Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tennis as the New Fitness and Social Sport

Having fun, getting in shape, and meeting interesting people makes for some of the best fitness routines that will keep you on track. Tennis is one sport that helps you stay motivated while expanding your social network.  

Doctors recommend that everyone gets a few hours of high intensity exercise in per week. That won’t be hard to obtain if you find a group that meets a couple of times a week.

Tennis is a highly cardiovascular sport that shreds pounds.  Constant running and stopping will put your heart rate into the target zone improving your blood flow and strengthening your heart.

As a social sport tennis will introduction to lots of new people quickly.  Players rotate to try out new teams and experience new challenges. It won’t take long before you gain some new friends.

There are plenty of places to find tennis activities. You can visit recreation centers and ask about tennis activities, search online for clubs,  or make a call to the city’s recreation department. Tennis groups love new players and helping them gain new skills.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lighthouses and Lamplighters in Commerce (Poem)

The Lamp Lighter by Murad Abel

Lighthouses are part of the naval and seafaring beginnings of our great nation. Sea travel is an important method of transferring goods and information. Lighthouse were part of the infrastructure that ensured ships could safely make their way around dangerous points and into harbors. Without the lighthouses more ships and goods would be lost costing the early American economy greatly.

Military and civilian ships were often at danger from foreign influence, pirates and nature. Of the most damaging was Mother Nature with her ability to lead ships into rocks, disoriented plotted courses, and conjure bow crushing storms. Lighthouses provided guidance and protection for ships to help them navigate channels and hazards.

Lighthouses maintained the job of reducing overall cost and expenses of shipping. When ships are lost the economy slows down. Back in the day lives could be lost and people would not receive needed supplies. The lighthouse helped to ensure that this lose was lessened and people could continue to navigate waters as safely as possible.

The Lamp Lighter

Of up right stature he once was,
a hunched creature he has now become.

Makes his way up the winding stairs,
Each step a heavy labor to the darkened sky.

Ocean air whips his face,
A coat of sheep's wool his comfort.

A little light of passageway markers,
Jumps possessed from stick to wick.

His face is illuminated,
A full days light in tow.

He shields his eyes from what they can bear,
Blows out his light and heads down the stairs.

The painting is called the Lamp Lighter to honor all those who keep safe passage for the rest of us. Their job is one of no glory but of major importance to commerce. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Improving Fitness and Health with Yoga

Yoga was once an obscure practice that attracted bleeding souls, hippies, and sports enthusiasts. Over time Yoga made its way into mainstream activity as the benefits to our body and mind became apparent. Yoga provides a strong augmentation to your current workout and affords greater muscle recovery and healing.  Incorporating an hour of yoga three times a week into your schedule enhances other aspects of sports and fitness that lead to higher levels of satisfaction and health. 

Yoga has a positive effect on both physical and mental health. A large study of 15 yoga studios hosting 1045 respondents found that fitness levels were higher among those who practiced yoga with the far majority of respondents indicating that they were in good to excellent health (Ross, et. al. 2013). Furthermore, participants also stated that yoga improved energy, happiness, social relationships, sleep quality, and proper weight. 

Not all benefits of yoga are subjective. Another study helps us understand that yoga improved physical function and capacity (83%), reduced stress/anxiety (83%), enhanced sleep quality (21%), and improved upon diet (14%) (Alexander, 2013). The secondary benefits of sleep and diet supported fitness and stress management. 

Whether you are a sports enthusiast, interested in fitness, or seeking to unwind from a hard day’s work you should consider the multiple benefits of incorporate yoga into your schedule. Start with simple yoga three times a week that is more akin to stretching and then move into more complex power yoga that uses muscles and positions to tone the body.

Consider the multiple benefits of practicing:

Develops Flexibility: Yoga encourages muscle flexibility that improves upon recover and reduces the likelihood of future injury. Stretching muscles in the recovery of weightlifting routines improves range of motion.

Improves Muscle Tone: By holding ones body weight in varying positions both primary and secondary muscles are engaged leading to full body development.

Even Muscle Development: Yoga engages secondary muscles that are traditionally ignored in fitness programs. These muscles are used to create power and balance beyond large muscle development.

Encourages Balance: By developing secondary muscles and placing oneself within yoga postures it is possible to improve overall balance.

Develops Coordination: Yoga requires complex movements that use multiple positions, balance and muscles while training the body to complete actions in coordination.

Promotes Stress Reduction: Yoga makes use of contraction/relaxation of muscles and combines this with breathing to reduce the tightening symptoms of stress. 

Alexander, et. al. (2013). “More than I expected”: perceived benefits of yoga practice among older adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 21 (1). 

Ross, et. al. (2013). National survey of yoga practitioners: mental and physical health benefits. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 21 (4).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Size versus Full Body Fitness-Is There a Difference?

Fitness is often seen in a specific mindset that assumes that bigger equals better. When dealing with sports and general health this is not always the case. Size has its place but that place is beneath other aspects and markers of good health. Those interested in fitness and sports may focus on activities that increase their performance on tasks or improve perceptual body image. This could include the building of arms and chest at the expense of other body parts or it may also include engaging in the same activities over and over thereby increasing the risk of injury.

Sports and health are a full body activity. They require the ability to maintain cardiovascular endurance, strength, the ability to get into certain positions, put the body in the right positions, and the coordination of many parts working together. Ensuring that your entire body is at peak performance has great benefits beyond specific activities. General health should be seen as a full-body experience.

Fitness components include the following (1, 2, 3):

-Cardiovascular endurance: Improvement of the cardiovascular system that carries oxygen and blood to different parts of the body. The cardiovascular system is used in nearly all sporting activities and ensures that the body doesn’t become winded under prolonged stress.

-Muscle tone: Improvement in the strength of the muscles to lift more and do more. Muscle tone is used in nearly all sports and can create more power in activity. 

-Flexibility: The ability to use a full range of motion. Flexibility is used in all sports as well as those requiring particular body movements that can be difficult.

-Body Composition: This is how the body connects together and its relative portions that allow for full use. Body composition works well in sports that require proper body mechanics and form.

-Muscle endurance: This is how long the muscles can sustain pressure and weight. Muscle endurance is useful for activities that require equipment and other weighted items. 

-Coordination and Balance: This is how the body and all of its parts work together to ensure that tasks are completed. Coordination and balance is used in all sports and activities to create accuracy, coordination of movement, and momentum.

Multiple physical developments have its place within the literature. In the military it is often necessary to maintain stamina and peak performance above that of the civilian population. The military has four components of physical fitness that include endurance, mobility, strength, and flexibility (Roy, et. al., 2010). Coordination is often calculated a different way through successful task completion.

Focusing on something like size alone is not the only determinant of performance. A study developed to predict battlefield performance included 32 physically trained men for peak performance (mean +/- SD: 28.0 +/- 4.7 years, 82.1 +/- 11.3 kg, 176.3 +/- 7.5 cm) (Harman, et. al., 2008). They used anthropometric measures associated with height and body mass, fitness tests (push- ups, sit-ups, 3.2 km run, vertical jump and horizontal jump) as well as simulated battlefield physical performance under load (30-m sprints, 400-m run, obstacle course, and casualty recovery). The researchers found that body mass helped with recovery but not actual performance.  

What should we learn from this? If you are a steroid chomping, weight pumping, crazed beach buff who is completely satisfied with bulging arms and pin legs you are on the wrong track. True fitness should be measured in broad-based terms. Tone, flexibility, body composition, endurance, coordination and balance are more effective as measurements of potential performance. These aspects help to ensure the body has the skill for varying types of activities. 

General sporting and fitness health should include multiple sports. For example, yoga will support flexibility and balance while dance will encourage higher levels of coordination of movement. Muscle building activities will improve endurance and strength while sports like kickboxing and fencing will enhance how different muscles work together. Don’t forget the sprinting, jogging and walking that ensure your body is getting the proper amount of blood and oxygen for stamina. 

Harman, E., et. al. (2008). Prediction of simulated battlefield physical performance from field-expedient tests. Military Medicine, 173 (1). 

Roy, al. (2010). Physical Fitness. Military medicine.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Walking as a Fitness Augmentation to Sporting Activities

Those who engage in high intensity sports like self-defense, running, fencing, dance or anything else love to push their bodies to the limits in terms of cardiovascular exertion, flexibility, and pace. There are times when simply augmenting a regular fitness routine with walking is a benefit to both recovery as well as future growth. All bodies must slow down for a short time to regenerate and prepare for better performance in the near future. Walking is one way to stay active while still affording an opportunity to continue conditioning for peak performance. 

Let us assume that you had a rigorous week engaging in one of your sporting routines. You pushed your body to the limit and you have that achy feeling that lasts past 2 days, thirsty, and lethargic that may indicate that you are over trained (1). You will need some time to recover but don’t want to sit on the couch for days on end. You may want to consider walking as an alternative until your body recovers. 

Besides recovery, walking can also improve coordination, balance, health, weight loss, and bone strength (2). Therefore, your time at rest is not really at rest but refocusing on different aspects of your body. This is helpful in balancing your sports routine to ensure that you are not overly redundant on a single movement or activity that leads to injury. 

Walking should be brisk, raise the heart rate, and engaged in 3-4 times a week for 30-60 minutes. This allows for fill-in sports activities as well as general improvement in health. Before starting one should buy proper shoes and loose fitting clothing that help to avoid injury while still maintaining a reasonable level of activity. Try walking on different types of terrain such as a park or mountain to change intensity. 

Another option for walking is to use it as a warm up before engage in a more rigorous sporting activities. For example, before you play basketball, tennis, fencing, self-defense or anything else that will require high exertion you may want to walk for a half hour first to warm up the body, stretch the legs, and reduce chances of injury. 

According to the U.S. Surgeon General nearly half the population doesn’t engage in any fitness routine or regular physical activity so you should feel proud of your accomplishments (3).  This means that a great portion of society is a risk for various types of diseases and ailments that may be avoided. Proper eating and consistent fitness routines are important for overall mental and physical health. 

Your employer may also enjoy your activities that can improve their bottom line. Regular fitness improved productivity $2,500 a year while each $1 spent reduced medical costs by US $3.27 and absenteeism by US $2.73 (4). Walking is a win-win for you, your employer, and your goals. Use walking as an augmentation to other life and sporting activities.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fencing as a Sport of Physical and Mental Conditioning

Fencing is a sport that is one part physical and one part mental. Conditioning both helps to ensure that you are at the top of your game. The process of conditioning is through practice and experience. Conditioning is not found through only fencing practice but also in complementary activities. It has been argued that fencing during practice is 95% physical and 5% mental while in tournament it is the exact opposite (1).

It is first beneficial to understand what physical and mental conditioning means.  Physical conditioning requires the preparation of the body for rigorous aerobic exercise and ensuring the muscles are both tone and have endurance. Mental conditioning includes learning a variety of movements, ensuring quick reaction, and perceptive within the game.

Physical conditioning requires the ability to engage in aerobic, stamina, and physical strength (2).  Fencing requires heavy clothing and lots of speed and can get most athletes winded quickly. The body must be prepared to take on these jumps, movements, and leaps or you will simply lose from being out maneuvered. Engaging in sprinting, swimming, tennis, weight training, and other activities conditions the body as well as ensures coordination of movements (3).

The concept of physical conditioning in fencing is not new. Dating back as far as 1400 instructors like Vittorino da Feltre stated that fencing “required as a correlative to a fine intellectual humanism a standard of physical excellence and personal bearing to match (4)." His argument was that fencers needed to wear the right clothing, handle the elements of nature, and need to be conditioned for the sport.

In addition to the body the brain must also be conditioned. A person must memorize, internalize and use the various movements that act and interact against an opponent. This requires having a thorough understanding of the sport and judging the body mechanics of the opponent to maintain a leading edge. Without the mental conditioning overreaction, slow reaction, and sequence failure is likely to occur.

Fencers should understand how their personality impacts their performance. Fencer personalities can be categorized as active, passive, risk oriented, risk averse, cautious, offensive and defensive (5).  A person’s personality will determine their overall style, what movements they should focus on, and their weaknesses within the sport.