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Give It A Rest

Cardinal rule of exercise – you have to allow your body to rest and repair. Although this is widely known, I often talk to people who never rest and exercise 7 days a week.

Why Rest Is Important:

  • The body repairs and strengthens itself in-between workouts. Continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athlete.stock-footage-woman-drinks-coffee
  • During recovery, the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place – meaning, this is where you build muscle.
    • Conditioning requires a balance between overload (pushing the muscles) and recovery. Too much overload or too little recovery result in both physical and psychological symptoms.
  • Rest helps maintain a better balance between home, work &  fitness goals.
  • Sleep is key to keeping hormone levels steady which aid in stress and muscle recovery, as well as a stable mood.  Sleep deprivation can also affect aerobic endurance.
  • Too  few rest and recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome : when you train beyond the body’s ability to recover.

Common Warning Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome 

  • Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
  • Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Sudden drop in performance
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
  • Decrease in training capacity / intensity
  • Moodiness, irritability or depression
  • Loss of enthusiasm for working out
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • A compulsive need to exercise 

Principal of Adaptation & How It Applies To Recovery

When we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient – Principal of Adaptation (also discussed in our “The Power of Your Heart” blog entry). When you do not properly rest from the stress of physical exercise, your body cannot adapt as easily to the changes.

The body can only tolerate so much stress before it breaks down and risks injury. Doing too much, too quickly will result in muscle damage and have adverse effects (too many days of exercise). Likewise, doing too little, too slowly will not result in improvement (going through the motions).

The other key component of building your fitness level is to vary your workouts between cardio and strength conditioning. All too often, people will focus on one or the other and constantly work the same muscles without rest. Ever try a new class and couldn’t move the next morning? Excellent example of muscles you are not training in your normal workout. Varying your workouts allows the muscles you typically use to rest and helps your body adapt to change (improve your fitness level).

My Take

People always ask me what I do for my workouts. I am a pretty scheduled kinda girl who likes to plan my week. I work out 5 days/wk with 2 days rest.

3 days I vary my workout with high intensity interval and strength training at K2 fitness. In between those days, I do 2 days/wk of interval sprints for 30 minutes on my treadmill (5 min running/2 min sprint circuits).

I believe in those 2 days of rest (as hard as it is sometimes to mentally convince myself to not workout). I feel so refreshed when I  go back to my workouts.

When I workout, I workout hard and make every minute count. It’s better to maximize your time at the gym and work hard the days you go then going through the motions every day and not improving your fitness level. Workout, repair and workout again.

And think of all the time you will save with less days at the gym.

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Favorite Fitness & Nutrition Apps

imagesI remember the days when I would go for a run and then go back out in my car to track how many miles I completed.  Those days are long gone.  Today, there are mobile apps for tracking your run, counting calories, designing workouts, monitoring your mood, and so much more.  Below are 7 of my favorites apps to help you achieve your fitness and nutrition goals. And stay tuned; we will tackle this topic again, as the list of ingenious and inventive apps continues to grow.

Run with MapMyRun + GPS running.  This app is the primary reason that I now run almost a full minute faster per mile than I used to run.  I don’t know how I ever ran without.  Its primary feature is to simply track how far and how fast you run in total and per mile.  You can play your music and run this app at the same time.  My favorite part is when my music lowers (this happens automatically each time you reach a mile marker) and I here that Siri like voice telling me that I have completed another mile and at what pace.  It keeps a record of all your runs and allows you to post to Facebook or Twitter. And it even has a nutrition tab that allows you to enter the food you have eaten and calculates your calorie budget for the day. $2.99.

iMuscle2.  This app is excellent for planning a workout and keeping track of your progress.  Using a beautiful rotating 3D model, you tap the body part that you want to work and then choose among dozens of exercises offered to work that specific body part.  You can filter the results based on which type of equipment (if any) that you have at your disposal. If you don’t want to build a custom workout, you can choose from one of the preset ones.  And if, like me, you have trouble understanding how an exercise is supposed to be performed based on a static picture, then you will love the little moving pictures that illustrate each move. For every exercise, it will tell you the primary and secondary muscles worked and will record the number of sets, reps, and weight used.  You will also have the opportunity to enter your weight, height and 10 different body measurements, so you can track exactly how your body is changing.  And all this is for $1.99.

Upbeat Workouts for Runners.  It has happened to most of us – you are hitting the pavement and feeling invigorated when some slow paced, depressing song starts playing and you can’t hit the skip button fast enough.  This app takes care of that problem.  It matches your running or walking steps to you pace – automatically!   It works directly from your own itunes library by picking the songs that suit your pace, whether cooling down or going all out.  $2.99

Lose it! and MyFitnessPal.  The goal of both of these apps is to help you lose weight by tracking everything that you eat.  It is the food journal that every health professional has been telling us to keep if we want to lose weight. Both are 5 star apps and both do their job well.  But to note a few differences, MyFitnessPro has a much larger restaurant database and its bar scanner (which they both have) seems to recognize more food.  On the other hand, Lose It! seems a bit less ‘techie’ and slightly easier to navigate.  For imputing homemade meals, MyFitnessPal can be a touch more cumbersome, but it will remember your meals.  You really cannot go wrong with either one and since they are both free – why not try both?

Fooducate.  This app looks beyond simple calorie counts – it helps you eat healthy.  Simply scan any food at the grocery story or type in the name of an item, and it will not only tell you the calories per serving, but it will also assign a letter grade to your selection.  It will let you know about harmful ingredients or what vitamin or nutrient it is a good source of, as well as provide GMO details (this is an upgraded feature).  And to make your shopping easier, it will even suggest a similar, but healthier alternative.  Free, but lots of upgrades available for additional cost.

Healthy Break.  A recent American Heart Association study showed that periods of inactivity beyond 30 minutes will slow down your metabolism.  Your time at the gym is important, but what you do the rest of the day affects your metabolism as well.  So get up from that computer and stretch and walk around – but wouldn’t it nice to be reminded?  This little app does just that.  You can set it to go off at certain intervals and to repeat for a set period of time. Now you will never forget to keep moving!  Free, but a pro version available for $1.99

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