GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

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The importance of a well-earned rest

Hi there!

Sunday is my scheduled rest day and I thought it was an opportune time to do a post about why these rest days are so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I take one rest day a week (on average) but recommended exercise is between 3-6, so you can take more depending on your schedule, goals and other variables.

The type of recovery I’m discussing here is long-term recovery. Which refers to the scheduled planning of rest days throughout the exercise schedule. This will be the focus of the post.
Short-term recovery refers to the recovery immediately after your work-out and includes active recovery. Active recovery is doing low-intensity exercise to help the body recover immediately after intense exercise and also the days after.

So what makes them so important?

Professional athletes take rest days too. They appreciate the importance in allowing the body (and the mind) to recover, repair and strengthen. For those who do not complete on a professional level, it’ also a great way to maintain  a better balance amongst leisure, work and family life.
Recovery and rest is when the real training happens. Your body is able to adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues (for example, the breakdown of muscle).

Not allowing for adequate recovery opens a very wide door for injury, fatigue and illness. Lack of recovery leads to overtraining. Continuous training can actually hinder your performance. Overtraining results in depression, lack of energy, feeling drained, muscle and/or joint pain, insomnia, headaches, decreased immunity, injury, loss of appetite amongst other things. Overall, rest days are critical if you want avoid overtraining. By going too hard, you risk taking yourself completely out of exercise for an extended period of time, which is exactly what you don’t want.
I can give a personal example of this when I engaged in solid rowing training for 7 days a week for weeks on end. By the time January rang around I was struggling to walk without considerable pain in my right leg. Two doctors appointments and a physio visit later, I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Groin Strain. 8 physio sessions and weeks off of cardio had me feeling annoyed, frustrated and disappointed. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

Rest days are also good for you mentally. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to get to the gym every single day. Whilst I love the post-exercise feeling I do value being able to lie-in and relax a bit more on my rest days. It keeps the gy from being repetitive, monotonous and downright dull.

How should I incorporate it into my schedule?

There are different methods for incorporating rest days. You can do what I do and select a specific day to have off, changing it as required by your commitments. You can also just pick and choose week by week depending on your mood (I’d be wary of this, as you may end up taking more than planned).

Men’s Fitness have a great article about rest days and recovery for weight training. Whilst this is a male fitness magazine I think the principles are applicable to both genders in their weight training schedule. To sum the article up, they suggest having “deload weeks” every 4-6 weeks, where you reduce the intensity to allow the body to recover. They also recommend incorporating stretching, core exercises and bodyweight movements into these weeks.
They also suggest taking 1-2 weeks a year for “rest weeks”. Here they emphasise a focus on doing things you enjoy, not exercise. Go walking, hiking, leisurely cycle, socialise, etc. These are really for after very intense sessions such as a marathon. However, I think it’s a great addition to any workout calendar. You get to escape the gym!

Women’s Health Magazine (keeping the balance) also recommend rest days. They state that strength does not come from training, it comes from the body rebuilding itself after the training. Their recommendations for rest and recovery include 1-2 rest days a week, alternating between intensities (e.g HIIT one day a week, endurance another), nourish your muscles (sleep right, eat right, stretch).

Again, rest days are needed, being a “gym rat” will not see you lose weight faster. It’s possible you may even retain more weight. Exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol which encourages fat storage. If you put your body under intense stress 7 days a week, you’re increasing the levels of cortisol in the body, encouraging your body to hold onto precious fat as a survival instinct.

Active recovery is a good way to allowing your body to recover too. On your rest day you could go for a walk as a way to get out the house, get some fresh air etc. You can also engage in low-intensity classes such as pilates and yoga. This way you are allowing recovery without any need to feel guilty. However, having a rest day is  NECESSITY so guilt shouldn’t really come into it (but I get that it can). Personally, especially when I’m home, I do some form of active recovery because I own a dog, so I walk him.

So, evidence has proven you do not need to confine yourself to a gym 7 days a week! Rejoice!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and preparing to crack open their advent calendars tomorrow!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/

 

 

 

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Water- Liquid Gold

Hi there!

So, water. It’s actually really important if you’re looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lot of you are probably thinking “Yeah, duh, Miss State-the-obvious” but sometimes it needs said!
We lose water throughout the day through sweating, breathing and going to the bathroom and we need to make sure we consistently replenish our water levels throughout the day. This doesn’t mean downing a glass of water every hour, you also get hydration from foods and other non-water beverages.

Why is it important?

Hydration is essential for any form of physical activity. Poor hydrations causes muscle fatigue, reduces coordination, makes us light headed and can cause muscle cramps. Also, if you become dehyrated during sports or physical activity, you reduce your body’s ability to cool-down through sweating. Not to be extreme, but it can lead to heat stroke which has some very serious consequences.

Hydration is also essential for weight loss. Water (particularly the cold stuff) can help boost our metabolism. Also, it can help curb cravings, overeating and boredome eating. If you’re about to sit down for a meal, have a glass of water first, it will reduce your chances of tucking in for more than you nee by filling your stomach up a bit. Proper hydration also reduces bloating.

Dehydration is also a main cause of headaches and fatigue. Keeping hydrated is essential to allow your brain to function normally too and is important for concentration, cognition and general ability to function at a normal level. It also helps the heart pump blood more efficiently around your body and is general good for the function of all muscles.

But how much do we need?
We all have heard the “8 Glasses a Day” rule. But that’s no longer applicable. My water needs might be very different from yours and it is possible to overhydrate. This occurs when you drink so much you’re constntly back and forth to the bathroom and you’re removing nutrients from your system that you need (e.g salt), so watch out. You need to consider things such as climate, exercise intensity and duration, what you’re wearing, sweat levels and so on to get a reasonable idea of what you should be consuming.
DO NOT RELY ON THIRST. This is key because if you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated.
A way of measuring how much you need is to weigh yourself before and after exercise, to see how much “water weight” you’ve lost. However, if you’re like me, you avoid scales because they do not always give accurate readings of your health (muscle weighs more than fat, but seeing an increase in weight is never fun).

I keep a bottle of water on me at all times and sip it periodically throughout the day. I also consume a lot of fruit and veg and drink green tea. Typically, I find I remain pretty well hydrated throughout the day as a result. Although I now can’t go anywhere without my water bottle.

Symptoms of Dehydration
These are things to look out for that indicate you may be dehydrated and should get some water pronto;

  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth, lips, eyes
  • Passing small amounts of urine infrequently
  • Passing urine that is dark in colour (basically, the clearer the better)

Sever dehydration has some pretty serious symptoms (I won’t go into them, check out NHS for a list) so try keep any of these symptoms to a minimum in terms of frequency!

And there we have it! A little educational lesson on the importance of water and why it is liquid gold.

I understand that there is probably people out there who genuinly do not like water (we’ll not start the “it’s got no flavour” debate) so here’s some ways to get water into your life!

  • Fruit-infused water (just add some lemon, lime, oranges, strawberries, apples etc to your water overnight to give a fruity flavour!)
  • Tea (it’s literally flavoured hot water, best go caffeine free)
  • Fruits and vegetables with high water content (lettuce, cucumbers, apples, oranges)
  • Other beverages (thinking milk, limited amounts of fruit juice and things)

I don’t know this as some innate knowledge, the sources I used are listed below if you want to have some extra reading. I have also included a fun info-graphic to break up the monotony of text-only posts!

Got to love it!

Got to love it!

Have a great evening!

Gym Bug

P.S One month until Santa makes an appearance…

Sources;

http://www.livestrong.com/article/438279-the-importance-of-hydration/

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Staying-Hydrated—Staying-Healthy_UCM_441180_Article.jsp

 

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