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Showing posts with label Exercise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exercise. Show all posts

Friday, 4 February 2011

Fast Twitch or Slow Twitch? Let your body dictate your workout

When I was in undergrad, my boyfriend suggested we play tennis. I stood with my racket at the end of the court and waited for him to hit the ball to me. He hit the ball to the side. No no no. You must hit the ball RIGHT to me. No, you're supposed to run for it. Well forget that. Tennis for me lasted about 4 minutes and it was 4 minutes too long. 

Many years later I read an article about fast twitch and slow twitch muscle and how everyone has some of both but some people have more of one type than the other. If you have a greater proportion of fast twitch muscle compared to slow, you're naturally good at moving quickly so sports that require speed and agility are your game. But if it's the reverse, more slow twitch rather than fast twitch muscle, endurance activities are your thing. Training can influence the proportion but not substantially and never to the extent of inverting what you have naturally. So basically, Mostly fast twitch = Always Mostly fast twitch and Mostly slow twitch = Always Mostly slow twitch. Thank your parents for how you're made.

If you detest your workouts, maybe you should have a close look at your heritage and see what they were good at in their time. Chances are you'll take after one of them and a similar activity today will be a good match for you. If you take a little time to narrow your workout options, you may save yourself some agony and find an enjoyable activity that you look forward to rather than dread. 

What were you good at as a child? That younger, smaller body of yours had the same proportion of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle that your body has today. What was your favourite game in the school yard? Were you good at tag or were you always the first one caught? Was standing around and skipping your thing or running the bases? Spending some time thinking about it critically will give you a good idea if the adult you would rather go to the gym and lift weights or jog a few times around the block.

What's your personality? Are you a social type? Then maybe going to the gym with a friend and chatting while you do your circuit is more your speed. Or suffering with a group through a spinning class. Not so social? Then going to the pool and swimming laps probably sounds very appealing. People are around but you're basically working out alone.

As for yours truly, that unfortunate brush with tennis told me all I needed to know and a quick look at Dad reinforced it. Slow twitch from top to bottom. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Winter Running

For those of you looking to add 30 minutes or so of cardio a few times a week, don't be allergic to considering a run around the block at night while the kids set the dinner table. Winter running can be a nice change from the summer sun and being out in the cold elements gives you an extra glow of inner toughness.

A few additional pieces of equipment are a good idea when running in winter: 

Wear a hat. Even if the temps aren't too bad, a hat is a good idea. You can always take it off and stuff it in a pocket but chances are you'll wear it the whole time. Make sure you can pull it down over your ears, otherwise wear ear protectors too.

Wear windproof mitts. Your hands will sweat so you'll likely only need the one layer. I have an old pair of windproof mitts from the Running Room that are a snug fit around the wrist (essential) and big through the palm to accommodate another layer underneath (that I never wear).

Wear a reflective vest. I'm guilty of not doing this every time I go out at night but at least I own one. 

Wearing wind pants over your sweat pants can be the difference between being miserable and thoroughly enjoying your time away from house and home. Find a light pair; their purpose is to act as a windbreak. It's your sweats underneath that keep you warm.

Lousy conditions = better workout. Snow and slush that fills your treads and pile up around your feet means poor traction so you'll have to work a little harder to make it around your usual route that feels easy in the summer. Winter winds can whip across open areas and make you count the seconds until the next turn. Don't think about pace. As long as your working, you're doing your body good.  

Do your lunges after your run. I always do 2 sets of 20, walking a bit between sets. Head up, eyes forward, hands on your waist or arms bent at your sides. Lunges are a great way to stretch, build leg muscle and strengthen that core. It's tricky keeping your balance and it's your core muscles that stop you from falling over. 

Walk home. This is a must. The worst thing you can do is run to the bottom of your driveway, hurry inside and sit down to a big meal. Stop your run 200 to 300 metres from home, do your sets of lunges and walk the rest of the way. You won't freeze.

Leave your shoes upside down to dry. Anyone who has put on wet running shoes when headed out the door knows how awful it feels. Make sure it doesn't happen to you. The treads are the last to dry so leave your shoes upside down so the dampness is pulled away from the treads. If you have space in the kitchen, lean your shoes against the fridge by the vent.

Winter running does involve putting on a few more things but it's worth the effort. Feeling the cold winter wind on your face when the rest of you is warm and working is a magical combination. That inner glow goes a long way to helping you cope with the less pleasant things in life. 

Like when you get home and the kids tell you it's your turn to do the dishes.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Getting Exercise in the Winter. It's not as hard as you think

When I was training and I HAD to be out in all sorts of miserable conditions because the sky really would fall if I missed a workout, I didn't enjoy it I just did it. But now that I'm not training and I don't have to be out at all, I find myself thinking it doesn't look so bad out there and maybe I should venture forth with the kids.

Getting exercise in the wintertime may take a little more effort than throwing on a pair of runners and grabbing the bike helmet but it's worth it. A few phone calls or a few websites visited and you'll have options to lay out for the kids:
  • Family Skates at the local arena are usually scheduled on the weekends or on a Friday night. Sometimes they are sponsored by a local politician or a local coffee chain so entry is free. Even if you have to pay, it's usually inexpensive. You can go any time during the few hours that the Family Skate is scheduled. 
  • does your town have an outdoor skating oval? Outdoor skating ovals that are maintained by your town have arena-quality ice surfaces that make skating a bit easier for everyone. Evening floodlights and park closures at 11pm mean it's your schedule that determines when you go not theirs.
  • pond skating is always preferred over rink skating. Once the weather has been cold for a while, detour past your local pond to check the ice condition. Your town likely posts a board or coloured markers to let you know. They may leave the Caution marker up for weeks even though they're using the tractor plow to clear the snow off the ice. When conditions are safe, get your kids out on the pond. Learning to skate over bumps and cracks is a sure-fire way to improve balance and turn good skaters into great ones. 
  • If skating isn't your thing, build a snowman or a fort. The kids love it. Need proof? Go look at a local school yard to see what the kids accomplish during recess.
  • Tobogganing on some local hills is a thrill for everyone. Bring back your own childhood memories, assuming your kids will let you have a turn. And chugging back up the hill just makes that downhill ride all the more enjoyable.
  • Check the Family Swim schedule at your local community centre. They usually add more Family Swims during the Christmas Break and March Break. Watch the age limits for the kids; some Swims are for parents with young children only, other Swims are for children over the age of 6.
  • Go for a walk at night to admire the Christmas lights. This is by far one of my most favourite winter activities. Usually the wind has dropped so it's not as cold as during the day. Wrap the kids up and get them out there. Find the moon, look for the evening star. Everyone can have their own hot chocolate; a straw fits very well in the mouth slot for the mugs the kids are using. Choose different routes and check out what your neighbours have done.
There is no denying that exercise takes effort. But when the biggest effort is coming up with something to do, remind yourself that sometimes the simple things count the most. By the time everyone has their jackets and mitts and boots on, chance are your kids will have thought up a ton of neck-breaking activities to fill in the next few hours.