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Improving Your Fitness Age

Improving Your Fitness Age

Author: Achieve Wellness Staff

Exercise makes you feel younger. Okay, okay, all you “exercisers” out there know that this isn’t really a news flash. But recent studies have shown it’s actually true.

“Fitness age” is an idea that was developed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in its studies of thousands of Norwegians of all ages. Generally speaking, the concept of “fitness age” is that people with above-average cardiovascular fitness generally have longer life spans than people with lower aerobic fitness, and vice-versa.

The Norwegian research was the basis for the development of fitness calculators, which are easy to use and readily available online at no cost.

This year the idea of fitness calculation was put to the test on a special population of older adults: 4,200 participants at the Senior Olympic Games. Dr. Pamela Peeke an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and Ulrik Wisloff, the scientist who led the development of the fitness age calculator, got together to study the fitness age of the Senior Olympians.

The results were impressive. “While the athletes’ average chronological age was 68, their average fitness age was 43.” Yes, you read that right: the average Senior Olympian’s fitness age was 25 years younger than his/her chronological age!

The substantial difference in the chronological age vs. the fitness age of the Senior Olympic study should serve as inspiration for all as to the substantial benefits of fitness at any age!

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Relative Flexibility & Muscle Balance

Relative Flexibility & Muscle Balance

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


Relative flexibility is the result of muscular imbalances; without exception, for every muscular contraction there is a muscular relaxation or extension. When one of the pair of muscles is stronger, shorter, weaker or longer than its counter muscle you get muscular imbalances.

There are proven methods for creating balance within the body’s muscular system, the first step is to be evaluated by a fitness professional who is skilled in recognizing motion and posture distortions, these distortions are muscular imbalances that need to be corrected. With the knowledge of what distortions you have, you now can begin targeting specific muscles with the appropriate myo-fascial release techniques (foam rolling), stretching and strengthening exercises. The process of eliminating muscle imbalances takes time, with patience and consistency the muscles return to a normal state allowing for proper range of motion. There are many activities that actually promote healthy muscle balance within the body; Tai Chi and Yoga are prime examples.

Muscle balance is defined as the “relationship between both the strength and the length of muscles and groups of muscles as they cross over joints”. This definition leads us to the conclusion that it is possible for muscles to have any or a combination of the following:

*Increased tightness leading to a reduction in joint motion and stiffness
*Decreased tightness leading to a increase in joint motion and instability
*Increased muscle strength leading to internal joint position issues
*Decreased muscle strength leading to poor joint control.

Muscle imbalances are also seen between the larger outer muscles that control major movement of a joint and the smaller internal muscles that are more responsible for deep stability and control. Joints in the body have a complex inter-relationship between these internal and external muscles that can lead to problems if these relationships become unbalanced.

It is vital that all health enthusiasts appreciate that fitness is not all about training the larger muscles and having a great set of “pecs and delts” – as effective training is about balancing your body with a variety of exercises and movements that focus equal attention to the smaller muscles tasked with maintaining stable joint posture as is placed on the larger and more obvious muscle groups.

Remember – if you are at all concerned about muscle imbalance issues see your Physiotherapist or Corrective Exercise Specialist BEFORE symptoms of pain and injury appear.

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Exercise for Your Brain

Exercise for Your Brain

Author: Achieve Wellness Staff

To lead a long healthy life, free of physical disease and pain, most of us are aware of the importance of maintaining a quality exercise and wellness program throughout our lives. However, are you also aware that physical exercise is just as important for our cognitive function and brain health? Recent research has shown that the simple act of moving your body will do more for your brain than any riddle, crossword puzzle, mystery book or even thinking itself.

Modern technology has afforded us the privilege of a sedentary existence; virtually anything we need these days is available without having to exert much effort; this convenience however has come with a significant cost, as chronic illness and diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. I believe we are all aware of this unfortunate trend between the lack of physical activity and the increase of chronic (physical) diseases but its been my experience that we may not be as aware of the link between a sedentary lifestyle and the rise of mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and ALS.

Exercise provides us with important physical and physiological benefits such as improved cardiovascular efficiency, increased bone density, increased metabolic efficiency, increased muscle tissue and decreased body fat – all important for warding off physical pain and disease but it’s also a powerful player when it comes to brain health. The latest science reveals that exercise protects and preserves our brain’s functioning due to three primary benefits: controlling inflammation, increasing the size of the memory center and boosting levels of BDNF – our brain’s growth hormone which helps support the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth of new neurons and synapses.

In order to reap these brain boosting benefits, research has shown that a balanced exercise program consisting of both strength and aerobic activity which gets our hearts pumping for 20 to 30 minutes a day, five times a week is all that is required. This could also include activities such as walking, cycling, hiking, swimming or shoveling the snow, as long as the activity changes your rate of breathing for 20-30 minutes it would suffice.

I recently came across an interview with David Linden, a professor and expert in neuroscience. When asked if he did certain things to take care of his brain to either strengthen or protect it, Linden responded with this – “if there is a single thing to do for your brain health, it is to do 30 minutes of physical or aerobic exercise a day”. So the next time you are feeling lethargic or your mind is in a fog, try to force yourself to put your walking shoes on, then go outside or hop on the treadmill and walk for 30 minutes – your brain will undoubtedly thank you for it!

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