One of the things that is so interesting about writing this blog, is researching the research on all things health and fitness! – some of these findings make their way to the general media but many do not – and the ones that do are more often than not, the sensationalist or titillating ones!
I think it is important to not take a lot of these findings as gospel – the chances are that the next piece of research will contradict the one previously, this can be both confusing and frustrating for a lot of people – myself included!
My advice generally is to take on board what you are reading, but also be aware of your own personal reactions to things, or situations – the fact is we are all different and what applies to one may not apply to another – so…I thought I would do a series of blogs on the most commonly asked Fitness & Health questions – and aim to provide a suitable answer to them..
so here goes…
- Is there a better time of the day to work out, morning, daytime or evening..and why?!...
Quick Answer: It depends! Some research says that the morning is a better time due to depleted carbohydrate stocks meaning that the body will more readily turn to the fat cells for energy, but research also shows that humans tend to be strongest in the late afternoon, which may also lead to a better workout.
The answer for you will depend on your individual body clock, whether you are a ‘morning’ person or not. If you are, there will be good benefits to an early training session – it will kickstart your metabolism, set you up for the day – it frees up your mind as well as it is out of the way and you won’t get sidetracked during the day and leaves your evening free to pursue other activities, plus if you’re a gym goer, the mornings tend to be quieter so you get outta there sooner! It is mood enhancing to help you get through the day in a more positive mood, making you more productive at work. You may want to have a small snack to avoid working out on an empty stomach, and make sure you are properly warmed up muscle wise…
So for many, the morning would really be the better time – however, if you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning (like me), this may just not be an option. You will achieve best results by working out at a time that best suits your own body clock, timetable, work situation etc, be consistent in your workouts, but also try to mix up your times so the body does not adapt to the same routine…
- What are shin splints and how can I avoid them or fix them?…
OK, I get these, as do a lot of people, especially if you’re a runner/jogger, though I often get them even from walking too fast!.
The medical term is ‘medial tibial stress syndrome’, but the actual cause is not known 100%. With shin splints you get an often sharp pain along the shin bone (the fibula and tibia), mainly on the inner side – it may be tender and show a little redness or slight inflammation where the muscles and tendons are pulling away at the tibial lining.
You generally get them if ..
– you increase the intensity of your leg workout too quickly, this implies that the muscles and tendons attaching muscle to the shin bone may get aggravated, by running, jogging etc and become inflammed,
– the foot repeatedly comes down hard to the ground during high impact exercise.
– Over-training, running on uneven ground,
– wearing poorly fitted shoes,
– bad running or walking technique may also be a factor
– flat feet (or pronated feet, i.e ones that roll outward)
SO what can you do???
I would use either Devils Claw, a great natural anti-inflammatory and consider taking a calcium supplement (see your naturopath here for best advice) – also magnesium can assist in relief of cramping muscles and the omega 3 also have anti- inflammatory properties, otherwise rest rest rest!!
If the problem is pronated feet I would look at getting proper inner soles fitted and check out your running style, see if you can adapt it to a better position, this may take time to do, but will be effective.
- Won’t adding too much protein to my diet just make me fat?..
Quick Answer: NO! Your diet should generally consist always of carbs, protein and fats, the ratio being approx. 45 30 25, or 40 30 30, again it depends – but, protein is ESSENTIAL, on many levels. I was surprised taking IsoWhey around Gymnasiums in Sydney to trial it and finding a lot of women resistant to trying it as they felt it would increase their weight. This is a mis-conception! If muscle gain is your goal, protein will help repair the damaged muscles from a workout as they grow, but by developing lean muscle you also burn more fat, beneficial for both weight loss AND getting that toned body. Go for a well balanced diet, eating too many carbs, especially bad ones like potatoes, white bread, rice and pasta, will gain you weight particularly with little exercise, but good carbs, like veggies are great, plus you need carbs for energy – especially when working out!
- What makes that ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ sound in my knee (or other joints)?!
Again, a really common problem, or situation. But, there is not just one possible answer! Generally, if there is no pain associated with the clicking sound, you should be ok – it may be due to soft tissue in the knee joint or cap (patella) – if the patella is slightly out of alignment with either the femur (upper leg bone, or tibia, lower leg – or in fact associated tendons) it may rub on these other tissues, causing a sound, it may be related to a tendon ‘snapping’ around a joint, or tightening ligaments as a joint moves. You may have some cartilage loss resulting in rough surfaces, again with movement causing ligaments to cause the popping sound. This cartilage (called minisci, can also get torn and catch on the knee joint during movements (like squats), this would need to be seen to – microsurgery can easily fix this though and it is quite common, but will require down time.
If an incident seems to have caused the sound, perhaps have it checked out, otherwise no action would be required, unless of course it is accompanied with pain. Also by strengthening your muscles around the knee joint will only keep the stress off the joint itself, protecting it in the long run.
- Is it ever too late to start getting fit, and can it prolong your life?…
Quick answer: No and yes! While it is true that we reach our physical peak at around 28 years of age, and we normally start to decrease our muscle mass from our thirties onward, you should be able to train well into your 70’s and beyond – albeit to varying levels of course. But the benefits will still be there, it would depend on your individual health status, and your lifestyle from younger years will play a part in this, but exercising will strengthen your bones, help to maintain exsisting muscle mass, improve circulation and strengthen your heart – basically any little bit will help, from walking to lifting weights. If you have been active in your younger years, the chances are you will remain active well into your retirement, and surely that would be the goal for all of us?
If you have any individual questions, please let me know – I would love to answer them for you!…