through family workouts. There are plenty of ways to achieve this in and out of the club. If it’s a sunny Tuesday evening and everyone is home why not go run short hill repeats, or find some good stairs somewhere and encourage everyone to run/walk/jump them.

If staying in the yard is more your style there are plenty of ways to get the family involved in workouts that seem more like play. Race each other by long jumping across the lawn. Wheelbarrow teams make a great workout without your kids even knowing that their abs, arms, and back are getting worked. Grab a medicine ball at your local sports store and do some throws, jumps, squats etc. as a family.

If you feel like getting more structure and coming into the gym it’s a perfect time to get your kids comfortable with using the machines and basic equipment. You can always sign the whole family up for a few training sessions so that you can help each other exercise safe and effectively in and out of the gym.

It’s great for everyone to be coached by a professional and to cheer one another on through workouts. It makes for some good conversation before and after workouts! Plus your kids might finally be impressed with what you can do… maybe.

Setting a standard day and time is a great idea but if that’s too structured take advantage when you can. By working out as a family your kids learn by example, you spend time together being healthy and interacting, you encourage one another, your kids learn the great feeling of physical achievement, and most of all learning self confidence through physical activity will transfer over to other areas of life. The Seattle sun is sparse; enjoy it with everyone doing things that make you feel good about yourselves!