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Benefits of Creatine

Benefits of Creatine

Author: Joe Sage, NASM-CPT, FNS, WLS, CES

Of all the sports performance supplements out there, creatine is probably one of the most talked about. Some of the claims for creatine include increased performance, lean body mass, muscle size and strength. How much of this is true and who can benefit from creatine?

Creatine is a substance that occurs naturally in the body, is also found in meat and fish, and is used to supply energy to cells. Muscles store creatine as creatine phosphate, which functions with the ATP-CP energy pathway. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the immediate energy source for cells, primarily muscle contractions, and is used up within seconds. Our bodies have a reservoir of creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine) that can quickly be converted to ATP. This ATP-CP energy system can power an all-out effort that can only capable of lasting up to 15 seconds. Creatine supplements are used to increase the body’s store of creatine in the muscle. This helps increase phosphocreatine resynthesis during the resting time between bouts of exercise. Since energy stores are able to return faster, this will allow you to train harder and longer. Improvements can be seen in strength training programs and explosive power exercises, such as sprints. Simply taking creatine will not increase muscle size, strength, or performance.

Creatine also has the ability to increase cell volume by keeping muscles hydrated. It does this by pulling more water into the cell when it is absorbed. Because of this, it is very important to stay well hydrated when taking creatine. It should be noted that you might see an increase in weight caused by the higher amounts of water in cells.

So, how much is enough? On training days, up to 5 grams can be taken, and on non-training days, 2-3 grams should be taken to maintain muscle stores.

More studies are still needed to be done, but currently creatine does not appear to have any long term negative side effects. While creatine can be effective with anaerobic training, it does not show much improvement with aerobic training.

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5 Tips for Reducing Your Risks of Heart Disease

5 Tips for Reducing Risks Heart Disease

Author: Sarah Dalton, BS, NASM-CPT

We would like to help you lower your risk of developing heart disease with 5 simple tips. It is important to stay on top of your health. If you neglect just one area it can negatively affect many other facets of your life and your health.

1. Eat a balanced DIET – Practice balancing your meals to help your body become healthier and happier. Cutting down on saturated fats, lowering sodium intake, cutting back on foods with added sugar, and increasing foods with healthy fats, high fiber and high nutrient content will help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Consult a professional for personalized guidance, as individual needs will vary. Engaging in healthy eating habits can lower your chance of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

2. Engage in daily PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – Start making small and large changes in your daily habits. For easy changes: try parking further and further away in the parking lot, get up from your desk regularly throughout the day, or go for a nice walk after dinner. For larger changes: try joining a gym, a group fitness class, and make it a priority in your life to do something active every day.

3. Stay HYDRATED – When you are dehydrated, your heart has to work much harder to pump blood throughout your body. The time of day that most people become most dehydrated, year-round, is when they are sleeping. Our bodies lose water throughout the night due to our breathing. The dryer the air around you, the more water you will lose with each breath. In order to help keep yourself from becoming a statistic, stay hydrated to help avoid having a heart attack in your sleep.

4. Watch your SODIUM intake – If you don’t make all of your food from scratch, there’s a good chance that what you are eating has a high amount of added salt. Restaurant food, frozen dinners, prepackaged foods, and even beverages contain higher sodium levels in order to improve flavor and to help preserve the freshness. If you don’t keep an eye on this added sodium your intake levels can affect your blood pressure and hydration in negative ways. Excess sodium will starve your tissues of water, vital to health and recovery, and also raise your blood pressure.

5. Reduce your STRESS – Many of us have multiple stressors in our lives. While some stress is not bad, and can even help us to grow and improve both mind and body. It is important to have tools and exercises to help minimize the negative impact that excess stress can have on our health and well-being. Stress can cause us to overeat, make poor nutrition choices, raise blood pressure, and effect normal sleeping patterns. Activities like walking, yoga, massage therapy, meditation and even a hug from a loved one can help reduce stress. Make sure you make time for yourself. If you don’t take care of YOU first and foremost, then you won’t be as effective when trying to help others. Lastly, If there is something in your life that is causing a large amount of stress, try to find ways to remedy the situation, sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution.

Make sure to strive for balance in all aspects of your life. If one aspect of your health becomes imbalanced, other systems in your body will compensate and, over time, lead to drastic health consequences.

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Dogs: Your Better Fitness Companion

Dogs: Your Better Fitness Companion

Author: Phil Gawlak, NASM-CPT, CES, GFS, FNS

Walking is one of the best exercise decisions you can make, but sometimes it can become difficult to follow through with your walking plan. Dog ownership can help you stay on course; dogs form a routine quickly and will insist you keep with it. As a dog owner you owe it to your pal to get him outside and spend time together. Your dog is a pack animal, and by default you are pack leader; your dog craves your attention, and they needs time with you in an active environment. Your dog will quickly pick up on a walk schedule and let you know when it’s time to go. They’ll hold you accountable and won’t give you an excuse to forego exercising. Dogs are loyal, hardworking, energetic and enthusiastic; they will never skip an exercise session because of appointments, extra chores or bad weather.

Research shows that dogs are actually nature’s perfect training companions. “Across 9 published studies, almost 2 in 3 dog owners reported walking their dogs, and the walkers are more than 2.5 times more likely to achieve at least MIPA (Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity) defined as at least 150 mins/wk. These findings suggest that dog walking may be a viable strategy for dog owners to help achieve levels of Physical Activity that may enhance their health” (1).

A study of over 41,000 California residents looked at walking among dog owners as well as those who didn’t have pets. Dog owners were about 60 percent more likely to walk for leisure than people who owned a cat or no pet at all, equaling to about an extra 19 minutes a week of walking compared with people without dogs (2).

Dogs expend about 0.8 calories per pound per mile when walking at a pace of 15 to 16 minutes per mile. People tend to use about 0.73 calories per pound per mile, at a similar speed. This means a 150-pound person loses about 100 calories during a 1-mile walk while their 40-pound dog burns about 32 calories.

A study at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that having a pet can encourage owners to get more exercise, resulting in substantial weight loss. “The participants began the program by walking 10 minutes per day, three times each week. Eventually, the participants walked up to 20 minutes per day, five times each week. During rainy days, the participants walked an inside route.” The group averaged a loss of 14 pounds in 50 weeks (3).

It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight, so simply walking yourself to significant weight loss is difficult if not impossible. You must make nutritional choices that will help bolster your walking and exercise efforts. That said, the list of benefits you and your four-legged friend get from your daily walks is numerous, including but not limited to bonding time and improvements in cardiovascular health, bone and muscle health, mood, sleep, balance and coordination. Walking is key in prevention or management of various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

How much exercise is enough? According to the World Health Organization (4), adequate exercise to promote good health includes:
*60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily for children 5 to 17 years old
*30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week for adults 18 to 65 years old, plus strengthening exercises two days per week
*30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week, with modifications as needed in seniors over 65 years old, plus flexibility and balance exercises
This walk is fitness based, so your pup won’t be stopping to smell bushes and fire hydrants; the goal is to be in constant motion. You will want to keep a good pace for the first part of your walk, allowing time only on the way home for stops to smell. Dogs are very scent based; their world is based off of smells, so it’s important to allow them to interact with their environment but not until after the workout. Get out there and enjoy the outdoors; your body and your dog will be eternally thankful.

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