Posts Tagged ‘Extreme Exercise’

Extreme Exercise … why the hysteria?

August 23, 2015

extreme-exercises-postFlogging yourself fitness is all the rage.

Think CrossFit, Bikram yoga, Tough Mudder-type challenges and ultramarathons.

They’re same, same but different to your average exercise.

Average exercise we might describe as ‘fun’ whereas flogging yourself fitness is more about self-flagellation.

It’s not just being stuck in a stinky sauna and flicked with someone else’s sweat while you workout (looking at you Bikram).

Overheating, vomiting, enduring electric shocks, dehydration, bruises, cuts, kidney-failure and cardiac damage are just some of the potential risks of such high-intensity forms of fitness. 

So why are people drawn to them in droves?

Some put it down to our instant gratification, go hard or go home culture.  Others suggest that extreme exercisers are sensation-seekers who enjoy the bragging rights earned by doing (arguably) insane yet unique activities.

“It’s psychologically more rewarding than plodding away on a treadmill,” points out Dr Jeremy Adams, a psychologist with a PhD in sport and exercise psychology. “People get psychological benefits from feeling like they’ve achieved something.”

Plus, he adds, there’s often novelty factor, challenge and the bonding that tends to go on within niche fitness cultures.

“They’re really tribal,” he says of Bikram and CrossFit. “Exercise with others when you find it rewarding and you will get massive benefits.”

The physical catharsis of these types of exercise is huge.

But as much as they are physical activities, the feel-good factor seems to lie largely in the mental benefits.

A 2013 study by Australian researcher Eric Brymer found that the challenge of mind over matter – in this case our bodies – can be mentally and emotionally “transformative”.

As we break through physical and mental  barriers and, often, face our fears we experience “a sense of personal liberation”, Brymer wrote in the study which was published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

As well as a sense of liberation, extreme exercise can bring a greater sense of control, new research suggests.

“What we’re finding is that when people are feeling a loss of control, they’re particularly likely to go for these high-effort things like very intense workouts because it makes them feel empowered,” the co-authorof the study, Dr Keisha Cutright told Time.

“You feel like you’re in charge of the desired outcome,”  Cutright added of the results, which were published in the Journal of Consumer Research. “You find a certain amount of control over your life, and that feels good.”

While there are benefits associated with stretching ourselves through sport and exercise, there can also be a dark side.

And it’s not just the risk that people will become, as Adams puts is, “zealots about a particular brand of exercise”.

A 2011 study conducted by University of Queensland psychologists found that those who felt guilt in their life were more prone to  punish themselves through pain.

“Going on a hard run is perhaps a convenient way to make ourselves feel better after we’ve behaved badly,” Brock Bastian, the study’s co-author, explained. “It makes us feel like the scales of justice have been rebalanced.”

There is also the more obvious dark side of pushing ourselves to our limit.

“It might have instant rewards but there is also the potential for massive injury,” Dr Adams says.

Potential injury and the potential to become obsessed with exercise.

Adams says there are certain criteria that make it “pretty obvious” that someone’s approach to exercise has become unhealthy.

These include not taking rest days, exercising through injury or ill health, subscribing to “logic fallacies” like two hours of exercise must be better than one, becoming upset and irrational when their exercise routine is broken and putting exercise before all else.

For the most part, however, getting hooked on exercise and pushing our limits here and there is healthy. Particularly given that we’re becoming more sedentary as a population.

“Provided we have plenty of rest, have good instruction, diets and sleep, you can have high intensity work outs,” Adams says. “They give better mood benefits.

“The harder you work out, the better – to a point. If you vomit, you won’t feel good.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/what-is-the-appeal-of-extreme-exercise-20140813-103pr3.html#ixzz3AMvDkgUm
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Start Shaping Up

August 19, 2014

IT’S TIME TO SHAPE UPshapeup

As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Today, over 63% of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese.

Unhealthy eating and not enough physical activity can lead to overweight and obesity, and an increased risk of developing a chronic disease such as some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Shape Up Australia is an initiative to help Australians reduce their waist measurements and improve their overall health and wellbeing. There are many everyday changes you can make to help you Shape Up and get on your way to a healthier lifestyle.


GETTING ACTIVE

Life can be busy, and it’s easy to think that there just isn’t enough time to be physically active.  But being physically active doesn’t mean you have to spend hours exercising each day or that you have to push yourself to the point of feeling exhausted.

There are great benefits to getting even a small amount of physical activity each day, both mentally and physically.  Being active gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, reduces the risk of depression and can help to prevent a range of chronic diseases.

You can start with small changes, like increasing the distance you walk by getting off the bus earlier or parking your car further away from the shops.  Gradually increase the amount of physical activity you do – it all adds up.  Aim for 30 minutes (or more) of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

If you’re worried you don’t have the time, keep in mind that you don’t have to do your 30 minutes (or more) all at once – combine a few shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each throughout the day.  Those short bursts are just as effective as longer exercise sessions.

To get started, check out these physical activity tips or find activities in your local area using the activity finder.

GETTING PHYSICAL TIPS

Tips for being more physically active every day

  • The saying “no pain, no gain” is a myth.  Some activity is better than none, and more is better than a little.  But you don’t have to exercise to the point of collapse to get a health benefit.  Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Set a date for when you will start. Write the date down and stick to it.
  • Make time to be physically active and schedule it as you would an appointment.  The Shape Up activity planner can help you plan and track your activity.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals.  Make your goals specific, measurable and achievable.  Rather than a vague goal like “I will get fit”, try “I will walk every day for 10 minutes after meals” or “I will get off the bus/train two stops earlier than my usual stop”.
  • Build up gradually.  If you are starting a new activity or have been inactive for some time, start at a level that you can manage easily and gradually build up.
  • Choose activities that are right for you.  Do something that you enjoy or go for something different you’ve always wanted to try, such as walking, jogging, joining a team sport, taking a group fitness class, dancing, cycling or swimming.
  • Mix it up.  Consider changing your activities every so often to avoid becoming bored.
  • Plan physical activity with others.  This can help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals.
  • Do not give up before you start to see the benefits.  Be patient and keep at it.
  • HAVE FUN! Physical activity can make you feel good about yourself and it’s a great opportunity to have fun with other people or enjoy some time to yourself.

FINDING TIME TO GET ACTIVE

It can seem hard to find time for physical activity.  One solution is to look for opportunities to build as much physical activity into everyday activities as you can.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Rather than spend five minutes circling a car park looking for that “perfect space” right near the entrance, park five minutes away and spend that time walking instead.
  • If you arrive at a bus or tram stop early, why not make use of the time to walk to the next stop?
  • Walk rather than rest on escalators… it’s quicker so you’ll actually save time! (Or better still, use the stairs).
  • Work in the garden – get into some energetic gardening activities like digging, shifting soil and mowing the lawn to raise your heart-rate.
  • Clean the house! Activities like vacuuming, cleaning windows and scrubbing floors that raise your heart rate are all good examples of moderate intensity physical activity.
  • Park further away from work (or get off public transport a few stops early).  If you walk for 10 minutes to and from work, you’ll have done 20 minutes without even noticing.  Add a 10 minute brisk walk (or more!) at lunch time and you’ve met the guidelines for the day.

ACTIVITY INTENSITY

What is moderate intensity activity?

Moderate-intensity activity will cause a slight but noticeable increase in your breathing and heart rate.  A good example of moderate-intensity activity is brisk walking; that is, at a pace where you are able to talk comfortably, but not sing.  Moderate-intensity activity should be carried out for at least 10 minutes at a time.

What is vigorous activity?

Vigorous activity is where you “huff and puff”; where talking in full sentences between breaths is difficult.  Vigorous activity can come from such sports as football, squash, netball, basketball and activities such as aerobics, speed walking, jogging and fast cycling.

Note: If you are pregnant, have been previously inactive, or suffer from any medical conditions, it is recommended that you seek medical advice before commencing vigorous physical activity.

WHAT SHOULD I BE EATING

Eating a diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods every day helps us maintain a healthy weight, feel good and fight off chronic disease.

Best of all, healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard if you follow these seven golden rules:

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruit
  3. Watch how much you eat – even foods that are good for us, when eaten in large portions, can lead to weight gain
  4. Eat less processed food
  5. Eat regular meals – don’t skip meals – and always start the day with a healthy breakfast (e.g. a bowl of hi fibre cereal with sliced banana and low fat milk)
  6. Restrict your alcohol intake
  7. Remember that some foods are high in added fat, salt and sugar and so are best eaten only sometimes or in small amounts.  Examples include lollies, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pastries, soft drinks, chips, pies, sausage rolls and other takeaways.

To help you eat well every day, check out these healthy recipes and snack suggestions, tips for staying on track when eating out, our guide to healthy eating on a budget, and tips for drinking to health.

Snack suggestions

  • Add fruit and yoghurt to low fat milk and blend them together to make a great tasting smoothie.
  • A slice of wholegrain bread or raisin toast with a healthy spread such as avocado or low-fat cream cheese, makes a filling, healthy snack.
  • A piece of fruit – like a banana or apple – can make a great “on the run” snack.
  • Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or packet of chips, try vegetable sticks with low-fat hummus.
  • An occasional handful of unsalted nuts or dried fruit makes a nutritious snack.
  • Grab a tub of natural low-fat yoghurt and add your own fruit.
  • Air-popped popcorn with a sprinkling of salt makes a great afternoon snack.
  • When the weather is hot, fruits such as oranges and grapes make delicious frozen snacks.

Other useful links:

Australian Dietary Guidelines www.eatforhealth.gov.au

Stay On Track When Eating Out Fact Sheet

Your Guide To Buying Fruit And Veg In Season Fact Sheet

Information sourced from this Government Website: http://www.shapeup.gov.au/start-shaping-up