Category Archives: exercise

The Exercise For Everyone

When it comes to exercises, There are some that just exclude too many people. But there are others that seem to have no boundries; That is, they don’t require memberships, they are for boys and girls, men and women, there is something for everyone regardless of their talent and experience, and even disability, they require little or no equipment and they cost little to nothing at all.

Swimming is one of those exercises that allows almost everyone all ages from cradle to grave to enjoy. These days, it is not unusual for kids to even be born in a pool and come out swimming while still tethered by a cord of life support. And on the other side of the spectrum, the elderly are assisted sometimes even mechanically into a pool. Once they are in, bouyancy takes over and the water offers resistance to movement for exercise.

For those that do not have their own pools, municipalities usually have resident swimming often for as little as a dollar per person.

And when it comes to the intensity of training, well, that is up to the individual. Exercise can be as minimal as attempting to tread water even while assisted by flotation devices On the other side of the spectrum is sprinting at maximum intensity while wearing a drag suit and hand paddles.

Although swimming is one of the safest sports someone can participate in, no one regardless of fitness ability should swim alone or unsupervised.

A good high intensity training program in the pool will usually include a short 7 to 10 minute warm-up and at least eight 30 to 45 second sprints with about a minute rest in between each sprint. When using freestyle, having a strong emphasis on the kick is a sure way to use the larger muscles and achieve an oxygen deficit quickly. This is the intention of high intensity training.

Do not make changes to your exercise program without first being cleared by a medical doctor.

Kettlebells

Kettlebell from World Kettlebell ClubAs you know, I am a fan of high intensity training. That is, I prefer exercises that require near maximum exertion for periods lasting between 20 seconds and about a minute and a half. Exercises like running sprints can bring you to a significant oxygen deficit rather quickly. Other exercises, like sets of moving weight, usually take a little longer.

Of course, the benefit of such training is the significant demand it places on the body; which in turn will cause the body to secrete greater amounts of the strengthening growth hormones.

Well, recently, I was reading Jordan Rubin’s new book “Live Beyond Organic“. On pages 154-155, Jordan introduced me to kettlebells – specialized weights that quite effectively help you train the larger muscle groups.

In fact, I have found that for me to group kettlebells with weights may be a little offensive to experts of the industry. Kettlebells are really in a class of their own. Training with kettlebells is much more than a form of weight lifting and more than a competitive sport. For many, it is an art and even a way of life.

There are many kettlebell exercises that use repetitive endurance patterns starting with the swing. That is, swinging the kettlebell between the legs up to about shoulder height and back through the legs for several repetitions. This trains your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, mucsles of the back, the core, and more.

Another exercise, the “clean” involves the swing continuing up to shoulder with a catch between the arm and forearm in a pre-press position. It uses similar muscles as the swing on adds to it a stronger emphasis on the upper body muscles including the forearms, arms, and shoulders.

From there, we move on to the press. This carries the exercise to the next logical step of pressing the kettlebell handle above the head. Like the former exerises, there is a strong training of the core and an emphasis on the muscles of the torso, shoulders, and triceps.

Once these patterns are mastered, the next logical exercise is the pushpress. Like the press, the kettlebell goes up to the top. Only the push press brings the explosive pressing up coming largely from the legs. More advanced techniques include the jerk, the longcycle press, the longcycle pushpress, the longcycle jerk, half snatch, snatch, and more; each exercise building on the previous.

One of the leading authority on kettlebells in the United States is the World Kettlebell Club. You can see some excellent kettlebell videos on the World Kettlebell YouTube Channel.

Is Running Good For You?

It seems that running, the most fundamental exercise, is also one of the most controversial. Should you run? Isn’t it bad for your knees?

I have known many people that say they can’t run because of their knee problems. But I don’t know of any that developed significant knee problems because of their running.

When I ask them how they hurt their knees, I have heard of almost everything you can think of including water ski jumping, snow ski wrecks, parachuting, car wrecks, motorcycle wrecks, football injuries, and even a bull riding fall. But I have never heard of anyone injuring their knees from just years of running or even competing in track and field. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. But as a physician, I personally have never seen it.

Of course overuse pain syndromes are real among runners. But that is usually due to someone increasing their distance faster than their body could adapt to the change. This type of knee problem is usually helped by ice and rest. (never put ice or an ice pack directly on the knee but rather use towel separation. Never ice a knee longer than 15 minutes at a time.

If you over-trained and suffer from “Runner’s Knee”, you will probably recover faster if you stretch appropriately; especially your quadriceps and hamstrings. an “anti-inflammatory” diet is also certainly beneficial.

I am not really a fan of mundane distance running anyway. Distance running can be challenging and beneficial to some extent. And at slow speeds, distance running can be great for burning fat. But if you want to really drive the metabolism and increase your growth hormones to professional athlete levels, you will probably want to include some sprint work on your running days.

Running sprints involves near maximum exertion usually to the point of a significant oxygen deficit. That means that at some point you will have to slow down so your body can catch up and meet its’ oxygen demand. It will usually only take 20 to 30 seconds of sprinting to work up a significant oxygen deficit. This is the type of training that has been shown to effectively increase hormone levels to those of younger people and athletes.

Before making changes to your exercise program, be sure to consult with a physician to discuss the changes you will be making and make sure those changes are right for you.