Exercise. It gets the blood pumping and the muscles going. It energises you and it tires you out. And sometimes, after a good workout, you wake up feeling all sorts of stiffness in muscles you didnt know you had. So what causes this?
Let’s start by looking at something called: Muscle Hypertrophy:
This is when your muscles increase in size as they get stronger. Due to:
- Mechanical tension
- Metabolic stress
- Muscle damage
This muscle damage is what can cause Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). So while muscle damage is not an essential aspect of hypertrophy, it is a sign that you are on the right track to building muscle… albeit a painful sign.
DOMS is a distinct muscle pain that is caused by overloading the muscles through heavy or unaccustomed activities. It can range in severity and timing and is characterised by a feeling of being sore, achy, weak and generally quite “pap”. Often it develops overnight and one will wake up feeling this soreness. Unfortunately DOMS can often deter people from exercising as they feel they are getting hurt, however this is not the case and DOMS is a natural reaction that does subside.
It is 2018!! Most likely you have sat down at some point recently and written out some New Year’s Resolutions. Did any of these include the decision to make a change with your health and wellness? Have you made similar goals like this that you have struggled to keep in the past?
Most people want to be fit and healthy, however it is not well executed and carried out often. So, what we want to look at is… how are you setting your exercise goals? Are those goals attainable? And how do you set realistic goals, particularly when it comes to exercise.
You may have heard of SMART goals at some stage. SMART, stands for:
Specific – Make your goal clear and easy to understand
Measurable – Be able to quantify your results
Attainable – Be realistic in your endeavours
Relevant – Does it fit where you want to go in life
Time-bound – Know what your time frame is
So, how do we translate this to be specific to exercise?
Humans have always felt the need to keep time and divide our days and nights and seasons. Timekeeping dates back to 10 000 BC, however, the calendar we use today, the Gregorian calendar was developed in 1582, as a refinement of the Cesarean calendar, which was the first to follow an algorithm that was independent of the moon.
So why do we feel the need to divide our time into years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds?
With the evolution of humanity and modern society, we rely on time to tell us when to wake up, go to work, catch a bus or meet up with friends. This all allows our lives to run more efficiently.
So, with there being 23 days till 2018, let us use this time to look back and look forward, on our journey through health.
December is a wonderfully festive time, with Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, and general merriment. However it also allows for an important time of reflection, as we look at what we have done over the year, and what we would like to change for the next year.
So I want to ask you 3 questions:
- What is something positive you have done in 2017?
- What is something you would like to leave in 2017?
- What is something you would like to improve in 2018?
The dictionary defines balance as:
- an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady
- put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall
- an instrument for weighing
- an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece
- physical equilibrium
Perhaps you have also heard people say things such as, “My balance has always been bad”, or “Poor balance is a part of getting old”, or even “I am thinking about getting a stick now that my balance is so bad”
So in your context, what is balance?
Maintaining ones balance depends on the following 3 processes happening:
- Your sensory system accurately portraying information on your body’s position in its environment – Hearing, vision and touch (such as our feet on the floor)
- Your brain processing that information – Neurons, sensory receptors in the brain and the decision making centres.
- Your muscles and joints coordinating movement based on the information your brain gives them – Being able to contract and relax to move how you want to.
These 3 factors are usually an automatic process for our body, and so when we feel our balance worsening, we need to explore which of these steps are not working how they should.
Most of the time, poor balance is a combination of a few factors, each adding a little bit to our instability. It is important to explore each of these factors and see which are lacking. Most of the time our balance problems can be anticipated and corrected if we know what to look out for.
There is one thing that is certain in life, and that is that each and every one of us ages a little bit, every day. In your 20’s and 30’s ageing is probably not even noticed, as life is so busy and exciting. By the time you are 40, some hints start creeping in, but these are minor symptoms of ageing – slight crow’s feet around your eyes, or somewhat less vigour and energy compared to when you were in your youth, for example. When you are in your mid 50’s all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you have developed several aches and pains, body stiffness, and you may have to take a handful of pills every day for a list of chronic conditions that you have somehow managed to accumulate. What about when you are 70 or 80 years old, then what? Considering that life expectancy has increased substantially, and that people are living much longer than a few decades ago, it’s certainly becoming a realistic question to ask, “When I am in my mid-80’s, how will I have aged and how functional will I be?”
Ageing seems to be relative, as some people approach ageing with the attitude of “70 is the new 60”. How old are you really? Your biological age is simply how long you have been alive, but a much more important question is, “What is your body age?” In other words, how well does your body work and function? Is your body old, stiff, weak, unable to carry out functional activities because of pain, disease, chronic conditions and poor lifestyle habits? Or are you mobile, functional, able and fit? Although we are all getting “older” every day, exercise has been shown to challenge the concept of biological ageing, as it significantly reduces the risk of disease development and other chronic conditions that are so often associated with old age.
Winter… the dreaded time where productivity decreases, laziness increases, and the days are generally colder and darker, making it a lot less appealing to exercise.
Staying active all year round can be an intimidating task, especially when Mother Nature is not co-operating. This is why it is important to be involved in a community based exercise program where you can have friends to hold you accountable and cheer you on through the winter. Exercising throughout the year will help you to achieve a weather-proof, healthy lifestyle. When we exercise, our muscles change slowly and get stronger over time, which is why it is vitally important to keep up your fitness throughout the year, as opposed to exercising intensely in the summer and then doing nothing in the winter.
Knowing that activity levels drop in winter and we are naturally inclined to exercise less, this is one more reason to celebrate the 1st of September and the start of Spring!