Category: Health

CYCLING TRAINING

RECENT RESEARCH ON BONE DENSITY IN PRO
CYCLISTS MAKES FOR UNCOMFORTABLE READING

Cycling has traditionally been regarded as one of the healthiest sports around
This article:
• Discusses the link between exercise, bone mineral density (BMD) and health;
• Looks at new research on BMD in road cyclists and explains why they may be at greater risk of bone health problems;
• Makes practical recommendations.
Cycling has traditionally been regarded as one of the healthiest sports around, and its impact-free nature has made it particularly appealing to those concerned about their joint and skeletal health. However, recent research on bone density in pro cyclists makes for uncomfortable reading. Andrew Hamilton explains.
The height of the cycling season is upon us and with it the big tours such as the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. During these events, the professional cyclists typically churn out hundreds of kilometres per week under race conditions. Meanwhile, even lesser mortal such as club and sportive riders will be upping their mileages, spurred on by forthcoming races and events.
Assuming that cyclists undertake a properly structured training programme with manageable increases in training volumes and intensity, and that they allow adequate time for recovery with good nutrition, the physiological and health effects of increased cycling performance will almost always be beneficial. For example, research shows that increasing the intensity of aerobic type exercise such as cycling confers several health benefits such as:
• Enhanced insulin sensitivity(1);
• Reduced blood pressure(2,3);
• Improved blood cholesterol profile(2,3);
• Reduced body fat(4);
• Reduced risk of coronary heart disease (as the result of the above)(5,6);
• Better quality of life in older age(7);
However, one area where (unlike many other forms of exercise) cycling might not deliver health benefits is bone health, or more specifically, increasing bone mineral density (BMD – see below).
Importance of bone density
Why are high levels of BMD important? In very simple terms, this is because low levels of BMD are associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects mainly (but not exclusively) older people, in which bones gradually become more fragile and likely to break. These broken bones are also known as fractures and typically occur typically in the hip, spine and wrist.
Osteoporosis (which quite literally means ‘porous bones’) is often known as the ‘silent crippler’ because it often progresses painlessly and unnoticed, until a bone actually breaks. Although any bone can be affected, fractures of the hip and spine are particularly problematical because they can produce a number of long-term complications including loss of ability to walk and permanent disability, loss of height and severe back pain. Although the precise mechanisms are poorly understood, the hallmark of osteoporosis is a reduction in skeletal mass caused by an imbalance between bone breakdown (resorption) and bone formation. This results in reduced bone mineral density.
Although osteoporosis is poorly understood as a disease process, we do know that being physically inactive is a major risk factor for developing osteoporosis. This is because vigorous ‘bone-loading’ physical activity is very effective at stimulating the uptake of calcium into bones, thereby helping to build bone mass in earlier years, and reducing the loss of bone mass in later years(8).
Bone loading exercise
Research has shown that the higher the muscular and impact load (gravitational) forces, the higher the BMD produced; so for example, gymnasts whose sport requires high loadings and impacts tend to have higher BMDs than endurance runners(9). By contrast, those who participate in sports with plenty of muscular motion, but without substantial loading (eg swimming) do not achieve the high BMDs of sports with higher loading(10). There’s also evidence that activities which develop strength (such as weight training) are particularly effective at producing high BMDs in the hip and spine(11,12).
So how does cycling fit into the equation? Well, muscular loading during cycling can be very high, especially during sprinting – for example on the track. On the other hand, the smooth spinning nature of the pedalling action and the fact that cyclists are supported by their saddle means there’s virtually no bone loading associated with gravitational impact (unlike the shock of foot-strike during running or field sports). In distance road cycling, therefore, where sprinting is only a minimal component, the degree of total bone loading is likely to be quite low, which has prompted researchers to look at the issue of BMD in cyclists more generally.
Overall, the balance of research suggests that road cyclists do not benefit from increased BMD in the same way that other sportsmen and women do (see below). But, more worryingly, some studies indicate that road cycling could actually have a detrimental effect on BMD. For example, French scientists found recently that compared to healthy non-cycling males, road cyclists had lower levels of BMD, and this was despite the fact that they were consuming significantly more dietary calcium (considered essential for bone health) than their sedentary counterparts(13). The researchers speculated that the combination of high training volumes of these cyclists combined with lack of bone loading might be a factor and now a brand new study on pro cyclists appears to bear this out (14).

Researched by KATIA C. ROWLANDS – PILATES INSTRUCTOR & PERSONAL TRAINER – 0825134256 •

 

 

MARIJUANA

Marijuana is the word used to describe the dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the Indian hemp plant. On the street, it is called by many other names, such as: astro turf, bhang, dagga, dope, ganja, grass, hemp, home grown, J, Mary Jane, pot, reefer, roach, Texas tea and weed.

Hashish is a related form of the drug, made from the resins of the Indian hemp plant. Also called chocolate, hash or shit, it is on average six times stronger than marijuana. “Cannabis” describes any of the different drugs that come from Indian hemp, including marijuana and hashish.

Regardless of the name, this drug is a hallucinogen – a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world you live in.

The chemical in cannabis that creates this distortion is known as “THC”. The amount of THC found in any given batch of marijuana may vary substantially, but overall, the percentage of THC has increased in recent years.

How is it used?
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world. A survey conducted in 2007 found that 14.4 million individuals in the US alone had smoked marijuana at least once during the previous month.

Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint), but may also be smoked in a pipe. Less often, it is mixed with food and eaten or brewed as tea. Sometimes users open up cigars and remove the tobacco, replacing it with pot-called a “blunt”. Joints and blunts are sometimes laced with other, more powerful drugs, such as crack cocaine or PCP (phencyclidine, a powerful hallucinogen).

When a person smokes a joint, he usually feels its effect within minutes. The immediate sensations – increased heart rate, lessened co-ordination and balance, and a “dreamy”, unreal state of mind – peak within the first 30 minutes. These short-term effects usually wear off in two to three hours, but they could last longer, depending on how much the user takes, the potency of THC and the presence of other drugs added into the mix.

As the typical user inhales more smoke and holds it longer than he would with a cigarette, a joint creates a severe impact on one’s lungs. Aside from the discomfort that goes with sore throats and chest colds, it has been found that consuming one joint gives as much exposure to cancer-producing chemicals as smoking five cigarettes.

The mental consequences of marijuana use are equally severe. Marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users.

Animals given marijuana by researchers have even suffered structural damage to the brain.•

The truth about Heroin

HEROIN: WHAT IS IT?
Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal drug. It is used by millions of addicts around the world who are unable to overcome the urge to continue taking this drug every day of their lives—knowing that if they stop, they will face the horror of withdrawal.
Heroin (like opium and morphine) is made from the resin of poppy plants. Milky, sap-like opium is first removed from the pod of the poppy flower. This opium is refined to make morphine, then further refined into different forms of heroin. Most heroin is injected, creating additional risks for the user, who faces the danger of AIDS or other infection on top of the pain of addiction.
“Heroin cut me off from the rest of the world. My parents kicked me out. My friends and my brothers didn’t want to see me anymore. I was all alone.” —Suzanne
The origins of heroin
Heroin was first manufactured in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company of Germany and marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as a remedy for morphine addiction.
A vicious circle
During the 1850s, opium addiction was a major problem in the United States. The “solution” was to provide opium addicts with a less potent and supposedly “non-addictive” substitute—morphine. Morphine addiction soon became a bigger problem than opium addiction.
As with opium, the morphine problem was solved by another “non-addictive” substitute—heroin, which proved to be even more addictive than morphine. With the heroin problem came yet another “non-addictive” substitute—the drug now known as methadone. First developed in 1937 by German scientists searching for a surgical painkiller, it was exported to the US and given the trade name “Dolophine” in 1947. Renamed methadone, the drug was soon being widely used as a treatment for heroin addiction. Unfortunately, it proved to be even more addictive than heroin.
By the late 1990s, the mortality rate of heroin addicts was estimated to be as high as twenty times greater than the rest of the population.

WHAT DOES HEROIN LOOK LIKE?
In its purest form, heroin is a fine white powder. But more often, it is found to be rose gray, brown or black in color. The coloring comes from additives which have been used to dilute it, which can include sugar, caffeine or other substances. Street heroin is sometimes “cut” with strychnine1 or other poisons. The various additives do not fully dissolve, and when they are injected into the body, can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, kidneys or brain. This itself can lead to infection or destruction of vital organs. The user buying heroin on the street never knows the actual strength of the drug in that particular packet. Thus, users are constantly at risk of an overdose. Heroin can be injected, smoked or sniffed. The first time it is used, the drug creates a sensation of being high. A person can feel extroverted, able to communicate easily with others and may experience a sensation of heightened sexual performance—but not for long. Heroin is highly addictive and withdrawal extremely painful. The drug quickly breaks down the immune system, finally leaving one sickly, extremely thin and bony and, ultimately, dead.

INTERNATIONAL STATISTICS
An estimated 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin. In 2007, 93% of the world’s opium supply came from Afghanistan. (Opium is the raw material for heroin supply.) Its total export value was about $4 billion, of which almost three quarters went to traffickers. About a quarter went to Afghan opium farmers. The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 153,000 current heroin users in the US in 2007. Other estimates give figures as high as 900,000. Opiates, mainly heroin, were involved in four of every five drug-related deaths in Europe, according to a 2008 report from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction. Opiates, mainly heroin, account for 18% of the admissions for drug and alcohol treatment in the US.

“From the day I started using, I never stopped. Within one week I had gone from snorting heroin to shooting it. Within one month I was addicted and going through all my money. I sold everything of value that I owned and eventually everything that my mother owned. Within one year, I had lost everything.“I sold my car, lost my job, was kicked out of my mother’s house, was $25,000 in credit card debt, and living on the streets of Camden, New Jersey. I lied, I stole, I cheated. “I was raped, beaten, mugged, robbed, arrested, homeless, sick and desperate. I knew that nobody could have a lifestyle like that very long and I knew that death was imminent. If anything, death was better than a life as a junkie.” —Alison
Drugs equal death. If you do nothing to get out, you end up dying. To be a drug addict is to be imprisoned. In the beginning, you think drugs are your friend (they may seem to help you escape the things or feelings that bother you). But soon, you will find you get up in the morning thinking only about drugs.
“Your whole day is spent finding or taking drugs. You get high all afternoon. At night, you put yourself to sleep with heroin. And you live only for that. You are in a prison. You beat your head against a wall, nonstop, but you don’t get anywhere. In the end, your prison becomes your tomb.” —Sabrina

IMMEDIATE HARM: The initial effects of heroin include a surge of sensation—a “rush.” This is often accompanied by a warm feeling of the skin and a dry mouth. Sometimes, the initial reaction can include vomiting or severe itching. After these initial effects fade, the user becomes drowsy for several hours. The basic body functions such as breathing and heartbeat slow down. Within hours after the drug effects have decreased, the addict’s body begins to crave more. If he does not get another fix, he will begin to experience withdrawal. Withdrawal includes the extreme physical and mental symptoms which are experienced if the body is not supplied again with the next dose of heroin. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, aches and pains in the bones, diarrhea, vomiting and severe discomfort. The intense high a user seeks lasts only a few minutes. With continued use, he needs increasing amounts of the drug just to feel “normal.”

Short-term effects
“Rush”
Slowed breathing
Clouded mental functioning
Nausea and vomiting
Sedation; drowsiness
Hypothermia (body temperature lower than normal)
Coma or death (due to overdose)

-www.drugfreeworld.org •

HEALTH CARE TRAIN BACK IN MOSSEL BAY IN AUGUST 2014

The Transnet Phelophepa Health Care Train will visit Mossel Bay again from 25 August 2014 to 5 September 2014 to provide a range of medical and related services to the community of Mossel Bay.

The aim with the train is to support the Department of Health as well as to provide services that are not yet available at all clinics. The train is operated on a day-to-day basis by a team of professionals.

The services provided include a basic health education programme for community volunteers. The aim of this programme is to inform them on issues such as personal and environmental hygiene, oral rehydration therapy, immunisation, family planning, prevention of STD’s, HIV and AIDS, alcohol abuse and smoking. It is anticipated that once trained these volunteers will be utilised as support systems in communities to Community Health Nurses and Workers.

Another service on the train is the Roche Health Clinic of which the main function is to do screening for health problems and to do health education.

The Eye Clinic on the train provides screening for visual problems and ocular pathology while there is also a Dental Clinic which provides oral health education as well as a range of dental services. In some cases small fees are charged for the services.

Qualified psychologists as well as final-year psychology students man the psychology/counselling unit on the train and provide individual and group counselling. This team also provides workshops on request to social workers, nurses, teachers, community centres, hospitals, clinics, religious leaders, police and parents.

More information on the train can be obtained from Ms Haylene Claassen at the Mossel Bay Municipality at telephone (044) 606-5228 or 0846503970 or by e-mail at hclaassen@mosselbay.gov.za. •

Dealing with Painful Emotion

The sudden shock of a loss, such as the death of someone you love, is a form of unconsciousness which reduces your analytical power. The Analytical Mind shuts down to some degree.

These painful emotion incidents are caused by sudden losses such as the departure of someone important to you, the loss or failure of a job or business or the sudden loss of your possessions. After losses such as these, you may not feel like you have as much vitality as you had before.

Why?

Well, you’re alive so there must be a force or flow of something which keeps you alive. What is this energy, this “stuff” of life? Call it “Life Force”.
Think of it as the gas that fills a hot air balloon. The more you have, the stronger your thrust to survive and succeed is and the more energetic, active and happier you are. The less you have, the less vibrant and alive you are, and the weaker your thrust to survive and succeed becomes.

So, where does your “Life Force” go?

Emotionally painful experiences such as these capture your “life force”, making it unavailable to you. The less “life force” you have, the less free your emotions are and you are left feeling sadder, “deader” and less alive.

As you live forward from childhood and suffer loss after loss, more and more of your “life force” becomes sealed up little by little in your Reactive Mind. As your enthusiasm for life lessens, so does your potential to survive. The glory and colour of childhood seems to vanish but this beauty and sensitivity to life isn’t gone. It’s just trapped within you. Release this trapped “life force” and you experience a renewed vigour and enthusiasm for life. •
view full video online:

https://dianetics.org.za

ENDURANCE TRAINING: UNDERSTANDING YOUR SLOW TWITCH MUSCLE FIBRES WILL BOOST PERFORMANCE

Muscles and muscle fibre
What are muscle fibres?
Muscles – like the rest of the body – are made up of cells, and in muscles these cells form muscle fibres.
Muscle fibres contract to create movement after receiving electrical signals from the brain – a chemical reaction then occurs in the muscle to create muscular activity. Depending on the sport or fitness activity, this chemical reaction can create long- or short-lasting energy (as in the case of a marathon run or a tennis serve respectively).
The specifics of slow-twitch muscle fibre
Slow-twitch muscle fibres are endurance fibres
What makes a muscle slow or fast? This has a lot to do with the number of slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibres a muscle has, and the way these fibres are trained. The more slow-twitch fibres there are, the better the muscle will be at providing lasting energy – see table 1 for examples of the percentages of slow-twitch fibres in the shoulder of selected sports participants. Conversely, the more fast-twitch fibres, the better the muscle will be at generating speed and power. You can change the proportion of the fibres between fast and slow, with the prolonged right training (although research indicates that these changes are not permanent).
Twitch rate
Muscles twitch – basically this reflects their speed of contraction when they are stimulated. Slow-twitch fibres do not have a very fast twitch rate compared to fast-twitch fibres, because they are not designed for speed.
Twitch rate per second
Slow-twitch muscle fibres 10-30
Fast-twitch 30-70
Slow-twitch fibres have a good blood supply, which greatly assists their ability to generate aerobic energy (that is, energy that relies on oxygen to fuel the chemical reactions going on within the muscles that provide this lasting energy). This oxygen supply capability can be enhanced by the right training.
Slow-twitch fibres can also be called ‘red’ fibres because of their ample blood supply.
Unlike fast-twitch fibre, slow-twitch fibre is less likely to increase muscle size when trained via endurance activities (or weight training). However, well-trained endurance athletes will have slow-twitch fibres that are slightly enlarged, in comparison to non- athletes and speed or power athletes, such as sprinters. But the most ‘noticeable’ endurance training effects occur inside the muscle and manifest themselves on the road, track or water in terms of enhanced endurance ability.
Table 1 displays how slow-twitch fibres can be developed through relevant endurance training. The more endurance training an athlete undertakes, the more slow-twitch muscle fibres they will develop. Compare the figures in the table with non-athletes, who would have around 45-55% slow-twitch fibres in their arms and across their body.

Slow-twitch muscle fibre’s response to endurance training:
Improved aerobic capacity
An increase in capillary density. Capillaries are oxygen-carrying highways, and the more capillaries there are in a muscle, the greater the potential for aerobic energy creation
The more endurance-trained a muscle is, the greater its stock of enzymes relevant to other specific muscular energy creation processes – notably the Krebs cycle. The Krebs cycle is a chemical process that takes place in muscles. Using an analogy, it’s a bit like having your own oil refinery in your car, that keeps producing (cheap!) fuel. In the body’s case, this equally crucial fuel is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the key energy-producing chemical in the body.

Further characteristics of slow-twitch fibre
Muscle fibres – whether slow or fast – are bundled together to form more powerful units (these are known as motor units). They can be equated to cogs in a machine that synchronise with each other to produce, in this case, muscular power. Depending on fibre type, these motor units do not mesh in the same way.
Slow-twitch muscle fibres are recruited synchronously
This means that their motor units work together to produce movement – one ‘cog’ turns another – and all at the same time. This contrasts with fast-twitch fibre, whose motor unit cogs are recruited asynchronously.
Basically, the smallest cogs (ie, the slow-twitch fibres’ smaller motor units) turn first and then the larger ones (fast-twitch fibres) only once the athlete mentally stimulates them to do so. This can be achieved by psyching oneself up and becoming aggressive and explains why, for example, it is difficult to lift a heavy weight without being in the zone. With slow-twitch fibres, less mental effort is required to fire them, until the athlete is fatigued. If you don’t put a lot of mental effort in when jumping, for example, you won’t jump that high (and you’ll be using your slow-twitch and intermediate fast-twitch fibres). To jump high you have to engage the larger, fast-twitch motor units, and this needs greater mental effort.
Slow-twitch muscle fibres provide a stabilising function within muscles
The percentage of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscles fibres varies between muscles. The gastrocnemius – the larger of the calf muscles – has a greater percentage of fast-twitch fibres in comparison to the smaller soleus. Balance and stability work tends to target the muscles with the greater proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibres, whereas those with more fast-twitch fibres are more power- and movement-orientated. Thus a single leg balance, from a standing-on-tiptoes position, will emphasise the slow-twitch fibres of the soleus, while a straight leg jump will primarily recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibres of the gastrocnemius.
Researched by KATIA C. ROWLANDS – PILATES INSTRUCTOR & PERSONAL TRAINER – 0825134256 •

Excessive Sweating During Exercise,Does That Mean I’m Out of Shape?

sExcessive sweating during exercise: does it mean you’re in bad shape, does it mean you’re in great shape, or does it mean anything at all?
First of all, you have to figure out if your excessive sweating occurs only during increased physical activities or during every day normal activities as well.
If it’s happening during normal activities it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong–what you ate and the temperature of your surroundings can have something to do with it.
There is, however, a condition called hyperhidrosis which occurs in around 1% of the population, and it really does cause excessive sweating. Since such a small percentage of people have it though the chances of this being the case for you is pretty slim.
Why We Sweat
Our bodies are always adjusting themselves, making sure we don’t have too much of this or too little of that. This process includes making sure we don’t overheat.

Of course there are other reasons why we drip: nervousness or fighting an infection for example, but for our purposes we’ll stick to sweating and physical fitness .
Simply put, our bodies sweat to bring down our body temperature during exercise. So you might think that your excessive sweating during exercise means something’s wrong when it really doesn’t.
Sweat glands, all 2-4 million of them, are either from theEccrine or Aproccine gland and they produce moisture on our skin that then evaporates, cooling us down. Sweat contains both water and sodium (salt) which you can sometimes taste on your lips when you sweat.
The harder you train, the more chances you’ll have excessive sweating during exercise which means, in most average healthy adults that your body is becoming more efficient at cooling itself down.
Take a look at athletes. Anyone remember Micheal Jordan? That guy would sweat buckets. For some reason people think that the more you sweat the less physically conditioned you are, which isn’t the case.
Hydration
Whether you sweat a lot or not we can all become dehydrated from time to time. What you eat and the amount fluids you take in have a dramatic effect on your level of hydration. Your body is around 60-70 percent water and your blood is mostly water so you need to take in enough fluid every day.
So how much does the average healthy person need? A simple formula you can use is this: take your weight in pounds and divide that number in half and that’s roughly how many ounces of water you need per day.
So a 200 pound man would need to drink about 100 ounces, or 12.5 cups, per day. Don’t drink it all in one sitting though, you need to drink throughout the entire day so sip instead of guzzling.
How Do You Know if You’re Dehydrated?
One of the easiest ways to tell if you’re dehydrated is to look at your urine. If it’s brown or has an amber color and a strong odor that’s a sure sign that you’re dehydrated.
If you feel thirsty you’re already slightly dehydrated. This is why you should be sipping throughout the entire day–so that you don’t feel thirsty.
You should also make sure that you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables because your body absorbs water more easily from food, especially fruits and vegetables with high water content (apples,pears,oranges,tomatoes) than it does just drinking a glass of water.
If you plan on training try to drink about 15-20 fl oz, 2-3 hours before working out, 8-10 fl oz 10-15 minutes before working out, and make sure to sip more fluids during your workout.
It’s better for your heart as well if you don’t let yourself get really thirsty and then drop a water bomb on it while you’re training.
So as you can see excessive sweating during exercise it really doesn’t mean that you’re in poor shape at all, it means your body’s cooling system works just fine so embrace the sweat knowing that it’s just doing it’s job.

Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256 •

Cycle Training

Cycling training: recent research on bone density in pro cyclists makes for uncomfortable reading
Cycling has traditionally been regarded as one of the healthiest sports around
This article:
Discusses the link between exercise, bone mineral density (BMD) and health;
Looks at new research on BMD in road cyclists and explains why they may be at greater risk of bone health problems;
Makes practical recommendations.
Cycling has traditionally been regarded as one of the healthiest sports around, and its impact-free nature has made it particularly appealing to those concerned about their joint and skeletal health. However, recent research on bone density in pro cyclists makes for uncomfortable reading. Andrew Hamilton explains.
The height of the cycling season is upon us and with it the big tours such as the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. During these events, the professional cyclists typically churn out hundreds of kilometres per week under race conditions. Meanwhile, even lesser mortal such as club and sportive riders will be upping their mileages, spurred on by forthcoming races and events.
Assuming that cyclists undertake a properly structured training programme with manageable increases in training volumes and intensity, and that they allow adequate time for recovery with good nutrition, the physiological and health effects of increased cycling performance will almost always be beneficial. For example, research shows that increasing the intensity of aerobic type exercise such as cycling confers several health benefits such as:
Enhanced insulin sensitivity(1);
Reduced blood pressure(2,3);
Improved blood cholesterol profile(2,3);
Reduced body fat(4);
Reduced risk of coronary heart disease (as the result of the above)(5,6);
Better quality of life in older age(7);
However, one area where (unlike many other forms of exercise) cycling might not deliver health benefits is bone health, or more specifically, increasing bone mineral density (BMD – see below).
Importance of bone density
Why are high levels of BMD important? In very simple terms, this is because low levels of BMD are associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects mainly (but not exclusively) older people, in which bones gradually become more fragile and likely to break. These broken bones are also known as fractures and typically occur typically in the hip, spine and wrist.
Osteoporosis (which quite literally means ‘porous bones’) is often known as the ‘silent crippler’ because it often progresses painlessly and unnoticed, until a bone actually breaks. Although any bone can be affected, fractures of the hip and spine are particularly problematical because they can produce a number of long-term complications including loss of ability to walk and permanent disability, loss of height and severe back pain. Although the precise mechanisms are poorly understood, the hallmark of osteoporosis is a reduction in skeletal mass caused by an imbalance between bone breakdown (resorption) and bone formation. This results in reduced bone mineral density.
Although osteoporosis is poorly understood as a disease process, we do know that being physically inactive is a major risk factor for developing osteoporosis. This is because vigorous ‘bone-loading’ physical activity is very effective at stimulating the uptake of calcium into bones, thereby helping to build bone mass in earlier years, and reducing the loss of bone mass in later years(8).
Bone loading exercise
Research has shown that the higher the muscular and impact load (gravitational) forces, the higher the BMD produced; so for example, gymnasts whose sport requires high loadings and impacts tend to have higher BMDs than endurance runners(9). By contrast, those who participate in sports with plenty of muscular motion, but without substantial loading (eg swimming) do not achieve the high BMDs of sports with higher loading(10). There’s also evidence that activities which develop strength (such as weight training) are particularly effective at producing high BMDs in the hip and spine(11,12).
So how does cycling fit into the equation? Well, muscular loading during cycling can be very high, especially during sprinting – for example on the track. On the other hand, the smooth spinning nature of the pedalling action and the fact that cyclists are supported by their saddle means there’s virtually no bone loading associated with gravitational impact (unlike the shock of foot-strike during running or field sports). In distance road cycling, therefore, where sprinting is only a minimal component, the degree of total bone loading is likely to be quite low, which has prompted researchers to look at the issue of BMD in cyclists more generally.
Overall, the balance of research suggests that road cyclists do not benefit from increased BMD in the same way that other sportsmen and women do (see below). But, more worryingly, some studies indicate that road cycling could actually have a detrimental effect on BMD. For example, French scientists found recently that compared to healthy non-cycling males, road cyclists had lower levels of BMD, and this was despite the fact that they were consuming significantly more dietary calcium (considered essential for bone health) than their sedentary counterparts(13). The researchers speculated that the combination of high training volumes of these cyclists combined with lack of bone loading might be a factor and now a brand new study on pro cyclists appears to bear this out (14).

Conclusion and recommendations
So where does this leave cyclists who are concerned about longer-term bone health? Well, it’s important to emphasise that reduced BMDs in road cyclists seems to be associated with large volumes of training (over 20 hours per week). The majority of recreational and club riders will not fall into this category. However, even recreational cyclists are unlikely to be benefiting from the increased BMD associated with many other forms of exercise and which can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
The good news according to Frederic Campion,  one of the researchers involved in the study above(19), is that resistance training and running are both excellent bone mass builders; adding small amounts of these activities into your weekly programme is not just an excellent bone health insurance policy, recent research suggests that they could even help improve your cycling – but that’s another story!

Researched by KATIA C. ROWLANDS – PILATES INSTRUCTOR & PERSONAL TRAINER – 0825134256 •

Hip Extention Basics

Hip extension involves some of our strongest muscles. It is an important part of stabilizing our pelvis, much of our daily movement, and a source of great power for sports and exercise. Unfortunately, many of us are losing the power of hip extension. In this article we talk about what hip extension is, why we need it, and how we can strengthen our hip extensors.
What is Hip Extension?Simply put, hip extension happens when we open our hip joint. We are extending our hip anytime we increase the angle between the thigh and the front of the pelvis and that can start from any degree of flexion. We are actually in hip extension when we are standing as our hip is open, and when the leg goes to the back.
The Muscles of Hip ExtensionYou know all those popular “butt exercises” that have us lifting our legs to the back in various positions? Those are hip extension exercises. They are great for toning the buttocks because the gluteus maximus (butt muscle is a primary muscle of hip extensions. The deeper layer of the glute is the most significant in hip extension. The hamstrings — long head (not short head) biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus — are also prime movers in hip extension. Gluteus medius and adductor magnus assist hip extension.
The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles of the body and hamstrings are, or should be, naturally strong as well. With those two as prime movers you can see that hip extension has the potential to be very powerful. We use hip extension a lot in daily life to stabilize the pelvis and propel us forward in activities like walking, standing up, and stair stepping. Athletes, of course, call on even more power from hip extension in running, jumping, swimming and so on.
Why We Need Hip Extension ExercisesWhy then, when two of the most powerful muscles in the body are involved in moves we make everyday, do so many of us need hip extension exercises? There is an “if you don’t use it, you lose it (or it spreads as the case may be) component here. We don’t make enough hip extension moves in our daily lives and those we do make aren’t challenging enough or done properly enought to keep our glutes and hamstrings toned and strong. Modern lifestyles have far too many people sitting for long periods of time and many not exercising at all.
There is another dynamic influencing our need for hip extension exercises which is that hipflexion — a decrease in the angle between thigh and pelvis — is literally taking over in our lives and workouts. Sitting a lot tightens our hip flexor muscles and weakens our hamstrings (tight hamstrings are weak). Just the opposite of what we need for full, powerful hip extension. And, the focus of much popular exercise is on hip flexion without balancing that out with hip extension. An Example would be cycling (including indoor spinning) where there is never a full hip extension.
Additionally, the current obsession with ab exercises has many people confusing their hip flexors with their abdominal muscles or at least working hip flexors a lot without regard to strengthening the muscles needed to balance out hip flexion, the hip extensors. One answer to tight hip flexors is stretching, which is great, but it is not enough. The flexors and extensors have to work together to keep the pelvis neutral and allow powerful and safe range of motion through the hip.
Hip Extension ExercisesNow that you have a basic introduction to the idea of hip extension, which muscles and involved, and why it is important (beyond the better butt) let’s talk about exercises that promote hip extension. Full hip extension exercises work the major muscles of hip extension, the glutes and hamstrings , by taking the leg back behind the pelvis thus opening the hip more. Pilates swimming is an example. Often, exercises meant to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings employ resistance from exercise equipment, body weight or gravity. Examples of both full extension and resistance exercises are below.
Pilates, a system of fitness that emphasize balanced musculature, has a lot of exercises that work hip extension. The Pilates approach is particularly beneficial as it is full-body awareness exercise that protects the back and stabilizes the hips as you move thereby strengthening and integrating the whole structure.
This attention to detail is quite relevant in hip extension as there is a strong tendency to cheat full hip extension exercises by tilting the pelvis to the front (anterior tilt), increasing our lumbar (lower back) curve and “impersonating” a hip extension which puts a lot of pressure on the back. Or, we find ourselves giving way to the leg going back by leaning forward — that’s not really working the glutes and hamstrings.
Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256

B Beautiful

 

Mind-body Balance Training for Special Populations

Individuals who are balance challenged, such as those with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, require a  method of balance training that usually includes keeping two feet on the floor. Fusing Western, Eastern and somatic concepts, this well-rounded practice combines ancient postures with traditional exercise to meet the balance needs of individuals with special needs, from the feet to the brain.

Many personal training and group exercise sessions incorporate balance exercises into the routine. Balance training is used to increase the efficiency of single-leg pattern movements such as gait or standing on one foot. When the word “balance” comes to mind, trainers and instructors often think of unstable-surface equipments . Although these tools are highly effective, especially with active adults, special populations require a different method of balance training—a process that usually includes keeping two feet on the floor. Balance exercises, like any other exercise, must be progressed before incorporating highly unstable surfaces. In addition, balance training is more than a physical practice of balancing on one leg. It challenges the vestibular system, proprioception and brain; thus, the mind and body work as one unit.

What follows is a “wholistic” balance-training guide that fuses Western, Eastern and somatic concepts. This well-rounded practice combines ancient postures with traditional exercise to meet the balance needs of individuals with special needs, from the feet to the brain.

Who Can Benefit From Balance Training?
The term “special populations” is defined differently in various contexts. In terms of exercise, special populations typically refers to individuals who require special attention or care to address their condition, needs or ability. Generally, there are program alterations that differ for special populations compared to the average healthy adult or athlete. The balance exercises presented here are beneficial for everybody, but were specifically designed for individuals who have a movement disability or neurological disorder. Diseases and ailments result in physical, mental and emotional alterations. As a result, bodies experience motor weakness, sensory changes, visual disturbances, fatigue and sensitivity to heat or paralysis. From seniors and stroke survivors to individuals with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, a wide range of special populations can benefit from mind-body balance training.
Key Components to Balance Training for Special Populations
The five following components can be used to help people comprehend their training programs and progress. These components maybe used individually or together to further progress and regress balance exercises. This ensures that exercises are safe, achievable and enjoyable.

Awareness unites the brain and body connection and enhances focus and concentration. While being aware, people are present in the moment and able to recognize breath patterns. Awareness is crucial to execute balance effectively, as stressed and fluttering minds distract from the task at hand. During awareness building, you can educate your clients on the foot’s triad, which are the points on the foot that form a triangle. This includes one point on the heel and two points on the medial and lateral ball of the foot.
Visual affect either assists or challenges balance, based on the visibility or focal point. Closing the eyes stimulates sensory receptors and proprioception. Partial or fully closed eyes help train the body for real-life situations such as fogged glasses, darkened room or visual impairments resulting from a stroke.

Balance challenge variables include:
Partially closing the eyes (see eyelids)
Closing one eye
Closing both eyes
Looking at a focal point
Visual fixation on stationary target with head moving
Visual fixation on moving target with head stationary
Eye gaze moving with the head

External stimulus incorporates either equipment or perturbation into the exercise, and either challenges balance or promotes concentration and assistance. A Pilates ball, strap or trainer’s touch may promote alignment or balance assistance. External stimulus combined with movement incorporates sensory stimulation with cognitive object concentration.
Contact point refers to anything that promotes balance while assisting the body or alignment. A chair, wall, body bar or a trainer’s shoulder can assist a client’s balance. Reducing contact points, such as lifting one foot off the floor or releasing one or both hands off the hips, challenges balance. Individuals with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease often have days that are better than others in terms of movement and balance. Therefore, some may require adding a contact point such a wall or ballet bar to hold onto while reducing the contact points of the foot.
Movement includes any small or large range of motion of one or more body parts. During balance training, the person may move his or her head, upper body or whole body. As a general rule of thumb, the more body parts that move, the more challenging the exercise becomes. In turn, movement can be used to progress from static to dynamic poses.

Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256 •

 

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