Archive for May, 2010

Sunshine: Friend or Foe?

Memorial Day is just a few short days away, which unofficially marks the beginning of summer.  Picnics, golf,  lobster rolls and beach time are what some of us cherish come the summer months.  Others cherish their precious beach time.  The good ol’ debate, is the sunshine your friend or foe?  The simple answer is both.  Too much, we increase the risk of skin cancer.  Too little, we risk many other health ailments due to insufficient Vitamin D.

As a kid, I remember spending most of the daylight hours outside.  We would swim, play softball, be around the farm, anything to get us out of the house.  There was the initial sunburn early summer.  By the beginning of the school year, most of us had skin looking like leather.  I’m sure we used sunscreen, but how much did that really help us.  As a result, I am now freckled with sun spots covering my shoulders and upper back.  The more time I spend in the sun, the darker these spots become.  Over the years I have learned when it is time to take a break and step indoors.

It has been said that 1 in 5 Americans have some sort of skin cancer.  I would gather much of this is due to prolonged exposure to the sun.  Some of the best ways to protect yourself are:

  • Avoid spending long periods of time in the sun between 10am-2pm.  That’s when it is most intense.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing to protect your extremities.
  • Sit under an umbrella while at the beach to provide yourself shade.

long sleeves and brimmed hat help protect from the sun

Those of us farther away from the equator have a more difficult time maintaining sufficient Vitamin D numbers.  In a study done by Dr. Holick, author of “The Vitamin D Solution”, he states that “Every cell and tissue in our body has a Vitamin D receptor, and all use it for different purposes.”  For example, a study released in May found that women with breast cancer who had low Vitamin D levels at the time of diagnosis were 73% more likely to die from the cancer and almost twice as likely for it to recur.  Dr. Holick recommends for most people and locations, during the summer, a good amount of sunlight exposure is 5 to 15 minutes on the arms and legs, two to three times a week. After this amount of time, sunscreen can be used to help prevent premature aging and increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.

It all comes down to a choices.  Will the sunshine be your friend or foe?

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Sprains, Strains and Tendonitis, Injury Prevention

Tom Brady, Lindsey Vonn, Jacoby Ellsbury.  All great professional athletes that have endured injuries throughout their career.  But we don’t need to be a professional athlete to have sustained an injury.  In fact, most of us walking around are dealing with some sort of discomfort one way or another.  Office workers who use computers show signs of carpal tunnel in the wrist or tendonitis in the elbow.  Fathers carrying kids on the shoulders have neck issues.  Golfers tend to have low back discomfort.  Some of these injuries are acute.  Others stay with us for long periods of time.

Injuries can happen for any number of reasons.  Some of the most common reasons injuries occur are: lack of proper warm-up or cool down, overuse/training, repetitive stress disorder (RSD), and limited range of motion (ROM).

Warming up before performing any sort of exercise program or sporting event is advantageous to your health.  A proper warm-up will help build heat in the body.  As the body temperature raises, the muscle elasticity increases.  ROM will improve.  And the warm-up can help you mentally prepare for what is to come next.  Ways to warm-up include walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, dynamic stretching, practice movements you will be soon at slower, more controlled speed.  It’s best to try a variety of warm-up movements and intensities to find what best fits your body.  Keeping in mind, it may change from day to day depending on how your body is feeling that particular day.

Cooling down allows the body to relax from the stress the body has just gone through.  It helps lower the body temperature, discard any waste or toxins that may have been released from muscles an internal organs and brings the heart rate back to its resting state.  Suggested cool downs may include riding a bike at slower pace, static stretching or taking savasana (corpse pose) at the end of a yoga class.

Overuse training is commonly seen in those training for a specific event.  Marathon runners logging many miles over a short period of time is what I see most often.  The body is put under a lot of stress for many hours.  Hip flexors, IT bands, achilles tendons are what bother us.  By incorporating cross training such as swimming, yoga, or strength training programs into our routine, the body will benefit from taking stress off one area and placing it somewhere else.

Using the key board or mouse at work, your golf swing, the clutch on your car are all examples of repetitive stressors.  When we continually repeat one motion over and over again, the body becomes imbalanced.  Signs include swelling, inflammation, muscle strain.  Becoming aware and learning to listen to your body is the best thing you can do.  Any sort of sharp discomfort or burning sensation is a sign the body is tearing or near tearing.  Often times, we need a few days rest to let the inflammation subside.

Stretching is probably the most neglected aspect of health and fitness world.  Not only do the muscles benefit as they lengthen and strengthen, but so do the joints.  Eighty percent of our society has complained of some sort of low back pain.  Chances are not because of the spine, but the muscles of the low back and hamstrings being tight.  When we lengthen the hamstrings, the low back muscles will begin to release.  The following pictures are a few stretches that will help increase your ROM for the entire body.  While performing these stretches, listen to your body.  A slight, dull discomfort is okay.  A sharp, burning sensation is not.  If you feel the latter, slowly pull yourself out of the stretch and modify.

We all deal with injuries at some point in our life.  Listen to the body and it will tell you what it wants and what it does not.

Be well.

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How may I help you?

As someone who has been in the health and wellness industry for ten years, I have worked as a personal trainer, strength coach, yoga instructor and recently completed a Wellness Coaching certification in April.  I have decided it is time for me to expand my horizons and begin writing more.  This includes newsletters, articles and blogging!  There is so much information, most clients find it difficult to really understand what to believe.

So I am going to research topics that my friends, family, clients and all those following this blog want to know more about.  I will share with you what I have researched and learned through texts and personal experience.  There is much out there that contradicts one another.  I will do my very best to offer the resources from which I gather information, so you know it’s not just something I am writing, for the sake of it.

With that, I encourage you to let me know what you are interested in learning.  It can be about anything and everything.  Weight loss, yoga, sleeping patterns, stress reduction, gluten free diets, interval training, H2O consumption, how to plan for meals.  Whatever your heart desires, I want to know.  The more I can share with you, the more likely you are to stay on track with your vision of a healthy, fun filled lifestyle.

-Be well

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