Category Archives: Fit Tips

Spell Your Name Workout

Try this workout today. Quick and simple (guess it depends on how long your name is) and can be done right in your living room!

spell-your-name-workout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great day!

 

 

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My Spartan Race

spartan swagSince I have been so busy between work and school, I found that my level of physical activity was slowly declining. I was probably still more active than your average person, but I still wasn’t where I knew I should be. So, early in the year I decided that I had to change and I needed something to help me change.  Since I am a very goal oriented and person I figured that if I had a goal to focus on that I would have no choice but to be prepared. That goal was to do a Spartan race,  http://spartanrace.ca/. I hit the gym hard and started training! I actually wanted to do this last year, but try finding a team of people who actually want to put themselves through a physical agony! Almost impossible! I finally found three other people who were just as crazy as me. We entered our team as, “The Mud Ninjas”.  Perfect name for this race because there was sooooo much mud!  Was it really necessary? Probably not, but it was a ton of fun!

On July 2nd, 2016, my team and I participated in the Toronto Spartan Sprint. It was 5-6 km of uphill running, about 21 obstacles, and I repeat, MUD!!  I figured we’d get through it in about an hour- ppfffttt!  Two hours and fifteen minutes later, we finally crossed the finish line together! The race took place at Brimacombe Ski resort https://brimacombe.ca/home . Definitely not hills for beginners!  The hills were very steep and became more and more challenging in the heat.  By the end of the race I was exhausted and limping from a knee injury. I went home, crashed on my couch and thought, “I’m never doing that again!”  But the next morning when I woke up my first thought was, “I can’t wait to do that again next year!” . I’m just a glutton for punishment that way!

What I learned from the race is that my cardio improved a lot. After not training for a while I really struggled during my soccer games, so I knew I had to improve in this area.  I also learned that my upper body is strong, but my grip strength is a lot weaker than what I thought. All the obstacles where I had to swing across bars and ropes, I would only make it half way before I wouldn’t be able to hold on any longer.  I learned the value of working as a team: helping each other through the difficult obstacles, motivating and encouraging each other and absolutely no one gets left behind. The most important lesson I learned is that I can push myself to any limit I desire and never give up, regardless of how much pain I’m in!

Fitness for Diabetes

diabetes and exerciseToday, more than nine million Canadians are diabetic or pre-diabetic. The number of people with type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, is rapidly increasing.  Since regular physical activity improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin and helps manage blood glucose levels, both aerobic and resistance exercise is highly recommended.

Aerobic Exercise

This could be just about anything that keeps your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes. A brisk walk, swimming, cycling and jogging are all great forms of aerobic exercise.

The Benefits?

The benefits are the same for diabetics as with anyone else.

1. Improved sensitivity to insulin- Exercise has a powerful effect on  insulin sensitivity. Any  type of physical exercise has the potential to make your insulin more efficient.

2.  Better management of blood glucose levels-  Exercise helps to improve  blood sugar control, as well as boost your overall fitness. It helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage. Be sure to track your blood sugar before, during and after exercise. This will help you to monitor how your body responds to exercise and prevent potentially dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.

The ideal values for blood glucose levels measured in mmol/l (millimoles per liter, a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid) are:

  • 4 to 7mmol/l before meals
  • less than 10mmol/l 90 minutes after a meal
  • around 8mmol/l at bedtime.

3.  Increase in heart and lung capacity- Important to improve circulation. Diabetes disrupts the vascular system, affecting many areas of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, legs, and feet. People with diabetes should pay special attention to their feet.

4.  Increase in muscular and cardiovascular endurance- Helps to burn extra glucose in the body and decreases resistance to insulin.

5.  Reduce heart disease and stroke risk- Diabetics are at an increased of developing  coronary heart disease, heart failure, and/or diabetic cardiomyopathy

6.  Increased HDL cholesterol- Cholesterol levels are affected by blood pressure and blood glucose. If your blood glucose and blood pressure are high, your cholesterol numbers may be off.  Exercise decreases blood pressure and helps manage blood glucose levels.

7.  Decreased stress- When your body is stressed, it prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available. This causes insulin levels to fall, adrenaline levels to rise, releasing more glucose from the liver. At the same time, growth hormone and cortisol levels rise, which causes body tissues to be less sensitive to insulin. As a result, more glucose is available in the blood stream.

8.  Increased mental health- Both depression and schizophrenia are risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes due to their impact on the body’s resistance to insulin. People with mental illnesses also experience many of the other risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity and high cholesterol levels.¹ Exercise has been shown to reduce all these risk factors.

9.  Lower body weight- Losing weight and reducing body fat enables one to control their diabetes better. Losing 5-10 percent of your body weight, you will lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent.

Ideally, you want to do at least three, thirty minute aerobic sessions per week.  However, the more sessions per week you do, the better  because one aerobic session improves insulin sensitivity for 24 to 75 hours.  The length of time will depend on the duration and intensity level.  If you’re hypoglycemic you need to careful if you’re running long distances.  If you have a nerve dysfunction chose a stationary bike or water sport over the Stairmaster or treadmill.

Resistance Exercise

Resistance exercise includes free weights, machines and resistance bands or tubing.

The Benefits?

While the benefits aren’t as many for resistance exercise as they are for aerobic exercise, resistance exercise offers improved glycemic control.  Resistance exercise increases muscle strength,  lean muscle mass and bone mineral density which enhances  functional fitness and glycemic control. It also helps prevent loss of skeletal muscle and osteoporosis.

Resistance exercise should be performed at least three days per week.  Again, if you have nerve dysfunction, stick to seated activities (chair-based strengthening an stretching). If you have retinal damage, avoid lifting weights.  A better option would be resistance band or tube training.

Don’t Exercise if…

  • Your blood sugar is less than 5.5 mmol/l or more than 16.6 mmol/l. Check your blood sugar 30 minutes before exercise to make sure you’re good to go.
  • You have numbness or tingling in your hands or feet.  Try wiggling your fingers and toes to help regain circulation.

What to Eat

  • Before your workout, try having a protein and fat-based snack such as nuts, yogurt, cheese or hummus.
  • During your workout you don’t need to eat but you need to stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water or a sport drink with 6% to 7% carbohydrates. If you feel light-headed or dizzy, check your blood sugar levels again.
  • After your workout have a whey protein shake with glutamine(glutamine will restore glycogen levels) or be sure to have a meal with both carbs and protein within 1 hour.

A combination of a healthy diet and both aerobic and resistance exercise will help one to take control of their health and limit their need for drugs. This combination will not only help manage type 2 diabetes it may proactively prevent it!

Your Body Hears Everything Your Mind Says

Your body hears everything

5 of the Best Yoga Poses for Runners

yogaI’ve recently added running to my workout routine and I must say, I’m rather enjoying it.  That’s something I thought I’d never say because running any kind of distance is something I’ve always dreaded.  This body, with the super heavy, muscular legs, was built for sprinting. So, running anything more than 200 metres has always been a challenge. I think I’m enjoying the running because I’m challenging and pushing my self and it puts me in a “zone” or some kind of meditative state, much like yoga.

Both running and yoga help to clear my mind and focus on the present moment. Yoga offers so many benefits that can be used to improve my running skills which will encourage me to stick with it!

How does yoga tie in to running?

  1. During a yoga class you’re encouraged to focus on your breathing. This helps to keep you in the present moment and helps you to push through the more difficult poses. Focusing on your breathing while running can help you get through a longer run by keeping you calm and centered.
  2. Yoga keeps you physically balanced and strong. It strengthens your core which develops balance and alignment.  A strong core will also help to maintain good form when your legs become tired.
  3. Yoga poses will improve range of motion and increase flexibility by loosening up the hamstrings, quads and calves. Doing some yoga poses after a run will help to decrease muscle soreness.

The following five yoga poses are ideal to add to your routine after a run while your muscles are still warm:

Thunderbolt

thunderbolt-pose

  • stretches the leg muscles, soles of the feet and ankles
  • strengthens ankles to prevent rolling

Eye of the Needle

eye of the needle

  • opens the hips for more mobility
  • stretches hamstrings and glutes

Reclining Spinal Twist

reclining spinal twist

  • stretches the iliotibial (IT) band
  • stabilizes hips and knees when running

Balance the Cat

balance the cat

  • improves balance
  • strengthens core muscles

Kneeling Lunge

kneeling lunge

  • stretches hips and thighs

As with any new program be sure that it’s safe for you to start.  Both running and yoga can place a lot of strain on your knees so pay attention to any sign of pain. Give these poses a try and let me know what you think.

Namaste 🙂

Quick Ab and Tabata Workout

skipping ropePerform each ab exercise for 1 minute. Move immediately from one exercise to the next- no resting between exercises. Finish off with the Tabata skipping. Rest 1-2 minutes. Repeat 2 times.

  • Right Side plank
  • Static Plank
  • Left Side Plank
  • Walking plank
  • V-Sit Hold
  • 1 Tabata of skipping: 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest for 4 minutes

Repeat 2 times

32 Interval Workout

hiit-holiday-gear-patrol-fullHere’s a nice, quick HIIT workout that involves 32 intervals of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and squats. The same exercise is performed for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest, eight times consecutively before moving on to the next exercise.  Here’s how it goes:

1st. 8 intervals: Pull-ups  20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest

2nd. 8 intervals: Push-ups 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest

3rd. 8 intervals: Sit-ups 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest

4th. 8 intervals: Squats 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest

As an alternative to pull-ups you can do a lat pull-down or, if you workout at home and don’t have access to a lat pull-down machine you can do a bent-over dumbbell row or a bent-over row using a resistance band.

Give it a go and let me know how you do 🙂

Quick At-home Workout

home-workout-routinesHappy Wednesday everyone.  Hope everyone’s week is going well and that we’re all getting in our workouts.  I have here a very quick, basic workout that can be done at home in the comfort of your living room in front of your t.v. if you like, but I would suggest putting on some loud music to get you pumped!  As I said, this workout is very basic and requires very little equipment.  The workouts that I post are usually a lot more intense but I’m going to try and mix it up a bit for all to benefit:

Complete 5 sets of :

  • 20 bent-over barbell rows
  • 30 push-ups
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 50 squats

Here’s a few things to note:

  1. If you don’t have barbell weights or dumbells you can use a resistance band.  Hold onto either end of the resistance band, and step onto the middle of it with both feet, so your ankles are directly underneath your hips. Lean forward, bending at your hips. Keep your back parallel. Pull both elbows up so they’re in line with your torso. Keep your elbows in and pointed upwards. Then slowly lower the handles of the resistance band back to the starting position to complete one rep. 
  2. If you are unable to do standard push-ups, start with a bent-knee push-up. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders; fingers facing forward and knees under your hips.  Reposition your knees as needed to create a straight line in your body from the knees, through the torso and out through the head. There should be no bend at the hips. Brace your abs.  Keeping your torso rigid and head aligned with your spine, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor until your chest or chin touch the floor.  Keeping  a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine, press upward through your arms.
  3. For sit-ups lie down on the floor with your legs bent at your knees.  You may have someone hold your feet for you or  place your feet under something to help brace you.Place your hands behind your head and lock them together by clasping your fingers. This is the starting position. Raise your upper body so that it creates a V-shape with your thighs. Once you feel the contraction for a second, lower your upper body back down to the starting position.
  4. To do a safe squat, with your  feet about hip width apart, sit back as if you were sitting back on a chair, not going straight down. Keep your knees in line with your feet. Don’t let your knees bow in and try to keep your knees from going out past your toes.Descend until your thighs are just above parallel to the floor.  If you have strong enough legs and knees you can go to parallel or even break parallel.

Do each exercise one after the other and rest 1-2 minutes between sets. If the prescribed number of reps is too high, no worries.  Just do half the prsecribed amount and build from there.

For fun, time each set or see how long it takes you to do all 5 sets.

Remember to stretch when you’re done 😉

Any questions please feel free to ask.

Enjoy your day 🙂

Foam Roller Exercises

foam rollerDespite its simple appearance, a foam roller is an extremely valuable and inexpensive piece of equipment.   They can cost anywhere from $15-$50.  It really depends on the type and quality.  Using the pressure of your own body weight you can perform self -massages to release tension and knots in sore muscles.  This is comparable to myofascial release or deep tissue massage, a technique often used in massage therapy.  They are also effective in breaking down soft tissue adhesions as well as scar tissue.  Another benefit that a foam roller provides is the increased blood flow and circulation to soft tissue.  Foam rollers are also effective in increasing balance, core strength and flexibility.

How to Choose a Foam Roller

Foam rollers are available at sport supply stores in different in sizes, shapes, foam types and cost. Determine what you will be using the foam roller for and buy one that suits your needs.

If you need a foam roller mainly for tissue massage, the half-round foam roller is sufficient.  Simply applying body weight pressure on the tight muscle will release tension.  Half-round rollers are also great for the elderly or persons with little strength or muscle tone because it offers stability and won’t move out from under the person.

When choosing the firmness of a foam roller, consider the colour which determines its firmness:

  • White foam rollers are the softest or least firm and will allow movement between the muscles, bones and the roller. It also produces less pressure and pain. If you do purchase a white foam roller ensure that you’re buying a good quality one that will last.  White foam rollers tend not to be too durable.
  • Blue or Green foam rollers (or any light colour) provides medium pressure and is used for advanced core-stabilization or a medium amount of massage pressure.
  • Black foam rollers are the most firm. These are good for the experienced user and effective in applying hard pressure for self-massage. Also good for durability.  If you plan on using the roller a lot, a more firm roller will last a lot longer

With the exception of the half-round, foam rollers are generally 6 inches in diameter.  The size difference is in the length.  Rollers can range anywhere from 12 inches to 36 inches.  The longer roller is best for doing total body exercises giving you sufficient surface to roll on without falling off the ends.  The shorter rollers are ideal for transporting. So, if you’re the type of person that likes to travel with a small gym, the smaller foam roller will fit nicely into a suitcase.

The cost of a foam roller varies depending on the material it’s made from, the density of the foam and it’s durability. Before purchasing a foam roller, do some research, ask questions then make a decision.

Foam Roller Exercises

In the below video I demonstrate a few basic foam rolling exercises that can be done anywhere.  A good routine to start with is 1-2 sets, 10 repetitions, 3-5 times per week.  This should effectively release any tension in the muscles and give you a good self-massage. In the video you will see that I start from my neck and work my way down to my calves.

Exercises demonstrated

  • Neck
  • Upper back
  • Lower back
  • Lats (left and right)
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • IT Band (Iliotibial band)
  • Calves

If you feel any discomfort it should only be slight.  Stop rolling if you feel any sharp pain. Your muscles may just need some time to get used to the applied pressure.  Try it again in a few days. Always start with light, quick motions and progress to slow, deep rolls. If you hit a really tight spot, using your body weight apply pressure to the muscle and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Any questions, please feel free to ask.  Happy rolling 🙂

300 Rep Spartan Workout

spartanYesterday’s workout was this intense workout inspired by ‘300’, the 2007 action movie which illustrates the epic account of an ancient battle between the Spartans  and Persians.  The workout consists of six different exercises for a total of 300 repetitions. ‘300’ is an older movie but if you haven’t seen it, you must. Not only did I think it was a great movie but I was amazed at how ripped and chiseled these men were.

In addition to a strict diet, the cast of ‘300’ was challenged with this gruelling workout to shed those last few inches of fat, build muscle and increase strength to get them ready for the big screen.

This is the original 300 workout:

Pullups – 25 reps
Barbell Deadlift with 135 lbs. – 50 reps
Pushups – 50 reps
24-inch Box Jumps – 50 reps
Floor Wipers – 50 reps
Single-Arm Clean-and-Press with 36 lbs Kettlebell – 50 reps
Pullups – 25 reps

My 300 workout is slightly modified. Complete each exercise with no rest between:

25 Assisted Pullups
50 Barbell Deadlift
50 Pushups
50 Box Jumps
50 Floor Wipers
50 Barbell Clean-and-Press
25 Assisted Pullups

For each exercise I just use a weight challenging enough to complete the required amount of reps.

After trying this make sure you get a good stretch! Enjoy 😉

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