A Few Reasons to Improve Your Sleep

Being well into the new year now, your goals to improve fitness, lose weight, decrease chronic pain or just improve overall health are hopefully well underway!  I just wanted to address a topic that could prevent you from continuing to make progress.  That is of course, sleep.  

 

A lot of us start the year with a goal of losing weight.  However, if you haven’t been successful it could simply be due to a lack of sleep.  Hormones within your body that help you feel full decrease and hormones that make you hungry increase, causing you to want to eat when you’re body doesn’t even need it.  Your body will also store food differently when you’re sleep deprived.  Long story short, not getting your sleep will keep fat on your body despite all of your hard work to try and shed it!

 

Cardiovascular health can also be greatly effected by a lack of sleep.  This can be due to a wide variety of reasons.  One of the greatest causes of sleep deprivation is stress.  Chronic stress that causes a lack of sleep is very closely linked to high blood pressure and can also increase negative hormones in our body that have been linked to blood clots, causing an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.  Of course, a great way to increase sleep along with decreasing stress and cardiovascular health risks is exercise!  Regular exercise along with adequate down time to relax will decrease stress and make sleeping much easier.

 

A few ways to tell if you’re not getting enough sleep can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Lack of concentration/focus
  • Increased symptoms of depression
  • Constant mood changes

Lastly, a few ways to naturally improve your sleeping patterns:

  • Cut out caffein 4-6hrs before sleeping.
  • Exercise….just not too late in the day.  Exercise releases stimulating hormones that are beneficial for you, just not right before you go to bed.  
  • Avoid TV watching or using any bright hand held devices right before your try to sleep.
  • Set a routine for going to bed and getting up in the morning and stick to it as best you can, even on weekends!  

I hope those tips are beneficial for continuing to try to achieve your goals throughout the year!

The Importance of Flexibility

One of the most common causes for muscle aches, joint pain or even low back
pain can be a lack of flexibility. Having spent many years in a "gym" type
atmosphere, I've seen how much stretching and improving ones flexibility is
ignored or not thought of as important. Certainly with the growing
popularity of things like yoga, Pilates and stretch & strength classes
there is an awareness of the need to improves flexibility and joint
mobility. However, for those who are less active and either have a long
commute to work or sit at a desk for the majority of their day, flexibility
couldn't be more crucial.

Adding a very simple full body stretching routine can greatly increase the
functional ability of your body, allow you to perform tasks more easily and
can help keep you much more active and independent with age.

Getting up from your desk and adding a short stretching routine to your day
can be extremely beneficial. However, keep in mind that you'll benefit
most from stretching after movement. Moving helps your muscles "warm-up"
and will increase circulation throughout your body, allowing your muscles
to lengthen easier. It will also decrease the amount of discomfort
experienced during a stretch.

Here are a few more reasons to stretch as well as a few pointers on how to
help improve your stretch. Enjoy!

Regular stretching can do the following:

 - Relieve stress
 - Improve posture
 - Relieve tension related headaches
 - Increase joint mobility
 - Reduced the risk of injury during movement

When stretching, always do the following:

 - Breathe!
 - Stretch within your limits – don't force the stretch into extreme pain
 - Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15-20 seconds
 - Be sure to hold the stretch, don't "bounce"
 - Be consistent. Stretching once a week won't give you the results
 you're looking for. Go for a minimum of 3-4 days/week

With that said, remember that stretching after your movement routine will
help increase your flexibility much faster and much easier!

Breakfast: The most important meal of the day?

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have at least heard that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” Is it actually true though? 

Yes.  Whether you’re looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy body weight, or even just looking to have mental boost to start your day, breakfast is key.  Here’s why. 

Without including breakfast as a part of your regular routine, you may actually be prone to gaining weight.  Many research studies have shown that people who are looking to lose weight are more likely to skip the first meal of the day, with the thought that skipping calories at the start of the day will help decrease their overall caloric intake.  If that's the case, you’re really just setting yourself up to fail.  Starting the day without food will force your body to run with very low blood sugar.  This will greatly increase your desire to snack in between meals or eat larger meals, which will limit your chance of decreasing calories from day to day. 

Along with maintaining a healthy weight, breakfast is very important for improved mental focus to start your day. We all know the physical effects of hunger such as headaches or a growling stomach, but don’t forget that hunger will also effect your concentration and awareness at the start of your day, whether it's a 45-minute commute to work or that mental toughness you need for your early morning exercise routine. Remember that eating a well-rounded meal to start your day will give you the focus and energy you need to start your day off right!

Age Related Muscle Loss Part 2: Protein Metabolism

After discussing the age related loss of muscle mass and the benefits of movement based therapy, I thought it would be beneficial to continue by discussing the nutrition side of things.  So we’ll call this one “Age Related Muscle Loss Part 2: Protein Metabolism".

What is protein metabolism?  Well, it’s a combination of two processes called protein synthesis and protein breakdown.  To build muscle, we must keep our body in a constant state of protein synthesis.  As we age, protein breakdown becomes more predominant which is one of the main reasons for the age related muscle loss.  So how do we counteract this?

We need to eat protein.

Whether it’s meat, rice and beans, or your favourite protein powder, consuming protein helps maintain protein synthesis, which can greatly decrease the loss of muscle mass with age.  How much should you be eating?  Well, research has shown that for the general population a good rule of thumb is to consume approximately 0.8grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day and as we age, that number can increase to just over 1gram per kilogram of body weight.  Other research has shown that most of the general population and especially seniors do not consume enough protein in their diet.   As we age, we begin to lose our appetite, which is where a protein powder can be very effective.  Most protein powders contain 25-30grams per scoop, a great way to boost your daily protein intake without the hassle of cooking a meal.     

So along with staying active, remember to include protein as a regular part of each meal! 

Maybe it’s time for a new pair of shoes!

LifeSourceWellness-new-shoes-promo-web

Renew your next package with the purchase of 12 sessions by March 15th and receive $50 off your next pair of Running shoes at Running Free. You will also receive a pair of 'sweat free' heavy duty running socks ($15 value).  

Renew your next package with the purchase of 24 sessions and receive a $150 gift certificate at Running Free. You will also receive a pair of 'sweat free' heavy duty running socks ($15 value).  

Packages must be renewed by no later than March 15th!

Please note:  Any current Lifesource patient that refers a friend that purchases a package, will also receive a Running Free gift certificate as well.

What a great deal for spring!"

Age Related Muscle Loss

During the process of aging, it becomes obvious that there are many changes occurring within our bodies.  One of the more obvious ones is the loss of muscle mass and strength.  More noticeable after the age of 60, often the first sign is just a feeling of weakness.  This process of losing muscles mass and strength is largely viewed as an inevitable one.  After peaking at a relatively early age, the loss of muscle mass begins around the age of 40 years at a rate of about 1% per year, increasing to about 2% per year by the age of 50.  If you were to total the loss of muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 60, you’d have approximately a 20% loss of muscle mass over that time span.   Also, these statistics are only for the general population.  If you incorporate those who have suffered from injuries, dysfunctions and chronic pain that decrease our activity levels, those statistics on muscle loss will increase.   More practically, the loss of muscle mass and strength with age is associated with a decreased functional ability which can lead to an increase risk of falling, an increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures, and ultimately, a loss of independence. 

So why bring up a “depressing” topic like this?  Well, there are two reasons.  First, the aging population in North America is growing rapidly.  Research has shown that by the year 2025, the elderly population in North America will be 80% greater than it was in the year 2000.  And second, there is a lot of research that shows that the loss of muscle mass, although it can’t be completely reversed, it can be greatly decreased through exercise that includes weight bearing and resistance training.  This is great news for many of us. However, as previously mentioned, there are those of us who suffer from injuries and dysfunctions that cause chronic pain.  The thought of exercising or stepping in a gym while you struggle to walk or even just get out of bed in the morning can be an extremely daunting one.  So how do we get around this?  

The answer?  Movement based therapy. 

With the aid of a kinesiologist, whose expertise is human movement, guided therapy plans can allow you to recover faster from injuries, correct dysfunctions and ultimately, get rid of the chronic pain you may be suffering from.  This will allow you to become more active, doing the things you love.  Whether it’s walking the 18 holes of golf in the summertime, skiing with grandchildren or just taking your dog for a walk.  Being active can greatly decrease the loss of muscle mass with age.  So why wait?  The sooner you start the better.   

The Myth of the Fat Burning Zone

A very common question in the health and wellness industry is “what is the best way to burn fat?” 

As I’m sure many health enthusiasts have seen, most cardio equipment will contain a chart showing “the cardio zone” and “the fat burning zone”.  The cardio zone will recommend a higher heart rate for your age group while the fat burning zone recommends a lower heart rate.  In summary, we will use more fat as a fuel when oxygen is present, which requires a lower intensity or lower heart rate while exercising.  During high intensity exercise, we go into an oxygen deficit, which disables the use of fat as a fuel and forces our body to use sugars for fuel. 

So why would the fat burning zone be a myth then?  Well, the science above is only a fraction of the whole story. 

When maintaining a regular, healthy diet, our bodies will have some level of blood sugar as well as glycogen (the storage form of sugar) in our muscles.  During exercise, whether high or low intensity, our preferred source of energy is sugar.  So long story short, if sugars are available they will be used as energy instead of fat, whether working at a high or low intensity. 

So now you’re probably thinking, how do I burn fat?  Well, that's quite simple actually.  Several research studies have shown that exercising at a high intensity can allow for maximal blood sugar and glycogen depletion, an increased metabolic rate, and the release of lypolitic (fat releasing) hormones and enzymes.  The combination of all these factors will allow for an increase in our body's ability to use fat as a fuel following an exercise session.

In addition, movement-based rehabilitation performed at a high intensity has many more benefits:

  • Improves cardiovascular health
    • Increases oxygen consumption
    • Increases stroke volume
    • Decreases resting pulse rate
    • Increase HDL’s (good cholesterol)
  • Improves mood
    • Allows for the release of hormones/neurotransmitters that elevate mood
    • Allows for a sense of accomplishment after a challenging exercise session
  • Increases energy levels

Whether you are looking to lose excess body fat, or just rebuild physical dysfunctions and get moving safely again, try to engage in higher intensity. You'll feel the difference right away!