Nutrition for Olympians, High School Track Stars, Weekend Warriors, and the Occasional Gardener
We traditionally think of athletes as people who perform in athletic competitions. Their sport is their job and they work at it everyday. But all of us are athletes while we're engaging in any form of vigorous physical activity, whether as part of our job, walking gardening, a game of basketball, or biking down the path.
The problem is we're spending less time as athletes and more time as spectators.
What ever happened to exercise?
Blame it on cars...or suburbs, or fast food, or television or the Internet.
The inevitable truth is that we don't need to exercise, so we don't. Many jobs have transitioned from being active to sedentary and many of us live in communities that aren't "walkable" or where it isn't even safe to walk to the grocery store, library or cafe. Leisure time? What's that? Americans are increasingly busy as commutes lengthen, job hours expand and commitments of each family member take their toll.
Based on a government survey in 2007, "...one third of U.S. adults did not report meeting minimum levels of aerobic physical activity," meaning: "150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week or an equivalent combination..." That breaks down to 21.4 minutes of moderate activity or 10.7 minutes of vigorous activity each day of the week.
We know that the body needs regular exercise. In one study, veterans were divided into five fitness categories and followed for six years. After adjusting for age and known risk factors like smoking, the least fit had 4.5 times more risk of death than the most fit. Lack of exercise contributed more to risk of death than either chronic illness or smoking.
How Exercise Keeps Us Healthy
For decades, science has amassed evidence of how exercise contributes to health. Decreased body weight, blood pressure, and bad cholesterol as well as an increase in good cholesterol and a normal response to insulin are all well-recognized benefits of regular, planned, physical activity.
In recent years, other benefits have been explored and positive associations been made between regular exercise and mood, sleep and fatigue. Exercise actually improves your body's efficiency when using oxygen so you can go about your daily tasks feeling more energized.
Fit at Healthy Weight Beats Fat but Fit
For those who are regularly active, it is possible to be fat and fit - just like that guy who smoked for 71 years and died, not from lung cancer but from the excitement of winning a big hand of poker after a long, full and exciting life. Some lucky ducks have clearly won the genetic lottery but, unfortunately, there's no way to flip to the end of the biography to see how it will all turn out.
Even if you are overweight or obese but otherwise healthy, bear in mind that age is the relentless risk factor. Our risk for pretty much everything increases as those birthdays add up. Being at a healthy weight and being regularly active are two great ways to offset this age-related risk. Being fat but fit isn't a place to tread water. It means you are in a position to dive into prevention, right now, when it really means something.
If exercise is so great, why aren't we all doing it?
It's hard: hard to schedule, hard to maintain and hard to manage. Here's where a trusted health care professional, like us, comes in. You can help. We will encourage a sedentary person to make small adjustments each week, like parking at the far end of the lot at work. When that pattern is established, add a walk around the block to be taken as soon as you get home - no "workout clothes" needed just go! You might think of setting up a morning or evening walking group if you are nervous about being on your own or being the "caboose" of a group. These small steps can provide a good foundation for regular vigorous exercise.
Maintenance is another stumbling block. Unlike professional athletes, we don't all have trainers, nutritionists or masseuses to lean on. At Charlotte Natural Healing, we provide chiropractic services to keep you in alignment and sound nutritional advice to improve performance. We will help you to understanding how diet choices affect active bodies. Knowing when to eat carbohydrates, what fates are better than others, how much protein is appropriate. the importance of hydration and what to avoid (like sports drinks) will help keep you on track.
Supplements can also help support the drive to exercise. Adaptogenic compounds like ginseng and echinacea are useful for the body as a whole, while targeted support exists for individual systems:
Cardiovascular: oxygen transport and blood flow
Musculoskeletal" muscle fatigue and both energy and oxygen storage in the muscles
Digestive: nutrient breakdown and liver processing
Endocrine: normal hormone function and immune response
We offer a number of the highest quality whole food supplements and herbs to support the exercise novice, the weekend warrior, or the Olympian and professional athlete. To learn more, please contact us at our office.
If you don't take the time for your health now, you WILL need to take the time for your sickness later on.