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Injuries Vs Fitness: 7 Tips to getting Back on your Feet

Injury. It’s the one word that can strike fear into even the most dedicated of athletes. (Followed possibly by "drug test".)

An injury can completely derail even the most motivated of gym-goers. And unfortunately, it’s one of the most common mishaps of training.

Suffering from an injury is one of the biggest reasons that people stop working out altogether, but it doesn’t have to be! If you approach working out the right way even though you’re injured, and you maintain a positive mindset then you can preserve your physical fitness while still healing.

1. Go get a professional opinion

Before you do anything else, go see a doctor! Though most of us have an uncanny fear of going to see a doctor to get an injury checked out (how many of us have fallen victim to the “if I ignore it, it’s not real!” mindset?) it’s the very first thing you need to do. Getting a professional opinion will help you overcome injury faster and help you come back stronger and better than before. Many times they can point out things that are wrong that you didn’t even notice, thus saving you from repeating the same mistakes and re-injuring yourself over and over again.

2. Exercise around the injury

You don’t have to completely stop working out just because you have injured a body part. Instead focus on the workouts that you can do. If you can still do low-impact cardio try taking up swimming or biking. If you’re sidelined from doing upper- body weights find lower-impact lower body exercises or core work that you can do without affecting the injured area.

3. Don’t use injury as an excuse to completely stop

If you are able to still work out despite an injury than do so! It’s going to be that much harder to get back into working out if you stop completely. It’s easy to view an injury as an excuse to become lazy and stagnant,however continuing to maintain your physical fitness will make you stronger not just physically but mentally as well.

4. Focus on what you can do

Use this time to clean up your diet or try something new that you have been putting off. Injury is your body’s way of telling you that it needs a break from some activity or that you approached an activity with a little too much fervor.

You may have never realized how much you enjoy cooking until now, or that you actually really love yoga classes despite what you thought before. Use this time to make yourself a better-rounded fitness and nutrition enthusiast!

5. Stay positive

It’s so easy to fall into a downward spiral of negativity when you suffer an injury, sometimes even bordering on depression. When you’re sidelined from doing something you love it’s hard to find acceptance in that.

And it’s okay to acknowledge these feelings. But don’t let them consume you. Stay as positive as possible and focus on the good in your life – it will make everything else more bearable as you wait for your injury to heal.

6. Don't Overdo it on the Pain Killers

Yes, you are in pain. But just because you have access to powerful painkillers doesn't mean you should be gobbling them up like Smarties.

7. Give your body time to rest

I know, I just spent several paragraphs explaining how you should stay active. But you also need to allow your body adequate time to rest and heal. Just like you shouldn’t give up exercise completely, you shouldn’t approach it with an over-zealousness either.

Use this time to find a healthy balance between both rest and exercise.

As frustrating as injuries are, they don’t need to signify the end of your fitness career, only that you need to tweak it a bit. Get professional opinions from doctors and personal trainers so that you can approach your recovery in smart way and come back more fit and strong than before.

Don’t give up hope – you will be back on your feet in no time!

5 Reasons Why you should Exercise in the Morning

Here are FIVE great reasons to exercise in the morning:

1. Accomplishment Something in the Morning!

It's a fantastic feeling to start the day with success. Exercising in the morning sets off every day with a job well done and an accomplishment under your belt! Plus, exercise makes you feel good and this glow will carry with you all day long.

2. Get it out of the Way

How many times have you wanted to exercise after work but ended up pushing it aside for an emergency meeting, falling behind on chores or coming home from an especially tiring day at work? Exercising in the morning ensures that the workout is completed before any of life's other surprises can be thrown your way.

3. Better for Fat Burning

There has been a lot of research that indicates that exercising in the morning burns more fat if you exercise before eating breakfast. This is because there is no sugar or carbohydrates (glucose) to burn in your body so it is the fat cells that end up being used as an energy source. Also, cardio in the morning will increase your metabolism + heart rate the rest of the day, making your body a fat burning machine for the rest of the day even if you're sitting at a desk for 7 to 8 hours.

4. Weight Lifting Burn Time

Weightlifting in the Morning is also the best time to lift weights. Your body is well rested and (hopefully) stress free. The extra rest means your muscles are ready for some action and will build up more strength. If you lift weights in the morning eat a little something before you begin. eg. Cereal. The food energy will give you the extra "push" to work out harder and stay focused (for safety). Building muscle will help to burn more calories all of the time, even at rest!

5. Good for the Bowels Too!

Now maybe you aren't old enough to be worrying about this, but exercising in the morning is good for both your bladder and your bowels. Get into the routine and your plumbing will run like clockwork!

Why You Should Count Calories

There is a definite divide when it comes to whether or not you should count calories. On the one hand, knowing your exact food consumption is very helpful toward losing weight, but on the other, side of the coin it is time consuming and can lead to disordered eating. It can be a double-edged sword if you aren't careful.

You can even get an app for your SmartPhone that will count, calculate and keep track of the calories for you.

Here is a list of pros and cons:

Why you SHOULD Count Calories
  • If you have never tried to count calories before it can be very revealing as to why you are not losing weight or achieving other fitness goals such as muscle building.
  • After figuring out your daily caloric needs counting calories and macro-nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) will assist with designing the perfect meal plan for your goals and lifestyle.
  • Counting calories ensures that you will never gain weight.
  • So you can keep track of both your intake of calories and your usage of calories via exercise.
When Counting Calories is a Bad Idea
  • If you begin to obsess or restrict calories
  • If counting calories makes you "unbending." (ex: you won't dine with friends because you do not know the calorie counts in the foods that you are eating).
  • If you find it too time consuming and it is more a chore than a helpful tool. 
  • If your friends start to worry about your unhealthy thinness.
Find the Balance and Eat Healthy!

Once you have counted calories and you recognize the calorie content in the meals that you routinely eat there is no reason to count calories anymore. Once in a while you may find that you want to know the calorie count of a new food and that's perfectly acceptable and normal behavior. However, if you find that counting calories is becoming more of a negative, rather than a helpful way to achieve goals, then sticking to smart sized portions and natural food is the best way to go. 

What should I look for in a personal trainer?

For many, the general thought is that personal trainers, are all the same. They are not. Each of them has their philosophy, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Some personal trainers favour cardio, some favour weight lifting, some a balance between the two, and some (like myself) like to balance cardio with sports activities to make things more fun and interesting. After all, do you really need a personal trainer to watch you while you lift weights? Not really. What you do need is someone who can motivate you.

The primary role of personal trainers is to provide encouragement, motivation, and to give a client "a good push" whenever they need it. Some people have difficulty giving themselves motivation and they wouldn’t be able to give themselves the encouragement on their own.

But it goes beyond that. Some personal trainers also like to measure things. It takes a more scientific approach. Every personal trainers has the potential to design effective, personalized programming using the correct balance of science and lifestyle anecdotes in an effort to help the trainee maximize their goals and be able to see the actual differences.

But how do you find a good trainer?

To find a good trainer, it goes beyond mere credentials. Any one get some bogus personal training credentials to stick on their wall. They can go through training programs or they might simply have life experience. If they're in the business of personal training they know what their doing in their respective fields. Some of them may even have had weight problems in the past and have gone on their own personal journey of "zero to hero".

Granted, an university degree / background in exercise science, kinesiology, or human kinetics can be beneficial, but the amount of independent research the trainer does is what really matters. For all you know they might be a bonafide university graduate of kinesiology, but they also might have slacked off and rarely attended classes... graduated with a really low grade point average.

Obviously what you really want is someone who is about being proactive, and making strides to deliver the best service to clients – and that takes time and hard work. You’ll be able to notice the differences between good trainers and fluffy ones if you pay attention to this checklist:

1. Take note of how often a trainer references a cosmetic advantage specific to an exercise. eg. “This exercise will help shape the chest, while this one will help widen it”. Humans aren’t made of moulding clay, and this kind of talk reflects a lack of true theoretical knowledge.

2. Look for the difference between strict ‘rep counters’ versus 'tip trainers' constantly giving cues and feedback during sets of work. The latter group are more engaged, and vigilant with the client’s safety in mind. A rep counter will just tell you to do 100 of this, 100 of that, blah blah blah... That isn't motivation and they're not paying attention to whether you are doing it correctly. Its just someone telling you the numbers and then standing back while you do all the work. Counting reps is handy, because you should keep track and measure these things, but the tip trainer will make sure you are doing those 100 pushups properly and will give you tips on how to do it properly. There is also a third type: Drill Sergeants. Those are really a matter of personal taste and they're not for everyone.

3. Ask your prospective trainer about programming. Does he or she follow any protocols that would encourage a consistent, disciplined client to reach set goals? You should be able to judge from their response how well organized they are.

4. Pay attention to “fads” and fitness trends. Does the trainer in question often implement the most popular and commercialized methods of training with clients? Good examples would be overuse of the BOSU ball, CrossFit training, or TRX Suspension training. Or anything with a trademarked name or acronym. Chances are likely they are getting a commission every time a client buys the item in question. Also all of these systems are usable for certain purposes and populations, but should be used with discretion and people should not feel 'forced to buy' whatever product the personal trainer is pushing.

5. Note whether the trainer addresses weak links in his or her clients. It’s a safe move for a coach to go through some form of screening process to determine a client’s muscular and skeletal balance. This can be done through muscle testing, specific exercises, and mobility drills. It would be unsafe to simply jump into full workouts right off the mark without first assessing the client.

6. Above all, pay attention and look for the equipment and methods that are most commonly used with that trainer. Does he or she stay away from key equipment like barbells and dumbbells, to replace them with machines, cables, and bands? Are major primal movement patterns like squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses avoided for instability training, or arm dominant or “core” dominant exercises?

7. Remember what your core purpose is for getting a personal trainer. Lose weight? Strap on more muscle? General athleticism? Training for a specific sport? Find a trainer which suits the reason why you are training in the first place.

At the present time, it’s relatively simple to achieve certification to be a “personal trainer”. You can even do it online (do a Google search and you can find them being sold as an online test for $69.99). So really anyone can get certification, even little kids. That doesn't mean they actually have the skills to train you.

You may have extra requirements that you are looking for in a personal trainer. You might prefer someone older, more experienced, or you might prefer to have a female instructor because you feel uncomfortable around male trainers. There certainly are more things to add to the list, but the message is clear. Finding a good personal trainer goes beyond finding someone who can make you sweat, breathe heavy, and get sore the next day. Exercise is a science, and choosing the right “scientist” can make the difference between reaching your goals or getting owned by a plateau.

The Benefits of Walking Sticks

Walking sticks are common walking companions to people of all shapes, ages and sizes, regardless of the type of walking, hiking or the weather. Anything from a simple afternoon stroll to a rigorous multi-day hike through the woods of northern Ontario can be aided by a walking stick. Walking sticks can range from a simple stick made from a tree branch you randomly pick up to specialized, ergonomic sticks purchased at high prices from outdoor-gear stores.

Regardless of the type of walking stick you use, there are several ways they can help you.

#1. History and Function

Walking sticks (also called hiking poles) are common in Europe, especially in Switzerland and Austria, where you'll often see older adults moving briskly over alpine hillsides, walking sticks firmly in hand. Historically they date back to the earliest hominids, and even some modern apes use sticks both for walking, but also as tools and weapons.

Walking sticks are now catching on in North America, too, as they are quite useful and provide more of a workout than you would get otherwise. The sticks help to support your knees and back when you're hiking or walking. If you have joint or knee problems, walking sticks can help by distributing your weight more evenly and giving you more stability. They also make uphill climbs easier and improve your hiking form by helping to keep your momentum forward, with your chest and arms out in front. You'll burn 20 to 25% more calories per walk as a result of putting your upper body muscles to work with the use of a stick.

#2. Improved Upper-Body Workout

Using a walking stick requires lifting the stick, placing it ahead of you and helping support your body's weight with your arms as you move. Over the course of a long walk, this can be a good workout for your arms and shoulders, helping you burn more calories as you exercise. You shouldn't find yourself exhausted while using a walking stick, but the Mayo Clinic says the stick will increase the intensity of your workout.

For increased intensity you can even get a heavier walking stick, something with a bit more heft (almost like a caveman's club). Don't forget to switch arms regularly.

#3. Back and Joint Health

Walking sticks help redistribute your body's weight. Instead of all your weight coming down on your back, hips and knees, a walking stick displaces some of your weight from your back and lower body and supports it through your arms and the stick itself. This can reduce wear and tear on your joints and muscles, which can help people with arthritis or back problems. Walking poles also foster proper posture as you use them, particularly in your upper back. Proper posture helps distribute weight evenly and safely, reducing your risk of injury and improving your back health.

#4. Improved Stability and Balance

When you walk over trails or other uneven surfaces, various obstacles or objects can make it difficult to maintain your balance, such as when you are going uphill, walking on soft or loose dirt, or stepping on rocks as you walk. Walking sticks help stabilize your body and reduce your risk of falling or slipping. The sticks also assist on hills by providing stability, especially as walkers become fatigued and their muscle strength and stability becomes less reliable.

#5. Could walking poles help me get more out of my daily walk?

Answer from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk — which can help you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout. This activity is sometimes called Nordic Walking.

Most walking poles have rubber tips that grab the pavement and wrist straps that secure the poles to your arms. With one walking pole in each hand, you grip the handles and push off with each stride. Sturdier walking poles designed for hiking are known as hiking or trekking poles.

Consider the benefits of walking poles:
  1. The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.
  2. Walking poles improve balance and stability.
  3. Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
  4. Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.
Walking poles in various fixed or adjustable lengths are available online and in many sporting goods stores.

#6. Which is better? Two walking sticks or One?

Should you use two walking sticks (aka trekking poles), or just one?. It boils down to what is your personal preference.

Or more specifically, what feels right for you when walking on the trail.

Theoretically, two poles was the best thing to do because it will provide the best workout. But if it doesn't feel right for you then don't worry about it. You're still getting more of a workout by having one walking stick and switching arms regularly so the workout is evenly distributed. For some people two poles just doesn't feel right. You feel unbalanced and/or can't get a good rhythm.

Not everyone will have the same problems with two walking sticks, so it doesn't hurt to try and just see how well it works. You might even try using only one aluminum pole and one wooden staff, when (non-snow) trekking or hiking. See whether you prefer wood or aluminum, one stick or two, both aluminum and wood at the same time.

As long as the end result is the same (extra exercise, better posture, less backpain) then you're succeeded.

Experiment. Do what's comfortable.
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